2003 August❮❮prevnext❯❯

space, the commercial frontier

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Logo of the Moment
So I noticed that tempur-pedic mattress tv spots featured this "Certified Space Technology" logo. The logo is appealing on a few levels, the title "Certified Space Technology" is nicely clunkly-retro-future, and then the letter "C" in SPACE is very clever. I guess it's a legit program. Man, I wish I could get my webpage to be Certified Space Technology.

Poem of the Moment


A blue bowl on the table in the dining room
fills with sunlight. From a sunlit room
I watch my neighbor's sugar maple turn
to shades of gold. It's late September. Soon...
Soon as I'm able I intend to turn
to gold myself. Somewhere I've read that soon
they'll have a formula for prime numbers
and once they do, the world's supposed to end
the way my neighbor always said it would -
in fire. I'll bet we'll all be given numbers
divisible by One and by themselves
and told to stand in line the way you would
for prime cuts at the butcher's. In the end,
maybe it's every man for himself.
Maybe it's someone hollering All Hands on
Deck! Abandon Ship! Women and Children First!
Anyway I'd like to get my hands on
you. I'd like to kiss your eyelids and make love
as if it were our last time, or the first,
or else the one and only form of love
divisible by which I yet remain myself.
Mary, folks are disappearing one by one.
They turn to gold and vanish like the leaves
of sugar maples. But we can save ourselves.
We'll pick our own salvations, one by one,
from a blue bowl full of sunlight until none is left.
Thomas Lynch, Poet and Undertaker.
I'm currently reading Lynch's wonderful collection of essays "Bodies In Motion And At Rest" (Mo pointed it out to me on the discount rack at Barnes & Noble, I think because of its interesting cover, but it was on my PalmPilot go books to get, based on hearing him on NPR.)
Lynch says this was one the only standalone success of a method he has of breaking writer's block. The method is to write a poem on 1. an inanimate object in your home 2. something you see outdoors 3. something from the daily papers 4. something from TV, possibly also pick some arbitrary poetic structure to adhere to.

woo, me?

Quote of the Moment
Among the highest and best uses of poetry, third only perhaps to the poxing of our enemies and the commemoration of our dead, is the wooing, outright, of our darlings.
Thomas Lynch

Catalog of the Moment
I'm pretty sure that American Science & Surplus is the same company that put out a catalog I loved so much in high school, and their website is even cooler. Here's a bit of their history. I think their biggest attraction would be for people who like to build electronic and other homebrew projects, but it's fun to read through. I also admire their use of the web, especially the links under "Jarvis' Idea Corner" on the lower left of every page.

Article of the Moment
In Slate, Christopher Hitchens reminds us that Bob Hope wasn't that funny. It kind of violates the idea of saying nothing but good of the dead, but still, I wish I had seen this a few days ago when all the tributes were going on.

three score and ten years to get to the freakin' punchline

Quote of the Moment
I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it.
Jack Handey

[insert floppy and hard drives joke here]

Sorry for yesterday's minimalistic update. Except for finishing up this month's loveblender I spent most of the day hanging out with my Aunt. A lot of the day we spent gaming, especially "Monkey Target" in "Super Monkey Ball 2" (the one where you have to roll your monkey ball down a skislope, click to let the hemispheres unfold into wings, and then hanglide to target islands over the water.)

We also spent a lot of time showing her Paint Shop Pro, and I was impressed with how quickly she picked it up. Also it's cool seeing someone get excited about some of the random abstract stuff you can do with it, like I was back when I first encountered the type of program back in highschool. (I should do a gallery of some of the stuff I've saved. Usually more cartoon-y than abstract, come to think of it.)

Also, I found out that she and I both share the same habit of making sure our respective wedding rings are worn so that the text on the inside is "right side up" (i.e. correctly oriented when holding out the hand with the fingers pointing up.) For her, it's an issue of "bad luck", for me it's this weird concern that the words would feel dizzy if they were upsidedown all the time. She was pleasantly startled to realize someone besides her shared that little "superstition".

Geekness of the Moment
Digital Data Porn is a repackaging of oldschool computer ads and images in an odd "pornsite-like" format. (No nudity or anything, at least as far as I can tell, though that one picture of someone going to lick an atari joystick is rather disturbingly blatant.) It kind of feels like a joke taking too far ("man, you collect these old images like other people collect girlie pix!" "wait...I have an idea!")
I kinda liked this lady here...for the Epson Handheld Computer HX-20. Maybe people had bigger hands back then, or something.

News of the Moment
I hadn't heard much about the Liberian Crossdressing Soldiers before Slate.com featured that article.
UPDATE: on the comments section, Mike Smith pointed out this related blog entry. You know, between this crossdressing stuff, that whole "sex with a virgin will cure AIDS" idea, and the whole "the Liberians will lay down there arms as soon as the Americans or other peace keepers move in, but we just can't bring ourselves to do it on our own"...I dunno, they don't seem like the most sophisticated warrior males in the world.

Random Ramble of the Moment
So lately I've been thinking about this little "shoot you" gesture I sometimes make when passing people in the hallway at work. You know the one I mean? It's kind of a toned version of a lounge-y "hey, here's looking at you, don't you go changing" gesture (often with a tongue click to go with it), you make a gun with your hand and get a few shots off.

