2003 December❮❮prevnext❯❯

atlas snickered

December 1, 2003
Quickies of the Moment
I was amused by this article saying the latest Harry Potter is the new 'Atlas Shrugged', just because Mo is such a fan of both books. But isn't particularly libertarian. (Though I found out she skips over the long long John Galt speech.) I found it interesting to read through a list of lawsuits in the PDA industry. It's really stupid, so many of the recent ones (Involving Research in Motion) involve ideas that are totally obvious once you have handheld devices about. And finally there's this woman who makes cuddly stuffed (non-reunctional) replicas of various video game systems...everybody's got to have a hobby I guess!

Quote of the Moment
What we call folk wisdom is often no more than a kind of expedient stupidity.
Edward Abbey

bumper to bumper to bumper

December 2, 2003
Working from home today...got a nice early start for an 8:30 meeting, and wham...in 7 1/2 years of New England driving, I have not seen 128 this bad. Well, maybe once, during a evening rush hour blizzard, but that's it. There wasn't much snow at all, but admittedly it was very slippery. 128N 1 mile per hour, absolutely literally (I clocked .3 miles in 20 minutes at one point.)

Pulling off to a McDs/Mobil rest station was a mistake...trying to get out of there, my speed was literally measured in yards per quarter hour. (On the other hand, 128 South was clear.)

Quickies of the Moment
Wouldn't the web be better if you had to dial it up with a rotary dial? I think so. Very retrogeekchic. For more minutes of retrogeek entertainment, check out the pixelated Flash adventures of Captain Lowrez.

Quote of the Moment
It is only with the heart one can see clearly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
The Fox in 'The Little Prince'.
Someone posted this quote at work, in the original French and then with the English translation, and I posted a sticky: "You mean like Oxygen?" Shortly thereafter the sticky was removed.


December 3, 2003
Sweet jimminy crickets, 1300 unique frontpage visitors yesterday? Man, I hate it when I get a huge spike on a so-so update day. I wonder why...is it the Popular Science rush? Or something else?

It's kind of odd that on the days with the most traffic I don't get any comments. I guess it really is only the regulars who are likely to write. (Hint to regulars: write me some comments, so the torrent of visitors think I'm well-loved.)

Hmm...with the addition of the icons to the sidebar, my bottom-of-the-page hit counter is getting a bit inflated for overall hits. Maybe I should weed images out from that...

Advice of the Moment
You know, rather than just kinda kvetching about the traffic yesterday, I can take a valuable lesson away from it: if you see backed up traffic on the dang onramp, consider plan B for the day, or at least an alternate route.

Link of the Moment
Already making the rounds but worth a quick giggle out if you haven't seen it, from the UK it's Rude Food ("now alphabetical!") It's a bit snarky and sophomoric, and some of the names are only funny to speakers of UK English, but still, an entertaining few minutes.

Geek Link of the Moment
For all you Just Another Perl Hackers out there, it's the 2003 Perl Advent Calendar, some cool Perl Coding tidbit every day 'til Christmas.

Column of the Moment
Speaking of snarky, I was recently reminded about the archive of Funny Paper, a semi-regular feature of the Baltimore City Paper. It's the week of comics in review, and his hatred of Mother Goose and Grimm is quite enjoyable. I also like how they punch up the thing with snippets from the comics...out of context, some of those single panels are very odd. Typical bit:
HI & LOIS: Thursday, Hi tries to straighten out Ditto's attitude about gender relations. "Believe it or not," he says, "someday you'll find someone, like I found Mom, and you'll fall in love!" "Well, moms are a lot easier to like than girls!" the future serial killer retorts.
(via slumbering lungfish )

Quote of the Moment
Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.
Truman Capote

our very best to you

December 4, 2003
Feature of the Moment
So I jumped the gun a little bit and added 2003 to my best of kisrael page. (If I do anything clever in December, I can always add to it.) After I revamped the best of page, just having two years looked a bit lonely, hence 2003. Of course, 'best of' is a bit...I dunno, misleading maybe. It's mostly just days when I've created something interesting, an image or an online toy. I link to stuff more interesting than what I personally create all the time, but "best of" is the stuff I can take credit for.

Quote of the Moment
'If all the neurons in your brain were laid end to end,' Funny Paper's college roommate used to say, 'you would die instantly.'
from the Funny Paper article archive (yesterday's link)

Japan Links of the Moment
Found some kind-of similar articles on Japan lately: a FAQ focused on the practicalities of moving to Japan, and a SAQ about odd things you might notice if you go there. The latter is more interesting, in general. It has some cool links, like a 'solution' to what is the sound of one hand clapping (a kind of ritualistic exchange that goes a little beyond Bart Simpson's "flap flap flap" suggestion) and a list of animation shortcuts and clichés used in anime. There's also a page on etiquette, with even more links down at the bottom. These images are pretty cool and informative.

Link of the Moment
"We are Tree of Borg. Your street signs will be assimilated and their biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own."


December 5, 2003
Link of the Moment
Despite bad navigation that always seems to require one extra click, Quarter Bin has some interesting essays on comics...surprisingly academic and deep, like this essay on Popeye. (Interesting to contrast and compare that to the previously kisrael'd The Previous Adventures of Popeye the Sailor.)

Separated at Birth?

