all hail sawers

(18 comments)
June 1, 2004

I shower the name of Sawers with a bajillion praises for his help with grueling packing work this weekend. He also came up with some good ideas for the layout of my new place, pointing out the center would make a very decent TV/Game room, leaving the front for an office/reading room. Go Sawers!

News of the Moment
The last widow of a Civil War soldier has passed away...even though it was a May-December wedding in the 1920s, it's still amazing to have had a connection with the past like that for so long.

Freaky Flash Thing of the Moment
Undertone networks might be reprehensible, but they have the coolest little daddy longlegs network-representation Flash toy I've seen. I always thought daddy long legs were pretty cool for computer animation.

Spam Thing of the Moment
Lately I've been the victim of multiple Joe-Jobs, where SPAM is being sent out looking like it came from my not-much-used "ael at alien bill dot com" account...I think I signed up for something on some questionable website way back when. So I get a ton of bounced messages and stuff...I just hope it doesn't cause my entire alienbill.com domain to be blacklisted anywhere, other than that it's just a raise in my general SPAM volume. Does anyone else get this? I don't know if there's any kind of retribution to be had.

Funny of the Moment
<lipsynch type="bad">Your crane move is very impressive...but it is no match for the 1000 fighting techniques of Rumsfeld....Now we must fight!</lipsynch>

plop plop fizz fizz

(4 comments)
June 2, 2004

Poem Snippet of the Moment
The last thing you said to me
tore my heart into pieces;
For you held my heart in your hands
only to drop it into feces.
--This was the start of the very the first poem I had to read for this months' loveblender...despite that, I decided to keep reading through this month's works and resist the urge to shut down the site forever. (I kid, I kid. But it is a remarkably bad stanza, the worst that comes to mind on the Blender...just the awful bumpy rhythm to get to the forced-sounding rhyme with a word that's so clinical yet still way too evocative, all for an incredibly sappy sounding tale of heartbreak...)

Link of the Moment
With all the talk about the digital bugle (an insert to a real bugle that plays Taps, supposedly sounds pretty good because it uses the horn's bell to resonate, to make up for the way American WW2 Veterans are passing away in great numbers, and there aren't that many qualified buglers) I found this site, taps bugler. It's really a moving song, so melancholy. It's a real challenge to get right...between the high emotion and the way the player doesn't usually get a chance to warm up at all, it's very easy to crack notes, like happened at JFK's internment at Arlington cemetary.


It seems like there's a lot of room for expression in the length of the individual notes. I wonder if there's any disagreement between buglers about how long things can and should take...I imagine a "end of day" version might be pretty close to as it's written there, but at the service for a soldier it's probably good to give it more time.

Stunner of the Moment
NEWSFLASH: the Administration can't seperate politics and reproductive rights. Awesome!
Err, and by "Awesome!" I meant "Assholes!" I'm not sure if "pregnancy from occurring" means it prevents conception, but still; to have societal freedoms dictated by one view of "conception = there's a soul there!" is just wacked. By that token, they should want to arrest God or at least Mother Nature, the biggest abortionist of all...I've been told that in fact the majority of "pregnancies" spontaneously end, often evading detection.

ACHILLES: cousin. he's my cousin. cousin. totally my cousin. in conclusion: cousin.health

(9 comments)
June 3, 2004

Movie Cliff Notes of the Moment
Already made the rounds, but when I finally came back to Troy in 15 Minutes, I realized it was really pretty funny, and stuck pretty close to the movie in some amusing ways.

In the for what it's worth department, "cousin" is one of those words that never looks like it is spelled quite correctly to me. I think my mental ear keeps hearing "cous-cous". Which is a totally wonderful name for a food, right up there with "fallafel".

AAAAAARRRRRRRGH of the Moment
So I reach over to pick up a sandal this morning and BIP! There goes m'back. Lower center back, I'm literally on the floor in pain. So awesome. This is going to be the most fun weekend packing and finishing getting ready for the movers on Monday EVER.

I blame Peterman. And myself for listening to him. "Oh, you can use these bins of mine for all these books. They have handles." They have handles but they're the SIZE OF FRICKIN'...well...I don't know what's a good comparision for that size, bigger than a breadbox, more to the point significantly bigger than a "booksize box". I was hauling those around last week, just the tiniest bit of friendly warning strain, and then this.

Of course I can't be too bitter, between helping me with some books and then our trip to six flags, he's not doing any kind of lifting either. Still, what a marroon.

Doggone it to little pieces.

Requiem for a Cellphone
In happier news, I finally got a new cellphone. (I also finally got off Sprint's "Screw You Five Ways From Sunday" plan and onto a much fairer plan...also by Sprint, the one their advertising with the elementary school teacher and the dodgeball and what not. Verizon's showroom was crowded, I never got to the top of the sales-help queue, and also their plans are a lot more expensive.) It so kicks my old one's butt...this picture here was taken by my new one, of my old one. I wouldn't have bothered with a cameraphone, but then they showed me one that takes little video clips...and I'm a sucker for anything that can take grainy little video clips. It also has all sort of nice sound and graphics options, seems to have pretty decent recepion, and has two color screens, the main one and then a little timekeeper one on the outside. (I even found out you can use the outer screen as a viewfinder when the cellphone is closed, though in that case the camera is pointed back at yourself.) Plus the screen make the menus much easier to use...

But, as is par for the course, I'll think nostalgically about my first cellphone. It was a cute little fella, unpretentious, and travelled easily in my pocket for the past 3 years. Kept me in touch with the world... I really have trouble remembering how difficult it was to modify plans on the fly without these things. Also, I'll miss how it came with a convenient snug cradle.

Both phones are by Samsung, and I really thing they have a great knack for these compact devices.

Incidentally, I got a pretty bad headache at the Verizon store...sometimes I wonder about all that EMF bouncing around especially, and this might be a little psychosomatic at this point, from cellular modems. They had a laptop set up there...and I remember when I was evaluating a clip-on one for the PalmPilot for work, I used to think I was getting headaches much more often...

sitting and spinning and sitting and spinning and ow my back still hurts

(5 comments)
June 4, 2004

First, I'd like to apologize to Peterman. I was pretty harsh yesterday. That came from a lot of pain, as well as being upset with him (and myself) even though his intentions were good and he was working to help me out. And there's even a chance it wasn't the bins that set this off, though it seems far and away the most likely suspect.

You know, I think one problem I'm going to have in the world of human interaction is I really like and enjoy sarcastic remarks and the occasional diatribe. I don't mind receiving them and I think they're a funny way of expressing feelings.

I'm not sure where that came from. I don't remember my upbringing as being that harsh-tongued.