I don't know if it's kind of a subconsciously aggressive thing or not, and if I'm more likely to do it towards men than women. I don't think I use it much when I'm really irritated with someone...though there is that one thing where you pretend to start to start to commit suicide, then shake your head and point the gun at the other guy's head instead...I have to be really irritated to do that though.

I usually use the traditional first finger as the barrel, and the thumb as the hammer, other fingers closed against the palm. (Though recently I learned some other folks (Hi, LAN3) hold their fingers wrapped around an invisible gun, using their first finger to squeeze the hypothetical trigger.) I've realized that when I put the hammer down, so to speak, I can't bend my thumb at the knuckle, the pointer finger curves along with it...more so in my right hand than my left, by a lot. So I just tuck in my thumb more where it hits the palm.

It's sometimes fun to end the shoot by blowing on the barrels, spinning the guns around your fingers then putting the gun back in its holster. LAN3 also pointed out additional merriment from then pretending to miss the holster, ala Don Knotts...

Of course, if someone does it to me, I simply show the bullet zinging off my clearly bulletproof chest. (I think I got that trick from Calvin and Hobbes.)

Sorry this is so random, for some reason I've been meaning to write about it for a few days now.

hot and wet and cold and clammy

Man is it humid these days. Such terrible sleeping weather, the bedclothes just get so damp...Ugh.

Metaphor of the Moment
Give a rat a piece of cheese every time it performs an unpleasant task. Pretty soon it will learn to appreciate that desk task. Or grow to despise its dependency on cheese.
Heh, talk about your Freudian slips, at first I wrote "desk" for "task", thanks for noticing bozo and Craig.

Link of the Moment
Awesome Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products from the old Loony Tunes...lots of screenshots. I didn't realize they were into the service industry as well!

Quote of the Moment
I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.
Jack Benny

what do we want? moderate change! when do we want it? within a reasonable timeframe!

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Manifesto of the Moment
Slightly irritated with the world? Wishing someone else would pinpoint the world's problems and fix them up? Are you an armchair dweller with a conscience? In your humble opinion, is George W. a schmuck but the USA deserve him anyway? Do you feel that capitalism is flawed but the best so far? Do you belong to the concerned thinking set unwilling to invest the energy to speak up? If so, you have a place in the Non-Extremists for Moderate Change! We promise soft places to sit and possibly discuss what other people should rather be doing with the world!!! Join!! You know you want to! Even if it's just to piss off that tired commie in your class!
Not much information beyond this manifesto, though I think they've had a presence at IgNobel prize ceremonies. (I was with Tufts pepband when we played for that, must've been like 1995 or so.) ...I think the manifesto may end with a few too many exclamation marks, considering.

Games of the Moment
Hoo-ray! Ranjit and the fine folks at gameLab have released a new game: Arcadia! It's actually four really simple games at once, you can't concentrate on any one too much. Kind of like juggling...also it sports great retrostyling ala late 70s videogames and those old Atari catalogs.

At first I was hoping to find out that the gamebuttons were some kind of inspiration, but actually the opposite is more likely, I came up with the non-interactive buttons (including 1D pong) and Ranjit encouraged me to pursue the game possibilities.

Link of the Moment
Just about the most overly designed wedding website you'll ever want to see. I really wonder about people who get a domain name for their wedding. It seems like a bit of abuse of the namespace, you know?

names of a digital age

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Link of the Moment
Amazing Voyeuristic (voyeuristic in the non-sexual sense, unless you get really "lucky") Google trick, the Random Personal Picture Finder. Some guy realized that many people don't bother to rename their digital photos from what their camera calls 'em before they put them online, so by doing Google image searches for random filenames that match those naming patterns you can get some interestingly mundane selections.

Game of the Moment
Lovely simple game, Bounce. At the shockwave site but actually using an engine called WildTangent, so the game has to download that first, but it's really painless. The game has a cool 2D physics model, with nicely elastic spheres that squish, pop-up, and roll down. I like the second game mode "Think" the best, figuring out how to make simple patterns. The other two modes are simpler line-up-color modes, either at your own pace or against the clock, respectively.

Bad News of the Moment
Bill (he and I seem to get this mutual linkage society thing going on) pointed out this alarming article on the possibilities of vote fraud...I don't know if every possible thing they point out is likely but still. And that whole Florida "we must purge the voter lists of ex-felons even if a few innocents lose their vote"...it's absolutely disgusting. Are they that worried about waves of felons rockin' the vote, or is it reasonable to suspect something worse? (Similarly, Slashdot pointed out Maryland's Govenor looking for a software audit of the voting machines.)

We need frickin' paper trails, morons. Pretty soon we'll be looking more and more like a third world country. (Or, tangentally, as the Washington Bureau Chief of Russia's ITAR-TASS News Agency convincingly argues, we're acting more and more like Cold War Era Soviet Union (Article is 1/3 of the way down, do a Ctrl-F search for "#5" or "Andrei Sitov".)

And of course, there's that whole "Arnold for Governor" thing now. Man, what a farce that state has become. You don't call "do-overs" for elections because you don't like the policies. At least we won't see "Arnold for President". (Unless they amend the constitution; I think back to Piers Anthony's "Bio of a Space Tyrant" where a guy from the moon that had been given to Puerto Rico became president of Jupiter (which had been given to and mapped to the United States) and they had to have an amendment because he was born off-planet...)

up against the wall

Random Image of the Moment
Ranjit mentioned the site of Brave Combo, amusingly at brave.com/bo. This image was on their FAQ, though not really explained combo founder Finch from David Lynch Byrne's flick "True Stories" (thanks to Harry, who pointed out the info was there but got the filmmaker wrong...)

