2003 January❮❮prevnext❯❯

2003 for you and me

Well, Happy New Year!

Links of the Moment
Looking back: Dave Barry writes a sometimes bittersweet summary of the last year, and here's an eye-opening (admittedly left leaning, but considering the spin of the media and the administration, that's not such a bad thing) most over- and underplayed stories of the year. Looking towards the future, an provocative Fast Company piece on figuring out what you want to do with your life.

Games of the Moment
The Degenatron gaming system plays three exciting games including Defender of the Faith where you save the green dots with your fantastic flying red square! [Cool!] Monkey's Paradise where you swing from green dot to green dot with your red square monkey. [That's rad!] And Penatrator where you smash the green dots deep inside the mysterious red square. [Wow!] The Degenatron brings arcade realism to your living room! It can even tackle quarters and a strange sweaty man comes by to empty the machine on Fridays. Degenatron, fighting the evil of boredom! [I'll never go to school again!]
Announcer and kid's voices in a radio commercial inside of "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City".
Now here's the really weird thing, a modern return to a video gaming past that never was: One fan made an "emulator" for these hypothetical games of the 80s, so you can play those "old classics" on modern systems. They made the website so it looks like it was written by a fan, including a realistic "scan" of an old magazine ad for the games.


Song of the Moment
The Twelve STDs of Christmas. British, and strangely gruesome and hilarious. Other countries are so much more open about this stuff...compare to our government, trying to surpress information about how condoms can help prevent the spread of this stuff.

Quote of the Moment
Ralph's Observation: It is a mistake to let any mechanical object realise that you are in a hurry.

Article of the Moment
Slate.com on how holiday sales were up last year...they just didn't keep pace with inflation. Yeesh, I'd hate to think what we'd hear if people were actually buying less en masse.

Bad Manuals of the Year
Tecstandards.com had a Worst Manual Contest. I liked the scooter and rubik's cube instructions...nice touch, trying to learn how to solve a cube from a black and white diagram.

stop scratching at that, mother nature

Recently, I've realized that I tend to think of being able to see the grass and dirt and everything as nature's 'natural' condition, and things being covered with snow as something wrong...almost like a wound. And I'm getting the feeling that this is going to be one of those winters where that wound never quite heals...just as it seems to be getting a bit beter, bam, another storm comes along and dumps a few more inches.

Article of the Moment
My Life as a Nontraditional Ticket Reallocation Specialist. "Do not -- repeat, do not -- call me a scalper." Seems like a pretty good deal for all involved, actually.


Man, that's a lot of snow. I saw a guy snowboarding down our hill this morning, no joke. (And someone else crosscountry skiing down the sideroad yesterday.)

Review of the Moment
This Slate.com review of a book of breakup letters takes on a wonderful life of its own. I'm half tempted to use it as this month's blender feature. (Random side note...the number of poems to look at from last month? 666. I kid you not. A bit menacing, that.)

Geek Funny of the Moment
Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the super influential computer language C++, explains why he did it--to keep programmers rolling in dough. (Here's an actual slashdot interview with him, just so you don't think it's all fun and games.)



lumpy the snowman

Image and New Feature of the Moment
So, this weekend Mo and I made a snowman. I wrote up the story behind deciding to go make it for this month's loveblender ramble. Anyway, this picture I took of it inspired me to finally get a desktop wallpaper page up, with digital pix I've actually used as my desktop background. (Kind of inspired by seeing Ranjit's wallpaper page--there's one amazing shot of his dog Tikko.) Unlike most other wallpaper pages, I decided not to offer the various resolutions. Most browsers/OSes I've used (ok, Windows) seem smart enough to do the resizing automagically.

I like this lonely snowman. The red scarf tells me he's happy.

Rant of the Moment
Do many digital camera owners actually "think" in "megapixels"? That's the usual measure for a camera's resolution, but when someone says "this camera has 2.1 megapixels" it means very little to me, but the horizontal resolution, say, 1024 or 1600 or whatever, that's something I can think about, because most of my experience in fiddling with resolutions is with monitors. (And why is 1600x1200 called "2.1 megapixels"? 1600 * 1200 = 1,920,000. Yeesh.)

