april fools bring may pools

(5 comments)
April 1, 2005

Fools of the Moment
NY Times on the greatest baseball hoax of all time, Sidd Finch and his 168 mph fastball.

Quote of the Moment
You are not a fool just because you have done something foolish -- only if the folly of it escapes you.
--Slashdot fortune. Unfortunately, the folly of a long boring day of pseudo-clever fake news seems to escape the editors there.

event things and thing thingsramble

(6 comments)
April 2, 2005

So, lately I've been thinking about what I spend my leisure dollars on.

I declined an invitation to get tickets to see Lewis Black live, in part because the tickets are $42. And, leaving aside for a moment the risk of me being a serious cheapskate, it got me thinking about what people are willing to spend their entertianment dollars on.

Roughly, there's a great divide of entertainment "things": one time "event things": trips with hotel stays, live performances, restaurant meals, movies at the cinema. Then there are "thing things": books, DVDs, CDs, video games, assorted toys.

"Event things" tend to be ephemeral; you experience them, and then you have mostly memories from then on in. (Though sometimes there's a chance to buy or make a memento, like taking photographs.) In general, their value is that hopefully, they enrich part of your life, or do a really good job of entertaining you, in the case of live performance. And that's one issue with "event things": our own memories are so unreliable (or at least mine is) that unless something makes a really deep impression it will likely not come to mind except when explicitly triggered. That's one of the reasons I keep a daily journal as well as a separate "media consumed" record, though those cover both "event things" and uses of the "thing things".

Hopefully, say, live performances entertain you more than the equivalent "thing thing" media representation....I think one of my hesitations with Lewis Black was the thought that I could probably buy a DVD for one half to one fourth the price. And indeed, I caught an older performance on Comedy Central the next day, for "free". But, in retrospect, I probably didn't laugh as much on my own as I would have as a part of an audience. There's definitely an enjoyable kind of synergy that goes on with a bunch of people laughing at the same stuff...hence laugh tracks (I've read that they were introduced so lone home viewers didn't feel so lonely.) And there are other intangibles: possibly socializing with a big group of like-minded people, bragging rights. I'd say that in a capitalist society, paying a premium price for a ticket is a kind of like voting, a small way of expressing support in the cultural marketplace.

So, back to "thing things". I will spend money on the first release of a video game I really like, currently that's around $50. That's a bit more than the Lewis Black ticket, but, assuming the game isn't a dud, it's many more hours of entertainment. (Counterpoint: it's often a lot of padding and plodding as well...and shouldn't hours be reckoned as part of the cost, not the value, of a game? Depends on how entertaining it is and how satisfying it is to complete.) Also, it enters my library of games, and I can repeat it in the future, or lend it to a friend, and of course if it has a great multiplayer mode, it can remain valuable for a long long while.

Books have similar value propositions, and building a library is a pleasure in and of itself. Public Libraries lack that, as well as being generally less convenient, often with a wait for the book that you want. Also with books you get "bragging rights" and hope of "life enrichment", very similar to what you get with "event things". With all of that, it's pretty strange to think about how many thousands and thousands are invested in my book, music, dvd, and game libraries. On the other hand, they do form my cultural identity, and they tell guests in my house a bit about who I am...and the guests can borrow from them as well.

And with all "thing things", there's the prospect of clutter. That's a big issue with me. Not only did I pay to assemble my libraries, I keep paying for it: pay enough rent to have space for it, it adds inertia to changing living quarters, and adds to the intangible cost of having a less zen-like life.

I guess one place you see "event things" and "thing things" go head to head is the battle between watching movies in cinemas vs. DVDs, especially now that cheap DVDs and decent home theater setups bring the costs more in line. Cinemas offer a bigger screen, but mostly I think it's the chance to engage in the cultural conversation while it's still a hot topic. DVDs offer better seating, normally-priced food, and the ability to pause, along with the "library" factor I mentioned above.

Heh, one thing about me in this debate...it's much easier to grab a great quote from a "thing thing" than from an "event thing", where often I'm stuck with a paraphrase. And grabbing a funny or smart quote from something is a great way of extracting and preserving value.

