2001 April❮❮prevnext❯❯

april showahs

Hrmph. Bracing myself for all the lame April's Fools fake news stories on all the web media I read. In general, none of them are all that funny, and it's frustrating because when there is a 'serious' post, you're not sure if you can believe it or not.

Post of the Moment
>If it looks like a duck..... and quacks like a duck....
>Its probably a duck....
Some people and some ducks believe this. Which is why duck decoys are so effective.
Binyamin Dissen in alt.humor.best-of-usenet


Wow. Was up til 6 or 7am at Kyle's party. Mostly playing Worms Armageddon. It's these funny little take-turns game where you have 3 or 4 opposing armies of these tiny worms... each packs quite a little arsenal, from bazookas to shotguns to explosive sheep and airstrikes. Blow up your enemy worms, or just push them into the sea below...

Quote of the Moment
They say comedy is tragedy plus time.. but you throwing a grenade and having bounce right back on your worm's head... that's just frickin' funny!
what I should have said last night

i forgot

Whoops... between a phone interview and a real one I forgot to put anything here til 8:30pm. So here's Esquire, publishing the short story Memento Mori that the movie Memento is based on.

guilty as charged

Unemployment is making me feel kind of funny. I'm neurotic enough that it makes me a little nervous, and I have some level of 'protestant work ethic' that says I should be working, but I love not having a full day of stuff to do ahead of me. Overall it makes me feel kind of guilty.

Quote of the Moment
life, n.: A whim of several billion cells to be you for a while.


The dangers of blenders
My dinner last night: instead of making my usual chocolate slimfast plus banana with milk, I made it with premixed Kahlua mudslide, plus a little milk. Yum. Though possibly not in the true slimfast spirit.

Link of the Moment
From the Brunching Shuttlecocks it's Satan on Laundry

fun with tablets


15 Megabytes of Fame 15 Megabytes of Fame

swing batter batter

Things looking pretty bright on the jobhunt. More later.... (yeah I'm probably totally leaving my massive audience in suspense.)

She Blinded Me With Science
New materials doing wacky things with light.

Story of the Moment
Did I ever tell you about the time I almost killed a gym teacher? Seventh or Eighth grade. We were playing T-ball, where you whack a softball off of a pole. I always had trouble with my stance, and how I held the bat, so the teacher helped me a bit and then backed away, telling me to swing. I did. Did I mention I tended to throw the bat? (It just seems so natural to make that part of the swing!) Anyway, I threw the bat directly into the gym teacher's gut. She was down, though I got to third before I realized there was a problem back at home plate. She had trouble breathing, I took off my shirt to put under her head (later she thanked me for that, I guess she knew that could be pretty traumatic for a chubby middle schooler), by the time the ambulance got there she was feeling ok but the ambulance took her off anyway. She was back the next day-- not even a bruise. I brought her balloons and a card-- I felt terrible. Half the school said "why'd you do that, man?" the other half said "Shoulda swung harder".

something fishy

To any blender readers here, I am working on getting a Digest out... somehow it's so hard to be productive when you have extra free time!

Exchange of the Moment
ranjit: i scanned some raw fish on my brand new scanner earlier. Gotta start it off with a bang.
kirk: wouldn't that make your later scanee items smell like raw fish?
ranjit: if only there were some way to clean objects!
kirk: this is why you should rely on restaurants for fish
kirk: I extend this philosophy to cooking in general
ranjit: Maybe someday someone will invent a spray for cleaning glass. They should make it blue!
kirk: the power of producing streak free glass pales compared to the olfactory force of the dark side of the fish.
--Kirk and Ranjit on AOL-IM. Screen names changed to protect the innocent.

Slashdot Scavenged Link of the Moment
There was an interesting read posted on slashdot, William Gibson on Japanese and British culture.

two types of bugs

Quote of the Moment
Humans chase love the same way that bugs chase bright light.