Transcript of the Moment
F/O: Can you see there are some hills in front?
CAPT: What? There's what?
F/O: Some hills, isn't there?
[Sound of impact]
Last transmission of VASP Flight 168 near Sierra de Pacatuba, Brazil
Via this rather spooky page of the last words from doomed flights (includes some recordings). One really plaintive one was a Flight Officer whose last words were "Amy, I love you"

Schadenfreude of the Moment
Oh, cry me a river Darrell Issa..."Boo hoo, boo hoo, I only created this circus 'cause I wanted to be governor, but now this big bad bully actor is going to come and take it out from under me, boo hoo, boo hoo. I quit!"

What a punk.

get this pigeon off my head

Link of the Moment
Why not start your morning with Undeniable Forensic Proof that Paul McCartney really was replaced with a Look-Alike in 1966? Interesting animated GIFs, though obviously I don't find them that convincing...but I don't know enough about photography to refute them.

Photos of the Moment

looking back

Link of the Moment
Miles Hochstein's Documented Life is a pretty amazing autobiographical page. I've always wanted to do something like this for my self, mostly as a long term memory aid, but I don't think it would come out quite as well.

Introversion of the Moment
So I finally got around to making a public version of the "view all kisrael.com titles, sorted alphabetically" tool I used to make sure I don't duplicate titles. Of course, there were a few dups in 2001: I used "boom baby boom" in February and July, "to sleep perchance" in May and December, and "pop pop pop" in June and November. (I know you all care a lot.) I also do a lot of plays on "snow", probably because I like griping about it so much: snow problem, snow-oh, snowblow, snowjob, snowtime at the apollo, snowverwhelming, and my personal favorite pun on the subject, the snow blows.

Quote of the Moment
What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things.
Shigeru Miyamoto, from the back of a Nintendo Game Cube box.
He's one of the premier figures in videogames, bringing to life Donkey Kong, all the Mario games, Legend of Zelda, etc. I've heard him express similar sentiments before, it's what he'd really like videogames to be about.

that's not work! i just sit back and the fish fall into my gaping maw! it's fun!

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Interview of the Moment
News You Can Bruise / Deep Sea Interviews: (a rhyme!) the coffinfish.

Goofiness of the Moment
So the other day at breakfast with Dan and Nikki, the "Marion Blackberry" jam on the table got us thinking...Mo mentioned she thought that the name for that kind of blackberry was sometimes shortened to "Marionberry", which amused me greatly, given the former mayor of Washington D.C., Marion Barry. Who is, lo and behold, black. Which makes me wonder if his name was a bit of a joke, and if he has any siblings named "Elder", "Cran", or even "Logan". (This Oregon berry page was useful in the investigation.)

Request of the Moment
You know, it seems like a long time since I've heard any funny or clever riddles, jokes of the Question/Answer form. Well, I found this page but most are pretty lame. (Par for the course, most likely, but still.) Anyone know any good ones? Feel free to post 'em on the comments section.

Google came up with the following one (highlight with the mouse to see, mildly offensive...)

What's funnier than a dead baby?
A dead baby in a clown costume!
Well, not really a great one, but I chuckled.
UPDATE: Ranjit regaled me with
"What do Hungarian ghosts eat?
Which reminded me of my elementary school favorite:
What smells in a haunted house?
Scooby's Doo!
God, I loved that joke.

oh, yeah, what are you gonna do? release the dogs? or the bees? or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you?

Poem of the Moment
I love you,
And would brave anything for you.
Except bees.
I'm allergic to bees.
"Green Wave"
...it was in my Palm journal a long time ago (as well as on the front page of the loveblender.)
It turns out I've been reposting a paraphrasing by Rogers Cadenhead, the guy who runs Cruel Site of the Day (He and I have been writing about it.) The paraphrasing, along with some other wonderfully bad poems, is from Oh, the Inanity. I prefer this version to the original phrasing. Cadenhead also suggested checking out Seven Haiku at Night in a Convenience Store from the same literary journal "Green Fuse" (not "Wave").

Link of the Moment
Speaking of cruel sites, making the rounds are these bonded nickel replica of various disasters, from the collapsed Texas A&M bonfire tower to the Oklahoma City Federal Building to the OJ car chase.

Ramble of the Moment
I was finally getting to read documentedlife.com, and I found the author's page of Literature and Film that has stuck with him. It included a list of books that "resisted or defeated" him, including Tolkien's well-known stuff. I was like that with Tolkien for a long time...I figured I'd start with the Hobbit, and always get to about the same place in the book, right when they're floating out of the city in wine casks or whatever, when I'd just lose all interest. Finally a few years ago (when I had a nice walk to the T and then a trainride in, both providing generous amounts of reading time) I went back the Hobbit, and just got through it. Then I finished off the trilogy in reasonably short order.

Though now, I'm not sure if I would have bothered, or just have been content with the movies.

