January 1, 2003
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.(2 comments)
January 2, 2003
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. (4 comments)
January 3, 2003
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.(1 comment)
January 4, 2003
|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.)(7 comments)
January 5, 2003
January 6, 2003
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!" (1 comment)
January 7, 2003
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."
--GWB, Dec 18 2002, via Slate.com's Bushism of the Day. 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. (3 comments)
January 8, 2003
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."
--Smilla's Sense of Snow
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. (1 comment)
January 9, 2003
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).
- I never did get around to robocode, where you build a virtual robot in Java and send it into gladiator style games...I remember playing a similar game called Omega, where you bought tank hardware and wrote its software. I quickly found out a good beginning strategy is to just sit and scan and let the enemy tank come to you, so I ended up punching above my weight and got stuck at a plateau.
- The Time Travel Fund wants you to store a little money now, so the interest will pay for someone to travel back in time and bring you into the future.
- Net Memes Metanostalgia: last July, the NY Time was asking What Happened to that 'I Kiss You' Guy?
- Dan Bricklin on What Will People Pay For? (Answer: "Regular people are willing to pay money to interact with people they care about.")
- "As her tears blurred his receding figure into a ghostly memory, she realized how thoroughly he had broken her heart, like a steamroller grinding the shards of a perfume bottle into splintered, dusty oblivion, at least as much as one can 'break' a squishy organ composed of 70% water by weight; heck, let's be honest, you can no more break a heart than you can perform an appendectomy with a spoon, which is perhaps a better analogy for her pain in the first place."
--Phil Currier, runner up in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where people aim for the worst possible opening sentences to novels that hopefully never will be.
- Someone once recommended Krista Smash!, women's weightlifting links 'n' lessons, useful for beginners in general, not just women in particular. It's pretty amusing, especially the opening page.
- I have no idea why I grabbed a link to Anthony Campbell's Home Page.
- I was entertained by the idea of online female domination [R link, though I didn't notice any nudity]...getting people to send you money by commanding them to is kind of amusing. "Get to PayPal right now you little worm!"
- Salon on the impact of Air Jordans. Never like Air Jordans per se, but in high school I went through a series of huge chunky high tops, generally black and white. One of them where Adidas, just like Run DMC sang about "they're black and white, white with black stripe / the ones I like to wear when I rock the mic". That was totally me, except for the bit about the mic-rocking.
- Somethingawful's ROM Pit...where old video games come to die and be mocked mercilessly.
January 10, 2003
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. (4 comments)
January 11, 2003
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."
--Star Wars Fan Geek and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the opening of 'Attack of the Clones', from the Conan O'Brien show. 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
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.) (2 comments)
January 12, 2003
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.
January 13, 2003There was this essay in the latest Wired
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.
--this article via boingboing. (1 comment)
January 14, 2003
Funny of the Moment
"Yes it is."
"Hear the birds?"
"Yes I do."
"Sometimes...I like to imagine what it would be like..to be deaf...and not be able to hear the birds... ....it's not so bad."
--Poor Transcription from '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."
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.
January 15, 2003Funny 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. Heheheheh.
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."
--Christopher Hitchens in an article on Slate.com
January 16, 2003Quote 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.
January 17, 2003Quote 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
- Do you believe homosexuality is morally wrong?
- Do you ever personally look at pornography?
- Would you look down on someone who had an affair while being married?
- Do you believe sex before marriage is morally wrong?
- Is religion very important in your life?
Kind of helps explain that whole Republican blowjob witch hunt, methinks.(1 comment)
January 18, 2003
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!
- Kartoo is a cool-looking but ultimately not terribly useful search engine that graphically displays the relationships between sites matching your search.
- I must have made a note to check out FreeRIP to help with making some mix CDs...haven't tried it yet though.