The "Kohr-Ah", the baddest-assed alien race from 1992's
brilliant PC game Star Control 2 (click for fullsize)

Sentinel, reasonably bad-assed warrior robot from 2003's
so-so sequel Matrix Reloaded.

Thanks to Dehumanizer for grabbing the images to prove something that was on the back of my mind (also an unnamed AIM buddy for giving me the link.) On the other hand, after reading Larry Niven's "Known Space" novels, I realized how much SC2 cribbed from him...

Horoscope of the Moment
Aries: (March 21-April 19)
You fail to understand the primordial mystery of the funk: You can still have it no matter how many times you give it up.
Hey...I'M an Aries! I feel funkier already.

More Matrix of the Moment
In today's comments, LAN3 also points out a page in Spanish, Comparación De Los Filmes "Dark City" & "The Matrix". It's actually easy to pick up in Spanish (and as LAN3 points out, you can learn fun new phrases such as "Bichos tentaculoides.") or you can just be a wuss and check out the semi-decent Google language tools translation of the page.

Some of the points are fair, but if there's only a year difference between the films, there was probably a lot of overlap in their production times, and both probably borrow from previous clichés of the noir genre. Overall, I'd say "The Matrix" is the superior film in terms of pacing and really toying with some cool philisophical ideas. Not to mention being much higher on the "kick-butt-kung-fu-o-meter". Both are great flicks, though.

won too free for (all)

December 6, 2003
Quote of the Moment
People generally seem to want software to be free as in speech and/or free as in beer. Unfortunately rather too much of it is free as in jazz.
Janet McKnight, in the Usenet group uk.misc.
(For those who don't know, the speech/beer thing is geekspeak for discerning open source and liberty (ala 'as in speech') or closed source but no cost (free as in beer). This was an amusing take on the old expression that points out the problem with too many hobbyist projects...)

Quiz of the Moment
Although the "truly naughty" bits have protetective panels over them, prudes may wish to avoid the SeXXX or Something else Quiz, where you try to identify if a particular grimace comes from the subject "doing it" or...not.

Site Design Issue of the Moment
Sharp-eyed readers may notice loveblender.com has returned to the "features" section of the sidebar. It all comes back to, what is the point of the "features" section, and that's to draw people's attention to what I think they would find most interesting. (Which I do because I want them to associate my site with interesting stuff.) Loveblender.com, while less kisrael-y than the other bits, is overall pretty interesting, so up it goes.

cold day

December 7, 2003
Hope everyone in nor'easter land is muddling through. We've shoveled 3 or 4 times. People just shouldn't be living this far north.

Anyway, in the interest of this blog's secondary function of keeping people informed about The Life of Kirk, I'm gonna mention that it looks like Mo and I are going to break up. I think it's fair to say it's her decision. There's a bundle of reasons, each one has had its turn feeling more or less important; her feeling there's a connection we haven't made all this time, not enough shared activities, that our admitted difference in ambition (she tends to be very driven to pursue various projects, I tend to have a less pro-active, take it as it comes approach) is something she can't deal with in a life-partner, the usual waxing and waning of sex drives, her feeling she's missed out by never having lived alone for any significant time. Over the past month or so we've been talking a lot, a bit of couples therapy, writing e-mail, I've been trying to convince her that our life together is really something good, and can be made better, especially now that she's finally talking about what's bugging her. But I fear she's not so easily persuaded.

I find giving up on a relationship or any commitment to be an incredibly painful thing to do (I really think that tenacity shows in weird places, like the strength of my commitment to music groups I've joined; if I'm not super-delighted about the direction of the group I'll gripe about it, but I'm the one that's always there) though I saw that possibility of giving up for the first a week or so ago, a line in the sand to cross, and yesterday when she said she'd be leaving me, I guess that was that.

It's amicable though, almost weirdly so. It's definately one of those situations where it would have been useful if she had identified some of these issues before the wedding and the purchase of our house, but hey. (Or as Brooke pointed out, it's like Adam Sandler says in The Wedding Singer: "Once again, Things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!") Still, within the context of doing what she thinks she owes it to herself to do, Mo is trying to be as kind and nice as possible, and does seemed pained by the hurt this kind of thing is going to cause me and also our families.

I'm glad to see she's started her own livejournal. You can see some of her thoughts and point of view there, but she wanted me to mention that it isn't the "true, deep representation" of how she feels about all of this.

Art of the Moment
I was contacted by Marissa Saradpon, because for a Design Layout class she had illustrated my old story Yee and Lan...the resulting work is really terrific, and her timing was great...I made it the feature for this month's Blender of Love (which saved me from writing up some horrendous essay about the breakup of me and Mo.)

Toy of the Moment
Your chance to rock the world of the holiday snowglobe dwellers. Really amusing. And a pretty good metaphor for how this holiday season is going for me...

snow day!!!

December 8, 2003
Heh....Salem, MA is in a state of emergency with only emergency vehicles allowed on the streets...so I get the day off! Man, it's been a long time since I've had a bona fide snow day.

'Course I'm probably just gonna diddle it away, like I did most of this weekend. Well, I got some stuff done, pulled a loveblender edition together, a few miscelaneous online tasks...I guess it's ok being a little more self-indulgent in terms of wasting time because of what I went through this weekend, but still I feel a little guilty.

Link of the Season
Merry Kitschmas! 12 of the very tackiest religious-themed stuff on the market. "Bobble Head Virgin Mary" is my personal favorite.