It's funny how some books introduced to us as children loom large, massive unreadable tomes, and then you come back to 'em years later, and they're just...well, regular novels for the most part. My parents had the first books of Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy in one volume...it was pretty hefty, and when one day I opened it and it started with a citation from the "Encyclopedia Galactica"... oh man! I thought it was some kind of unbelievably huge epic... it had its own encyclopedia for crying out loud. Then during a summer off for college, I started reading a friend's collection, he had them in much more manageable normal-recent-paperback editions, and got through those 3 plus a number of sequels no problem.

I had a similar experience with "The Great Gatsby", which was the one book I cliff-noted out of in high school. I returned to it last year, and while it started a bit rough, I ended up liking it a lot. I still think maybe I didn't get it the first time because I hadn't had any real heartbreak.

So, what books kicked your butt? And what books did you make a triumphant return to?

yay clié

Palm of the Moment
So I'm finally retiring the old Palm IIIc. Actually, it's Mo's old IIIc, she generously let me use the one she got when mine when on the fritz. I got the IIIc January 2001, though you can see be jonesing for something new a few days before. Wow...when I got that IIIc, I was still at my dot bomb!

Anyway, the IIIc was always a bit wider and longer than I liked, so I took to decorating its case with stickers, you can see the last rendition here on the left. I liked how the stickers piled up over the years.

UPDATE: Heheheheh. I carried this Palm with roughly that group of stickers for months, and only after having that picture posted for 10 hours do I notice the way the Small Soldiers Ogre's boulder turns the TITAN A.E. into "TIT". My inner 12-year-old must've been asleep!

Its replacement is a Sony Clié SJ22. I've kind of warmed up to it now that I see it's styling as a bit iBook-ish, but man, is this thing girly: But anyway. I think it's the cheapest PalmOS PDA out there with a 320x320 screen, which makes the pixels really tiny and the text look really nice. Plus you can read it in daylight, unlike the IIIc. (And the stylus isn't falling out all over the place, unlike my IIIc) It's not perfect as a doodle pad, it tends to jump a bit when reading the pen, but overall I'm secure enough in my manhood to be very happy with it. In fact, it probably is attractive enough that I'm not tempted to subvert it with stickers.

I know it might be odd to write this much about a piece of hardware, but I've had a PalmOS device with me ever since fall of 1997, so it's an important accompanist to my brain...

Invention of the Moment
Call me gadget-happy, but I think I'd really like to get one of those high-tech toilets Wired is writing about.

Prank of the Moment
ZUG has fun with credit card receipt signatures. I liked the surrealness of some of them.

I haven't thought about ZUG in a long time. I love how it informs you that "You're reading ZUG, the world's only comedy site."

builds brains 12 ways!

So Mo bought be this book, The Electric Meme, and it talks a lot about brains and memes (virus-like ideas.) His basic ideas is that Memes are less like viruses and more like prions (the kind of protein-folding thing that, for example, causes "Mad Cow") in the way they work with the existing material of the brain, and actually makes arguments that take memes away from being vague, poorly defined "ideas" to something tangible, if difficult to perfectly isolate. So the reading gets pretty difficult at times, and I can't say I'm following every sentence, but I just read a part where he's talking about how memories are changed from short term to long term, that the two types of memory are very different, and sleep is an important part of that. And for some reason I suddenly feel less bad about having to go to bed at night, now that I have a kind of mind-centric explanation for it. If that makes any sense.

Funny Link of the Moment
Back to ZUG: laugh-out-loud funny How To Draw The Nipples Back On Victoria's Secret Catalogue Models Using Adobe Photoshop and less funny but still clever, a collection of pranks: for office-life, campus-life, and general things with a computer.

Anecdote of the Moment
Went for a haircut, local BestCuts or whatever it is. Kind of an amusing exchange with the lady cutting my hair, who had just asked her coworker to pick her up some cigarettes at the store, (two for one special,) I was just making smalltalk:
"I haven't smoked since my Russian girlfriend in college, and not very much at all then, like 1 a day at most."
"Yeah? You're not going with her anymore?"
"Nah, I got married to someone who's more...Germanic, I guess."
"I dunno...short, blond spiky hair...looks kinda...Aryan? Cute."
Turns out she's the one Mo generally asks for there. Kinda funny that that description let her make the connection.

But what I find really clever is how the aprons they put over you have "BestCuts" printed on them...backwards, so you can read it when you're getting your haircut. (Makes more sense for a haircut place that probably struggles with name recognition (too many ____Cuts places out there) than for, say, an ambulance. "Thank god that Ambulance had what it was printed backwards in front of it! I never would have known what that big white truck with all the sirens bearing down on me was without that there for me to read in my mirror!")

captain abe

Everyone knew that young Abe Scheinfeldt was destined to find a vocation in religious work. Many thought he would become a cantor at the temple in his native Boston. His parents held a secret hope that he would become a rabbi.

But then, at 17, Abe encountered a street preacher who led him to faith in Jesus Christ.

For the next five years he sailed the world as a freight deckhand, reading the Bible and growing in faith, even though he had no human mentor to guide him.

When his ship finally returned to Boston, Abe chanced upon a Salvation Army open-air meeting. Almost immediately he decide to join the "salvation war." Within a year he became a cadet at the Army's School for Officer Training in New York, and in November 1901, he was commissioned as an officer and appointed to the Men's Social Service Department.

Following service in New York and New England, Captain Scheinfeldt was transferred to Grand Rapids, Mich., where he met and married another officer, newly commissioned Lieutenant Inez Witherington.