- Ranjit preserved his old Word.com staff page, including such
FlashShockwave-based hits as "Zen Meat Garden", "Anti-Tapioca", and "The Crossing Guard's Coffee Break". For reasons that are unclear to me, I added "Metal Fingers In My Body" to this backlog entry, the name of an animated pornographic techno music video =about a robot gigolo. Unfortunately I couldn't refind a link to the video itself.
- Who doesn't love Paul Harvey? A bit much on the conservative side, but you have to respect his principles and work ethic. I think he's a Salvationist, actually. (I.e. attends The Salvation Army as his church.)
- An article on Ben Franklin and his "Junto" group, a supper club that achieved many cool things.
- The offical free software Hello World program. Another blow for the Open Source movement!
- Slate's "ad report card" on Viagra vs Enzyte. Those Enzyte ads are really odd. I didn't realize that the phrase "suffragium asotus", displayed after Enzyte's name, isn't a chemical, just dog-Latin for "sensual assistance".
- Wage-slave.org has made a Scorecard of Evil to keep track of our beloved president.
- Saltine has a lot of good ideas, including an idea for yet another flavor of Diet Coke.
- Looks like someone in Australia has managed to patent the wheel. I guess this is mostly to point out how absurd the world's patent systems have gotten.
January 19, 2003
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.)
- This globe is an image I modified for use for an online New Year's Day invitation. I just think it looks cool. That New Year's Party (1997->1998, I remember because of the animated gif I made of crossing the 7 to form the 8) was the first big social ocassions for me and Mo as a couple.
- Strong Bad checks his email. Some funny stuff. More recently, the Homestar Runner main menu has been loaded with a ton of classic video game references. Oldtimers might get a chuckle by putting the mouse over the e-mail button.
This place is not a place of honor.
No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.
Nothing valued is here.
This place is a message and part of a system of messages.
Pay attention to it!
Sending this message was important to us.
We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
--from an attempt at coming up with a label for a radioactive dump that will be understandable 10,000 years from now. I guess the text is ideally what we'd like to say, to the right is one pictograph to convery that. (Scroll down most of the way on the page to see the full-size version.) I think the goofy picture will work better than the "giant spiky avant guard sculpture" for scaring people off.
- A lot of people seem to be taken by the tales of the robot Boilerplate, the Victorian era Mechanical Man.
- Gamestudies.org has some interesting articles about video games, including this interview with Sims-creator Will Wright.
- The Christian Science Monitor thinks that claims of Grade Inflation may be a bit inflated themselves. I dunno, but I'm not sure if I should have gotten all A's in all my comp sci classes. I was good, but that good?
- Finally the cimbalom fell silent too, and we all stood in a circle around Jaroslov, who looked at me and said it was all because we'd stayed there, that he hadn't wanted to stay, he'd wanted to go out in the fields, especially now that I'd come, how beautiful it would have sound under the stars. "Don't talk so much," I told him, "What you need now is to be calm." I was thinking that although he probably would make it, as the second fiddle had predicted, it would be a completely different life, a life without passionate devotion, without the strain of playing in the band, a life under the aegis of death, a second half, but a second half played after the game is lost, and I suddenly had the feeling that one's destiny is often complete long before death, and that Jaroslav's destiny had come to its end.
--Milan Kundera, "The Joke", after the character Jarosolov has had a heart attack. (One of these months I'm finally going to use the review I wrote of that for the Blender feature.) Interesting thought about destiny, however. Sometimes I have to shake the feeling that mine was sometime in high school or college. As pathetic as it sounds, doing interesting stuff and putting it on this website helps.
- According to the Brunching Shuttlecocks'
Good to know!
- Hmm, this Ruben Bolling cartoon ties in with my chatter about the Spider-Man movie yesterday (well sort of) but mostly I just like the image of GWB saying "Whatever you say, longhair!"
- I like the "What I've Learned" articles from the Esquire Feature Archive, though I haven't found any real gems yet.
January 20, 2003
- Online World Timeline. Well-researched. I'm still kind of glad I never got into this kind of gaming, though I've always liked the idea of these big shared online worlds.