Quote of the Moment
I prefer to think that God is not dead, just drunk
John Huston

Image and Link of the Moment
--Pike eats Trout, from this page of the best photos of the past year.


December 9, 2003
Subculture of the Moment
Hrrm. Here's the Electic Shavers Page Nothing but electric shavers, old and new. Includes the column "Tell Mr. Steel Beard", where they actually answered my question on what kind of razor to consider getting. (I'm thinking it might be a way of getting myself to shave more often...)

I'm actually open to suggestion on electric shavers...anyone out there had nayh particulary good or bad experiences with various products?

Art of the Moment
Abstract, interactive Flash art, white vibes. Cool stuff, though suffers a bit from that old "I'm not sure if I've clicked everything interesting" frustration.

"Joke" of the Moment
Q: How far can you see on a clear day?
A: 93 million miles...from here to the Sun.

you can't handle th - oh, never mind.

December 10, 2003
Quotes of the Moment
Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide
Tell the truth and run.
Yugoslav proverb

Obsession of the Moment
I'm not sure why I like to post about obsessives on the 'net, maybe it makes me feel more normal, but here's a wired story about a guy who's really into those Apple stores. I mean, really likes, like travel-to-Tokyo-likes. Which is really a little odd, because one of the points is that all the stores are clones of each other...

Image and Mystery of the Moment
--Can anyone explain this pile of albino kermits in santa suits I saw at Suncoast video? They were kind of creeping me out.

Scientific Study of the Moment
The wonder of science! Pretty women scramble men's ability to assess the future. Guess this falls into the "heck, I could've told you that" category, but the actual details of the study are pretty interesting.

in his houth at r'lyeh dead cthulhu waits dreaming. and snoring lightly.

December 11, 2003
Link of the Moment
You have to be into some obscure bits of literary geek culture to get this, but what if Jack Chick wrote on the Cthulhu mythos?

AIM Chat of the Moment
sarah: I can understand wanting to be younger again, or rather wanting to live out the freedom of singledom in the college years... we all probably feel that from time to time, but I think that I only feel that way because I forget all the crap that went along with it... the grass is always greener scenario
kirk: well, she doth protest that she's never really lived alone, except maybe a very brief time in college, and barely that, just doing the whole serial monogomy shtick
sarah: So she wants to go be a lonely slut?
kirk: well, that's certainly how I'd put it, yes.
kirk: well, no.
sarah: well... what's so great about living alone anyway... the longer you live alone the harder it becomes to accomodate living with another person... it's just the highway to crotchetyness if you ask me
Don't know if this is nice to post, but it feels good at this difficult time in my life. Plus I thought it was a little funny (Sarah did immediately say she was being facetious about the "lonely slut" remark, or rather "fecissuoaos... fecisous ...phecishus? Facicious?" ) and I do like the phrase "highway to crochetyness". Sarah and Dylan are great for snarky IMing with, except Dylan's never online.

mind the gap

December 12, 2003
Image and Link of the Moment
--excerpt from this parody of the London Tube Map. You can compare it to the original, though it took a lot of liberties (though there is indeed an "Elephant and Castle" area in London.) The original was definately a pioneering work in information design, showing that sometimes maps need to show connections as clearly as possible, regardless of geography.

Paraphrase of the Moment
there's no moral to the story, it's just a bunch of stuff that happens.
AuSkeptic paraphrasing a Simpsons episode (I'm looking for the episode and exact quote myself.)
Thanks for the comments yesterday, from AuSkeptic and "Been there". I really don't there's an unspoken agenda on Mo's part, but I doubt it, we really do talk quite a lot.

Meme of the Moment
Would that hot dog taste better if it was an octodog, a hot dog in the shape of an octopus?

Virual Toy of the Moment
I don't know how hard it is to install/download for non-techies, but Smooth Teddy is an interesting little toy that makes 3D objects out of your 2D shape sketches. You may need to have Java2 installed on your system. It's a really cool idea, though the interface needs work...the game Magic Pengel seems to have a similar concept, though I think the territory for seriously cool kiddie-CAD apps combined with a game is just barely starting to be explored...

Neurosis of the Moment
Despite its disturbing headline, CNN's Report: Earth's magnetic field fading was actually kind of reassuring in terms of the timeline of it all. (For those coming late to the party, the whole loss-of-the-magnetic-field things is one of my more recent TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) neurotic scenarios.)

day of the par-tay

(1 comment)
December 13, 2003
Wow, between the two of us Mo are invited to four seperate holiday get-togethers today. (Actually 3 for me, 1 for her.) Luckily they're surprisingly well-spaced: 1pm, 3pm, 6pm, 8pm.

Games of the Moment
Shizmoo.com has some really cool online games. The UI is pretty confusing, you meet up in a common lobby, and then launch into a one on one game...I think the key is just to click "Play Now" and the computer will automagically put you in a game (theres some kind of rating system, maybe it tries to match you up to a similar skill level, if such a person is available?) "Kung Fu Chess" is a variation of an idea I had a long time ago, chess where you don't have to take turns. (When I thought of it in the late-80s, I thought each player would control a cursor with a joystick, and every time you moved a piece your cursor would reset to a position off of the boad. They do it a little differently, but the core concept is the same.) They have a few word games and some action games, including a sumo-ized version of the old school "Arcade Volleyball".