Quote of the Moment
We have apple juice champagne in Germany.
(Crazy?) Guy at Salem Walgreens, just came up to the cashier and me and said that. I have no idea if there's a deeper significance.

News of the Moment
If you're the Bush administration, and you want to do something about all the news of those troubling layoffs, what should you do? cut the funding for the program reporting the layoffs of course! The really amusing thing is that his dad did the same thing when he was presiding over a stalling economy. I guess we'll all have to rely on f'd company for our layoff news.

I heard one particularly scary idea...one Republican dream? Little Georgie in office 'til 2008, then his brother Jeb should be ready to make a run. Yikes! I think we've forgotten how fundamentally weird it is for this country to be run by a not particularly qualified son of a former president. "The Republicans: this country isn't a monarchy, but we're working on it."

Idea of the Moment
Ever wonder what would happen if you wore one of those "Hello! My name is..." nametags all the time? Scott has found out!

Man, I used to hate wearing nametags. If I had to wear one, I'd try to be cool and wear it down low or something. That's so silly. What was I thinking? "How dare you try to label me! Pigeonhole me in a box named...err, Kirk! I'm way too cool for your 'oh, everyone knows each other name and so there's so awkwardness about forgetting' games!"

faqiddy bopiddy boo

(1 comment)
FAQ of the Moment
The Lord of the Rings FAQ answers some questions, but avoids others, like what happened to Gandalf exactly, and if a Balrog has wings--but there's a seperate FAQ for that last one.

Actually, looking around, there seems to be a much more complete (meta?-)FAQ, but in a slightly less browsable form.

Bad News of the Moment
Mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy and maximum psychological trauma
the November 14th Warning from the FBI.
With 9/11 seeming surprisingly far away, with all this talk of a possible draft (probably won't come to anything...though I wonder if Washington would be less Gung Ho if more voters' kids were at risk), troops gathering around Iraq...sometimes I forget how screwed we really are here on the homefront. The CIA wouldn't be surprised by moving on Iraq bringing woes upon us back in the states.

Stupid things include, beyond worrying about my loved ones and masses of civilians getting hurt, the current economic stumbling is going to turn to a full-on implosion. And Bush will somehow come up smelling like a rose, as the nation continues to cower--er, rally behind him, despite how his policies will have made the situation increasingly dangerous for the guy on the streets. Spending money on antimissile systems instead of port inspections? Underfunding "Homeland Security"? 'There was a war on, son, and these terrible, terrible events prove how right we were to attack!' It's the same kind of logic that makes things so happy with Israelis and Arabs.

A few days ago I mentioned my metaconcern about my new apathy about Iraq...that's pretty much gone away now.

Followup: a reasonably balanced Conservative's view of GWB reminded me of an old point: what the hell happened to "humble" foreign policy?

I think the American People--I hope the American--I don't think, let me--I hope the American people trust me.
Please, wise sir, let us trust you to lead us into war!

Sports News of the Moment
Oh look, Ohio State over Miami for the equivalent of the national championship. Ohio State, 'cause of my time in Cleveland, and Tufts are the only college teams I'm even vaguely interested in.

love among the math geeks

Quote of the Moment
The number system is like human life. First you have the natural numbers. The ones that are whole and positive. Like the numbers of a small child. But human consciousness expands. The child discovers longing. Do you know the mathematical expression for longing? The negative numbers. The formalization of the feeling that you're missing something.

Music Quote of the Moment
I don't have any definite ideas but I have a feeling that I can only get at by describing this low budget Italian movie that I saw on TV the other night. It was real weird. There are these two be bop horn players out there blowing in this completely deserted field, and one guy, is lying on his, back and the other guy is standing on his head.
Then, while they are playing, these spys wearing bubble sunglasses, come running in and start shooting each other, but the two horn players just keep right on playing, and finally everybody kills each other and these guys are still out there and they're playing this stuff that sounds sort of like roller derby music and then the movie just ends. Real nuts. Anyway, that's sort of how I feel about music in 2002.
John Kurnick predicting the music of 2002 in a 1979 LA Weekly
via Bill the Splut, who also posts some predictions that were a bit more on target, in ways good and bad.

backlog flush #13

I've been a little link-light lately, so I thought I'd do the first backlog flush of the year (which brings us to early August of last year).