Slashsdot Link of the Moment
NT even sucks in outer space. You know, it seems odd that NASA would use off the shelf OSes and e-mail-- especially when it's not even Unix. They should have some kind of freaky Space OS! (Oh wait, maybe that's what the Russians' computers are doing...)

rude mood nude dude


Link of the Moment
Last night I caught the end of an HBO special on the making of Spencer Tunick's Naked States exhibit. He went across the United States, taking a picture of someone unclothed in each one. The shots are really well-crafted, and over all there's an interesting message about how we deal with body image in this culture. The documentary was interesting, the artist sounded a little whiny and neurotic.

We're such prudes about nudity in this country. I've heard people say "well, in Europe they have these topless beaches, and it's totally not a sex thing". Well, actually, no, it is about sex to some extent, and that's ok. A little dose of public sexuality is not a terrible thing. If it was, our country would be in bad shape, because the mass media is soaking in it. (And considering it's almost exclusively the pretty people who get naked on television, it's not surprising so many people have such body image issues... of course, our relationship with food doesn't help that either.) Anyway...

Quote of the Moment
"So much ouch to this life. So few Band-Aids."


Glad to see the the crew of the spy plan is coming home, though they still have the plane itself. Before news of that came out, but there was news of the hot dogging Chinese pilot hitting our plane which was on autopilot I thought maybe we could work up this apology to China:


Good thing I'm not a diplomat, huh? When I hear about China all I can think of is Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda saying (in a tone of pure idiot malice) "Apologize... Apologize!"

Quote of the Moment
Twas brillig, and the slithey toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe fifty basis points.
Alan Greenspan in New Yorker cartoon

zen for the masses

Ramble of the Moment
I post to Usenet quite a bit, though a lot less than I used to. I went through a period where I was sick of the "Israel"-ness of my name, just the possibility of annoying assumptions and having to explain it. For a while I used "Captain Kirk Is Real", but now it seems to show up as "Kirk Is". And I think I've forgotten where to change it. That's rather zen of me, actually.

Link of the Moment
X-entertainment is a must see site for anyone who grew up in the 80s. I have never seen so much kid's pop-cultural goodness in one place, taken apart in highly amusing fashion.


Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.
Maya Angelou, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

sick, twisted

Ok, I apologize in advance for this one... but it looks as if Easter may be a postponed due to some technical difficulties this year...(via camworld)

click for full view

Runner up in the "that's not right" contest: Peein' Kitty Barbie-- this seems to be a completely legitimate link, check the URL...

date toy

I was redoing my PDA (more on that later) when I noticed that August 16th is my 10K day! I'll be 10,000 days old that day. Funny, I don't feel a day over 8000... Anyway, I was reminded that I once had plans to make this as project, making a web interface to calculate the difference between any two dates, or figure out what date is a certain number of days away from another date. At first I assumed I would do this in Perl with round trips to the server, but javascript turned out to be a better bet...

Update: 5124 days later, I released a prettier, friendlier, and more functional version of this: TIMETOY.net... but I like to be able to compare that to this original version... and funny how prescient my experience with javascript vs perl was then...

So here it is. It can calculate in days, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds. You can give it a start date and an amount of time and calculate the end date, or you can give it a start date and an end date and calculate the time in between. Birthdays are an obvious fun starting point. Or count the minutes between now and Christmas. Let me know if you find something interesting. I've seeded it with 100 days from right now to give you the idea.

start date:
end date:

from difference

between dates

on the nature of time

So the month is half over, and taxes are due. Yikes! Mo's amazing and she did them for me. She rocks so much.

Anyways, I was always trying to figure out why the first part of a month would slip away so quickly, but then I realized it was part of the nature of weeks and two digit numbers... the first few days of the months slip by, you're busy thinking "hey, new month." And then a week starts (Sunday or Monday depending on how you count) and it goes by, right? And it's a decent length of a week, probably, maybe it goes slow, maybe it goes fast. But then... it's the tenth already! You're in the double digits... and if you're not careful, it can freak you out, and make you think time (and by extension life) is going faster than it is.

Anyway, Mo's dad is running the Boston Marathon, like his fifth or something... but this time he'll probably take it easy, enjoy the high-fiving and the like.

