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One One One 2001.01.01 
4 comments 
Wow. 01-01-01, the first AB-AB-AB date since... I dunno, December 12 1912? (I was going to hack up a perl script to figure out how many days that was but I had sudden attack of laziness.)

There's a brilliant 7k game for the palmpilot called SFCave. You can also play a Java Version that doesn't quite capture the magic, but gives you the general idea. You pilot a little line in an ever shrinking cave with square obstacles. Gravity pulls you down, but by pressing any button you can get some thrust upwards. It has an insanely high 'just one more game!' factor. It confirms my theories that some cool simple games can be made by throwing in elements of inertia. (See my own JoustPong for another, rather similar example.)

Resolutions:
Drop Some Weight -- for the wedding, and I guess for health reasons. I weighed this much in high school, but then I managed to drop thirty pounds through the wonder of discipline, lots of water, and Euclid High School's Turkey Salad of Mystery. I'm a little annoyed right now though, I seem stuck within a 3 pound range whether I'm trying to be careful or whether I'm not giving a damn. (Mo has some theories about 'natural weights'.)

Be Slower to Anger -- I find myself raging at things that irritate me: bad drivers, news reports of conservative politicians doing things I find offensive, video games that seem unfairly rigged, general stupidity. I've been getting better at extinguishing these rages almost instantly, I'd like to keep up that trend and see if I can get better at not letting them form in the first place.

Catch Up with a Friend a Week It's almost always rewarding to set up a time to meet a friend for a drink, especially someone I haven't seen in a while. Plus, it gives each week a 'hook'.

Last year's resolution came out pretty well: Keep a Media Journal (on my palmpilot): Books, movies, videos, videogames, I have a list, and probably later I'll make a book-year-in-review for myself. And post it here.

The meaning of life, 80s music, and memes 2001.01.02 
2 comments 
80s music makes me a little sad sometimes. Born in 1974, I was a little young for most of it. And culturally unaware after that, until at least the 90s. (Weird Al was my gateway drug to pop culture music.) I like dancing to it at this one club, but when I see collections of it advertised on TV, I'm more aware of the passing of time... maybe it is the way a whole genre of music has come and gone in my lifetime.

She blinded me with science, baby.

On the Usenet group alt.atheism, someone was asking for opinions as to the meaning of life. I rambled for a bit about genes and memes, (maybe I'll add a link when it shows up on Deja) and ended with this:

But if you want a simple answer:
Here are the three meaningful things in life: being happy, being kind & patient & generous, and being interesting.
I dunno, I thought it was pretty good summation of what I think, what I feel.

Speaking of memes, there's a meme-centric Church of Virus I want to check out. I wonder how it stacks up to Vonnegut's Bokononism (or the Church of the Subgenius) in terms of jokey religions.

a study in contrasts 2001.01.03 
0 comments 
One of these things is not like the other...
This is the stairmaster Mo and I have in our apartment. Mo and I decided it was worth the money to invest in our health, she knew it was an exercise she would faithfully do, and I've followed suit. It is a pinnacle of modern exercise equipment, precision engineering, with electronic programs so that it can be precisely adjusted to our precise workout needs. It cost over $2000.
This is the watercup I use when I'm on the stairmaster. It's made of not particularly durable plastic, its lid is now cracked and it still has its original straw. It was free with a value meal at taco bell.

Quote of the Moment:
"I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated."
---Paul Anderson (via Quotations on Simplicity in Software Design via CamWorld via SVN)

feeding cats 2001.01.04 
3 comments 
Feeding Time for Cat:
Cat: Meow. Merrow. Meow. Rowwr. Meow
Me: Yeah, yeah, I'm getting your food already!
Cat: Rowwr. Meow. Merrrrow.
Me: Ok, ok, I get it! You're hungry! Look, I'm getting your food!
Cat: Meow. Rowwwr. Mew. Meow. Merrow.
Me: Cat, shut up!
Cat: Merrow. Meow. Meow. Rowwr.
Me: Cat, look. There is no correlation between you meowing incessantly and me feeding you. Ok, yes, sorry, there is. But correlation is not causation! Don't you know correlation is not causation? Nimrod, I'd feed you even if you weren't meowing like a mofo! Can you get it through your little almond sized brain that there is not causation here?? Your meowing is not getting you more food or making me move any more quickly!
Cat: Meow. Mew. Merrow. Meow.
Me: Gah!

There are a lot of websites that try to be funny, but a much smaller number that make me laugh out loud. Yesterday's Cruel Site of the Day was Cliff Yablonski Hates You. This is a very mean site that takes on the persona of two-fisted Cliff as he makes fun of people in all of these pictures, in the spirit of the infamous Fat Chicks in Party Hats and Fugly. These sites are not for everyone, (it might be a 'guy' thing, and not a sensitive new age guy thing either,) they are mean and sometimes you feel sorry for the people in the pictures, but usually it's very funny, with pictures that just shouldn't have been taken getting their karmic reward.