Also, lately I've been getting back into iSketch, multiplayer online Pictionary. Potentially very addictive! You can also check out the Finalists for the Independent Games Festival.

Mean Holiday Link of the Moment
Get into the holiday spirit of picking on the mentally handicapped and fast food restaurants with that timeless classic Ding Fries Are Done.

Quote of the Moment
"She has an alarm clock and a phone that don't ring -- they applaud."
--Slashdot.com fortune

saddam good time

December 14, 2003
International News of the Moment
Just in case you websurf here before checking the 'real news' sites, it looks like Saddam Hussein has been captured. Big boon for Bush, hopefully will help the situation in Iraq. Though like Mo pointed out, if I had to choose I wish they had nabbed Osama instead. (Or as my Aunt then called him, "Osama Bin Forgotten")

Game Feature of the Moment
On the game's 10-year-anniversary, GameSpy had a weeklong set of Features on the Game 'DOOM'. Man, that was such a great game...I wish they'd port it to a major current console.

Quote of the Moment
Every hour wounds. The last one kills.
'Old Saying' quoted in by Neil Gaiman in American Gods

don't shoot

(1 comment)
December 15, 2003
When I read the CNN bullet item "600 U.S. troops staged lightning raid on rural hiding place" regarding the capture of Saddam, I got this unlikely but irresistable image that it was like the penultimate scene of the Blues Brothers movie: 600 soldiers, the safeties on their rifles all being unlocked in rapid succession (klaklaklaklaklaklaklak), 600 barrels pointed at this little hole in the wall, Saddam peeking out...

Literary Passage of the Moment
I can believe that things are true and I can believe things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen — I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of casual chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe that anyone claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.
Samantha Black Crow in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"

Link of the Moment
Although the update schedule has been very spotty lately, I always enjoy The Comics I Don't Understand Page. This update they feature a special page of some of the best of 'Frazz', a comic some people think is supposed to answer 'what happened to Calvin when he grew up?'. (A bit more pleasant than the Fight Club answer to that question.) You can also check out the official Frazz site.

Personal Milestone of the Moment
Sigh. Mo and I didn't have an exact date to mark the start of our relationship, so we settled on December 15th, at my urging 'cause it was easy to remember and around the right time. This is (would've been? Not sure of the right tense these days) the 6 year anniversary. Of course, that date tends to decline in importance once there's a wedding anniversary to observe, but still.

deep thoughts by saddam hussein

December 16, 2003
Quote of the Moment
If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?
I haven't meant to lead w/ the Saddam news 3 days in a row, I don't think it's THAT big of a deal, but this was a pretty delightful non-sequitor.

Link of the Moment
Bill pointed out that the Picture of Everything is pretty cool, a giant labor of love for all things pop-culturey in hand-drawn cartoon form. Click to zoom in and see everything...

Ramble of the Moment
I'm losing my grip on popculture slang. I didn't catch on to that Snoop Dogg "izzle"-speak 'til after people were already making fun of it...and now we have Snoop Dogg saying "now hold on just one manizzle" on an AOL ad, and something similar in that Old Navy spot with the switchboard operator.

The izzle-speak is kind of odd. I keep getting this image of some black rap artist going "Fajizzle to my bonizzle to the zagizzle lizzle tizzle... mizzle......... hizzle. Aw, I don't even know what I'm sayin' anymore."

money can't buy happiness, but i think it can rent it for a while

December 17, 2003
Heh...I was happy to see the rambling discussion on hacker "L33T"-speak yesterday generating almost as any comments as the Israeli/American policy discussion two days before that.

Quote of the Moment
Face it, you either need a job, an organized religion, or a vice in order to meet people or keep busy.
LAN3, when we were AIMing about "Trust Fund Kids"
We were wondering about how idle we would be, were we members of the idle rich.

Image and Link and Toy of the Moment
--Some researches have assembled an alphabet made from snapshots of brainfolds...the page includes a fun drag-and-drop toy for spelling out your own words.

Links of the Moment
The Onion's AV Club has some great retrospectives at the end of every year: here's the least essential albums of 2003 and the annual cheap toy roundup. That makes for some good readin'.

42 muscles to frown

(1 comment)
December 18, 2003
Feh, my unique visitor counter may be gradually return to its pre-Popular Science levels (assuming that's what caused the boost.) It was 1300 for a few days, then a jump to 400 for a week or so, now its around 200. Ah well! Hopefully a few of the new visitors have decided to stick around and check out things on a regular basis...

Exchange of the Moment
Etoile says, "When someone annoys you, it takes 42 muscles to frown, but it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and whack them in the head."
Gilmore says, "it takes no muscles at all to use your psychic abilities to give them inoperable tumors throughout their vital organs"
via tehsux, 'comics without pictures', which seems to be irc chat selections.
Very fun stuff, but also very heavy on the gay and dick jokes. So if that's your cup of tea, read on! It's very funny. People of a less sophomoric bend may not enjoy it so much.

Link of the Moment
You're not alone when you dream of spitting teeth, here are the 12 Universal Dreams.

and on and on

(1 comment)
December 19, 2003
Exchange of the Moment
"wouldnt you say suicide is a permenant solution to a temporary problem?"
"I'm a Buddhist, I'd say suicide is a temporary solution to a permanent problem."
Neo-Tokyo and `[6], on the site bash.org
bash.org is a 'best of IRC' site (kind of like yesterday's tehsux.com, but more egalitarian, and therefore has a worse signal-to-noise-ratio) LAN3 reminded me of bash.org and Sawers found this exchange, which he points out is a lovely example of chiasmus.