Oh man, the Ohio amusement park Cedar Point is about to reclaim the throne for the world's tallest, fastest Roller Coaster. this article has some of the details, later slashdot reported it with some additional links. Only 20 seconds (probably to help deal with moving people through at a good clip) but man do I need to get back to that park! I wonder if it's still calling itself "America's Roller Coast", because it's on Lake Erie (and tying into this "North Coast" moniker some of the US cities bordering the Great Lakes play around with.) My only problem is sometimes their coasters go for height and speed at the costs of loops...

Link of the Moment
It's the Infrared Zoo...cool pictures and also some educational sidenotes. (Though the sidenotes are basically "warm blooded animals are hot, cold blooded are about the temperature of their surroundings. And heat escapes through the eys and nose and mouth of fuzzy things".) Reminds me of those Predator movies. Also of the Infrared Visor in the game Metroid Prime...

Essay of the Moment
Cool 1994 Article on Creating Games (and the differences between games, puzzles, toys, and stories.) From the perspective of role-playing games, but with a lot of talk about computer games as well. He references SimCity as a non-goal-given 'toy'. Interesting that "The Sims", a hugely popular game by the same guy but on a more personal level, started out as a toy, but the latest ports to the PlayStation involve adding in explicit goals and the ability to 'win'. The author of that article has posted some other writings as well.

attack of the clods

Insult of the Moment
"And we're not allowed to watch spoilers here..."
"Uhh..I've got some spoilers Who wants to hear a spoiler? ... here's a spoiler... YOU WILL DIE ALONE."
A bit long, but laugh-out-loud funny...hardcore Star Wars fans (especially the ones in costume) are easy pickings. Some of the other videos in that archive are pretty good too.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Oh wait...I'm a geek too. And as if to prove it, here's my annual review of the Media I consumed last year: movies, books, video games. I did the same thing last year, for 2001. Interesting to see how the lists compare. I think I'm a little less consistent in recording this stuff, so this list might not be quite as complete.