Less than six months later, when they were serving in Bloomington, Ind., the young couple's zeal put them at the center of a full-blown riot. The Bloomington Journal of Sept. 7, 1914, reported that Captain Abe was arrested for "holding a religious service on the streets of Bloomington."

"The police used their clubs on the heads of both men and women," the newspaper reported. Some 500 townspeople protested, but the authorities were adamant.

Three citizens posted bond for the captain, and he was released. Immediately he returned to his troops and began preaching again, only to be arrested once more. "By this time," the paper reported, "the crowd had swelled to at least 1,000 people and most of these followed him back to the jail."

Again local citizens posted bond, but this time Scheinfeldt, on advice of legal counsel, went into a nearby drugstore for refreshments while the crowd outside grew to "at least 1,500 to 2,000 people." The newspaper reported, "Every man, woman, and child in the crowd was protesting against the action of Mayor Harris and the police and deploring the arrest and disturbance of the Salvation Army leader when he was attempting to hold an outdoor religious service."

Abe Scheinfeldt's promising career was cut short by his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1927. His wife passed away in 1961, but the legacy of these two stalwart soldiers lives on in the lives of their daughter, Mrs. Brigadier Mary Moody, and a granddaughter, Major Betty Israel, now serving at The Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London, England.
Last page of the Spring 2003 edition of Priority!
Priority is one of the print publication of the Eastern Territory of the Salvation Army. (Though check out that site, it's interesting how modeled it seems to be on People magazine.) Abe Scheinfeldt was my great-grandfather.

... unionized bureaucracy ... "compassion" is not enough ... betray ...

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Buzzwords of the Moment
"decay ... failure (fail) ... collapse(ing) ... deeper ... crisis ... urgent(cy) ... destructive ... destroy ... sick ... pathetic ... lie ... liberal ... they/them ... unionized bureaucracy ... 'compassion' is not enough ... betray ... consequences ... limit(s) ... shallow ... traitors ... sensationalists ...

endanger ... coercion ... hypocrisy ... radical ... threaten ... devour ... waste ... corruption ... incompetent ... permissive attitudes ... destructive ... impose ... self- serving ... greed ... ideological ... insecure ... anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs ... pessimistic ... excuses ... intolerant ...

stagnation ... welfare ... corrupt ... selfish ... insensitive ... status quo ... mandate(s) ... taxes ... spend(ing) ... shame ... disgrace ... punish (poor ... ) ... bizarre ... cynicism ... cheat ... steal ... abuse of power ... machine ... bosses ... obsolete ... criminal rights ... red tape ... patronage."
--1990 Newt Gingrich memo, "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control." These words had been test-marketed and Republicans were urged to apply them to their oppenent and their opponent's record, proposals and party, via this Salon article.

Image of the Moment
Cleveland during the blackout, via Ross. That's a pretty spooky shot I thought. (I didn't mention the blackout much yesterday because I wanted it to be a one-entry kind of day.) Speaking of Cleveland in the dark, there's a pretty cool Blackout Blog that Clevland.com put up on a temporary server. Camworld.com had some cool photos from NYC as well as links to a lot of other photo galleries and writeups.

Line of the Moment
He was the kind of guy you could write home about...
if your parents were into booze, drugs and cheap sex...
from a cartoon by Stephanie Piro

bang zoom to the moon

Sig of the Moment
...while in space no one could hear you scream, it was damn sure not for lack of trying.
Funny of the Moment
I'm willing to accept that we all lived through a decade where three morbidly obese men making fart noises in Davey Crockett hats were considered talented musicians. It'll make a funny story for our grandchildren. But when those grandkids find out we let a studio make a movie based on them without even attempting arson... well, we're going to have a lot of explaining to do if we want to avoid becoming fuel for their grandpa-powered hover trucks.
Seanbaby on the Fat Boys in "Disorderlies"
from Decade of Rad: The 10 Eightiest Movies.


Art of the Moment

--a while back I posted some new art by Carly R., who was in my dorm one year at Tufts. Back then I would put up sheets of newspaper-type paper instead of the usual dry-erase board for leaving messages, and sometimes Carly would leave me drawings. (The child is aghast at the F-word some had written above...actually, it may have been Carly mentioning something she overheard someone say in the hall.) It's such a neat picture, such good shading, the teddy bear, the expression, even the pose of the legs. (This marks me find this giant binder I had put in all my papers I had saved from high school and college.)

Analysis of the Moment
Predicting the next big IT failure is about how some companies, by being the market leader at the top of their game and catering to the highest level of demand, become vulnerable to upstarts offering cheaper "good enough" solutions. When it comes to my profession, I see so many instances of over-engineering for the task at hand, thinking it's cheaper to buy an expensive off-the-shelf solution that can be then mangled to do the job just right rather than doing it from scratch...(I'm a big fan of the latter approach, for reasons both good (I really think it's the best approach) and greedy (it's also what I most enjoy doing.))

Geek Link of the Moment
From Slashdot, Before and After (well, "During") satellite pictures of the blackout.