UPDATE: I wrote the preceding, and the following, last night and pre-published. At this point I'm not all better, might even be worse. My first tries at getting out of bed ended up with me on the floor and it took me a lesuirely half hour to get to the bathroom and then down the stairs. I also got to play a game called "figure out a way to flush without leaning over or raising your knee too much", solving this puzzle by making a kind of figure-4 with my legs as I stood there and using the foot of the 4's "crossbar". (It was a low-water-usage toilet with the handle at knee rather than hip level.)

It's less severe right now, I can sit in my computer chair and stand and walk around, but I'm getting a little worried.


Small Gif Cinema of the Moment
spin, sit
Yesterday I mentioned my new nifty phone...this Small Gif Cinema was inspired by the way the phone's video recorder uses the outer miniscreen as a viewfinder when it's closed, it just invites playing in the little "mirror" with lots of movement.

Essay of the Moment
Put out a new issue of the Blender of Love digest last night. It included a half review, half very personal rambling essay about where I am about Me and Mo, relative to this book called "How Can I Get Through To You?" by Terrence Real. Check it out if you're so inclined.

Cheer of the Moment
Fight, fight, inner light,
Kill, quakers, kill!
Knock ‘em down, beat ‘em senseless,
Do it till we reach consensus!
--When Quakers Cheer. I've only been to one Quaker meeting, alas. It reminded me of this Quaker joke I posted during the early days of kisrael.com, when I was still doing little cartoons a lot. I liked that the joke mentioned my dad's hometown of Coshocton, Ohio.

plead the fifth

(2 comments)
June 5, 2004

So managed to get small groups of people coming at various times this weekend...hopefully it should be enough to get every damn thing into boxes...

Quote of the Moment
"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough."
--Rabindranath Tagore

Video of the Moment
Don't know how long it'll be before the lawers smack this down (assuming it's not officially endorsed), but this Flash video to Come Together featuring John Lennon and the other Beatles is wonderful.

News of the Moment
As LAN3 put it, an example of life imitating Police Academy Four.

let me sleep on it

(6 comments)
June 6, 2004

Hmm...I think I found one trick to helping my back get better. The last two mornings--especially Friday morning--were awful, with my back condition notably worse than when I went to bed. Last night, though, I used my love seat to sleep on. It's a little short for the purpose, my feet kind of dangle over the side, but still, this morning I felt pretty good, maybe even a little better than the night before. I don't know if it's not being layed-out flat, or how I'm avoiding changing positions as I sleep, since there's only one position that works for sleeping on it.

Or, possibly it's the magical healing powers of Comedy Central on all night, especially their 24-hour "Reno 911" marathon.

(It's odd, I now know that sleeping on my back using this little shaped pillow helps the minor upperback pain I get once in a while, and now this loveseat trick...but I still have no idea if I prefer a hard mattress or a soft mattress.)

Also thanks to a good amount of work by Nina, Ivan, and Kayla, I'm in pretty good shape moving-wise, with a few more people coming today for batting cleanup.

In other move related news, I was really bummed to find out RCN can't serve my apartment building...they're all over Arlington but supposedly at some time in the past someone refused them permission to set up the connection at my building. Which sucks. The owner says he's fine with them doing anything, but it's going to take a while. I don't know what my alternatives are besides Comcast, who cost like twice as much and generally seem to have crappier service. Anyone know how to find out about DSL there? I don't even know who to talk to, especially because in general I wasn't planning to set up a landline...

Toys of the Moment
Milked has some interesting, often interactive, content, though a lot of the most interesting bits are all about nekkid ladies. The animated boobies is probably the most engaging, but also the most pornographic.

Passage of the Moment
But if there are some Americans who want peace badly enough to give up their right to wage war, they are being outvoiced by our militant Old Guard, whose idea of a foreign policy is to keep the United States armed to the teeth and ever ready to challenge any country which disputes our world leadership. Regardless of the existence of personal misgivings, we, as a nation, are placing our reliance not on international cooperation but upon the atomic bomb and the willingness of "our boys" to back our decisions with their lives. If it takes two to make a war, we are making certain that we are one of them.
--Edgar L. Jones, in One War is Enough, a 1946 piece in the Atlantic. Stirring words from a veteran that still seem all to relevant today. The debate at the time was about peacetime conscription, like some European countries have now. The other articles in the sidebar of the main re-evaluation of WW2 page are worth checking out as well, especially this stark and gruesome look at what WW2 was really like for those living through it.

Passing of the Moment
RIP Ronald Reagan. I think I was too young when he was in office for me to have formed a mature opinion of him. I don't think he's the demon that the left makes him out to be, nor do I think he's the superhero conservatives paint him as. (In particular, I really don't hope to see him on any money anytime soon.) Two random anecdotes: I remember in 1984 my fifth grade class held mock-elections..I was firmly Mondale, but then, lemming-like, I switched my vote to Reagan when I saw that was what everyone else was going to do. And then in seventh grade, I picked him us my subject for a biography book report, where we had to dress up and playact as the person. So, here to the right is my best Ronnie impression, circa 1987 or so...

Also, I'm reminded of last November when I posted this wonderful excerpt from a letter Reagan wrote to his then infant daughter. Ah, heck, it bears reprinting here:
"There were no 'Northern Lights' last night but there was a big moon and a sky full of stars shining down on the glaciers and snow covered peaks. It was a beautiful night with a constant breeze that seems to come from out among the stars and it seems at times that if you listen very carefully it will whisper secrets as old as time."
Rest in Peace, Ronald Reagan. You always had our best interests at heart.

moving time (backlog flush #44)

June 7, 2004
UPDATE: the move went well. And I'd say my back is..err...back to 85% or so. Many thanks to Nina, Ivan, Kayla, Lena and Bjorn who all helped me out this weekend.

So I'm moving...given that for a while my best bet for networking might be a trip down to the local starbucks, I thought I'd prepublish a day or two. Clear out my backlog a bit...technically my frontlog, but that's getting into nitty gritty techie details that nobody but me cares about. And barely even that.

moving time (backlog flush #45)

(1 comment)
June 8, 2004


Editorial of the Moment
Christopher Hitchins didn't like Reagan. "The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing. Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump."

Article of the Moment
Near and dear to my heart, or at least my experience yesterday, is this Wired piece on the unpopularity of per-hour WiFi costs. I've heard some stories about places who just give it away for free and get a big return on investment. Ain't no way yesterday I was going to fork over a lot of cash just to use the T-mobile hotspot. (I paid at "The Computer Cafe" instead, but felt a little bit less like a tool for doing so...)

singing in the drain

(5 comments)
June 9, 2004

Link of the Moment
Making the rounds: the 50 Coolest Song Parts. Not coolest songs, just parts.

i'm listening to the universe weep

(8 comments)
June 10, 2004

Phew, like I said in yesterday's comments, it mighta been "worst. kisrael. ever." We might be going through some lean times here for a bit, content-wise, but I'm sure the site will bounce back once my schedule returns to normal. And once I find out where the batteries for my wireless mouse are....