Information Toy of the Moment
So... another little toy to go along with yesterdays date-distance-mapper-- this one tells you what day of the week any given date is. (I was reading "Bridget Jone's Diary" and I realized I could figure out what year it took place in just by correlating the date and the day of the week, with checking the 'current events' of the book to get it in the ballpark. 1995, for the record, where Christmas is on a Monday.)
from date

Link of the Moment
Today Suck had a really cool pointed article on the economy.


'I studied philosophy in university and I always found it rather impotent. This is different. This is principle driven. It's practical. You can do something with it' [...] being definite, principle centered, and practical are not always good things. The Nazis were all of those things, more so than most people.
Mark Kingwell, "In Pursuit of Happiness"

Speaking of Nazis, my cousins and I were enjoying Conker's Bad Fur Day multiplayer. Especially the two levels that involve evil Nazi (well "Tediz") Teddy Bears vs. the French Resistance Squirrels. Shoot a Teddy enough and you blow his head off, with fluff coming out of his neck in spurts... the game has a lot of nice touches like that.

life as a sitcom

I was talking with Lee yesterday. I mentioned that Mo and I have differing ideas about the ideal living arrangement. She would love to get a house sometime reasonably soon, just a typical house that we would make a home. I on the other hand have less achievable ambitions. Although the sharing of bathtubs and kitchens wasn't so great, looking back, living in a big semi-communal arrangement in the Big Yellow House with 4 or 5 other people was a really fun time. It was great to have different people to talk to along with your SO, and it was trivial to get various multiplayer games going full tilt. Now it's a lot of work. So my ideal would have us with our own apartment of sorts, but within trivial walking distance (like, right down the hall) from a lot of friends. And if there wasn't communal space per se (ala common areas in dorms), there would still be a lot of unnanounced visits. But then, as I said to Lee: "F***-- I just realized I'm describing the set of Seinfeld, or Friends."


Quote of the Moment
"Well," the Goddess said, "your heart didn't heal straight the last time it broke. So we'll break it again and reset it so it heals straight this time."
Diane Duane, Door into Shadow

kung fu fighting

Decided to try to cut back on my cussing. It's just too easy a mode of speech, and then your swears are less effective when you really need them.

Link of the Moment
Stick Figure Kung Fu Theater -- really fantastic! I love how there are controls to take it frame by frame as well. Be warned though, the site its on is known for it's raunchy and really horrifying content, and some of the banner ads on that page might not be appropriate for most audiences. (I'll let you figure what audiences is would be appropriate for.)

clock rant

(1 comment)
A few months ago I wanted an alarm clock-radio that had digital tuning, so it would stay locked onto my favorite NPR station without drifting. The Radio Shack model I found tunes well enough and looks attractive, but is actively user hostile in design. Alarm clocks should be usable by sleepy people in the dark. Setting this clock's alarm and making sure it's on is a chore even in the daylight. Here's the control panel:
Strike One: all the buttons are the same size and shape. Eventually I trained my hand to know that top row, second one in from the gap is SLEEP (90 minutes of radio before turning itself off) but come on'it shouldn't be that hard.

Strike Two: I could not figure out how to set the alarm. It's as if they worked to make the button labels as unhelpful as possible...not only that, but it's easier to set the time than the alarm. The rocker switch on the front is labeled both tune up/down and hours/minutes, so obviously it has something to do with it. But none of the other button labels said 'set' or 'alarm'. Now, hitting 'MODE' seemed promising, because on the front panel it started flashing 'SET ON'. Hitting the hour/minutes button did nothing though. This is when I had to download a PDF copy of the manual. It turns out to set the alarm you have to also hold MEMORY/TIME down. Now, since that button on the front does double duty for tuning and time setting, it makes sense that you have to hold down another button or the clock has to be in 'set mode'. But both? Why is that? A little experimenting reveals the answer'if you hold MEMORY/TIME down and press the front button when not in 'set mode', you change the time. Not the alarm, the time. That means it's about twice as easy to change the time than to change the alarm. Now, which one do you think people do more often?