- For a while I was really pineing for a GPS, and wanted to see if any of the ones that plugged into my Palm would worthwhile. here's a page with some articles and reviews. Instead, I decided to get a Playstation 2 for Christmas. I might regret that next time I'm lost while driving.
- "Take me to bed or lose me forever."
--Top Gun. I think 'Rosetta' once quoted this to me, and I thought it was a really sexy thing to say, completely missing that it was a movie quote.
- Salon piece on Urban legends and the snopes archive.
- The "First actual case of [a computer] bug being found", in 1946 or so. I think the consesus is that the term "bug" was around before this time, which is why the log keeper made the joke.
- Speaking of urban legends, I think some of the user reviews for that vibrating Harry Potter broomstick toy were faked and some of the funnier ones were removed--this article give an idea of what was there. Still pretty funny though.
The past doesn't go away. It keeps calling to us from
the woods, and at vulnerable moments, at twilight on a
fall day with a Chopin étude playing, it can be almost
overwhelming. Those old voices weeping and whispering.
I have my ghosts and you have yours. Tell me about it.
Meanwhile, the day passes, we eat dinner, we put the dishes
in the dishwasher, we clean up the kitchen, we pick up a
book, life goes on. I believe that
All of the lovers and the love they made --
Nothing that was between them was a mistake.
All that we did for love's sake
Was not wasted and will never fade.
A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago: "You can't regret all of the things you went through in order to get to the happiness where you are now." The old love prepared you for this new one. The tortured and exhausting 10 years with him is a crucial part of your education and can't be separated from the rest and burned. It's quite reasonable to still miss him after only two years. You're not imprinted with him, though, and you know that. You've moved on. You're only enjoying a little sweet sadness. What would an autumn night be like without it? What an inhuman life a person must lead to never experience such feelings.
--Garrison Keillor, writing as Mr. Blue on Salon. Man, I miss that column, though Salon still has the archive available... including some advice in a response back to me on getting hitched with Mo. ("Concerned About My Calm", about 3/4 of the way down).
- Slashdot played 10 Questions with Larry Wall, inventor of the geek's friend computer language Perl. Includes some talk on his Christian faith.
If you think you are in love, go to a restaurant
called The Greenhouse in Harvard Square in
Cambridge. Order some fries to go. They cost
two dollars and five cents with tax and come in
a wax cup with foil over the top and may be the
best french fries in the world. Tell the object of
your affection that your religion prohibits you
from sharing fries except with people who are
in love with you. If they cannot admit to being
in love with you at least you still have the fries.
They are that good. These french fries can
--Fries With That, a prose poem I wrote and put on the loveblender a long time ago.
- I had this backlogged as videogame MST3K...it's the oddest videogame review I've ever seen.
January 21, 2003
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."
--Judith Viorst, from an website on chiasmus 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 sanbox'."
"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? (1 comment)
January 22, 2003
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.
- Interesting concept, someone viewing the letters section of "Robert Merry's Museum", a children's magazine of the 1800s, as kind of an early primitive online community.
"A man who lies cannot love."
"Now that sounds like a fortune cookie."
-- from the movie Cactus Flower
- Some cool old videogame material...I liked the old Atari catalogs. Its parent page has some neat stuff as well.
- I'm not sure why I backlogged the lyrics to Bury Me Deep, but it's kind of a cool idea, being buried in such a way (without casket or cremation) that you can return to nature...
- ZZZonline, a cool weekly newsletter about technology, talked about how some of the new euro coins can act as batteries when touched by sweaty hands, releasing a lot of dangerous nickel in the process.
- "For most middle-class savers, ruthless economizing is a little like volunteering for poverty so that you can live in diminished circumstances at some later, possibly postnuclear, date."
--Denis Boyles from The Modern Man's Guide To Life. Sometimes I wonder about if it's still a good idea, like as an emergency preparedness thing in case of a big terrorist attack.