Comic of the Moment
Buttercup Festival is a really lovely cartoon. Worth clicking through 'em all, but if you're in a hurry, see it mournful (or maybe just drugged out), optimistic in the face of mortality, and just plain wistful


Games Article of the Moment
With more and more realistic humans in video games, their creators are finding themselves stuck in the uncanny valley: so realistic that you start focusing on the unreality, and they seem like zombies...it makes me wonder if we process it with different parts of our brain. Most people can easily kind of lose themselves in a cartoon world, where everything is represented realistically. But on the other hand, the part of our brain that recognizes "real things" is pretty advanced and hard to fool...(Come to think of it, Wired talked about this already.)

Technology of the Moment
It's hard not to love the combination PDA/tricorder and Jedi floating practice droid NASA would like to put up their with the astronauts. Though I can just see the horror film potential now, if they somehow start running amuck...talk about having no place to run, no place to hide...(and judging by the sidebar photo, it's a lot bigger than I imagined, like medicine-ball sized.)

laserbeak, frenzy, eject. operation: funkification

June 11, 2004
So. Today the house gets 100% sold, I hand the keys over, and walk out with a big ol' check. Well, not really with the check, there's something about escrow for a bit, but in general, the house is no longer a part of my present or future. And it was a good house. Yesterday, checking things over, I started to get really sad. Not so much on the inside...home really is where your crap is, and the empty rooms didn't do much for me, except remembering a few great parties Mo and I threw. But something about the back lawn...it's exploding with life after the recent rains. It's a bit wild, we weren't the most pristine landscapers, the grass is exploding with clover (that the bunnies around probably find quite delicious), and there's really an abundance of crazy plants along the edges.

Should be a fun weekend...I'm heading down to Ocean Grove, NJ with my Uncle to meet up with my Mom and Aunt, both just back from London. We're going to see Garrison Keillor doing Prairie Home Companion at the Great Auditorium there...

Video of the Moment
If you grew up in the 80s, you're likely to find this video of Soundwave Gettin' Down with his bad self as amazing and wonderful as I do.

Quote of the Moment
"I will always love the false image I had of you."
--Slashdot's Quote of the Day

far from land or dock.

(6 comments)
June 12, 2004

Guest Host of the Moment
Hello, I'm LAN3, and Kirk has generously invited me to update kisrael while he's down in Joisey. I'll do my best to rip off Kirk's format and style, while still giving you those informative links, provocative thoughts, and wicked distractions that you, like me, have come to this page to see. I won't attempt poetry, I promise. As a poet, I'm a Vogon.

Music of the Moment
Currently on heavy rotation in my various players is the latest song from Interröbang Cartel, a band composed of any willing contributors who read and/or post to alt.religion.kibology. "Ballad of the Eire Canal" is a song composed originally for another newsgroup by Friend-of-Kisrael Ranjit after he was inspired by a typo. It's just these bits of unqualified genius that show up from time to time that make so very much crap on USENET worth reading. The lyrics are worth a read by themselves, but there's an instrumental version by SWT and an excellent a cappella version by JWGH, who has a wacky Interröbang Cartel codename that escapes me at the moment.

Meanwhile, the same SWT has just completed a decent-sized (15:37) synthetic symphony, which I'm about halfway through hearing for the first time. If you like video game music from the NES era, you'll adore this.

News Cycle of the Moment
Everyone's saying goodbye to President Reagan this morning. NPR broadcast the funeral in special coverage this morning, just as on Wednesday they covered, during the All Things Considered hour, the arrival of President Reagan's body at the Capitol rotunda.

Well, I wouldn't be a blogger or the like if I didn't make it about me, so here goes: I'm creeped out that they flew his corpse cross-country to lie in state. I'm not disturbed by the notion of viewing the corpse in general, but death should not, IMO, entail long distance round-trip travel.

Fortunately, I believe I run little risk of being so famous that I'll get anything other than a one-way trip to wherever my body will spend its eternal rest. But who knows where this guest-hosting gig will take me?

Where's Kirk @ the Moment?
As Kirk mentioned, he'll be attending the traveling production of "A Prairie Home Companion," the long-running radio variety show hosted by Garrison Keillor, who appears under several names in kisrael with a reasonable frequency. You, the reader, can watch the show too, thanks to the miracle of streaming media. Don't hesitate to click that link for a run-down on the netcast -- it won't start launching players on you or anything. The show will start at 6:45 Eastern Kirkles Time, and out here on the left coast will start in the yawning afternoon at 3:45.

sit stay down wait here come

(2 comments)
June 13, 2004

This is the second and final day of Kisrael Held Hostage with your guest captor, LAN3.

AIM of the Moment
Last Saturday, I got this IM from kirk, out of the blue:
kirk: now they're gonna wanna put him on money
LAN3: What's that now?
kirk: sorry, wrong IM window. My response to someone asking if I heard Reagan died
LAN3:: Reagan died?

And that was how I got the bad news. But as much as it does a Republican (arguable) good to trump up the passing of that late great President, I really just wanted to mention that as the ...
Segue of the Moment
because this morning I heard, on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, a short thumb-sucking essay by host Scott Simon, which is a regular feature on the show. This week, Simon contemplated the alleged drive to add Reagan to money. I don't know if the drive is substantial, merely has a good media coverage, or just presumably exists, but considering what I now know about Andrew Jackson, I'd be happy to see him off the $20. However, Jackson had very big hair, and Reagan had a rather squared hairstyle that just won't fill the oval on the bill very well.

Radio of the Moment
That last link goes to a long-past episode of "This American Life," the WBEZ (Chicago)-based public radio show that gives a weekly hour of radio documentaries around a single theme.

Last week's episode was one I nagged Kirk to listen to. It spent the entire hour on a single general story, a look at private contractors in Iraq: "I'm From the Private Sector and I'm Here to Help" (RealAudio and Audible.com archives available)

It covers, in its various acts, some of the private soldier/mercenaries, the friction between the contractors and the military (including an argument near the beginning which is terrific radio), a contractor who is working on Baghdad's heavily-improvised power systems, a woman in a nearly-all-male niche, and even lets you witness, aurally, an ambush in traffic.

In other good radio: Scott Simon's thumb-sucker is at times cloying, but I'll give him credit-- he got Simon and Garfunkel in the same room.