Advice of the Moment
Kids, your birthday only comes once a year. Don't waste it on a metal detector.
Daughter of the Emily "Human Guinea Pig" Yoffe--the daughter had been seduced by a commercial for a metal detector.
From Slate.com's Human Guinea Pig Project article The perverse thrill of metal detecting, the world's worst hobby.

hip hop hooray

Hip Hop Mysteries of the Moment
So we had a party this weekend. It went ok but didn't jell quite as well as our last one. I felt bad because I kind of pushed out John Sawer's new mix with my old traditional one, but I really think that to get my crowd dancing, there's no substitute for that early-90s hiphop. That said, here are some random thoughts I've been having on some of the biggest hits in the genre.
You're on a mission and you're wishin'
someone could cure you're lonely condition
You're lookin' for love in all the wrong places
No fine girls just ugly faces
From frustration first inclination
Is to become a monk and leave the situation
But every dark tunnel has a light I hope
So don't hang yourself with a celibate rope
"Bust A Move" by Young MC
In the early 90s, were we really struck with a crisis of young men throwing in the towel and joining monasteries, even in a metaphorical sense? How many guys, when faced with difficulty getting female companionship, are really like to adopt this kind of "sour grapes" stance? "Feh. Women! Who needs 'em? I'd rather be celibate."

The next half hour was the same old thing
My mother buyin' me clothes from 1963
And then she lost her mind and did the ultimate
I asked her for Adidas, and she bought me Zips!
Ok. Here's the situation.
My parents went away on a week's vacation
And, they left the keys to the brand new Porsche
Would they mind? Mmm, well, of course not.
D. J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, "Parents Just Don't Understand"
So this goofy cheerful rap seems to have a bit of a dichotomy. Are the utterly fashion-ignorant and sensible sounding parents really going to buy a Porsche? It's such an odd detail, this song is all over the map, swinging wildly from "What's Happening" to "The Cosby Show". (Maybe it's that cross-cultural ability that let Will Smith transcend mere Fresh Princeness to attain Big Willie Style and save the planet from alien invasion like three or four times over.)
So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got the butt? (Hell yeah!)
Tell 'em to shake it! (Shake it!) Shake it! (Shake it!)
Shake that healthy butt!
Baby got back!
Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
This is an insanely popular song at parties, it really gets people dancing. I think mostly because woman (including white women, even though they kinda sort aren't as much the subject of the song as they seem to think) like being reminded that sexiness is not confined to twig-like models. (Though it's kind of odd that Mix A Lot mentions having a small waist twice in the song.) However, for men dancing along with these women who have a steady relationship with one of them, I do not recommend shouting "Yeah!" too loudly at the "does your girlfriend got the butt?" point in the song. Just some advice.

Quote of the Moment
Repetition is the only form of permanence that Nature can achieve.
George Santayana.
Chapter starting quote for the book "The Electric Meme", which was rather long and tough to follow but argued that memes most resemble "prions", in the way that they are brainstuff that replicates via causing other brainstuff to take its form, unlike viruses that have their own genetic payloads.

mouthful of fish

Animal of the Moment
Humuhumunukunukuapua'a - the (unofficial) state fish of Hawaii. Its name might mean something like "fish who comes out of the water and sounds like a pig." (I learned of this fish via Joy Sikorski's "How To Draw a Radish" page-a-day calendar, where she teaches you how to draw one of these beauties.)

Politics of the Moment
Slate comapares the public version of the Re-elect Bush website to the beta version that was accidentally exposed to the public. (They got rid of the delightfully informative link caption "See more Hispanic photos.")

Flash Toys of the Moment
Vectorpark has some great little flash toys. The Thomas page has a bunch of them...the one called Egg might be the coolest, as it morphs through many different structures, you can watch it for a long time. (Many of the little creations will follow the mouse pointer.) The Levers game is also kind of cool, make your own balancing mobile.

Plug of the Moment
My Sony Clié didn't come with a cradle, just a USB cable. Since a Sony Cradle new is $50 (what a ripoff!) I thought I'd see what I could E-bay up. What I found is a great $20 replacement by Moonlight Technologies...I decided to try my luck at the Ebay auction and got it for like $12.50. It seems solidly constructed, is reasonably cute, supports both USB and old school Serial, and is a great deal overall. I might try their foldout keyboard sometime for $40. UPDATE: I dropped them a quick e-mail saying basically what I said here, and got a human response in like ten minutes. Impressive!)

on a thursday in august

Advice of the Moment
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and Earth will have to pause and say, 'Here lived a great sweeper, who swept his job well.'
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Doggone it, today I'm going to be the very best Sales Tax and VAT software programmer I can be.

Link of the Moment
It's a lot of material, but if you like funny and bitter office writing, check out Enter the Cow-orker, many many blog-like entries from the past 2 years or so about one Australian guy's awful, awful officemate. If you're in a hurry check out this entry, this one (which makes sense if you consider the last one, plus all the other overheard phoneconversations related previously in the site), and this one.

Product of the Moment
Heh. On (I think) right wing Christian radio they were advertising the TV Guardian, a product that promised to automagically bleep out swear words on TV. I was wondering what miracle of speech recognition technology the conservatives had come up with this time, but according to the FAQ, it depends on finding the written version of the offending phrase inside the Closed Captioning, so anything with no or spotty captioning won't work. (Heh, the front page has a chart with some popular movies and what percentage of the cuss words get blocked...they mention that even the family favorite ET has Elliot calling his brother, and her I quote the site, "#!*&#breath". The #!*&# stands for "penis", I always thought "penis breath" was a terrifically evocative phrase. I'd hate to deprive a kid of that. (Really pointless reminiscence: I remember an old Wittenburg Door issue during the height of the ET craze, showing a parody dialog from some church council talking about this movie and its use of the "P-word", and one guy keeps asking "What's the P-word?")

what a way to go

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Headline of the Moment
From salon.com's AP feed, Thai man dies while laughing in sleep.