Quote of the Moment:
"The world's full of offensive knickknacks, Yahoo, have fun banning it all."
--slashdot.org Yahoo Kuckles Under

Yahoo caving into the French and banning all Nazi memorabilia, theoretically not because the French government was suing their butts, really rubs me the wrong way. It sets a bad precedent that the World Wide Web will be under the jurisdiction of the most conservative judiciary that has jurisdiction over any non-trivial population of Web users. And it's just plain censorship.

memes and bugs 2001.01.05 
2 comments 
Quote of the Moment
"What is so wrong with culture that it should be really conspicuous in only one species?"
--Richerson and Boyd (via Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine)

I'm reading Blackmore's The Meme Machine, I'm roughly halfway through. The first part wasn't too convincing, where she defines memes strictly in terms of imitation, but now she's bringing up some good points. Seeing the conflict between our memes and our genes is interesting: the ideas we have and patterns of behavior we follow are no longer certain to be good for us in terms of reproductive capability. While clearly there's been some benefit, or otherwise wouldn't be the force that we are on the planet, it's wise to keep in mind that biomass-wise, the insects are more than holding their own 'against us'-- in that sense, their genes are 'better' than ours. (Arguably. "Insects" forms a much more diverse group than "People", and I'm not sure how Insects are against all Mammals, say.)

Still, our meme-laden brains like to think we're the best thing going. There's some quote out there (couldn't find it on Google, drat) along the lines of "I used to think that my brain was my best organ...then I thought about what was telling me this." Same goes for our brains and method of making it as a species in general.

revenge of the angry cattle 2001.01.06 
0 comments 
553 love poems to read today to make the January issue of the Love Blender. To be honest, that's a whole lotta coal to dig through to get to the diamonds.

My free floating anxiety has latched onto Mad Cow Disease as the next thing to be worried about and for the past 2 or 3 days I've been a vegetarian. That article talks about how disgusting our meat preparation industry is.

I'm not particularly squeamish about what parts of animals I might have ingested, but hearing how they use "mechanical recovery of meat off the vertebrae"... ugh. (At least we're not like Britain, where for a long time they used solvents to get the last bits off the bone for gravies and sauces and the like.) In general, whenever you go for meat that's been exposed to the spine or brain (more likely to happen with the use of pneumatic stun guns in the USA) you're at risk for CJD. (CJD is like Ice-9 for your brain, specialized forms of proteins called prions that catalyze/teach the proteins in your head to become... more prions!)

And hearing how we feed ground up cow to our cows... man, that just seems mean-spirited. And using newer vacuum-based low temperature meat prep to save energy might not seem all that clever in the long run.

I don't think my risk factor would be all that high, even if I was eating meat.(Which is good, I don't know how long I'll be 'on the wagon'-- luckily there's a Au Bon Pain near work that has really good, generous salads.) Even with my recent trip to Germany, and a 1995 trip to England. Each bit of beef is like a lottery ticket... your chances of 'winning' CJD is very small each time (unless you're eating brains or something) but a lifetime of it isn't such a good thing.

one terrific toy 2001.01.07 
1 comment 
If you didn't see it when it was the hot link a while back, go check out sodaplay now. The sodaconstructor is the coolest java toy ever. It completely epitomizes the "kinetic aesthetic appeal" concept I coined in high school physics (after Mr. Reno showed us a big weight attached to a spring at the end of string (in the form of a pendulum)) They've added the sodazoo with models that I believe are made by users of the site. My inability to come up with a successful original walker or other artistically interesting piece reminds me that I'm not now the genius I assumed I was going to turn into when I was a kid.

You know, Windows Paintbrush is better than Paint Shop Pro for one important reason: if you choose a brush of a certain size or shape, you see a shadow of that size or shape under the mouse pointer, not just a special cursor. It's brilliant! You can see what the heck it is you're going to paint before you paint it. The cow doodle from yesterday benefited from it mightily. Not sure what Photoshop does.

decades at a glance 2001.01.08 
3 comments 
Pretty funny link: 100 Most Annoying Things of the Year 2000 (from X-Entertainment via dotcult)

Quote of the Moment
"What did I tell you about sharing?"
"...nothing?"
--"Grounded for Life" (Fox promo)

I read Henry Allen's What It Felt Like. It's a fairly slim volume, but I think it does a pretty decent job of capturing the mood of each decade of the 20th Century. He seems biased against the last few decades, though. Oh well. Subjectivity is the new Objectivity. (Or at least that's what it looks like to me.)