Just some thoughts. One other note/gripe: I went to see "Sin City" with friends last night, and it was very good...violent in parts, but the superpower/Noir thing was extremely cool. But as I noticed in the parking garage there at the Fenway complex, they should really consider labeling themselves something more than "Fenway Theater"...another couple looking for the movies shared the same uncertainty I did...without the phrase "cinema" or "movie theater", we suddenly wondered if there was a stage-performance area there instead, and that we had to keep searching for the directions to the movies.

DST for you and me

(1 comment)
April 3, 2005

Daylight Saving Time! Alright! An extra hour of useful daylight, it rocks.

Pirate Art of the Moment
--For some reason I found this plastic bag from Russia with Strawberry Shortcake and Garfield together jarring...I was amused by my own sense of "this can't be, they're from two different universes!"

pope on a rope

(2 comments)
April 4, 2005

So with all this news about the death of the Pope...I dunno, I keep hearing about his Vatican apartment and keep thinking..."damn, he should be rich...couldn't he at least get a house?"

Exchange of the Moment
"What do you think, Steve? Should I go into marketing? Writing ad campaigns and all of that?"
"I dunno... ...you don't fit any demographics that I'm aware of."
--Me and Steve at work today.

Link of the Moment
Cool Tools -- kind of a group testimonial blog for simple gadgets that just do their jobs well.

4000 years passingtoy

(4 comments)
April 5, 2005

Java Toy of the Moment

beziertoy i
source code // built with Processing
--Probably my least interesting Java toy posted here, a while back I wanted to develop an intuition about Bezier Curves so I made this interactive tool...the curves start with random end and control points which can then be dragged with the mouse, change the associated curve.


Quote of the Moment
"Can you imagine 4,000 years passing, and you're not even a memory? Think about it, friends. It's not just a possibility. It is a certainty."
--Jean Shepherd

Science of the Moment
I had no idea moondust was such a problem...very sharp and nasty bits of meteorites, since there's no erosion to wear it down.

bug bug debug banana fanna fo fug

(2 comments)
April 6, 2005

Huh. I feel really blue today. Not sure why. I'm definately happier about the weather and DST, but...I dunno.

Geekery of the Moment
Log-based-debuggerers stuck on Windows rejoice! There's a port of "tail -f" or Windows. Much nice than Textpad constantly asking me "File has changed on disk. Reload?"

Sports Cheering of the Moment
The other day Slate had some interesting reads on the history of cheerleading and J.J. Jumper, largely unbeloved generic frog mascot of all NCAA basketball.

k/stenciltoyart

(6 comments)
April 7, 2005

Art Toy of the Moment
--Whee! I finally finished a public (perpetual) beta of k/stencil, a Java toy that lets people upload their own images and overlay text. You can upload images, tweak to your heart's content, and then share in a public gallery. Give it a shot! Eventually I'd like to run a contest on loveblender with this... feedback on the interface is welcome, though I know it's a little clunky, and that's probably not going to change.

Thought of the Moment
People are the only animals to voluntarily ignore their sleep needs, according to Van Cauter. They stay up to play, work, socialize, or watch television. However, she adds, "We're overstepping the boundaries of our biology because we are not wired for sleep deprivation."
--Noted in this Science News article on what influences how well or poorly people eat. The article (pointed out by Bill) had some points about the biological differences between very heavy people and people of healthier weights...I guess the trick is acknowledging the challenges obese people face while still acknowledging their responsibility to at work at their health.

Anyway, I'm not sure how proven it is, but I love that idea that humans are the only animals to want to stay up late...it's a semi-defintion of humanity that goes well with my notions of how stuff that's "interesting" is axiomatically good in my value system. (Especially since now that it looks like that line about "Man is the only animal that laughs" probably ain't true.) Seeking out "interesting" stuff is at the root of our humanity.


Congressional Idea of the Moment
2 months more of DST every year? Sign me up! I don't care if it's like .05% of our daily energy needs...I want more light in the evenings!

In Cleveland, pretty far west in the Eastern time zone, we had lovely long, light evenings. Yeah, in the winter I had to trudge to school before it was light out, but it was worth it.

ambivalent

(2 comments)
April 8, 2005

Dialog of the Moment
"I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word."
"Do you know what that means, ambivalence?"
"I don't care."
"If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would..."
"It means I don't care. That's what it means."
"On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings... in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action."
"Will I stay or will I go?"
"Am I sane... or, am I crazy?"
"Those aren't courses of action."
"They can be, dear - for some."
"Well, then - it's the wrong word."
"No. I think it's perfect."
--Susanna and Dr. Wick, Girl, Interrupted . I've been thinking about this dialog lately, thinking about the things in life I'm actually ambivalent about. That's the problem with bring pretty good at seeing both sides of most issues.