Quote of the Moment
When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord, in his wisdom, didn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked him to forgive me.
Emo Phillips

Image and Link of the Moment

--from Wired's article by the famous Edward Tufte PowerPoint Is Evil. I honestly don't think it's that bad, it's just basically an outline structure. But I think it's a funny picture.

Video Game Movie of the Moment
I previously posted about stunt videos from Grand Theft Auto (third entry in that days "video blowout"), people doing crazy stuff with that game's physics engine. I found something similar and wonderful with the X-box game Halo: Warthog Jumping. Blowing up grenades to send its All-Terrain combat vehicles soaring, against a very funny bunch of soundclips. (Some of the mirror sites seemed slow, but this one was pretty good.) There's also this page of further videos that I haven't seen much of yet.


Factoids of the Moment
  • Amount the Defense Department has lost track of, according to a 2000 report by its inspector general: $1,100,000,000,000
  • Ratio of this amount to the rest of the world's military budgets combined: 2:1

  • Video of the Moment
    I'd wanted to see that Fatboy Slim video with Christopher Walken dancing, and here it is online. Someone has also made a stick figure version.
    I thought that the original would have more wall dancing, but it was still kind of interesting.

    slouching towards joustpong

    Sorry yesterday's updates were so brief (though I'm heartened by the potential for political debate shown by yesterday's Comments) but I got wrapped up in trying to jumpstart my Atari 2600 JoustPong project that's been in a coma for almost a year. Turned out I was making a really boneheaded mistake, but one that could be oddly hidden at times.

    Travel Quote of the Moment
    The real reason for our going separately, however, is that I don't fly. I used to fly. I don't fly anymore. You know the bit I hate about air travel? It's the plummeting from a mile up in a blazing, cartwheeling tomb of shattering metal. That and the legroom.
    Mil Millington, "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About"

    Web Toy of the Moment
    Interview Adolf Hitler is an innovative teaching tool...you type questions in, and get responses back from the portrait of Adolph Hitler. As they found out on the metafilter discussion where I got the link, the technology is probably little more than keyword recognition, where certain words trigger certain responses, but still, it's reasonably convincing. I think it makes sense that this was made in the UK; it would be too controversial for most American eduction technologists to touch. In particular, it doesn't spoonfeed the student lines like "Hey, I'm so evil! Did I mention I'm evil?"--its answers are like those of a man who is convinced of his cause, and can make persuasive arguments about it. (Though people on mefi argue that Hitler was probably not an atheist as this site claims, and he does drop some late-20th century buzzwords like "basic human dignity".)

    Advice of the Moment
    I've been trying to use rechargable batteries more lately...but it took me a long while to come up with an acceptable strategy for using them, which is this: always have one more pair of rechargable batteries around than you "need". That way, when a remote or whatever stops working, you can immediately swap in the extras and then recharge the ones that just ran out, and those recharging ones then become your "extra" pair. (Come to think of it, this "always have a spare" rule applies to a lot of things, it's related to my recent observation "grill propane will never run out at a convenient time", hence purchase of an extra jug during our last party, and I'm thinking the same thing is going to happen with kitchen garbage bags.)

    Silly Brag of the Moment
    W00T, I got a story posted on slashdot. It's just a retread from PalmInfoCenter, and I actually made a small typo in the headline, but hey.

    of people who know what they want

    Sonnet of the Moment
    Let us not to the marriage of people who know what they want
    Admit impediments. Love doesn't vary
    Like you might change your hair style from pixie to bouffant
    Or throw away your swimsuit in January.
    Oh no, it is an ever fixéd mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
    It laughs at death and gooses statues in the park
    And loves a cheeseburger with extra bacon.
    Love's not time's fool though rosy lips and cheeks
    Get all wrinkly and veiny and saggy and gnarly.
    Love alters not with its brief hours and weeks
    So don't give up on it, Charley.
    If this be a big mistake and we wind up hissing and snarling
    There is nobody I'd rather be wrong with than you, my darling.
    from Garrison Keillor's new novel "Love Me".

    Literary Passage of the Moment
    Roo sighed.
    "Imagine a man is running along the street," he said.
    "What?" Tracey pulled a face at him.
    "Imagine a man running along the street."
    "Um, okay."
    "He's racing away, desperate to catch a bus that he sees is two hundred yards ahead of him, its indicator already flashing to pull out."
    "The man sprints towards it for all he's worth--arms waving, loose change flying out of his pockets."
    "But while he's still a good hundred and fifty yards away, he stumbles over a small dog--a Yorkshire terrier, perhaps--that disinterestedly crosses his path. He falls. Spinning awkwardly onto the pavement in the cruel oasis created by other pedestrians leaping out of the way. Failure. Wasted effort. A jagged rip in the elbow of his jacket where it's hit the ground. Ahead, unknowing, the bus pulls away and he's missed it."
    "Now, instead of a man, imagine it's you, and instead of a bus it's 'The Point.'"
    "Cheers for that. It's certainly cleared up a few worries I was having. Also, you're a twat."
    Mil Millington, from the novel "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About"

    Link of the Moment
    Things overheard on the London Underground...or not, the top of the page implies they may all be made up. Still some very cool reading.

    the short and long of it

    Quote of the Moment
    What I've learned is that life is too short and movies are too long.
    Denis Leary (in GQ...via Reader's Digest, heh.)