Quotes in the book:
"We must reflect that where so much strength is spent on finding a way of telling the truth the truth itself is bound to reach us in a rather exhausted and chaotic condition."
--Virginia Woolf

"That's the one the teacher's on?"
--Reagan after being informed of the explosion of the Challenger

(Hmm. Neither of those quotes seemed as good as they did in context.)

I weigh 4 1/2 pounds less than I did last Monday. Ah, the easy rewards of the first days of weight loss. If only it were all that easy.

a diet for the ages 2001.01.09 
1 comment 
Since so many of you have written to ask me what my secret to weight loss is (yeah right... if I had a nickel for every one who reads this page, I could probably buy a stamp or two) I decided to share with you all:

Kirk's No Frills Mad-Cow-Free Diet
Breakfast: Have some OJ before work. Then buy a large Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee with milk and sugar. Yes, Iced Coffee, even though it's dead winter. This is a huge honkin' thing of coffee. Not only is it tasty, but it puts your stomach on edge so you're less hungry and can postpone lunch. Get cream if you're feeling luxurious, skip the sugar if you're feeling masochistic or really don't want to eat for a while.
Lunch: Actually, the trick is to make this a very late lunch, like 1 or 2 or even 3. (More of a "linner". Or "dunch". "Lupper"? I dunno.) Anyway, Au Bon Pain has a good hearty salad. Plus, they have really good English Toffee cookies. Of which you may have one, heck, you're not a monk. Or if you're in the neighborhood, get a Grande Burrito from Boca Grande. Preferably Vegetarian, but my old favorite was the Lemon Chicken. Get some sour cream on that, otherwise it's too dry.
Evening: Not much. If you're hungry for something bulky, have one or two frosted shredded miniwheats dry. If you're craving something sweet, have a medium spoonful of Ben + Jerry's Low-Fat Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt.
General: Drink a lot of water. Between half a gallon and a full gallon. (2 1/2 to 5 of Kirk's Work Water Cup.) This will also give you a bit of exercise if the water bubbler or restroom is far away from your desk.
Exercise: Stairmaster 25-35 minutes on a medium setting every day. Well, not every every day, you don't have to be a fascist about it, but most days.

Simple, huh? Not sure how nutritionally sound it is in the long run. I'm a bit of a nutrition moron. So I don't recommend this for everyone. Maybe not even myself.

Quote of the Moment:

gleasoae@purdue.edu wrote:
>Well, one can technically say that "genetically" 
>we're very similar to chimps.  It depends on what 
>your frame of reference is...

"Genetically" we are nearly identical to fruit flies.  
On the other hand, as a species we write better string quartets.
--rhc@world.std.com in alt.fan.cecil-adams (via alt.humor.best-of-usenet)
purgatory 2001.01.10 
1 comment 
There's this vision of purgatory that I've had for a long time... I imagine it being set up so that all you had to do to go on to some kind of heavenly reward is a certain task, but you'd have to do it perfectly. These tasks are generally trivial but impossibly difficult. Like, reconstruct a conversation you had years and years ago one fine Tuesday morning. I'd have to start putting random words together and hoping. I wonder if eternity would be enough to do that? Kind of like one of those mathematical functions, areas under a curve... Just because it stretches to infinity, its area can be finite if it decreases quickly enough.

Quote of the Moment:
"Tom will be working something like 4 jobs in the next few months. My advice to you - don't follow your dreams. It takes up too much time and leaves you poor."
--Dylan Murray on Tom the Actor

Joke of the Moment:
Surveys indicate that people in their 40s and 50s tend to indentify strongly with president-elect Bush -- but people with higher IQs hate him.
--paraphrased from Suck.com 'Transfer of Power'

stars upon thars 2001.01.11 
1 comment 
Poem of the Moment:
The world's
wordless
beauty intact, indeed
it can never be other
than

radiantly intact
like the stars, like the stars

when the stars have no names once again.
--Franz Wright (from 'From a Discarded Image', via The New Yorker)

Link of the Moment:
"Pardon me, Waiter, what's this blimp doing in my soup?" (via Ranjit)

Rant of the Moment:
Not the most breaking news, but man, I can't believe George W wants to push this missile defense shield thing. If and when a nuke is unleashed on USA soil, it's probably going to arrive via rental truck, not missile. I grudgingly admit Reagan spooking the USSR by talk of Star Wars may have helped bring down their already suffering economic system, but I don't think the same principle applies against China, or any other current player for that manner. It'll just encourage them to build up missiles that can get through the thing, and sour our attempts to stop arms proliferation on the international scene.