Movies at the Cinema: (11)
Amelie, Attack of the Clones, Bourne Identity, Men in Black II, XXX, feardotcom, Barbershop, Spirited Away, K-19: The Widowmaker, Bowling for Columbine, Standing in the Shadow of Motown
Movies on Video/DVD: (50)
Fritz the Cat, Ghostbusters, Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness, Black Mask, Hard Boiled, Dracula 2000, Jin-Roh (the wolf brigade), M*A*S*H, Sugar & Spice, Interview with the Vampire, Holy Smoke!, Heathers, Rat Race, Sexy Beast, Metropolis, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Training Day, Mullholland Dr., ocean's eleven, Groundhog Day, bamboozled, Groundhog Day, Vanilla Sky, Haiku Tunnel, Ali, Pitch Black, American Pie 2, zoolander, Showgirls, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Orange Country, Strange Days, Cool Devices, O, Freddy Got Fingered, LotR: Fellowship of the Rings, Resident Evil, Cool Devices, Wet Hot American Summer, Cool Devices, Vanilla Sky, Making of Tron, Tron, Friday, Crash, 12 Chairs, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Queen of the Damned, The One, The Cell
Movies on TV (34)
Bedazzled, Demolition Man, Perfect, But I'm a Cheerleader, The Perfect Storm, Three To Tango, Black Sheep, The Last Supper, Saving Silverman, Meet the Parents, Rising Sun, Lethal Weapon, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Sister Act 2, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes , Big Kahuna, best of show, The Tailor of Panama, True Lies, If Looks Could Kill, A Very Brady Sequel, 2010, 2001, Joe Dirt, X-Files Series Finale, Pollock, Girlfight, It Came From Hollywood, Fever Pitch, 8 Heads in a Duffle Bag, Porky's, Snatch
Video Games (12)
Luigi's Mansion, Luigi's Mansion, Smashing Drive, Rogue Squadron, Super Mario 64, Doom 64, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Gold Coins, Bangai-O, Spybotics: The Nightfall Incident, Bangai-O, Metroid Prime, Blitz 20-02
Books (39)
How To Be Good (a novel), Galatea 2.2, True Names and the opening of the cyberspace frontier, Dispatches From The Tenth Circle, Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now, Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Arcade Fever, Conquest, Mastering Enterprise JavaBeans, The Meaning of it All -- thoughts of a citizen-scientist, Globalhead, Leash, Sex and the City, Our Dumb Century, Tuf Voyaging, Crystal Express, Mort, Amusing Musings, The Great Gatsby, The Joke, Equal Rites, Fever Pitch, Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, Still Life With Woodpecker, Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Episode 1, The Modern Man's Guide To Life, Garfield Food for Thought, All Families are Psychotic, Lipshtick, Pulp Fiction Screenplay, The Simplicity Reader, Good Poems, Permutation City, On The Road, Geeks, The 100 Happy Secrets of Happy People, From Clouds to Code, Struts Practical Guide
Comics/Graphic Novels (16)
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2 of 3), James Kochalka's The Sketchbook Diaries, 9-11 Emergency Relief, Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope, Wake Up and Smell the Cartoons of Shannon Wheeler, Big Book of Hell, Tank Girl, Caricature, Batman The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Dori Stories, Dark Knight Strikes Back, The Cartoon Guide to Sex , How To Know When You've Got It, Forty Years, Kingdom Come, Watchmen

FOLLOWUP: I went ahead and compiled the 2000 list of Kirk's media consumption into the same format. Incidentally, all of these lists are only things I see through more-or-less their entirity, I don't bother with HBO films I see half of, or video games I play with friends (as opposed to 'completing' in some sense.)

the pits

Exchange of the Moment
"If I fell in, you'd pull me out wouldn't you, Mr. President?"
"Certainly... ...after a suitable interval."
White House correspondent Sam Donaldson and President Jimmy Carter, on the edge of a fuel producing manure pit.

Link of the Moment
I browsed through last year's entries and made up a best of 2002 page...again, focused on stuff I created, rather than links. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single day where I posted all of the game buttons, so I did the non-interactive buttons instead, which were four on one page.

Web Surf of the Moment
That same guy who wrote that gaming article has a blog as well, with a decent essay on the definition of art (summary: games can definately be art. Maybe usually "low art" as opposed to "high art", but art.) The front of his main site mentioned he's started writing games in Blitz Basic, a simple to use game writing language that has both 2D and 3D forms. That led to a link for a kind of interesting multiplayer game, Squelch, where frogs battle it out to squish eachother in simple 2D environments. And also Mutton, which was only two players but featured flying cows and decent computer AI to play against. Going along with my usual procrastination-by-doing-things, I downloaded Blitz Basic...a lot of the lessons that come with it are from the Christian Coders Network, which seems like a kind of funny idea. It reminds me of a time when I thought all my doodling should be in service of my religion.

I guess getting so bogged down with my own Atari 2600 game has led me to seek other venues. I really should try to get back to that, though...

News Article of the Moment
Slate.com has Will Saletan pointing out some of the similarities in gullibility with the press and the clone story and what's happening with Iraq.

smile, you're on copious camera

There was this essay in the latest Wired (dang, I should go look up the author) by Jim Lewis, talking about our new found potential to record pretty much everything. An iPod could probably record everything you hear for a month, at middling fidelity. People with digital camcorders can record hours and hours of footage...but when was the last time you went back and watched that stuff? For the first time in history, the problem isn't recording our lives--it's having the time to review it.

That's one of the things having a weblog does for me, it gets me to put the most interesting stuff in my life in a browsable form. I'm still a digital packrat, with all of the almost 4000 photos I've taken over the past year and a half with my Canon Digital Elph filed away, but it's what I've posted here (and in my photobooks) that I'll most likely be looking back on in the years ahead.