My college roomie Brian used to add or subtract hours to the time setting of his alarm clock rather than change the alarm time itself. For years I assumed he did it because of a sense of surreal-ness it added to everything. Now I'm wondering if he had a clock as user hostile as mine.

Strike Three: If there's one thing an alarm clock should do, it's wake you up on time. This clock has a little icon on the front panel. When you hit the [ALARM] ON/OFF button, this icon goes on and off. One might assume that this means the alarm is on, or that the alarm is off, accordingly. No. Because, see, if that switch on the left is on [RADIO] OFF, your alarm clock will not wake you up for love nor money. It might display its little alarm icon, lulling you into a false sense of security, but next morning that radio will not play. The stupidity of this design overwhelms me. I can see the half-assed logic (wanting to separate turning the alarm off in the morning from just hitting snooze) but' jeez. Your clock shouldn't lie to you.

For the exact same manufacturing costs, I could've designed a better UI than this. Just making labels less misleading would be a start. (I still don't know what '+5' does.) Changing a few behaviors (making it easier to change the alarm than the time setting, not showing the alarm icon if the alarm is turned off because of the switch) would be even better. Changing a few more electronic readouts could actually make it intuitive!

I hate to sound like a curmudgeon about this thing, but it really is bad. I'll try to justify my rant with this next quote:

Quote of the Moment
If people were going to use computers all day, everyday, the design of such machines was not solely a technical problem-- it was also an aesthetic one. A lousy interface would mean a lousy life.
Myron Krueger

News of the Moment
Salon article: Judge rules no webcast of McVeigh's execution. Now I'm against the death penalty. But if you're going to go for it, you should really go for it. Don't try to pretend there's some kind of dignity here. Go full tilt for the bread and circuses. If the people demand revenge in cold blood, give it to them! In full color! And Dolby Stereo! On national tv! Really get that "deterence" message out there!


Finally got around to downloading the pictures from my birthday party on the 31st. (E-mail me if you want to see them all.) This one of me blowing out the candles is a little creepy:

Gag of the Moment
At the risk of beating this into the ground, this is an excerpt from a fake Taiwan news story that's making the rounds:
In a heroic dogfight fought over international waters off the mainland China coast, a 1960s era American built Lockheed Electra (EP-3) propeller driven airliner with 24 US military crew, passengers and observers aboard chewed up one of China's best state-of-the-art supersonic jet fighter aircraft.

The Americans, utilizing the infrequently seen combat tactic of straight and level flight accomplished relying solely on autopilot, engaged the unfortunate single seat combat jet fighter aircraft and knocked it out of the air using only one of the EP-3's four formidable rotating air mass propellers.

You know, at the risk of sounding like a 1950s racist humorist, it's kind of funny that the downed pilot's name is Wang Wei. Change the 'a' to an 'o', and you have a very stupid but apropos little joke.

Link of the Moment
Found Diary of a heroin using girl. Not as fascinating as I thought when I first heard about it, but kind of interesting view of street life.

school days

Start my new job tomorrow. I think it'll be good to get that kind of structure back in my life, though I'll miss the free time I had. Still, I usually manage to make the time I need before and after work, so I'm not too worried.

Link of the Moment
I've kind of rediscovered my old academic website. This isn't my original design, but rather one I made after college. It's kind of interesting, though very old-school. Kirk's Head is kind of disturbing. The Bestiary is odd-- I was going through a phase where I was very interested in small, self-contained representations of creatures, almost as a form of artificial life. If there was a background in it, I wasn't as interested, because it broke the idea of image=creature. The link section there is sort of random. The funny thing is, I'm trying the same thing again, though this time I'm being very very picky about what goes in there. (Hopefully I'll have a big grand-opening of my 'best links page ever' in a few days.)

files ala funkyguys.com


Start my new job today. Guess I should get in the habit of writing this the night before.

Last night (errr, right now) I switched from my winter exercise gear (uhh, t-shirt and pajama bottoms and sandals) on the stairmaster to my summer exercise gear (black cutoff shorts a Scottsman gave me at summer camp, tank top, and sandals.) What a beautiful day it was all day.