Thought of the Moment
Cellphone connections are often a little bit crappy, but speech is so redundant often it doesn't even matter in terms of comprehension. However, "hold music" can sound awful...you hear ever little bit where the connection momentarily drops out. I wonder if the increasing use of cellphones will eventually lead companies to just have silence with the ocassional "still holding" message, or if cell connections will improve.

Of course, nothing is more annoying than on-hold music that's periodically interrupted by an automated voice...you can just tune out the music, but the voice keeps grabbing your attention...

mount monadnock here i come

(3 comments)
April 9, 2005

Not much time for updating...we're going mountain hiking... Mount Monadnock. We won't be taking the most difficult trail, but wish me luck anyway....

Quote of the Moment
"I slept on the ground with a good man and a bottle of whiskey and somebody really loved me for what I was."
--Gladys "Killem" Gillem, on her post-wrestling life, from this Slate review of "Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling." Now I know where "The Fabulous Moolah", the one woman manager on WWF back in the "Rock and Wrasslin" days, came from!

marlboro manphotos

(2 comments)
April 10, 2005

Photos of the Moment
So, yesterday I went hiking with Ksenia, Shawn, Ellie, Ash, and Andy. While The Marlboro Trail on Mt. Monadnock is considered not too tough, the snow and ice made parts of it really challenging...especially descending. Especially while descending in the twilight! We got a late start and then the newbies took longer than expected going down, so it was dark by the time we were halfway down the trail. Luckily three of the experienced people had flashlights, and looking at the stars from this one plateau made it pretty much worthwhile. Still, it was like a seven hour hike...my knees were killing me.

It's a bit of a drive, but I like this photo.


About halfway up. I don't think Ksenia is trying to fly. Quite a view from up there.


I like the first photo better, but the second one gives you some idea of how steep it was.




Andy gettin' down with his bad self.


Trying to recreate that one photo of me I like so well...


Nice sunset. Unfortunately, that gave us about half an hour of light, and we were only about halfway down.


So, the experienced hikers all brought those "trekking poles", like skipoles but for hiking. I got to use one for a big part of the hike and it was a huge help. Someone who knows what they're doing and using two can make incredible progress, they're like 4-footed beasties.

Incidentally, Shaw has a site, UpHillTrek, about the climbing he does with Ellie. They're pretty serious about it!

You can also see more photos from the day.

Thought of the Moment
My knees, which have been pretty much fine all my life..the left one started giving me some pain after messing about with some jogging over the past few weeks. And then yesterday both started killing me. But you know, ibuprofen really helped my knees once I got home. It's funny, I always thought of Advil and Aspirin and Tylenol and all that stuff as little more than placebos, but for certain problems they're really good stuff.

utilitarian universalism

(6 comments)
April 11, 2005

Giggle of the Moment
People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.
--Communique from Unitarian Jihad. (via Bill the Splut-- I've been grabbing a lot of stuff from him lately.)

yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh huh huh

(3 comments)
April 12, 2005

So I added a "favicon.ico" icon, that should show up on the addressbar, and when someone adds this site to their bookmarks. My head. In 256 pixels, of 16 different colors. I like it.

So I caught a repeat of some of the pre-home-opener ceremonies last night. Tremendous day for the Red Sox, one of those "dang I wish grandpa was still around" deals. And to cap it off with a 8-1 drubbing of the hated Yankees...loverly.

Link of the Moment
This was making the rounds a few days ago, one guy's 25 Favorite Seasame Street Moments with tons of illustrations. I had totally forgotten "Billy Joe Jive: Super Crimefighting Ace". And I still love imitating those muppet aliens...."yip yip yip yip yip yip uh-huh uh-huh"...and then when they start to imitate the telephone they find...great stuff, they even have an mp3 of 'em!

Sidenote of the Moment
Oh, by the way...GAH! SNOW! IN APRIL!

As you were.

la idioma

(7 comments)
April 13, 2005

Geekery of the Moment
Before the hike Andy mentioned he thought that conventional wisdom was that Java was kind of passé at this point, though he couldn't name what was supposedly taking its place. Shawn, who was actually a technical recruiter for a bit, disagreed, though we all agree that Java isn't too cool for desktop apps, and that J2EE, especially EJB, isn't that well loved.