- For the "get around to it someday" file, I want to make some of my own photo mosaics from my own image collection. Mazaika is one tool for that, Commuter is another. (that second page though...links are in colored boxes? Who the heck thinks it's a good idea to make links look like keywords from a Google cache search?)
- Résumé discussion: on slashdot, SAGEwire, and Ask The Headhunter.
- I kisrael'd Make Your Own Bush Speech a while back, mentioning it was a little annoying that you couldn't repeat phrases. And making the rounds now is someone who made the video that everyone would want to make with that toy using real State of the Union footage, expertly spliced.
Yesterdayland are the sites
that come up most often when I'm googling for random toys I remember from
like Leon Neon
(I was thinking of the stupid song..."Shine on, Leon Neon!") and Madballs, as covered by
This to the right is Oculus Orbus...he was the only Madball I actually owned...I thought a big eyeball was a lot cooler than the other monster faces, though the skull isn't so bad. To be fair, X-E is a lot more personal than Yesterdayland. (1
January 23, 2003
Passage of the Moment
There are the very bad chimpanzees, with their patriarchal "demonic males," and the very good "gentle apes"--the bonobos, pygmy chimps whose females rule. The bonobos have a lot of recreational sex, whereas violence prevails among the demonic mails of certain larger primate species. As the Harvard notetaker puts it, "So basically Bonobos are a species of female dominated sex freaks. Cool."
--Ron Rosenbaum, in an Atlantic article "Sex Week At Yale"
Health News of the Moment
Arrrrrr, eat some damn fruit, ya scurvy dog!
Historical Loss of the Moment
R.I.P. Bill Mauldin, the artist whose
cartoons reflected the experience of
Joe Infantryman during WWII.
Quote of the Moment
"We have no justification at all for a war on Iraq. The logic of the situation beggars belief. It is manufactured by George Bush, and oil is a factor."
--British Labour Party chairman, speaking ON the record to the London Telegraph, via this Salon Premium article. Don't you wish we had politicians who could talk like this? Which is going against his own party's head?
Movie Quote of the Moment
"You want a cigarette...or a blindfold?"
"No thanks. I'm afraid of the dark, and cigarettes will kill ya."
Prison Guard and Ernest at the electric chair, Ernest Goes To Jail. Good gawsh almighty, WHY DOES THIS MOVIE EXIST?January 24, 2003So, looking at the guestbook, Dylan and his sidebar have a few fans. I really like hosting his sidebar. It's a good synergy...he gets more readers than a random out there in cyberspace 'blog would have, and I get interesting content for my site. I copied the "about" link from the archives page unto the front page, next to the link for the archives, so people might get a clearer idea what we're up to. (Someone wondered if Dylan was just a different persona that I'd put on...nope!)
Toys of the Moment
The real fun comes when you put together a big enough set of blocks so that they start to exhibit fractal geometry, and the marbles actually roll through fractional dimensions and may come out inside-out, or disappear entirely, or have something subtly *wrong* with them that causes the family dog to growl and bark and try to shove the kids out of the room.
--Stefan Jones, on a BoingBoing.net message board, about the marble tracks in wooden blocks toy Cuboro.
Thoughtpiece of the Moment
An interesting, if long, Flash presentation trying to get at some of the meaning of Kubrick's 2001. It's in 4 parts...I thought the final part was a little goofy, but then again, so is the drawn-out ending sequence of the movie.
Prediction of the Moment
"The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it."
--Vannevar Bush, in a 1945 Atlantic article "As We May Think". Great speculation about the future of mankind and technology; dead wrong in someplaces, stunningly right in others. Also, it seems to be one of the descriptions of hypertext. The Web ended up very different than his description, and sometimes for good reason, but still. Some folks are trying to make a Virtual Memex, the machine for sharing trails of connections between microfiched documents that Vannevar Bush describes.