Bad News of the Moment
Ugh....slashdot has a link to a CNN report that a quarter of a million fewer programmers will be employed by 2015, or 25% of the work force. (Huh, only a million programmers now?) Gah, sometimes I wonder if I need to diversify, look at different career possibilities. Other times, I figure I'm probably at least in the top 75% of all programmers, so...

News Commentary of the Moment
Freedom Tower to rise from ashes at 1,776 feet at the location of the WTC towers. I can't be the only person who thought "Freedom Tower? Huh, why are they naming it after the French?"

Still, world's tallest building? I hate to say it but it makes for an awfully large target.

Activism of the Moment
Mo writes
Go vote online at
This is a poll by the American Family Association (right-wing) about gay marriage. The results will be presented to congress. At the moment it's 48% pro, 43% against, 8% for civil unions, but that could tip depending on how big a push different factions make. So take 2 seconds and vote!
Of course, being a soon to be ex- of Mo, I want to chime in "Yeah! Why should they be deprived of the trauma and heartbreak of divorce!" but you know. Also, I'm vaguely amused by the "family" moniker anti-gay-marriage people have adopted. Yeah, lets be pro-family by trying to deprive gay people of it.

no one can stop the alien bill invasion

(1 comment)
December 20, 2003
Went to Locke-Ober with my Aunt, Uncle, and Mom last night. Fancy-shmancy! Lots of dark wood panelling. At first I was surprised how little web presence they had but when I got there I realized I was spelling it wrong. Though my websearch with the incorrect spelling taught me two things: the place is in the script for "Good Will Hunting" (albeit not spelled correctly) and they didn't let women in the main dining room until the mid-80s. Even now, they have a pretty strict dress code, but it can be kind of fun to dress up every once in a while.

Toy of the Moment
--"Alien Bill Horde". (You can make 'em run the other way with the mouse...but you might need a recent Java plugin installed.) In meetings, sometimes I'd draw a huge swarm of Alien Bills, but the computer is so much better at it...(source)

AIM chat of the Moment
kirk: So I'm watching the 60s Batman movie
kirk: man, modern day Ronald McDonald looks a lot like oldschool Joker
LAN3: hahah.
kirk: of course, Ronald is pretty scary these days
kirk: his commercials imply he has fantastic magical powers
kirk: he's moved way beyond visual tricks like outlining goldenarches with his two index fingers
kirk: in one, he can freeze time for like, the entire world except for him and some minion kids
LAN3: One can only hope the Hamburgler doesn't get this power.
kirk: or else, entires cities would be flattened into "rubble, rubble"...
kirk: get it??
LAN3: hahaha, awful!

Link of the Moment
A geeky cataloging of almost 200 particles of Star Trek. (Includes energy waves and the like as well.) "So tiny, you can't tell it's a deus ex machina!" It's not just all dilithium any more!

the dark side of the soup

(1 comment)
December 21, 2003
I had dinner with my mom and Mo last night. Kind of fit under the big "weirdly amicable" tent, pretty much we just ignore the fact that anything has changed.

Carambola in Waltham has some mighty tasty Cambodian food, even if it took my mom about 10 listens to remember how to say that name....

Cartoons and Games of the Moment
Slashdot mentioned a series of cartoon shorts that tell more of the story of the Star Wars "Clone Wars". I got to watch the first 2 sets at Sawers and Cordelia's holiday party. They were made by the same teams who made Power Puff Girls, Dexter's Lab, and Samurai Jack, and while sometimes they threatened to get a little too "cartoony", overall they were excellent. So good I was led to give the Clone War videogame (had to buy it to get a deal on a PS2) another try....and it turned out to be much better than I remembered, lots of giant land battles with tons of troops, really giving the feel of large armies clashing. So now I'm more into this whole section of the Star Wars universe, and am more actively interested in seeing the third movie of the prequels.

Anyway, the Cartoon Network site has some simple but fun Clone Wars games itself. The basic games are the same whether you choose to play for the Light or Dark Side--there's a cool overhead jousting game, a simple little 2D fighting game, and an old-school sidescroller shoot-em-up, set underwater.

Link of the Moment
I think it's safe to say that in general, half of any given "Top-10" list is filler, which is why this Merlin's Lists of Five Things makes so much sense. (No relationship to Merlin of King Arthur fame, so far as I can tell.) Funny and sometimes thoughtful stuff, although sometimes I wish it it was clearer when he was just making a funny and when he was being serious. Overall it reminds me a little bit of my biography in lists, which is probably in need of some updating soon.

Scam of the Moment
There's some web advertiser who has this really lame and evil scheme....they popped up a javascript message box that said "press the enter key and hold it down for a surprise". If you just click slowly, or just tap enter, it nags you and says "no no no - you have to hold it down so the auto-key-repeat kicks in". See, what happens with that is you clear a bunch of regular message boxes, and then one of them is going to be the confirmation for "do you want to change your startpage to [insert name of crappy spam portal here]". And they do some timer checks to guess whether you are or aren't gullibly holding that key down. I did some experiments, as your reward for playing along, you get a lame web reproduction of that old "flying through space" windows screensaver.