I found the TIOBE Programming Community Index, which tries to quantify the popularity of programming languages based on "availability of skilled engineers, courses and third party vendors". (Hmm, I think a lot of us would be more interested in job listings, not skilled engineers...) Java and Perl, my favorites, are near the top. Overall I'm kind of suspicious of the methodlogy, or maybe it's just meant to be for managers more than for the coders themselves.

Any opinions on what's good to focus on going into the future is welcome. PHP might be finally maturing...it definately didn't feel ready for prime time when I learned a bit of it back in 2002. It is nice that it has all the libraries built-in. (Paul Graham thinks that can really push a language.) Like if I wanted to port and enhance my personal online flat-table database app, make it a serious opensource thing...would PHP or Java/JSP be a better bet for me, career-wise and then just from an "ease of distribution" standpoint?

Article of the Moment
Slate on The Most Popular Baby Names of 2015--interesting study in how they map to economic levels. (Effect more so than cause.) Is "Aviva" really a name people are considering? It sounds like a prescription medication or maybe a dot com.

My favorite hypothetical baby name continues to be "Sky". So my hypothetical child can hate me forever, of course.

i love that robot they call bumblebee... bumblebee!

(5 comments)
April 14, 2005

Dialog of the Moment
"How are we gonna get out of this?"
"By the skin of our teeth!"
"I didn't know human teeth HAD skin!"
--Bumblebee and Spike, the old Transformers cartoon. I quote the final line sometimes during video games. Maybe somebody will catch the reference before I have to explain it to them...heh, come to think of it Bumblebee was my first transformer, so he'll always have a nostalgic place in my heart.

Image of the Moment
--Proposal for "Palace of Soviets" from Unrealised Moscow. Is that Lenin? Marx? Stalin? I'm not sure if he looks more like the Statue of Liberty or King Kong...


firefoxy

(14 comments)
April 15, 2005

So I've been using the Firefox browser more these days. It's definitely a nice product, and really stands toe to toe with IE, but I do have some gripes...comments or suggestions (ala "that's 'cause you're doing it wrong, dummy!) welcome.

(Thanks to Catherine, who urged me to start using Firefox, and then post stuff here.)

Things Firefox does better than IE Things IE does better than Firefox Things Both IE and Firefox Get Wrong Of course, Firefox is an Open Source Project, so theoretically I as a programmer am empowered to fix these things. Realistically, working on other people's complex code is something you only do for money or great enthusiasm, which I don't have in this case. If there's a potentially more productive place to make suggestions I'm all ears.

saturday / what a day / rockin all week with you

(12 comments)
April 16, 2005

Thinking about cleaning today.

At my recent party, Erin (I think) who hadn't seen my most recent apartment (btw: speakers of Her Majesty's English...is an apartment with more than one floor in it still a "flat"?) but who had seen some of my old places mentioned that I manage to make most places that I live in look kind of the same. At first I thought she meant "messy", but no, this was right after a vigorous pre-party straightening-up.

So I appreciate that. It goes along with my intuitive feeling, probably born from moving around every couple years when I was a kid, and then around every year or two since college, that home is where your stuff is, and that's about it. As an introvert with showoff tendencies, after a long day I long to come home to my sanctuary, but it's not some kind of pseudo-sacred aspect of it being "my place", it's just where I can relax, touch base with my online communities and projects, and be around my interesting stuff...follow my own agenda and interests for a bit, rather than following a path made up by someone else.

In other news...the Dow is tanking again. So the economy follows in what, 6-9 months? Not that it seemed like a gangbusters of a recovery anyway. Useful for Bush that the time worked out the way it did, election-wise.

Reassurance from Bush-backers that this pessimism is premature (not that the economy is fully the responsibility of the government, but still those tax breaks had a lot of promises behind them) is welcome.

Quote of the Moment
"It would be difficult to come up with a better symbol for romantic love than roses. Because it is beautiful and smells lovely, yes, and because the petals feel like soft skin, but mostly because they hurt like hell if you're not careful. This is why I am completely opposed to thornless roses. Roses without thorns are the floral equivalent of the word 'luv'."
--Lore Sjöberg, "The Book of Ratings"

"mass exodus"ramble

(20 comments)
April 17, 2005

It feels like nearly all my close friends are thinking about leaving this 'burg, and it's bothering me a lot.