And not passing the Test Ban Treaty! Sheesh! We need to test these things? What enemy would gamble on our nukes not working at the critical moment? (Lets hope it never comes to that... I'd rather they gamble on us not willing to unleash that kind of destruction.) And then there's the little fact that almost every test of this system in development has been a big old flop... I'd rather gamble on our current nukes working than this new-fangled crap.

i hope your realize, this means war 2001.01.12 
3 comments 
Quote of the Moment
"Unfortunately, in my experience the only places without ice have southerners or californians."
--Greg Owen, 01-1-3

Link of the Moment
Computer Stew is a really interesting, really fun web experiment. Basically, some guys decided to see that if they could make a daily show with less than $3000 in startup costs, using the Net for distribution and consumer grade hardware. The short answer is, yup, they can, and the result is sometimes funny as heck.

If you only have time to see one episode, check out notepad.exe, in all-singing all-dancing music video tribute to everyone's favorite Windows text editor. "N to the O to the T to the E, P to the A, D, E, X, E my Notepad!"

Link of the Other Moment
Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find.

A War Room is a smallish 'common area', with desks, but open (no cubicles), preferably with lots of whiteboards, where a programming team can share information really easily. I've been on projects that use these, and it works really well. It's great for sharing information, and I think the slack factor is somewhat reduced-- in a good way. (via this article on Slashdot, where the conversation got to some other programmer setups)

technolust strikes 2001.01.13 
0 comments 
Political Joke of the Moment
"Well, ya know, old Bush is a post turtle [...] When you're driving down a country road, and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he can't get anything done while he's up there, and you just want to help the poor thing down."
--old man, via rec.humor.funny

Quote of the Moment
"When you reach the ripe old age of 27 like I have, and you have the choice between investing time and investing money, you realize you should never go for the time. You can always make more money..."
--Me in a Dream Thursday Night

The other day I got a medium case of technolust for my cow-orkers's Compaq iPaq PocketPC. It's a handheld PDA, much like the Palm V I already have. It has a much better screen than any of the Palms, 320*240 vs 160*160, which is 3 times the number of pixels in the same space. And it's color. My friend was showing me the map app it came with, zoom in and out, like an amazing electronic atlas, I'm not sure if the Palm has enough oomph to do that-- he's also laying out the bucks for a clip-on GPS for it... I've been longing for one of those never-get-lost-while-driving setups for a long while. Of course, it's not quite as slick or small as the Palm.

The trouble with the PocketPC isn't the hardware, of course... it's the way each program has a new interface. PocketPC feels like Windows 3.1 in interface, before the standards were settled, while Palm has some of the elegance of early Mac, circa 1988 or so.

It sounds kind of weird, but changing away from Palm would actually be a bit of a lifestyle change for me. For almost 4 years now, I've been keeping up the KHftCEA on a Palm, a commonplace book (quote journal) / dear diary collection. It's become part of what I am, part of the "extended me". But with this new kisrael.com 'blog, I've had to think about the two should relate, and what the point of the KHftCEA has been. In many ways this 'blog is better: it's updated daily, it's designed to be presentable to people, it can use images, it links to the outside world. And I can get to it to update it at home and at work. Still, having a copy on me always is important, so that's why I'm thinking about changing my PDA.

symphony 2001.01.14 
4 comments 
Went with my Uncle last night to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he has season tickets. I feel the pull between my white- and blue-collar leanings there. It makes me realize that there aren't all that many things I go to these days where everyone is dressed up.

The advertisements in the program are a little disturbing, blatant pitches to Boston old money ("Fiduciary Trust: Personal Investment Management and Trust Services for Family Wealth. Why do prosperous individuals and families entrust over $10 billion of assets to our care?", some homes from Coldwell Banker Huneeman Previews International for a mere $1.8 to $6.9 million) and a large number of ads for Senior Care and Retirement Communities. (Quote of the Moment: "The sun setting is no less beautiful than the sun rising" over 4 images of women at different ages, in chronological order, an ad for "Life Care Centers of America". It's a nice thought, but kind of creepy.)

The most listenable piece last night was Stravinsky's Four Norwegian Moods. It was also the only piece with a tuba. I'm afraid to announce that I believe this is largely coincidence. Although I used to play the beast, when I hear it now it sounds rather... I dunno, blatty. The tone is very impure, compared to the string basses or even other brass, such as the french horn. And frankly it looks pretty darn goofy.

hot beverages 2001.01.15 
2 comments 
Moment of the Moment
My girlfriend has a cold. She told me to get her a large caramel cider from starbucks (super tasty, like drinking a caramel apple) or if they didn't have that a chai latte. They were out of cider so I bring her back the chai. Half an hour later she says "Man, the trouble with being sick is that nothing tastes right. That cider was really weird."

I find coffee cups incredibly satisfying to doodle. I suggest you try it. They're easy and fun. I included one even though there wasn't actually any coffee in that story, they're that much fun.