Animal Science of the Moment
Science has confirmed what dog owners all know: Dogs understand language. I sent this to my sister, and she estimated that her golden retriever, Cider, can understand almost 40 words:
sit stay down wait here come outside leave-it kong swimming frisbee bo-bos (bedtime) puppy-chow good-girl greenie bone treat cookie go-hup paws-up kisses bath ears hot no-begging out go watch-me walk love who's-there speak find-it cat quiet as well as the names of 4-6 people she sees often.

Paranoia of the Moment
The Reproductive Cycle of Black Helicopters. This probably confirms everything you've ever suspected about their sinister origins.

Game of the Moment
N is an addictive game that runs on your PC or Mac using CPU-hungry Flash. The gameplay? "play as a ninja trapped in a world of well-meaning, inadvertently homicidal robots." Think Lode Runner with physics added.

The game is really fantastic, but I don't think I'll ever finish it-- to advance you take 5 levels per episode, and there appear to be 30 episodes. Watch the demos that autoplay on launch for a great look at the various inhabitants of the game, and read everything in the "help" and "story" -- there's a lot of hidden humor and classic gaming references.

1000 Thanks to Kirk for letting me cover his weekend. This was fun! LAN3 out.

back in action

June 14, 2004
Thanks to LAN3 for tending to kisrael.com over the weekend...I think it was a neat change of pace.

Quote of the Moment
"A person without doubt is a monster."
--Garrison Keillor at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, 2004.06.12. I think in indirect reference to the current administration.

Link of the Moments
One more link from LAN3:
Kirk, I left your links and text below, and here's one that might be up your alley: http://wheredidthetimego.com/
It's a flash toy on the topic of mortality. At first it appears to be yet another mortality clock, but after a very short survey (that uses sliders, mainly, not multiple choice, heh) it shows you what portion of your years has gone to doing so-and-so, and amusingly so, rather than how much time you have left, etc. My favorite bit is tiny: the "loading" animation has a great little anim of the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx. (I wonder why nobody combines this sort of thing with mortality clocks, so you can look at it and say "Oh, thank god, I'll get in at least 21 years of sleep before I die-- I might as well stay up tonight.")

Historical Footnote of the Moment
An impulse item at, oddly, one of those highwayside gas station / restaurant areas, I picked up a multi-CD set War on Radio, with lots of original radio footage from World War 2: speeches, propoganda broadcasts, interviews. It makes you realize what a simplified view we have of that time, the speeches in particular have all kind of fascinating subtopics that a typical high school or college overview wouldn't have covered. But, interestingly, both Churchill and FDR pronounce "Nazi" differently than (I assume) most people do now...I think most people now say "Not-See", but then it was more like "Gnat-See"...which makes sense, given that it's a shortening of the German for "National Socialist". Assuming "Gnat-See" was the general pronunciation then, and I'm right that "Not-See" is the predominant way of saying it now...I wonder when it changed?

Photoshopping of the Moment
--Coolest Photoshopping Contest I've seen in a while, Cyborg Animals. Some of the insects were really cool...

bookmobile

(20 comments)
June 15, 2004

Mo's mom had a pretty decent rule for her kids: if they didn't like a book they had just started, they had to read 50 pages, and then decide to give it a rest or not. I've tried to adopt the rule for myself, though upping it up to 100. And the current book about to get the axe is "100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I can tell it's a pretty good book, but it's just not catching for me...the characters are a little interesting but I have trouble sounding out their depth.

Sometimes you can come back to a book though. I think I had to be through a few unrequited loves before "Great Gatsby" made sense to me, and now it's one of my favorites.

Video of the Moment
I got a piehole on the front of my head. Cool bit of music and image.

Survey Question of the Moment
So, in an effort to get the comments feature moving again, as well as hoping to get a few new views...I mentioned Memorial Day I need to figure out what if anything I should do car-wise. I do have my eyes on those MINIs...they seem cute, and easy-to-park, reliable, not unreasonably expensive, and women seem to dig 'em, and those are 5 of my most important factors right there. A new car would definately take a chunk out of my new house money--and that money represents the bulk of my long term savings thus far, I don't want to feel like I'm squandering it. But still...

Heh, this Sunday I was stuck (and sun burning, I realized later) for 4 hours in downstate New York as my very capable Uncle Bill replaced an alternator fan belt (that had popped on the Tappan Zee bridge) on his '91 VW Jetta. It shoulda been more like an hour job, but the underhood arrangement was pretty dang unfriendly. That reminded me that I'm not really equipped for life with an old car, though I do have hopes that the Civic has quite a number of years of reliable life left in it.

I also need to figure out to do with my old car. Blue book or whatever, I'd likely get around 3K for it as a trade-in, and they'd probably sell it for 5K or so...that 3K is small enough that I'd like to do something better with it. My first thought is giving it to my cousin Ivan, who'll be starting to drive soon. It just seems like it would be a big boon in high school, and I would've loved to have a car rather than borrowing the family minivan. On the other hand, I know some adults with more real-world problems and transportation issues could possibly use it...including one friend who was enquiring about buying it. Complicating the decision, I've already mentioned it as a possibility to Ivan and his family, so it might be incredibly bad-spirited to back out without a really good reason.

So I dunno. Apologies in advance to people who might be cursing me and thinking "oh, poor baby, got a bunch of money and doesn't know how to spend it". I have been very fortunate with this and I want to balance being a good steward of my good fortune with not being a joyless stingy bastard.

Thoughts or suggestions?

Quote of the Moment
"The Germans have done for consonants what the Hawaiians have done for vowels."
--Guitarist Leo Kottke introducing his song tentaively titled "Gewerbegebiet" ("Trade Area", according to Google's Language Tools) at Prairie Home Companion in OGNJ.

lessons in gravity

(4 comments)
June 16, 2004

Anecdote and Esay of the Moment
"My earliest memory is of water. I was submerged in it. I had stepped off a dock into Clark Lake. Before my Aunt Rui jumped in after me, I had time to hit bottom- about three feet down- and look around. A bubble formed around my head and I could breathe in it. I was two and a half. I learned this much: adults couldn't breathe underwater, but a child could do anything. About four years later I held a paper bag above my head and jumped off a roof. I reached full speed and slammed into the ground. I learned this much: adulthood begins at six."
--Leo Kottke (same guy as yesterday's quote) from this rambling Essay on Sadness...worth reading. The other rambling essays were also kinda nifty, if a little hard to follow.

Article of the Moment
Here's a CNN article about online dating and the sites that rate the sites. Puts a pretty negative spin on it, but anecdotally, I've heard a fair number of success stories...sometimes it just takes a bit.