Movies of the Moment
Wonderfully funny and surreal GI Joe public service announcements with new sound tracks.

Funny Drink of the Moment
The 'Trent Latte': A glass of black coffee, and a glass of steamed milk, in separate but equal portions.

for the birds

Funny of the Moment
"Beautiful day, isn't it?"
"Yes it is."
"Hear the birds?"
"Sometimes...I like to pretend that I'm deaf... and I try to imagine what it would be like.."
...not to be able to hear them...
....it's not so bad."
'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
HBO was having some kind of marathon.

Article of the Moment
"The Spy Who Gonged Me -- Was Chuck Barris a CIA Assassin?" That interesting tidbits, plus high(or low-)lights from "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game". (Come to think of it, it looks like the wolf files may have cribbed from Salon the Salon article I previously kisrael'd.)

Quote of the Moment
"If people really liked work, we'd still be plowing the ground with sticks and transporting goods on our back."
William Feather

Link of the Moment
It's the Budget Traveller's Guide to Sleeping in Airports, a guide to various cities and how happy you're going to be to sleep in their airports.

wild lude yonder

Funny of the Moment
"[This news report about American military pilots being given amphetamines] gives a whole new meaning to 'Winning the war on drugs.'"
from a Boston Globe letter to the editor, found by Larry M Headlund and posted to rec.humor.funny.

Unfunny of the Moment
BoingBoing is in mourning over news of a Surpreme Court decision extending copyrights to 95 years for corporations (70 years after the death of the creator for other works.) The Constitution grants Congress the power to grant copyright for a "limited" time--the defintion of "limited time" will be "for as long as Disney has lobbyists". Trot out the usual (but somewhat justified) handwringing about how this stomps all over the concept of Public Domain (which most people really don't get anyway) and speculation about what this kind of thought would've done for Shakespeare et al.

On the other hand...I dunno. The landscape is different with corporations about. Corporations are kind of scary, actually, yeah, they're "virtual people" but they're potentiall immortal...that's kind of trippy.

These problems aren't new though. Dickens had to fight pirate editions of his works...and Cervantes wrote part 2 of Don Quixote partially because of some unauthorized sequels that were gaining popularity. From that perspective, a certain amout of piracy is probably helpful to individual artists (at least in the long term) and to culture as a whole. On the other hand, it's probably good if it stays a bit at the fringes, other wise content producers do risk getting royally screwed, and thus less likely to produce interesting content.

Equation of the Moment
Happiness = P + (5*E) + (3*H) [...] "P stands for Personal Characteristics, including outlook on life, adaptability and resilience. E stands for Existence and relates to health, financial stability and friendships. And H represents Higher Order needs, and covers self-esteem, expectations, ambitions and sense of humour"
from this BBC report on some work by Social Scientists.

Quote of the Moment
The closer political metaphor [than 'regime change'] would be 'new blood'--and perhaps quite a bit of it.

breaking history

Quote of the Moment
Those who do not understand history should not be permitted to make it.
Carl Dershem, via the sig of Danny Sichel
Very appropriate of our current time I think.

Fruit of the Moment
Yikes! Bananas Split, maybe within a decade?

Link of the Moment
Adweek on the best 20 ad campaigns of the past 20 years. I don't know why I love this stuff so much. Heh... Bartles & Jaymes, "We thank you for your support." Hadn't thought of that for a looong time, but it was pretty great.

News of the Moment
Space Shuttle launches with the first Israeli astronaut. (Can Mel Brook's vision of "Jews in Space" from History of the World be far away?) Anyway, security was extra tight for this one...what a big target, in more than one sense of the word.

can't get no satisfaction

Quote of the Moment
Well, I'll tell you...it's like taking a leak lying down...
very unsatisfactory.
from a dream of Dion McGregor.
I finally got the CD "Dion McGregor Dreams Again" that I had previously kisrael'd...amazing stuff, some of it quite bawdy.