Link of the Moment
I wish my website was as smart and funny as 15 Megabytes of Fame by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and maybe with the same touch of wistfulness. It's updated every week. My friend Dylan told me to get her book The Book of Eleven. He said it was the funniest thing ever, and it wasn't, but it was funny, and I could really connect with the things she was saying. It's worth going to your local bookstore (Preferably not Barnes and Noble) and having them order it. Her site is so good that I'm tempted to start a 'best links' page just for sites like that.

Quote of the Moment
"I don't like the idea of anybody getting killed, but especially me."
--Clint Eastwood

cats and clergy and alien bob 2001.01.16 
2 comments 
Incident of the Moment
Our neutered boy cat has started humping our spayed girl cat. Man, I know we should necessarily judge cats by our standards of conduct, but sheesh. That's just icky.

Joke of the Moment
Scenario: A bishop (B) and a rabbi (R) are sharing a train compartment. After a short while, the two men of the cloth start relating some of their past life experiences...

(General conversation...)

B: So tell me, rabbi, have you ever actually tasted ham?

R: Well yes, in fact. Once when I was very young and daring, I tried it. But only the once...

(short pause)

R: So tell me bishop, have you ever ... enjoyed the comforts of a young woman?

B: Well, ahem, yes... before I took my vows, mind you, when I was not so old and not so wise...

(another short pause)

R: Zo, it's better than ham, hmm?

--John Henshaw, via rec.humor.funny.reruns

Defunct Link of the Moment
A while back I was cruising Domain Surfer (the best way to see what domains are free or taken... another addition for that hypothetical best ever links list). I must've been checking out the namespace near my own alienbill.com when I found alienbob.com. At the time, the site had nothing but a block of some odd animation of Bill Gates morphing into a devil. I wrote the site and asked what the story was... the owner said once for some Model-UN type experiment set on modeling the politics and economy of a colony on Mars he decided to simulate a dictatorship based on Alien Bob. Alas, the domain is no more, and Alien Bill now stands alone.

candy 2001.01.17 
12 comments 



This life is like an Atomic Fireball: once you get past the stuff that hurts it's pretty sweet.
--Feb 13, 1995



Life is more like chocolate-covered espresso beans: once you get past the stuff that's sweet, it's dark and bitter and keeps you up at night.
--Oct 5, 1995



Okra-homa! 2001.01.18 
2 comments 
Link of the Moment
In this vast existential wasteland we all pass through, I was forced to explore what could fill the void in my soul. My friend Ranjit has revealed what could fill that void: Web Toys based on Bland Vegetables. For your viewing pleasure and mine, he has created: THE OKRALEIDOSCOPE. As he puts it, after I tell him he is not a well man:
"Hey, Louis suggested it! Of course once he did, I had to do it. [...] I haven't succeeded in getting any paid work done in weeks, but the moment I hear 'okraleidoscope' I jump in."
He requested that I link to his site moonmilk, where you can see a lot of his other creations as well.

Quote of the Moment
"I wouldn't presume to know, but in this I have a hunch -- Dr. King would agree with me"
--NRA President Charlton Heston on Martin Luther King Jr's Views on Gun Control, receiving an award on MLKjr Day (via The Daily Show)

"So Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Ford would like to know how you'd feel about doing an ad for his theater..." Sheesh.

Geekness of the Moment
I finally caved and got a Palm IIIc. The iPaq is nice, but has synching problems, and was a bit more expensive. I decided I needed a PDA capable of storing and viewing a decent version of this Journal, and with AvantGo, the IIIc does quite a respectable job. Changing from a private text based journal to a public HTML journal actually is a turning point in my life.

Between this new color gadget and Ranjit hooking me up with a ROM site for MAME the Arcade Emulator, I don't feel a strong need to leave the house tomorrow.

blue 2001.01.19 
1 comment 
Image of the Moment

The parking lot I use for work (a violently icy ten minute walk to the office) had the most amazing shade of blue last evening. I'm not sure if this picture does it justice or not. The orange shade on the right is from the lone streetlight there, it made a nice contrast. And that was at five pm! The days are getting longer!

Ramble of the Moment
I closed the KHftCEA (my four year old Palm quote journal) today. I'm doing pretty much everything I set out to in the KHftCEA in this journal, and then some. The thing is I have to allow this journal to be a bit more personal sometimes, not just entertainment for the masses. (Masses. Shyeah.)

That said, I called up my friend Habib's work today... I've been stopping my his house lately (it's right by the ice covered parking lot of doom) but he's never been in. I guess he's back in Morocco for a while because of a family tragedy, alas. It's interesting having a close friend of strong religious faith who isn't Christian. He's really amazed at my skepticism and confidence in ideas such as Darwinism.