Here's the kind of make-over I want to get done before or as I get my dating mojo working again: Sounds like a plan, huh?

Link of the Moment
This AtariAge discussion thread on 2600 "3D Tic-Tac-Toe" reminded me of seeing Hillis' famous Tinker Toy Tic-Tac-Toe Computer at the Boston Computer Museum. This Scientific American article explains how it works. (Man, "Computer Recreations" was such a great column, back when computers were fun toys people could program rather than word processing and web browsing appliances. Interestingly, the columns author, AK Dewdney, now seems to be a 9/11 skeptic, in terms of odd holes in the story...)

Article of the Moment
Slashdot linked to a historical overview Do movie-license video games all suck? going all the way back to the Atari 2600 days.

News Story of the Moment
Oy, what a nightmare for anyone who is scared of our honeymaking friend, the Bee: Montanna Truck crash frees 9 million angry bees.

microsoftly, so softly

(8 comments)
June 17, 2004

Geek Article of the Moment
I don't know how hard core techie you have to to appreciate How Microsoft Lost the API War, but it's great. "Joel on Software" always makes so much sense...talking about how Microsoft had two competing ideas, backwards compatability at any price vs. charging headlong into the future...and now that the second camp has won, it's going to reinforce the move of a lot of stuff to the web.

Article of the Moment
This is also the kind of country where the president meets with the members of a radical, far-right millennialist Christian sect three weeks before he counteracts all known international law and opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation. That sect, known as the Apostolic Congress, opposes any deal with the Palestinians because it believes that Christ won't return to Earth until all of Israel belongs to the Jews and Solomon's temple is rebuilt. To those of us who like a dose of sanity in our morning coffee, such ideas are anathema, but to President Bush, they're a daily briefing.
--Neal Pollack in Church & State. The amazing, bizarre fact is that a Christian Apocolyptic cult has control of the highest levels of our government sect has an alarmingly strong infleunce on the highest levels of our government. (Revision springs from dialog with LAN3 in comments section...but I'd also add I don't think that type of thinking leads to good long term or even short term best-interest planning.)

I think about movies that deal with the end of the world. You know what I notice? Most of the time, the good guys are trying to STOP the end of the World, not clear the damn path for it. It's a simple rule: life, good. Everything going boom and taking billions of people with it, bad. But that rule doesn't apply here, because our administration is on the Jesus Happy Train.

The ARROGANCE of these people...MAN. Back when I was a believer in traditional protestant doctrine, I was kind of worried, because I wasn't quite positive that I hadn't fallen back into sin...I did the whole Jesus into my heart/reborn thing, but I was kind of hoping that "Revelation" wouldn't happen for a bit, just so I'd have more time to establish my self as a good guy more firmly and stop all this dang backsliding. But these PRICKS are SO CONVINCED they're on the Good Side of all this...ai yi yi.

You know, I would be willing to bet cash money that someone in the administration has written up some plans about what to do when the president and his entire staff is taken up into heaven, along with all those other True Believers across the land and across the world...these guys read "Left Behind" like other people read Nostradomus.

had a long talk with eb last nightramble

(9 comments)
June 18, 2004

Had a long talk with EB last night. He's a more insightful guy than you might expect. One of the main points was he thinks I need to get better at recognizing competitive situations, and then decide if I'm going to compete or disengage, but if I do the latter, do so more knowledgeably than with my usual fear-of-losing redefine-the-competition approach. In some ways, sometimes for better but often for worse, that fear-of-losing thing is a defining characteristic of my life. It's kind of a misapplication of that old "better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt" saw...except in my case, it's more about better to give a half-hearted effort and see what comes up than to have one's limitations outlined in stark relief. At its heart, it's a terrible ego thing; I think I'm subconsciously convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that I'm always the smartest guy in the room (and when there is evidence to the contrary, my belief in the theory of multiple intelligences--which is actually a nice multipolar way of looking at the world--lets me redefine "smart") and work to shield myself from anything that would prove me wrong on that.

One unpleasant side effect of that is I'm not a good loser, at least for stuff I've worked at at all. (Like, a board game I don't like, I have less stake in, so I probably preemptively disengage a tad, and can just follow the rule of "if you can't do something well enjoy doing it badly".) When a video game or round of darts is going badly, I'm the most sometimes angry and sometimes whiny (and sometimes both) S.O.B. around. Why is that? Dunno. Historical evidence suggest EB and I are fairly evenly matched in both fields...(Hmm, one thing I didn't think of last night is I am a bit better at say, multiplayer video games when things don't go well. Unfortunately, either because I have more experience at the specific games, or just spent more years at gaming in general, I'm usually better at any given game than many of my gaming buddies, but most of them take it with good grace.) Why should it get on my nerves that I might not be the best darts player in the car, when I so freely admit I'm not the best on in Cambridge, or Boston Metro, or New England, or any other reasonable level of competition?

So I'm trying to figure out where all this comes from, both the general overview and the sense of whiny rivalry. EB has a few theories, from what he knows of my background. One of the most interesting is--and even if it's not quite the root of this, I think it might start to answer some questions I was recently asking about how my father's debilitating illness and death when I was a teenager affects my way of dealing with others now--is this concept that I never got a chance to "beat Dad" at stuff. EB recognizes that Oedipal Conflict and Freudian thought in general is out of vogue, often for good reasons, but still thinks there's something to a normal male development stage of gettin' better than yer old man at something, whether it's one-on-one basketball or academic pursuits or what have you, and the time of doing that directly was denied to me. (I guess this presumes it can't easily happen posthumously...my dad raised a pretty high bar in the way he went from a bit of a backwoods boy to a very refined and educated man, collecting art--prints,mostly--in a meaningful way, doing national championship level needlework, and generally acquiring an amazing set of skills and diverse cultural interests. (Come to think about it, I did a write up on those things a year ago that tried to do justice to what he accomplished.))

Another place it might come from is not wanting to admit the world just isn't fair. (And EB thinks a certain kind of Christian upbringing, extremely egalitarian, might feed into this.) Somewhere out there, there's someone smarter, richer, better-looking, more-well-hung, better-adjusted, a better writer, more creative, luckier...and, undoubtedly, all of the above, and more...there's some growing up I have to do about making the best of the talents I do have. And I the problem isn't those talents per se; I definitely have a lot of raw intelligence and creativity and many other things; the problem is I have such a mixed record in the "making the best of" department. Sometimes a desire not to know my own limits has led me into a kind of drifting lack-of-drive, lack-of-competition way of being that in some ways has worked out ok for me, but in some ways hasn't.

Yikes, this went on for a bit, eh? Let me know what you think.