Link of the Moment
The law of the playground: "the least coherent encyclopaedia of playground insults on the internet". Kids are such jerks. I know I was. Maybe not as cruel as some of these guys though. Compelling reading.

Software of the Moment
Slashdot is staging some Q&A with the fine folks at GnuWin II...tons of free (as in beer, and in speech I believe) Windows ports of famous Linux games and tools. You know, I don't know if this helps Linux as an OS...if I can get Windows ports of all this interesting stuff, I'm probably even less likely to switch over.

And all those penguins...damn. It's as bad as Java a few year ago, and its endless array of products and tools with names based on coffee. Maybe worse...how stupid is it to have Tux the Penguin (the Linux mascot) running around your screen when you're running Windows? I guess a geek who was forced to run Windows at work might use it as a symbol of protest. And of marking himself as a giant nerd.

Survey Questions of the Moment
Poll questions divised Clinton advisors Dick Morris and Mark Penn.
In 1996, people giving the 'liberal' responses (No, Yes, No, No, and No, in that order) on 3 out of 5 of the questions were likely by a 2-to-1 margin to support Clinton, and the inverse for the 'conservative' responses and Dole. (I'd only answer 'conservatively' to one of those myself...and yeah, of course I supported Clinton) This was brought up in an Atlantic essay by Thomas Byrne, who thinks that it bodes well in the long run for the Democrats, despite the Republican's (war-driven?) current strength.

Kind of helps explain that whole Republican blowjob witch hunt, methinks.

backlog flush #14

Saw "Spider-Man" for the first time last night, a freebie Pay-Per-View. Not to sound like a barbarian, but they should have just called it "The Rack of Kirsten Dunst"...yowza. (And I thought of that before the scene in the rain. Ahem. I digress.)

So, once more we delve into my good old backlog. This brings us all the way up to halfway through last August!

backlog flush #15

Sorry, but I'm inspired to do more backlog flushes as the prospect of cutting down my backlog page so I can actually start using it again looms nearer. (And today's flush has a lot of images, usually a good thing in my book...though lately all my images have been mostly black, white, and gray.)

backlog flush #16


ice ice baby, too cold, too cold

Man, it's so dang cold. Nice weather for frozen ducks.

Taking a breather from those backlog flushes, even though I still have three more ready to go...don't want to risk losing my blogging vibe completely. Plus, although backlog flushes can be a bit out of date, they are pretty content rich, so I don't want my usual 2-to-4 bits daily to start suffering in comparison to its formal ten...

Of course, I doubt few of my readers think it's worth the fretting I'm giving it here.

Quote of the Moment
"Lust is what makes you keep wanting to do it, even when you have no desire to be with each other. Love is what makes you keep wanting to be with each other, even when you have no desire to do it."
Chiasmus is wordplay based on a phrase being followed by an inversion of that phrase--this page from the site is an excellent introduction.

Nostalgia of the Moment
"Let's play a game. I'll start by saying 'I one the sandbox'. You say 'I two the sandbox'."
"I two the sandbox."
"I three the sandbox."
"I four the sandbox."
"I five the sandbox."
"I six the sandbox."
"I seven the sandbox."
"I eight the sandbox."
"You ate the sandbox!? How did it taste?"
An old childhood gag I loved.
I think I got it from Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street. Popped into my head when we were talking about a 'sandbox' computer system for software testing at work.

Wargame of the Moment
Bill posted Gulf War 2, putting a not entirely implausible prediction of future events in the form of a mock computer wargame...scary stuff, you wonder if our leaders are given this much thought to the regional consequences.

Political Phrase of the Moment
"coalition of the willing"
Bush's term for "those violent mofos" who are willing to attack Iraq no matter how many people in the UN think it's a bad idea. Hm, I wouldn't count myself personally among the willing...anyway out of this coalition?

backlog flush #17

Man, not too harp on it, but it is so cold. It feels like I can almost sense the cold seeping into the bones of the house, gradually taking it over. I don't think that's how it's actually going to work out, but still.