Link of the Moment
The Onion is back after it's long Winter vacation! If you don't know what this site is, you're either new to the 'Net, or just a touch lame. (That's ok, I'm a touch lame as well. Only in different ways.) Arguably the funniest site on the Web. Go read The Onion!

another attempt at the meaning of life 2001.01.20 
1 comment 
Bath of the Moment
Stayed home sick and angsty Friday. After at least a year of nothing but showers, I took a hot bath. Man, what a treat. Like a return to the womb or something. In a good way. And then peeking open the shower curtain, letting just a brush of the chilly air behind come in and cool me off... ahhh.

Sometime when I'm feeling mortal and scared, maybe I can relax and think 'yeah, but at least I had some nice hot baths.'

Spam of the Moment
Hooting Owl, some kind of search engine, sent me a message that said:

Congratulation someone has just performed a "web search" at the HootingOwl Search Engine using the search term
VBscript+reference
and your web site
http://www.alienbill.com
is being displayed on the first page of search results.

Which is kind of funny, considering I don't think my site has anything to do with VBScript in any form. But ooh, wouldn't I like to put down a deposit of $100, to be doled out to them a few pennies per click at a time, to make sure my site shows up near the top more often?

Quote of the Moment
"Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."
-- John Maynard Keynes, A Tract On Monetary Reform, 1923.

yippie-ki-yay 2001.01.21 
0 comments 
The News
So we now have "former president Clinton". Man, that's just sad. Bush talks about bringing his "small town" values to Washington. The thing is, he says that like it's a good thing. When I think small town, I think closed-mindedness, prejudice, intense conservatism (in the non-political sense of the word), lack of interest in the arts, unwillingness to compromise, hurtful gossip, etc etc.

Looking at how the country voted-- more urban areas for Gore, more rural for Bush-- it's pretty clear Bush might not get us city folk, in more ways than one. I love his refusal to bring up any hint that he didn't win the popular vote in his speech Saturday. Salon.com has an article on W's speech. It pointed out the 14 references to God in his speech, as well as the impressive return of "Jesus". This bothers me a lot. "Jesus" of course excludes millions of Jews and other non-Christians. And it seems like no politician can resist bringing up God in general. It's such pandering. The assumption that as a nation we can't share morality without sharing faith is ridiculous and ultimately harmful.

And then there's the whole cowboy boots and women in furs thing. Gah. I don't want our national discourse to look some rerun of Dallas.

Quote of the Moment
"Now the opera gets a subsidy from the National Endowment for the Arts, but, by and large, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks don't. Those of us who drive our pickups to those concerts don't get a subsidy, but the people who drive their Mercedes to the opera get a subsidy." --John Ashcroft, September 17, 1997

(More small town wisdom, I guess.)

Quote of the Other Moment
"I tried to give as good as I got." --Bill Clinton, January 20, 2001

snowblow 2001.01.22 
3 comments 
Ramble of the Moment
Mo's left-handed. It's not so much that she's always moving the (wireless) mouse to the other side of the computer, it's that she then sees the mousepad as a little table, the most uncluttered flat surface of a messy desk. So she puts bills there. Or vitamins she means to take. Or a coffee cup.

Quote of a Previous Moment
"Just because there's a cup on it doesn't make it a coaster." --Phil the QA Guy, October 11 2000

Palm and Java Game
Another beautifully simple kinetic game that comes in PalmPilot and Java flavors is Noiz. The high graphics java version is a bit much, but it's a really cool idea, you feel like a ninjaworm running through showers of fireworks... it's really quite beautiful at times. A little repetitive, maybe. (For another great simple Palm game, check out what I had to say about SFCave-- unfortunately it runs a little slow on my new Palm IIIc)

Cosmology
The surprisingly generous Scientific American website has a brief overview of the state of Modern Cosmology. Amazing to try to think on the scale of the history of the Universe.

Ramble of the Other Moment
The snow arrived in force today. First major accumulation, on top of a layer of ice that hasn't gone away. There's not much to think about when you're shoveling, so I thought about Snow, and the recent Cruel Site of the Day, the President's Guide to Drug Slang, and that lead be to thinking about Cocaine and the President. I think people of my age probably have an exaggerated view of how bad Cocaine is. I mean, George W. Bush probably used it, and look where he is now... but we've been brought up to think, one snort, our lives are over. Maybe the scourge of crack moved us even further from the 70s... Anyway, conservatives can be such hypocrites in their support of Mr. Electability. The funny thing is, I don't think drug use should disqualify anyone from office, if it's not clearly trashing their life. But the bulk of his supporters probably do, and their the ones that the charade will continue on for.

the gravity stone 2001.01.23 
1 comment 

Tufts has one of the oddest monuments. It's called the Gravity Stone, and its inscription is as follows:
THIS MONUMENT HAS BEEN
ERECTED BY THE
GRAVITY RESEARCH FOUNDATION
ROGER W. BABSON FOUNDER

IT IS TO REMIND STUDENTS OF
THE BLESSINGS FORTHCOMING
WHEN A SEMI-INSULATOR IS
DISCOVERED IN ORDER TO HARNESS
GRAVITY AS A FREE POWER
AND REDUCE AIRPLANE ACCIDENTS
1961
Man, it's hard to think about how weird this thing is. Supposedly, back in the day a popular prank was to assist the Gravity Stone in 'levitating', leaving it to rest in a tree or anywhere up high. The story goes on to say they finally bolted or cemented the sucker down so now its floating days are over.