Sellout of the Moment
Wow. I had gathered that Garfield was pretty commercial and made by committee and by-the-numbers and all that (despite liking it a lot when I was like, 7) but I had no idea it was always so planned...

Stupid note of the moment...I would have said "when I was like 8" but the 8) looked too much like I was trying to make a glasses-wearing smilie.

enraging enronramble

(16 comments)
June 19, 2004

Political Music of the Moment
Eron's Got The Power...those recent taped Enron-daming phonecalls set against Snaps "I Got The Power".

Geek Link of the Moment
Slashdot linked to a look back at "The Mythical Man Month", one of THE most important works in computer engineering even though it was written like 30 years ago...the article shows what's aged well, and what hasn't. That book gave us ideas like "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later."

Reminds me of my other current favorite "The first 90% of a project takes 10% of the time. The last 10% takes 90% of the time, too."

Car Thoughts of the Moment
So I'm getting closer to make a decision about a car, I think. Interestingly the top contender has changed... I test drove a Scion xA the other day. Unlike its more popular brother, the uberboxy xB, its design really appeals to me, strong-looking without being overbearing. Scion is a new division of Toyota, just Honda has Accord and Toyota also has Lexus, but geared for 20-somethings. It is a little odd to me that the most appealing car is actually cheaper than the one I bought 8 years ago, but still...it's modern euro in styling, and I've always liked the "miniminivan" hatchback look (I actually looked at getting an Eagle Summit back in 1996, but I doubt it would have lasted as well as the Civic hatchback has.) For worse or probably better, Scions are "no haggle" set priced, like Saturns.

The MINI Cooper is still a posibility. It has a "ooh I wanna see that" factor that chicks might dig, and Scion is still in the "what's a Scion" stage (and with much more attention being paid to the other two models.) But Mike cautioned me about the reliability of MINIs, and Consumer Reports says they're the pits in terms of problems so far. (Scion is too new to have data on, but given how well the other Toyotas rank, I wouldn't be too worried.) Another advantage the xB has is having 4 doors plus the hatch...I don't drive groups a lot, but if I got a MINI...the leg room for people sitting in the back is just cruel and unusual.

Other cars I've thought about: the Toyota Prius is a decent idea, but the styling is too "space buggy" looking for me. I think in general I like hatchbacks: some cargo ability, but it's still a car, as opposed to even those small little SUVs. (I've come to realize that, just like a felt like a goon for being a single guy in a whole house, driving to work in what wants to be a truck feels wasteful as well.) I've thought about some other vehicles: Consumer Reports loves the Ford Focus, but I guess I don't get good vibes from American cars. I even toyed with a Jeep Wrangler, but, besides feeling a little like a poser for having such an outdoorsy thing, it's not recommended as a great highway vehicle.

I also glanced at a nice used car place. Eh, my instincts are saying new will be better.

Ultimately, of course, this is my decision to make and live with (and I am getting better at getting the gumption to make big decisions and accepting that the responsibility is all mine, and that I'm not a terrible person if I do make some dumb moves.) Still, I'm glad Mike pointed out the MINI's possible issues...so I gotta ask...if the main reason I'd be getting a MINI Cooper over a Scion xB is because I think chicks are more likely to dig it...is that likely to be a big factor in those crucial first impressions women will make about me? Could my appreciation of oddball car design hurt my potential dating life? (Yeah, yeah, anyone I'd want to get serious with wouldn't care about that, blah blah...but I mean really...)

booooom

(1 comment)
June 20, 2004

Movie Geekery of the Moment
We already know that "You Can't Outrun a Bullet", but just how fast are the explosions and T-Rexes and what not we see movie heroes and heroines running away from all of the time? Check out The Reality of Running Away.

Shakespeare of the Moment
ROMEO 
O, thou wilt speak again of banishment.

FRIAR LAURENCE 
I'll give thee armour to keep off that word:
Adversity's sweet milk, philosophy,
To comfort thee, though thou art banished.

ROMEO 
Yet 'banished'? Hang up philosophy!
Unless philosophy can make a Juliet,
Displant a town, reverse a prince's doom,
It helps not, it prevails not: talk no more.
--Years ago I saw the Cleveland Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet and the only part that really stuck with me (other than the way the supposedly just slain guys in tights where very clearly still panting like a lizard onstage) was this exchange, with Romeo rolling on the floor in emotional agony. Back then I wondered just what those philosophies of such comfort would be...I think I had that quote in the back of my head as I assembled the Skeptic's Guide to Mortality.

Observation of the Moment
I realized sometimes I use emotional memory as an aid to regular memory...continuing the ongoing moving-in process, I come across an odd canvas marroon belt. I can't think of what it's for. But I notice for some reason I have some feeling of guilt about it, something I should be doing...oh, right...it's a yoga belt I got at Target a month or so again, and I've been slacking on my yoga...(lately I have an excuse what with my back and all, but still...) Does anyone else do that?

not a peep out of you!

(4 comments)
June 21, 2004

Art Jokes of the Moment
--BRILLIANT T-shirt design by Brooke and Ranjit. (Click here if you don't get the joke.)
--Less brilliant photoshopping by me, just riffing on the theme. (Click here if you don't get the joke. Same artist.)


Quote of the Moment
"Do boys drive MINIs?"
--Karla Goo asks a very good question that weighs into the whole "what car should Kirk get?" issue. She ran into me at the Harvard Square Tealuxe on Saturday afternoon and we had a terrific chat on a nearby bench, mostly just catching up on our lives after the time we spent singing in sQ. Plus she introduced me to Bubble Tea. (Click here if you don't get the beverage.)

rants don't pay rents

(3 comments)
June 22, 2004

Politics of the Moment
IT'S TIME TO RE-EVALUATE OUR INVOLVEMENT
Every day there are news reports about more deaths. Every night on TV there are photos of death and destruction. Why are we still there?
We occupied this land, which we had to take by force, but it causes us nothing but trouble. Why are we still there?
Many of our children go there and never come back. Why are we still there? Their government is unstable, and they have sporadic leadership. Why are we still there?
Many of their people are uncivilized. Why are we still there?
The place is subject to natural disasters, from which we are supposed to bail them out. Why are we still there?
There are more than 1000 religious sects, which we do not understand. Why are we still there?
Their folkways, foods, and fads are unfathomable to odinary Americans. Why are we still there?
We can't even secure the borders. Why are we still there?
They are billions of dollars in debt, and it will cost billions more to rebuild, which we cannot afford. Why are we still there?
It is becoming clear...
WE MUST PULL OUT OF CALIFORNIA
--'making the rounds', gtabbed from rec.humor.funny.