Yeesh. These guys have no shame. Beware. I got some crap so that when I reboot my machine, I get some lame search portal sidebar, and the reset some of the aspects of my carefully arrange IE toolbar...oddly adaware doesn't find something wrong.

happiest (a poem)

December 22, 2003
I want to write about those times when I was happiest;
those times when good fortune seemed to alight on my shoulders
and the sky was smiling down on me with a grin the size of the world.

(When asked what had satisfied him most in life,
  Man Ray -- photographer, painter, sculptor, innovator --
  said "...I'd say women".

...I'll say women.)

High School summer nights;
heels over head for the German girl--
--my last simple love. Late nights outside
the home of her host family...
(Maybe I broke one heart to get there.
  Maybe not. In either case it was worth it.)
...leaning, pushed up against the cinder wall that
was still releasing the heat absorbed in the day.
standing, leaning, but legs splayed,
the German girl standing between them,
leaning in close herself.
Kissing, and kissing, and kissing, and kissing.

In a month I'll notice she stops closing her eyes
but now, this moment: I was happiest.

Years later. College.
That beautiful girl with the curly long dark hair.
So assured. Sitting in that white and black
director's chair. Her shirt off. Leaning back.
Those beautiful breasts. Knowing a dozen guys
on campus whose envy at that situation could
knock down the walls of that brave little dorm room.
Thinking that this time could be the time
it was going to work, was going to stay working.

Her leaning so far back, letting herself melt into that moment.

That cheap chair would break in minutes.
And that damn carousel of a romance would spin away
from me by midterms. But that moment: I was happiest.

Finally. Years after college.
A midwinter escape to the Jersey Shore with
you and some friends. (The Russian chick, and
her husband, but they're a different story)
Together the four of us had run away, just for
a short while, a break from the workaday life,
But more than that, I thought all the old cycles
had broken. The old patterns of finding and
loss washed away. I tasted some salt from the
ocean water. I wrote a heart and our initials
in the damp sand. My college drinking buddy
and I had found something more in each other
and I thought that was all there was to find.

It was a moment, a moment that held the end
of needing other moments: I was happiest.

Oh Darling.
Now, this moment.
You say that you're leaving.
Maybe I don't understand why.
Maybe I understand all too well.

Kundera wrote of poetic memory. That's what I inscribed
in his book that I gave to you: "to finding a place in
poetic memory". But I thought...I thought it would be
more about being poetry. Less about being a memory.

Aw Darling.
Maybe we'll each find more times, other moments.
Maybe I'll be happiest again.

I don't know and I can't know
but right now I miss you more than anything.

domo origato, mr. robotto keuji

(1 comment)
December 23, 2003
Robot Warrior Bad Guys and Link of the Moment
--Bad Guys from "Robotto Keiji". The Henshin Hall of Fame has a lot of information and pictures from these Japanese fighting shows.

Quote of the Moment
What if it is for life's sake that we must die? In truth we are not individuals; and it is because we think ourselves such that death seems unforgivable. We are temporary organs of the race, cells in the body of life; we die and drop away that life may remain young and strong. If we were to live forever, growth would be stifled, and youth would find no room on earth. Death, like style, is the removal of rubbish, the circumcision of the superfluous. In the midst of death life renews itself immortally.
Will Durant
Hadn't heard much about him or his wife 'til my old highschool friend Tom K. mentioned scoring a collection of his works at some kind of garage sale. His Foundation has a website.

Bad News of the Moment
So, obviously, the elevated terrorist threat level is on everyone's mind. I keep finding myself heading over to Drudge Report...new news really does show up there more quickly, it was talking about the California Quake about 15 minutes before anyone else online.

They linked to this rather stark and scary story from the LA Times via azcentral.com.

So, yeah, I'm a bit nervous. I think the chance of something hurting me or my loved ones is small, of suffering the economic impact along with everyone else moderate. I think our country is really resilient, though. We survive stuff all the time, earthquakes, blackouts, republican administrations...I think even our economy is made of pretty tough stuff. Although it's hard to figure how 9-11 might have slowed the economic recovery over the last 2 years, we did have a bounce back once the shock wore off.

You wonder about "chatter". I know one of the troubling things of the moment is that there are multiple sources of intelligence, but when you hear about the chatter...the fact that they don't get much specific info makes me think either they're seeing encrypted stuff they can't crack (or don't have the wiretapping options I was assuming that they do) or that it's stuff in public forums, like websites. And if it is websites...well, there's going to be a ton of wishful thinking with that stuff. And they downplay the Saddam connection, but that has to tie in to that kind of evil hope chattering.

Feh. In all, I still come back to the idea that radical religous belief and nationalist/pan-nationalist sentiment is a serious problem.

(Followup: sometimes when I want some positive spin on current events in general, I look to the conservatives; Christopher Hitchens' Slate piece on Qaddafi (Kadaffi, Ghadaffi, Daffy Duck, whatever) has a side note putting Osama Bin out of it and describing a generally better situation. That doesn't make the current terrorist threat go away, still it's vaguely comforting to read.)

Stupid Question of the Moment
The Boston Bruins aren't doing so well. They say that their record is 2-7-5-1 for their last 15 games Errr, does anyone know what that "1" means? Win, Loss, Tie, ????