I did a little research. (Ok, I hit Google via Yahoo.) Roger Babson is the same guy who started Babson College. He has another stone but it's not nearly as odd. You can get a little more of its story from the Yucks Digest #22, textsearch on 'Tufts'.

Man. I love this thing. It's such a retrofuture thing... they're proposing a (quite possibly impossible) technical breakthrough that would change so much in society-- I mean, who knows what forms of travel, on Earth and otherwise, would be possible-- and this stone is looking for a reduction in airplane accidents.

I'm glad it's a part of my life.

power + putzes 2001.01.24 
0 comments 
Current Events
Bruce Sterling on 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackout, a piece on the utility mess in California. It really did a great job of answering all these "well, how did they let X happen?" and "so why don't they try Y?" questions I had. (on Feed, a smart piece every day or so.)


Joke of the Moment
Wife: You are SUCH a PUTZ! If they had a contest for putzes, you'd win second prize!
Husband: Why not first prize?
Wife: Because you're a PUTZ!
(via Ranjit)

(Movie) Quote of the Moment
"You make me want to be a better man."
"That's maybe the best compliment of my life."
"Well maybe I overshot a little, because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walking out."
     --Melvin Udall & Carol Connelly from From As Good As It Gets (1997), via the IMDB

fireman kirk 2001.01.25 
3 comments 

Joke of the Moment
This one was one of my favorites from childhood. I had it memorized, and people would be impressed when I'd recite it quickly:

Why are fire engines red?

Books are read. Magazines are read, too. Two plus two is four. Four times three is twelve. Twelve inches on a ruler. Queen Elizabeth is a ruler. Queen Elizabeth is a ship at sea. Little fishes swim in sea. Little fishes have fins. Finns fought the Russians. Russians are called "Reds". Fire Engines are always rushin'. That's why fire engines are red.

Nostalgia of the Moment
Fireman Kirk That joke reminds me... I wanted to be a Fire Fighter when I was a kid, at least for a short while. (And I was curious about the difference between the term "fire man" and "fire fighter".)

At some point I wanted to be President as well. During that time, I got a letter from an Uncle who I had never talked to, and he said "So, do you want to President yet?" I was amazed! How did he know that??

I suspect W. has gone through something similar, only it lasted even longer.

Quote of the Moment
Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.
--Anonymous (via Slashdot)

apples and oranges 2001.01.26 
0 comments 
Quote of a Previous Moment
"People say you can't compare apples and oranges. But why not? They are both hand-held, round, edible, fruity things that grow on trees."
--Anonymous

This particular assesment is backed up with SHE BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE evidence by this analysis of apples and oranges.

Ramble of the Moment
Went to Greg + Karen's (and Joseph's) for dinner last night. Had a very nice time. Played Trival Pursuit (Millennium Edition). There was one question that I got that really bugged me, and not just because I got it wrong. It was

What's the base unit of mass in the metric system?
The answer as "kilogram". Now, I'm covinced that even the most rudimentary knowledge of how the prefix- system of the metric system works would indicate "gram" is the correct answer. Which my SO and so-called friends (kidding, guys) didn't accept. So I think at least one of the following is true:
  • I was correct by saying the base unit
  • There's some weird 'defintion of mass' thing that explicitly uses kilogram and not gram
  • The two answers were roughly the same anyway
I gues I'll have to do some research.

Followup
The other day I had a reference to Bruce Sterling's 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackout (on the whole mess in California.) Greg pointed out that this is a play on Wallace Steven's 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (he was a double Computer Science / English major at Tufts, in fact he probably gave me the idea.) It's funny that I my education would miss something like that. There are actually many other articles that play with that title.

monopoly 2001.01.27 
3 comments 
Mo and I went over to Lena's last night, just a casual time hanging out, eating Thai food, drinking a bit of Mike's Hard Lemonade (which is the best hard lemonade, much better than that pseudo-microbrew Doc Otis crap), playing Monopoly...

Ugh, Monopoly. I don't understand why people like this game. You never actually finish a game, just go around that stupid board again and again. (Though I do like that little race car.) It's depressing too, the luck of the dice the first few go 'rounds sets the course for the rest of the game, which is a little too close to real life for comfort. The Parker Brothers originally rejected it for having "52 Design Errors"... they thought a family game should last 45 minutes, have easy to understand rules, and a CLEAR WINNER. And they were right.