Article of the Moment
New Delhi physicist Sugata Mitra sets up a 'Net connected computer in a slum in India and then see what happens. the results are pretty amazing; illiterate kids quickly gain a functional computer literacy and can do amazing feats of research. Mitra thinks 100,000 of these could be set up for about $2 billion; though I wonder if vandalism will ever be much of a problem. (This link is an interesting tie-in to that last Vannevar Bush Atlantic article.)
Grumble of the Moment
You have my permission to punch anyone who tries to argue that the recent cold snap somehow diminishes the chances that Global Warming is happening. Duhr, the environment is very complex, what we're seeing is more extreme weather...as attested to by the big increase in insurance claims for weather realted stuff over the last few decades. (Note: my permission is likely not sufficient to authorize random punching.) (4 comments)January 25, 2003
January 26, 2003
- The Pillar House was a restaurant in Newton that you could see from 128. Classy place, now closed, but the history is interesting. I remember going with my Uncle Bill once, meeting a friend of his. They had a wager that the first person to find a job (they were both laid-off, this may have been the recession of the early 1990s) treated the other to lunch, I think it was the other guy treating. I think the other guy talking to his son was the only time I've actually heard soda called "tonic" in the wild.
- "The only good thing about moving is that you'll never again wonder who your real friends are. They're the ones carrying your sofabed."
--The Modern Man's Guide To Life
- "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."
- True life observation: You know you're a programmer when you see a chapter of a book labeled "03" and you think 'well I guess they wanted it to sort correctly.' (See, if you always do two digit numbers from 00 to 99, they'll sort alphabetically, which is how a lot of systems (like Windows' files) does things--without two digits, "10" would come before "2".)
- "You don't choose the things you believe in, they choose you"
- Also, for mysterious internal hardware considerations, the motion registers should not be modified for at least 24 machine cycles after an HMOVE command.
--from the Stella Programming Guide (for the Atari 2600). I just love a technical reference that says "for mysterious internal hardware considerations".
- Ryze seems to be an interesting idea for online community networking.
- Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing "A lot of people in the weblog world are asking 'How can we make money doing this?' The answer is that most of us can't"
- I wanted to try to find some of the articles from that Yale U faux-Sex-in-the-City columnist but didn't get very far. I already kisrael'd that one awful Tufts attempt to do the same, which was a Cruel Site of the Day.
- "If you look really hard you'll forget you're going to die."
--Montgomery Clift, from Gryphon's Old .Plan file
News of the Moment
Hrrm. At first I was truly outraged about the story of the notebook clutching man who ran up to the UN Inspectors yelling "Save Me, Save Me", with the inspectors just letting the man be dragged away by Iraqi guards. Later though I read this Washington Post story, that says U.N. guards brought him into the compound, and handed him over once they found out the notebook was empty...I'm glad they didn't just completely ignore a possible lead, after all their bellyaching about not getting Iraqi scientists to talk with them. The metafilter comments board has some interesting viewpoints, though most don't seem to have heard the Washington Post details.
Online Game of the Moment
Oh man, this is addictive...iSketch, online "Pictionary". People gather in "rooms" of 10 or so, one person draws at a time, points are awarded, 100 for the first person to get it, 90 for the next, etc. A little frenetic at first, but great once you get the groove. Look me up as "kisrael.com" there.
Image of the Moment
--The Bernhard Oldendorff, docked at Salem, MA. I guess that's a coalburning electric plant. In trying to google some info, I found Boatnerd.com..."trainspotting" for big boats on the Great Lakes, mostly. (2 comments)January 27, 2003
Possible Irony of the Moment
US buys up Iraqi oil to stave off crisis. Laugh? Cry? I dunno.
Cry, come to think of it...do you know how closely rises in the price of oil map to downturns in our economy?
Man, I hate the whole rally 'round the flag benefit Bush will be getting. I can only hope that he mistimes it and gets his butt handed to him on a platter come election time.