Update: googling around, maybe it's some kind of "overtime loss" record? Weird.

meat gone mad

December 24, 2003

Mad Cow in Review
So Mad Cow is in the News, this time in the USA. The little cartoon on the right is from one of my first kisrael.com updates, which was all about Mad Cow Disease. Also, you might be interested in this update that talks about the book "The Electric Meme" and how Prions might be the correct metaphor for getting memes from vaguue wishy-washy ideas to testible theories.

And of course, an old classic, How to identify if your cow has mad cow disease...still makes me giggle.

Man, between the flu, the California quake, and this...those terrorists are attacking us on all fronts!

News Quote of the Moment
Go to the restaurants, see the shows; there's no more exciting or better place to be.
News York Govenor Pataki.
It's all well and good to encourage people to not stop appreciate what New York has to offer, but he really needs to acknowledge the difference between "good excitement" and "bad excitement"...

merry christmas to all

December 25, 2003
This holiday season, please remember:

If you're not the lead reindeer,
the view never changes.

Merry Christmas!

bip bong bedong

(1 comment)
December 26, 2003
Spending the Holidays with my family. Over at my Aunt and Uncle's on the delightfully named street "Wigglesworth". For some reason neither of their PCs has a scrollwheel on its mouse...funny how much I miss that. It really is a positive ergonomic addition to the mouse in my opinion. Some high-end mice are going a bit nuts, with like a dozen buttons...kind of spoils the elegance of the thing, plus, if you start depending on obscure mice settings and gadgets, you'll miss them when using someone else's PC...

Art Toy Download of the Moment
BallDroppings is a lovely little toy...draw lines that the dropping balls will bounce off of, musical tones result. (I had some trouble when I first tried to run it, if you get an "insufficient video memory" kind of error, try decreasing the number of colors your computer is displaying.) Fun to play with, plus you can tweak many of the settings (read the webpage for details.)

(FOLLOWUP: looks like there are many more cool toys at Josh Nimoy's website. Also, I had some trouble getting the balldroppings program to run at a quick speed on some other machines, this time fiddling with the resolution help.)

Quote of the Moment
Dreams are important, otherwise sleep is just eight hours of nothing.
Jimmy Kendall in "MacGuyver"

with aptitude tests, he's best

December 27, 2003
Old Newspaper Profile of the Moment

With aptitude tests, he's best

Kirk Israel
Residence: Glen Russ Lane
Age: 17
Biggest problem facing teens: Apathy -- kids don't care about getting good grades and don't take school seriously.
Hobbies: Reading, creative writing, video games, computer programs, playing the tuba.
Things no one knows: I'm a compulsive doodler; I hada a Jamaican accent for five years while living on St. Thomas Island in the Bahamas; I love to go barefoot.

By EREN WEBER Staff Writer
     Q: What's smart, wears glasses and moves around a lot?
     A: Euclid High School student and academic whiz kid Kirk Israel.
     It's no joke, though -- even in high school year book pictures Israel, 17, has been spotted wearing glasses. And, as the sone of two Salvation Army church ministers, he's been forced to move from state to state and country to country often.
     Although his teachers, family and friends could have told you Israel was a high scholastic achiever years ago, the recent results of national standardized acheivement tests now prove to the rest of the world that this high school senior has what it takes to get ahead.
     On the Pre-Scholastic Aptitude Test, Israel answered 1,350 of 1,600 questions correctly. About 52,000 high school students take the PSAT in Ohio annually and, this year, Israel was among the top 100.
     He takes the honor modestly and said that, although he's enrolled in advanced placement classes, that doesn't mean he's all that smart.
     All it means to Israel is that he does well on standardized tests.
     "I always thought of myself as being pretty lazy," Israel said. "I guess I get distracted a lot, which means I don't always get my school work done, but I still manage to get good grades."
     College brochures and university applications are big distractions these days for Israel, who has set his sights on attending an ivy league school preferably near Boston.
     Israel is attracted to the old American traditions that abound on the East coast, the museums and the relatives who live close to the city on the Charles River.
     "Over the summer, Harvard sent me an application," he said. "I don't know if it had anything to do with my test scores, but I'm going to send it back anyway.
     "Chances may be slim, but you never know."
     Since then, however, his chances have improved. On the official standardized achievement test taken by more than half a million students in the nation, Israel upped his preliminary score of 1,350 to 1,490.
     With those scores, Israel could be anything he wants to be. For now, though, he's considering a teaching profession, particularly at the high school level.
     "The best teachers I've ever had used their creative talents and sense of humor to help me understand things," he said, "There's more to learning than just getting good grades."
     Euclid residents may get a glimpse of Israel's talents on an upcoming episode of Academic Challenge, in which he may star as a contestant or be an alternate.
     It all depends though, because as Israel put it, "I can't memorize answers -- I just know how to learn them."

Euclid, Ohio's "Sun Scoop Journal, November 14, 1991.
Found it while decluttering, decided I have to share it with all of you. Besides the author's misunderstanding of how standardized tests are graded, I'm kind of amused by that "love to go barefoot" line. It reads like it's from a Playboy playmate profile.