Popculture of the Moment
They're making a version of Spiderman localized for India. He's Pavitr Prabhakar, not Peter Parker, and he'll battle Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon, not the Green Goblin. Nifty!


Game Maker of the Moment
Huh, hadn't previously heard about Zelda Classic, starting as an engine to port the old NES classic to PCs, it's now a huge editor system letting people make up new missions, monsters, and even totally changing the look and feel of the game...Alas, I never really got into the original Zelda, but still, it seems a pretty cool idea...

hear their story

(5 comments)
June 23, 2004

Quote of the Moment
"A quote he loved especially--and carried around with him--was from Mary Lou Kownacki: 'There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story.' There were many times I wanted to be angry at someone, and Fred would say, 'But I wonder what was going on in that person's day.' His capacity for understanding always amazed me."
--Joanne ("Mrs.") Rogers, from the intro to "The World According to Mr. Rogers". I love that "heard their story quote, and I think Mr. Roger's additional thought is vey worthwhile...if someone's a jerk in traffic, I scream and yell 'cause I like screaming and yelling, but if I get right down to it I assume they're rushing their pregnant wife to the hospital or something.

Machinery of the Moment
Hmmm...I could get a nice small car, or how about one of these instead? I don't think parking would be a big problem. Here's the guy who makes 'em.

Funny of the Moment
Fargo of gamespy.com sets up a 'bot to automatically play the online Star Wars game. Hilarity ensues. (In case you're not a gammer, the 'Bots excuse of "Lag" is claiming that his internet connection is lagging.)

Summary of the Moment
Slate presents the highlights from Clinton's new book....man, I love these. They read so you don't have to!

o brave new world that has such cellphones in it!

(4 comments)
June 24, 2004

Small site update: I tweaked the comments form a tad. Now URLs starting with http:// and https:// will be shown as links that open in a new browser window, I made the comments box a tad larger, and I added a 'formatting guidelines' link that opens up a popup explaining what the comments thing does with HTML, URLs, and whitespace. Feedback (as always) welcome.

Oh, if you were wondering, the URL-to-link thing applies retroactively to previous comments people entered in.

Rant of the Moment
I do dig my new Samsung "SPH-A680" cellphone, the one with the built-in camcorder, and in general its UI is very well-designed. One thing about still seems absurd and annoying to me, however: who on earth (or, specifically, at Samsung) thought I needed 8 distinct levels of ringer volume? What kind of finesse do they think I need on this thing? "Oh, 4 was just a tad too soft, the countermelody of my ringtone was being muffled a bit, but 5 was just perfect!" No. I want off, vibrate, and LOUD. I could see having 2 or even 3 volume levels plus vibrate and off, but 8? The main reason it annoys me is because I have to cycle through all 8 volumes every time I set it down to vibrate.

Anyway, I checked, and it's probably 8 because there are 8 volume levels for voice, which makes more sense, since there's more of a dynamic range of volume for calls, and you need to be able to hear the other person without it being too loud. But still, the ringer volume is a classic case of engineer- and not user-centric design. (Or, misguided user-centric design, more options aren't always better.)

Site of the Moment
Retrofuture.com talks in depth about some of the futures that never were. Hrrm, I wonder what kind of minor annoyances these citizens of the future that never was had with their Robot XJ427? "Oh, it's great, but I just hate the way that it has 73 ways of cooking eggs, and always has to list them all for me, when I always just want scrambled!"

Trivial Pursuit Question of the Moment
What name did the World Meteorological Organization take off a list of hurricane names in 2001, after complaints from Jewish groups?

Israel

--YEAH BABY! Rock you like a HURRICANE!!!
Well, not any more. But it looks like "Kirk" has been added to the name rotation, so there is that.

madeoverstyle

(6 comments)
June 25, 2004

Awww, crap...I got new glasses yesterday, and along with my haircut this different (first hairstyle change since like 3rd grade, except during that unfortunate time in middle school) I was all set to show of my new look...but I realized there was one issue:

Seperated at Birth? of the Moment
  
John Ritter in "Sling Blade" Kirk Israel in real life.
Sigh. Well, worst case scenario, I can get new frames from Eye-Q...

Quote of the Moment
"They say that time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself."
--Andy Warhol. Hence this recent makeover!

Game of the Moment
A pre-emptive I made when LAN3 took over that one weekend: Just in case I don't get to update the page over the weekend, here's an odd little game: ROFL Attack. Almost, but not quite, ASCII art.

death in the afternoon

(2 comments)
June 26, 2004

Mortality of the Moment
What people die of, across all the nations. Betcha didn't know Luxembourg leads the world in death by Hydrocephalus, or Poland by Sunburn... (page crashes firefox and mozilla browsers, or so they tell me.)

Politics of the Moment
GeorgeWBush.com has a new video ad that's SO muddled...at first I thought they were comparing Kerry, Gore, et al. to Hitler, but no, they're trying to say that the left is a bunch of wild-eyed radicals who are saying Bush is like Hiter...this Metafilter conversation talks about how bizarre and unclear a message it is. ("Fark meets Godwin to create the season's most most apt and potent catchphrase: 'Hitlerity ensues.'")

Say what you will about Bush, he's the president strictly thanks to the rounding error we call the Electoral College. In a direct count of votes, even the Florida mess wouldn't have mattered one iota.

Passage of the Moment
Selfridge [the department store magnate] was an interesting fellow who provides a salutary moral lesson for us all. An American, he devoted his productive years to building Selfridges into Europe's finest shopping emporium, in the process turing Oxford Street into London's main shopping venue. He led a life of stern rectitude, early bedtime and tireless work. He drank lots of milk and never fooled around. But in 1918 his wife died and the sudden release from marital bounds rather went to his head. He took up with a pair of Hungarian-American cuties known in music-hall circles as the Dolly Sisters, and fell into rakish ways. With a Dolly on each arm, he took to roaming the casinos of Europe, gambling and losing lavlishly. He dined out every night, invested foolish sums in racehorses and motorcars, bought Highcliffe Castle and laid plans to build a 250-room estate at Hengistbury Head near by. In ten years he raced through $8 million, lost control of Selfridges, lost his castle and London home, his racehorses and his Rolls-Royces, and eventually ended up living alone in a small flat in Putney and travelling by bus. He died penniless and virtually forgotten on 8 May 1947. But of course he had had the inestimable pleasure of bonking twin sisters, which is the main thing.
--Bill Bryson, "Notes from a Small Island", an American ex-pat about to return to the USA and making one last 7-week tour of the British isles on his own. Good book I'd recommend, laugh-out-loud in many parts. Soon after relating that story he talks about the British love of small pleasures, and how its made his own life richer, and how he knew when he was becoming one of them: "I remember finding myself in damp clothes in a cold café on a dreary seaside promenade and being presented with a cup of tea and a teacake and going 'Ooh, lovely!', and I knew then that the process had started." Something about that "Ooh loveley!" attitude is sticking in my head.

pedal to the metal, heel to the steel

(23 comments)
June 27, 2004

So I mentioned my street GPS before...it's still WONDERFUL for finding a route to a place or making your way through terra incognito, but it's lack of smarts about lights and traffic make it lousy for finding the best route. Case in point, it figures the best way from Arlington (north of Boston) to a wedding in Southern MA MUST be straight through the heart of Boston, on 93...