Snarky Software Gripe of the Moment
Using formal 'Extreme Programming' methodologies, you're supposed to 'Measure Project Velocity' Thanks to a combination of heavyweight tools like Rational Clear Case, BEA Weblogic, and JBuilder 8 and less than state of the art PCs and a dodgey netowrk, it's more like we're out to 'Measure Project Viscosity'. Why Weblogic is the market leader and de facto standard is beyond me...J2EE's EJBs let you cluster, using several physical servers act as one, and Weblogic's performance pretty much makes sure you'll need to.
Fellow Java Software Developers, can I get an Amen?
UPDATE: John Sawers (who has his own good weblog) sent me this O'Reilly editorial rightfully slamming EJBs. I think the author is dead on: everything you want to do with EJBs can be done on its own, and generally with a lot less overhead (overhead in both the "server" and "learning" sense.) He points to EJB as the one bad apple in the J2EE barrel. I just hope that that bad apple, which has gotten a TON of attention and publicity, doesn't make people ignore the whole barrel. It might be just the in Microsoft needs to let its .NET scheme rule the world.
Doublespeak of the Moment
"One day, one way, sooner or later, Saddam Hussein will either disarm so peace can be preserved or a coalition will be sent in to do the job and protect the peace."
--White House spokesman Ari Fleischer from this CNN article. "a coalition will be sent in to [...] protect the peace"..."PROTECT THE PEACE"??? He keeps using that phrase. I do not think it means what he thinks it means. Hint: Inspectors might be protecting the peace. Diplomats might be protecting the peace. Sending in bombers and tanks is not protecting the peace.
(Sorry for the lack of fun links today...though yesterday's iSketch link almost makes up for it...) (3 comments)January 28, 2003
Is it superlame to have my head at the top of my website? Admittedly it's pretty stylized and all, but still.
Also, I wonder if I should switch to something like John's site has, with a comment link for every day. Or is the guestbook enough? I could do a comments page on a daily basis, though per entry wouldn't really work.
Cartoon Dialog of the Moment
"Would you please kiss me?"
"Say pretty please."
"Say pretty please with sugar on it."
"Pretty please with sugar on it."
"Say pretty please with sugar on it and a cherry on top."
"Pretty please with sugar on it and a cherry on top."
"Now jump through this hoop."
"Now sit up and beg."
[On knees] "I'm begging you."
"I can't kiss you because for some reason I no longer respect you. But here's a treat." [tosses nugget]
--Matt Groening, "Life in Hell"...I think I can find traces of this in my romantic history. Wish I could find an online source for these cartoons.
Link of the Moment
America the Bountiful, "Classic American Food from Antiquity to the Space Age". Neat perspective.
Quote of the Moment
"[Euphemisms] cover up the facts of life--of sex and reproduction and excretion--which inevitably remind even the most refined people that they are made of clay, or worse."
--Hugh Rawson, introduction to "A Dictionary of Euphemisms & Other Doubletalk". Peterman, who is lending me the book, was taken by its "FOP (Fog or Pomposity) Index", the sum of letters, syllables, and words in the euphemism divided by the same sum for the original phrase. Is there a word for the opposite of a Euphemism? (For example, "bullshit" for "euphemism"...we'll allow the gentle reader decide for him or herself which word is more appropriate for what we'll be hearing in tonight's State of the Union.)
Quick Link of the Moment
Chris Anderson, editor-on-chief from Wired is at the conference Davos and doing a journal for Slate, the latest entry about the Japan dinner makes for a good quick read--talks about how vibrant the youth culture in Japan is, despite its ongoing recession. For some reason, even being an entrenched married mortgaged corporate tool doesn't stop me from seeing that as a hopeful sign.January 29, 2003Slashdot of the Moment
Slashdot had some talk about if one can have an entire career in IT. (Comes from this editorial at MSN.) I think I'm generally good at some things beyond computers, but I'm not entirely sure what...