What a good kid I was...I'm surprised I didn't get beaten up more often.

left behind right in front

December 28, 2003
Analysis of the Moment
Slacktivist.org has a journal of ongoing analysis of the Left Behind series, pointing out how much fudging and handwaving has to go between here (our current time and place) and there (the near-future as portrayed in the book.) Given how influential these books are (especially, possibly, even in the current administration of this country) their casual disregard of our current geopolitical reality, science and technology, and even basic human psychology is pretty horrifying.

Quote of the Moment
The future is an opaque mirror. Anyone who tries to look into it sees nothing but the dim outlines of an old and worried face.
Jim Bishop
Ties in pretty well with the previous link. Except theirs isn't an old and worried face, but one looking to get the heck out of there in the rapture before it all goes down. Heh...Tobias Wolff was being interviewd about his book Old School, and he mentioned how some of the appeal of Ayn Rand is "simple answers to complex questions"--that's kind of what Left Behind offers. Don't worry about the future of the planet, you'll be out of here anyway....IF you're a strong enough believer. (Quote via therosser.)

Link of the Moment
GameSpot has the best and worst of 2003. "Dubious Honors" is the most fun section, there were a bunch of clunkers this year.

Other Link of the Moment
Just on the off chance some of my loyal audience isn't composed of video game fans, check out LOGO R.I.P., where old logos go to die. I've always been interested in logos and other forms of iconography...


December 29, 2003
So for most of this holiday season I've been over at my Aunt and Uncle's. It's a pretty full house, my pseudocousin Llara and her writer mother Donna-Lane are there, along with my mom in from London.

The one time I've been home was on Friday when I went on a bit of a decluttering rampage. I actually did it a pretty good job of getting rid of all these useless instruction manuals, a whole book-shelf worth, along with all these maybe-useful-someday-but-probably-not computer bits, wires and plugs and PC cards and what not that are clogging my closet. Well, by good job, I mean made a big "to go" pile in the middle of the front room so that the entry way to our house looks a bit like a junkyard, but still.

Though it seems I'm pretty small change on the decluttering and simplification front relative to Donna-Lane. Her stated guideline is, in the event of her death, it shouldn't take more than a morning for Llara or whomever to clear out her stuff...ideall, only like an hour. This goes all the way too not having a lot of clothes, making good use of the public library rather than maintaining a personal one, etc. It's an interesting goal, but I'm always tempted to give media and clothing a free pass. I have a ton of books, CDs, and video games, and probably always will. Though probably half of my clothing isn't stuff I ever actually wear, and I didn't think I'd feel like Stalin conducting purges, I could probably get rid of the same percentage of books and videogames and not miss what I got rid of. (I guess I'm less concerned about dumping CDs, since they fit so neatly in those black folders.)

So what about you all? Do you feel like waging a battle against clutter in your own life? Do books and DVDs and what not get a 'free pass'? Comments welcome.

Link of the Moment
I was more amused than I expected I'd be by 20 ways to monkey with telemarketers. Very clever ideas, but who has the energy for all of that? (And thanks to this state's relatively old "Do Not Call" list, we've really had few calls for the past long while.)

Quote of the Moment
What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens

shell of the manchild

(1 comment)
December 30, 2003
Cartoon of the Moment
--Graham Roumieu--lots more at his website. At times he reminds me very strongly of a modern-day Charles Adams. BoingBoing.net linked to this one which is deviously great.

Quote of the Moment
I'd kiss you, but I'm not sure it'd come out right.
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

Minor Rebuttal of the Moment
People, including the author of the news article in question, are amused by the concept of consulting an almanac as a possible suspicious activity in terms of terrorism awareness...but the main image of a terrorist thumbing through a copy of "The Old Farmers Almanac" is what gets all the yucks. Now, there are so many forms of reference out there, online and otherwise, that it does seem a little odd to be picking on almanacs, but it's also clear that the alert bulletin is refering to a different kind of almanac. So by picking on this "straw man" of Farmer's Almanac, they miss a more serious point about what constitutes suspicous activity this day and age...is an olive-skinned guy trying to figure where in Boston he is with one of those big yellow road atlases going to raise eyebrows these days? Should it?


December 31, 2003
Google Game of the Moment
Googlelacks! Sigh. I always thought this idea Ranjit and I came up with deserved its own page, or maybe even its own site, but it's been half a year and I haven't gotten around to it so I probably never will...maybe because it lacks a really cool name and a way of objectively judging the results. Anyway, in the spirit of Googlewhacks, its (for lack of a better name) Googlelacks: using Google to find variants of clichés. For this, you need to make use of three Google features: putting a phrase in quotes, using the * to show what word you expect to be replaced, and using - to exclude what usually goes where the * is. For instance:

"good * make good neighbors" -fences

brings up farmers, spies, minefields, friends, defenses, borders, nukes, nights, and smokestacks making good neighbors, and that's all on the first page. 720 in all, though some of those are repeats.

"one * to rule them all and in the darkness" -ring

(I had to cut out the end of the phrase, it was getting too long) comes up with blacklist, key, bowl, OS, spam, browser, and meat. 613, again counting with duplicates.

Anyway, it's a fun game to play. Try it and post any cool phrases you come up with on the Comments section. (Anyone know if there is there a name for the kind of cliché-play that this game digs up?) If I get enough feedback on this sport, and a suggestion for a name, maybe I'll try to make a page for it. (Huh, since Google opened up their site as a webservice for developers, maybe I should make a handy interface to count unique word substitutions...then there would be a way of keeping score.)

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