YOU'RE UNDER ARREST FOR EXCESSIVE BORINGNESS. GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

Update
I asked about yesterday's gram/kilogram issue on Usenet. The best answer included the following quote: (from "National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 330, 1991 edition.")
III.3 The kilogram
Among the base units of the International System, the unit of mass is the only one whose name, for historical reasons, contains a prefix. Names of decimal multiples and submultiples of the unit of mass are formed by attaching prefixes to the word "gram" (CIPM (1967), Recommendation 2)
I think the term "base unit" is ambiguous, making it a bit of a trick question, which is fair enough in Trivial Pursuit. (Though I still think I should've been given the benefit of the doubt.) Anyway, I am glad I know some of the reasons why now, it was worth tracking down.
1984 2001.01.28 
0 comments 
TV of the Moment
I was watching CBS "Superbowl's Greatest Commercials" while I was on the stairmaster. Ads are kind of a guilty pleasure, but they represent smart people trying to catch your attention, impress both you and their fellow ad makers. If nothing else, this show had the legendary Macintosh 1984 spot. Man, that runner's pretty cute, even if her hair is a bit on the fluffy side. The commercial's kind of like "Logan's Run Lola Run". (That last sentence is pretty funny if you catch both references .) You know, it's kind of funny how that face looks like it's being done over RealMedia and a crappy connection, badly synched sound and all. I guess Macintosh was ahead of its time.

Quote of the Moment
"There is no one quite so righteous as a former sinner who finds salvation and no one quite as enthusiastic as a former choirboy who discovers sin."
--Robert Davolt, former choirboy

Link of the Moment
Wow, not for the squeamish, it's Daily Radar's 20 Gnarliest Torture Devices of All Time. Man's inhumanity to man makes can make a really amazing spectacle sometimes. (And then there's Monopoly.)

brrr 2001.01.29 
1 comment 
Ramble of the Moment
Watching the Superbowl. Actually, Sting in the pregame show (for his desert rose song, it's kind of odd, the dancers keep showing us their underwear and pantyhose... must be poorly designed costumes.) Man, String singing bad covers of his greatest hits... ugh.

Anyway, It's 5:48 pm. It's light in Florida but dark here. I live too far North. It's not just the cold, but the dark as well. Darn it all to heck. At least then it would be warm.

Funny Link of the Moment
In the spirit of Wicked Spanish and Wicked French, it's the Zompist Phrasebook.

Political TechnoProtest
The protestors in Switzerland have come up with this cool way of getting their message to the Davos delegates.

Quote of the Moment
As I said in Ansible 152 about another piece of technology, "I may be as disappointed in this as I was in the error-correcting modem, the magnetic stud finder, the universal remote control, and the Radio Shack male-to-female, female-to-male conversion kit."
--Timothy A. McDaniel, via alt.humor.best-of-usenet

obscure genius 2001.01.30 
0 comments 
I think I've finally found a good use for those hundreds of business cards every employer insists on giving me: an almost endless supply of bookmarks! I'm a genius!

Musician Dirty Joke
A Soprano and her Saxophone Player Boyfriend are engaged in intimate relations...
Soprano: "Honey... honey, I think you should pull out..."
Boyfriend: "Why, am I sharp?"
Only people who've been in a band will really understand the punchline... everyone else, it's not as kinky as it might sound..

Quote of the Moment
"That was really.... stellar."

two digit years 2001.01.31 
0 comments 
Two Digit Years
I guess it's pretty natural for us to think in terms of two digit years, given both our lifespans (often under a century) and our attention spans (often under a minute or so-- though I'm thinking of our tendency to use decades as era-markers.)

Anyway, we're going from the two digit year being a much larger number than most of our ages, to much less. Right now we're too distracted by the rollover to notice, but I think in a few decades we'll be surprised to notice how old we are relative to the year... I'll be 44 in '18, for instance. I think the trick will be to keep growing, learning, and changing... I've heard it says that our awareness of time passing is intimately related to rate of change, so if you stay static, the years are more likely to slip away un-noticed. (My journals over the last 4 years have helped a lot in having something to show for that time. It's not much, but it's mine.)

Imaginary Quote of the Moment
"That's me in the corner... that's me in the spotlight... Fundin' my Religion"
--George W. Bush (via The Daily Show)
All the anti-abortionists saying "My tax dollars funding this in foriegn lands, no way!" seem to pretty quiet about the idea that my tax dollars might be supporting the spreading of religous doctrine I disagree with. On the other hand, I've seen the work The Salvation Army, and how they have one of the lowest overheads in terms of percentages.


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