Link of the Moment
NASA's Solar System Simulator (via slashdot) sounds cooler than it is...it lets you get static images of stellar body A from stellar body B at time C. Good for stargazers, guess I was looking for something more like a dynamic toy...

this land

Quote of the Moment
"Well, in conclusion I would just like to say that I don't think you guys oughta take comic books so seriously. I mean, dig on 'em, look at 'em, swap 'em, trade 'em, collect 'em, but don't take them so goddamn seriously. Comic and science-fiction fans of the world, get laid!!"
R. Crumb, interviewed by Peter Kuper
Not that I'm really into comics anyway, I think it's good advice in general.

History of the Moment
Last night Mo and I went to see O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen Brother's (who made Fargo) retelling of the Odyssey, with a really enjoyable streak of bluegrass. It got me thinking about Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land. There are two versions of it. Most of us know it as a kind of hooray-for-the-USA song from elementary school, but originally it was more of a Socialist Response to "God Bless America". You can see a little more information here.

This verse sticks in my head:

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted, said 'Private property.'
But on the other side it didn't say nothing.
This land was made for you and me
Good song.

your own eyes

Quote of the Moment
Robin: When you think, Batman, with those 4 supercrooks hangin' around, it's amazing somebody hasn't already reported this place to the police!
Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.
Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!
Super mega wicked campy. At first I thought Robin's final statement was just a goofy morality line, but then I read the IMDb entry and got the joke- he says that while the dynamic duo are 'climbing' the side of a building with their typical sideways camera trick.

Office Toy of the Moment
Scorpion Woman

#1 of a series
I've collected a few too many office toys, thought I'd start making a collection of photographs as I bring them in to my new job. Scorpion Woman (from Monroe Salt Works in Arlington) sits on my monitor. She's the first toy I bring in to a new situation.


Conspiracy Theory of the Moment
The Fifth Protocol of the Elders of Zion: Pika, Pika!
There is a theory in some Arab communities that Pokeémon is Japanese for "There is no God in the universe" or "I am a Jew" (not a shortening of "Pocket Monsters") and that the whole thing is a way of corrupting Arab youth with jewish mysticism and gambling. Or something.

Office Toy of the Moment
Pin 'Art' Thing

#2 of a series
I always wanted one of these things when I was a kid, so I bought one at a Kay-Bee post-Holiday sale. I'm resisting springing for the larger version from a Natural Wonders close out.

Quote of the Moment
In short, assume that any time it appears that evolution is working in reverse, it is probably an illusion.
Allen Barra
He's arguing that the conventional wisdom that today's pitchers just don't have what the old guys had is dead wrong.

bad noose

Quote of the Moment
Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.
Drew Carey, via IMDb

Web Tool of the Moment
Yesterday John pointed out that rot13.com is a working site (awesomea powa!) and has a rot13 translator. Rot13 (short for "rotate 13" I assume) is a purposefully very weak encoding system I've mostly seen used on Usenet when someone wishes to mask potentially offensive text content. The idea is each letter gets moved over 13 places in the alphabet so if you apply rot13 twice, you get the original text. (What with the alphabet being 26 letters and all.) You can see the Jargon File's definition and a collection of implementations in various computer languages. I've also coded up a working example toy in javascript:
Not as cool or accessible as the domain, but hey.

Bad News of the Moment
House passes fetus protection bill. I believe this might truly mark the begining of the end of abortion rights. It gives ammo-- (perhaps in an all too literal sense)-- to the people who argue that abortion providers are murderers. Oy.

I really think that a logical analysis of the prolife/prochoice debate will have to intersect the issues of fetus viability and whether the baby is 'wanted'. The non-intuitive extension of my thoughts is the idea that a very young infant is not an independently conscious being and should not be afforded the rights of such-- but it can and should gain some of those rights and protections as a part of a family-- in this view, a family (even if it's only made of two people) is in a sense, a virtual person... similar to the recognition a business can receive as a corporation.