    Article of the Moment
    Kind of a gadfly article pointing out the ambiguity of the "10 Commandments". I had forgotten how what make up the ten is open to interpratation.

    upside the head

    Movie of the Moment
    Penguins! Thanks LAN3. (I think there's a small chance it might be faked, but it looks pretty real.)

    Online Toy of the Moment
    Now you can have a huge zombie attack in the comfort of your own computer, without all that tedious slime and annoying chants of "brains, brains". They're only pixels, but it's kind of cool to see a big room suddenly get thrown into a panic as a zombie wanders in.

    Quote of the Moment
    I have a new trademark for Fox: Fox News Channel: 'Wholly without merit.'
    Al Franken quoting Joe Conason's paraphrasing of the judge in the Fox vs. Al Franken suit.
    (After Fox tried to stop him from using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the title of his book.)

    not coddling, but understanding

    Site Comment of the Moment
    Just wanted to thank you out of the blue, Kisrael. As an atheist , a few years ago I had an existential crisis. I found your site and I found exactly what I was seeking. Not coddling, but understanding. Your mortality for skeptics section is one of the most useful things i've ever found on the internet.
    AuSkeptic, on yesterday's comments section.
    That's really one of the nicest complements I've received in a long while. Also re: yesterday's comments, yeah, on closer inspection, that penguin slap is totally fake.

    Toys of the Moment
    It turns out yesterday's Zombie Simulator was part of a much more interesting project--Processing seems to be a way of simplifying the creation of java applets...so these things will still run in any browser but they won't require quite so much difficult programming. Many of the applets on the front page are quite interesting or beautiful...'Skyline' is especially cool.
    I gotta fight to not get distracted from my Atari game programming, since "Processing" is undoubtedly easier...though I'm making some really good progress with the programming, it actually plays like a game now.

    Commentary of the Moment
    Slate.com has Christopher Hitchens really ripping into 'The Immorality of the Ten Commandments'. Pretty strong stuff for a mainstream website.

    Package Copy of the Moment
    For dietary reasons, Mo's been buying spelt bread lately. Her preferred brand is named "Ezekiel 4:9" and it quotes that verse on its side:
    Take also unto thee WHEAT and BARLEY, and BEANS, and LENTILS, and MILLET, and SPELT and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it...
    (Though they leave out the next part, "...according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side; three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof" Lie upon they side? 390 Days?) Frankly, I think it's much more amusing to read this verse in Samuel L. Jackson's famous "Pulp Fiction" Ezekiel 25:17 quote. (a quote which, unlike the bread which leaves out the odd bit, adds a lot that isn't in that verse)

    sarge! she's jumpin' around like some kind of kangaroo!

    Comics of the Moment
    I've become more and more impressed by the site AtariAge...they've become my favorite messageboards, and they even put up a JoustPong page. But I just now realized they have all the old Atari Force comics online! They came bundled with certain Atari 2600 games, I only had had the chance to read like half of them before this. Those comics were interesting, an almost post-apocalyptic world, where the Atari Institute has risen up to take the place of the failed nation states...and then it gets seriously odd. Man, I always though this lady in purple (Executive Directory of Atari Security Li San O'Rourke) was so hot.

    Line of the Moment
    Caucasian--the other white meat.
    (Brought to you by the Kill Whitey foundation.)

    News of the Moment
    Teenage highway snipers say they were inspired by the videogame Grand Theft Auto...and we must ask ourselves WHEN WILL THE MADNESS END?

    reach...for atari

    Oy, I'm up to my ears in atari programming, don't expect much from the site this weekend...

    Funny of the Moment
    From McSweeney's, a site with humor so dry it crackles, Goofus, Gallant, Rashomon. (Or stroll down memory lane with this previous kisrael.com Goofus and Gallant entry. Or go see the real thing.)

    Brag of the Moment
    Cool, my Atari programming tutorial "2600 101" finally has been added to the brilliant site Atari Age. Makes it feel more "legit"!

    Games of the Moment
    Spaced Penguins is a very satisfying game where you must slingshot a penguin into its spaceship, taking into account the gravity of the planets that may be in your way. For something more down-to-earth (and tougher), this carny-ish Win-A-Goldfish promises you...err, a goldfish I guess...if you manage to sink at least 2 of 5 ping pong palls into goldfish bowls from a spring launcher.

    good to know

    (1 comment)
    Quote of the Moment
    You can't survive by sucking the juice from a wet mitten.
    Charles Schulz, "Things I've Had to Learn Over and Over and Over"

    Game of the Moment
    Too difficult to control to be really fun but still kind of neat, Madness Redeemer has tons of violent mayhem. The way you swing the gun with the mouse is irritating, you should probably run this maximized (it really needs a crosshair to show you where you're firing, and better 'throw away useless gun' would be good to.) I'd recommend sticking with the tutorial and "Experiment" mode, unless you're a masochist.

    Randomness of the Moment
    The Star Wars Scout Walker Kama Sutra. Very strange...and very sexy. Or is that geeky? I always get those two mixed up.

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