Anyway, when you first turn the thing on, it gives you a dire safety warning about not fiddling with it while driving, they're not responsible, blah blah. But I have to think, if they were more serious about safety, maybe they wouldn't have a permanent record of maximum speed acheived ever...I suspect having a video game like "high score" feature just encourages some guys to show off. And all I say about that is it at least looks like there's room for 3 digits in that little box...

Videos of the Moment
These four videos for the Discovery Channel's "Know More Than You Should" campaign all have nifty scifi vibes..."Antlers" and "Milk Truck" have this lovely edge of slight nighmarishness, and "Transporter" has a nifty kinetic energy.

Plug of the Moment
Thought I'd throw in a plug for Eye Q Optical in Harvard Square and the South End. They do a great job knowing how frames work with or against certain facial features, and the frames weren't more than the boring and helpful one-hour-place I went in 2001. (Though I let them sweet-talk me into a second set...) Plus, they seem really competent, especially the guy who did the exam and then also turned out to be one of the fitters. And they have a 30-day or so exchange policy, which lets a guy get glasses that are more of a "reach" than he otherwise might.

They also have a nifty logo...the only downsides are that their weekday hours aren't very long and of course you may be spoiled by the one-hour places...it was really worth it for me though. Between the hair and the glasses, I feel like I'm gonna be sending out a much better "I'm actually a bit concerned about my appearance" vibe to the world, rather than my previous "least physical and mental effort needed" model.

One odd point about my makeover, between the spikier hair and and the funkier glasses, my new look is maybe a bit reminscent of Mo circa last June.

all about shaking it

(1 comment)
June 28, 2004

Poetry of the Moment
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.

Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.

The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.
--Shakespeare's Hokey Pokey, by Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls

Public Service of the Moment
This is a little warning for my friend Jane. It may have come to late for her, but maybe it will help someone else from a wayward path:


Literary Bit of the Moment
"Is there no rest? No escape? I stumble to the closet and reach in for my salvation. I see it all so clearly now--I'll follow Papa Hemingway to the happy hunting grounds with a one-way ticket on the Lead Bullet Express over Gun Powder Falls through Massive Head Wound Canyon."
--from "Wigfield", by the "Strangers With Candy" team.

enough is enough. not enough is not enough.

(7 comments)
June 29, 2004

Paraphrase of the Moment
You say in your book that you have every sympathy with Sir John Betjeman who remarked toward the end of his life that his greatest regret was not having had enough sex."
--Naim Attallah, interviewing Milton Shulman, in the book "Insights" (I gave a little background about the book when I kisrael'd this other passage previously.)

Vocabulary of the Moment
THE TEN FOREIGN WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE
1 ilunga [Tshiluba word for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time. Note: Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in south-eastern Congo, and Zaire]
2 shlimazl [Yiddish for a chronically unlucky person]
3 radioukacz [Polish for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain]
4 naa [Japanese word only used in the Kansai area of Japan, to emphasise statements or agree with someone]
5 altahmam [Arabic for a kind of deep sadness]
6 gezellig [Dutch for cosy]
7 saudade [Portuguese for a certain type of longing]
8 selathirupavar [Tamil for a certain type of truancy]
9 pochemuchka [Russian for a person who asks a lot of questions]
10 klloshar [Albanian for loser]

THE TEN ENGLISH WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE
1 plenipotentiary
2 gobbledegook
3 serendipity
4 poppycock
5 googly
6 Spam
7 whimsy
8 bumf
9 chuffed
10 kitsch
--from this poll of translators, further linked and discussed here. Not the most convincing list, really, and as someone in the discussion mentions, its been done, with a lot more background about the cultural assumptions and what not, by Howard Rheingold. I think it was a review of that book where I learned about the culture that has the word for "the truth that everyone knows but no one speaks"...

Plea of the Moment
And, if You deem it necessary (or just amusing) to take my mind before You take my body, let’s try to keep the progressive dementia noble and epically sad rather than comical. For example: please let the last face I recognize be the photograph of a long-lost high-school girlfriend and not one of the plucky toddlers from the animated show "Rugrats." In my final moments, let me awaken—apparently lucid—in the pre-dawn hours calling out for a kiss on the forehead from a dead great-aunt rather than from the mustachioed black bartender on "The Love Boat."
--Paul Simms, from "A Prayer", a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs feature. (Probably a short-lived link.) Via Bill.

Politics of the Moment
I will say, the two day schedule jump for the Iraq handover was indeed a pretty slick move overall. (Which doesn't mean I agree with us being there, but hey.) Also, I noticed rightist radio is curiously silent on Cheney's use of the F-word. If it had been as prominent a Democrat saying that, we would NEVER hear the end how it was the "end of civility" and "a new low" and all that crap. Personally, I'm fine with and vaguely amused by him saying it, but I think the likely hypocricy (implicit in the lack of outrage) of the rightwingers is telling.

autowalk, autocrawl, autostop, whatever

(5 comments)
June 30, 2004

Tip of the Moment
Your life might be better if you disable AutoRun for CDs in Windows. Really, how hard is it to click instead? And then they can't sneak all that crap onto your system...

Workplace Trauma of the Moment
IWorkWithFools.com -- anonymous tales of workplace idiots. Interesting to compare and contrast that with Enter the Cow-orker, ongoing tales of the mental trauma inflicted by a single idiot.

Update of the Moment
So, in the "keeping friends and relatives informed" function of this site, a couple of milestones today. It is, technically, my third wedding anniversary, since the divorce isn't final 'til early August. Exchanged a few emails with Mo, that's about it. Also, annoyingly, it's Jane's last day as a contractor at my company...there's a small chance there'll be another opening for her here but I'm pessimistic. I really owe Jane a lot being a lot of the driving force behind this whole makeover thing. I really do think it's a great deal of improvement of how I present myself to the world, and I worry that if it wasn't for her I'd still be the same old shlub and that would make some of the tasks of building up a new life (especially in the whole finding and wooing women shtick) that much harder.