Of course, people whose sense of personhood is tied into some mystical concept of a tangible soul won't find it easy to accept this view.

Jeez. Nature spontaneous aborts fetuses all the time. It's the age old question, is God the biggest abortionist of them all? I don't think believers have anything but handwaving for most of these questions.

In other bad news, free speech loses out: EBay to pull "Wind Done Gone". The rights we are giving to copyright holders are getting way out of control.

Oh, and George Bush 2's graceless hand brings more tension with China. Or as the Onion headline put it "First Chapter In History Of Sino-American War Of 2011 Already Written"


Finally making some progress on loveblender ii-- yesterday I opened up account creation and account-based-comment-boarding to the masses.

Quote of the Moment
Albert Camus is known to most as an existential writer and philosopher. But to me, he was much more. To me, Camus was the best damn table magician that ever lived. When I watched Albert handle a deck of cards, roll a franc across his fingers, or vanish a Gauloise, it didn't bother me that we were living in a random, godless universe. As a matter of fact, I liked it.
Penn Jillette, "Kamus, King of Cards"

Link of the Moment
NASA's Great Zooms from Space is really cool (it's been kicking around slashdot and camworld.) Movies that start from space and end up zoomed in on an American city. San Francisco is especially good, because of the way it involves the coast. Orlando's pretty good too-- I'm trying to figure out if it's the Epcot ball or what there at maximum zoom.

connection is made

Link of the Moment
A very interesting information toy: interconnected.org, aka Dirk, the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. (The name is a reference to a character and stated belief system in some Douglas Adams book.) Dirk asks people to state the connection between two objects or concepts. For example, "socks" is related to "feet" because "that's where you wear them", "white" because "a baseball team", "bill clinton" because "the first cat of the united states of america is named socks", etc. The cool part is you can then enter any two concepts, no matter how disparate, and it will try to find a connection between them-- and often succeed. The server is a bit slow these days, but it's still a great site. For example, "socks" is related to "atari" with the following path:
she has a cat named socks, what more proof do you need that she is a witch? hillary clinton
by golly, it looks like the alt.bible.prophecy mob are out to get her. Grow up, people! bible
Genesis is the first book of the Bible genesis
the SEGA Genesis is a system that will allow you to play video games video games
atari was one of the first big video game companies atari
Cool, huh? And you can try almost anything and get the path, and then add in any connections you feel are missing.

Joke of the Moment
A Peruvian military jet on anti-drug patrol recently shot down a Cessna seaplane carrying American missionaries.

Asked to justify the shootdown, a senior military officer responded that the Cessna had been carrying "the opiate of the masses."
Steve Holland via rec.humor.funny

megamo and megakirk

Wow. Put in a marathon session on blender ii yesterday. I wanted to get it so people could submit new poems using the new system before the end of the month. There's still a lot of development work I have to put it in to make the front page picks and new digest, but over all I'm happy with where I managed to get it.

Link of the Moment
When I was in high school, MegaMan was one of my favorite game series. The MegaMan Matrix is a great worship site for this group of games (after a while it became known for a long series of not-too-innovative sequels.) Part of the appeal was that every time your character defeated the 'boss' of one of the boards, he got that boss's weapon. But more than that, I think I liked the character design, these tightly drawn and animated characters of a bio-cyber- future. You can see what I mean on the BubbleMan stage page (from MegaMan 2, arguably the best in the series.) It had a 'sea' theme, and all those creatures fought against you. (Not shown are the tiny tiny (yet explosive) microfrogs "Kero" released from his mouth... I loved those things. Worth hunting down this game ROM and an emulator.
Anyway, I decided to see what Mo and I would look like as Mega Man characters. (An idea blatantly borrowed and enhanced from the top line of seanbaby's hostess page.) I'm pleased with the result.

Factoid of the Moment
Ted Turner is America's largest landowner, with nearly two million acres, or the rough equivalent of the land era of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
from a recent New Yorker article "The Lost Tycoon"

2001 April❮❮prevnext❯❯