Cross Culture of the Moment
The Japanese smilies have the advantage of a much wider range of characters in their fonts. That's the 1-byte vs. 2-byte thing the author talks about... the "John Lennon" emoticon was pretty amusing.
Heh, this ties in with yesterday's Davos link I guess, about Japenese youth culture. The author claims the first set is pretty widely used. I know American Emoticon Dictionaries can be huge, but people tend to stick with :-) :-D :-/ and :-P (Software that automatically translates these into their yellow cartoon equivalents is a really dumb and overplayed idea, taking away the charm of the concept...and AOL Instant Messenger gets it wrong-- :-D is not big toothy smile, it's "laugh"...duh.)
Here's another page of 'Anime' Emoticons, with some overlap, but that can all be done with regular characters. I don't know if most people use the parens on the side or not.
Science of the Moment
Alas, it looks like the Spike Report, a good source of oddball news links, is going away. But what might be the last issue has a cool link about a new psychology experiment that shows how little of the world we really observe, compared to what we think we do. In this case, a guy asks you for directions. As you answer, two men pass between you, carrying a wooden door. Chances are that you won't notice that you're not talking to the same guy you were before the door passed between you. Amazing! Spike pointed to this page with video footage and this page with some cool links as well.
This indirectly ties in with some of the points in my mortality guide...coming back to the idea that our sense of self is more of a story we make up as we go along. Also, the first link really echoes what scifi author Douglas Adams described when he proposed the SEP ("Somebody Else's Problem") field: a way of making an item-- even a large one, like a spaceship-- effectively invisible by getting the brains of potential viewers to edit it out as "somebody else's problem". (2 comments)January 30, 2003
Link of the Moment
"Conversational Terrorism" is a bit strong of a name for this page, but it does offer many different techniques (with examples!) for railroading your way to victory or at least stalemate in almost any argument.
Quote of the Moment
"When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high."
--Kurt Vonnegut on the power of protest, from this In These Times interview. Also included this exchange: "That said, do you have any ideas for a really scary reality TV show?" "'C students from Yale.' It would stand your hair on end."
Writing of the Moment
Interesting Salon one-pager by a woman who enjoys look at other women. And no, not that way. And not that way either. (5 comments)January 31, 2003
I've been thinking about anxiety. You know when I get most anxious? It happens sometimes after I manage to lose myself in a movie, book, or video game...I start thinking along the lines of "huh, I've been really into this lately, it's like the outside world doesn't exist" and that makes me start getting meta-worried about the job market and big terrorist events, my two current neurosis-fodders. And that "worry I wasn't being worried enough" is much worse than my usual baseline concern.
The thing I'm starting to see is that worry--once you've allowed it to set some sensible precautions that hopefully you've overcome intertia for and acted on--just doesn't help. You might as well assume the best and be happy. And train yourself to appreciate what you've already experienced in this life and the memories you'd have even if some of the worse-case-scenarios did come to pass.
Man, Middle Class Americans are such wusses. Folks in Iraq have to worry about the barrages of cruise missiles that are likely to be headed in their general direction soon, folks in Israel (Israeli and Palestinean alike) are in daily fear of getting blow'd up, folks all over the world just don't know where their next meal is coming from, past generations of Americans (including my younger self) had much bigger fears about nuclear armegeddon, and I'm mostly worried about having a job that pays enough to pay my mortgage and keeps me sufficiently entertained.
Funny of the Moment
Reading our morning paper (La Presse, Montréal, Canada), I came across this comment by Pierre Foglia concerning the Washington snipers. They are being tried in Virginia because this is where there are the greater odds of a death penalty for Malvo (17 years old) and Allen Muhammad under two statutes: a state anti-terrorism law and one prohibiting the killing of more than one person in a three-year period.
My 13 year old son's comment: "Wow, Virginia has a bag limit on people!"
--Nerrivik Consultants, via rec.humor.funny