Dylan went to San Diego years ago.

Sarah went back to California, wound up in Florida.

My freshman roommate Rob, I was in touch with him for a while, forget where he headed off to.

ErinMaru is in filmschool in one of them Carolina states.

Lupschada went home to Baltimore, though that friendship is a casualty of the divorce.

And now...Sawers is heading to Florida in a few months, my umm-cousin Llara just got a job in DC, Evil B and wife are thinking Seattle might be a more reasonable place to settle down and setup home base, and Andy has even more immediate plans to go back to his college gang who have hung around Atlanta.

There's all kind of reasons. Moving for a romance, heading home to refortify during a terrible job market, heading away to a new job opportunity, getting out of the rent and career pressure cooker of Boston...Andy thinks that people from here who go down south and say "I can't believe how friendly people are!" have it backwards; the disbelief should be for what self-centered jerks people are around here.

And there is that weather...perhaps Andy's observation is explained by self-described "Swamp Yankee" buddy Gowen's thought that "People in New England will generally scowl when you walk through the door because you probably also let in a gush of freezing air."

But today is absolutely insanely gorgeous. But maybe Boston is like a redneck wifebeater, all gentleness and warmth after such a beating of a winter.

Still, after a decent decade run, maybe people are finally escaping the post-college Boston gravity well.

And Andy...heh, he was supposed to be one of the...well, not the replacements, but at least a refutation of the idea that you it's so difficult to make good friends after college.

But he says when he visits Georgia he feels like it's going home. Me, for the longest time I felt pretty hometownless. I do feel ties to Cleveland still, but 6 years of adolescence there isn't the same as really coming from someplace. And now I'm worried that someday I'll move somewhere only to find Boston has managed to take that role. But I dunno. Just like I see a home as a place to keep your stuff, maybe a hometown is just a place to keep your home.

Maybe making new friends isn't that hard. Maybe it's just getting out there, doing stuff, joining interest groups like darts teams or looking for gaming buddies on Craig's List, then really making the effort, asking someone to dinner or to hang out even when it feels a little awkward. A friend of mine, then officemate Habib did that, and in retrospect I really appreciate it, though of course now he's back in Morocco.

And just like I've been questioning "what do I want out of romance?" after the divorce, this wave of friends heading off makes me ask the same thing for friendship. I think there are two sides of that: you want friends who will take your side, will watch out for you, generally offer support and companionship and concern. That's probably harder to generate than the other side, which is shared activities. My friendship with Andy had its roots in bad movies (we were introduced at our mutual friend Jim's "bad movie nights") and video games. And you know, it's not the bad movies and the video games that matter; it's the snarky comments and the trash talking.

Thought it would be unfair to think of it as only an activity-based kind of friendship; I really appreciate how when I need to recruit some volunteers to help with the Salvation Army coat drive, Andy, Jim, and his wife Sam answered the call, and together we joined with a force to move and sort 20,000 coats for the needy.

Ah well. I don't know. I think about moving someplace warm. And I need someplace with a good tech industry. Andy thinks I should give Atlanta a try. Heh, and I could get an insta-social-group made of his buddies...and San Diego is tempting. But it's impossible for me to grok how many people I do know in this damn neck of the woods, how alone I might be even with a small group of people I know, how far away I'd be from my family. You know, that's one plus marriage has: you can bring the person you most care about with you. (On the other hand, a marriage might also make you more stuck to your hometown with two sets of extend families and friendgroups to consider, or maybe even drawn to someplace that's their hometown, not yours.)

Sigh. I dunno, but the prospect of all these people moving is really painful. Not sharp and cutting like a divorce, but a great big dull ache.

stupid bots

(1 comment)
April 18, 2005

Dang it, some retarded script has been through here adding two empty comments to a lot of the recent entries. Probably some message board spam bot or something, maybe the homebrew nature of my site saved me from a ton of harder to delete messages... Update: fixed. Looks like they didn't go further than "past two weeks".

Other note, people who might not have checked kisrael.com over the weekend, there's some good comments in yesterday's entry on changing cities...given the geographical diversity I might have a bit of here, I'd love to hear some more thoughts on what it means to change location in a major way...

Story of the Moment
Cory Doctrow has a cool new story, i, robot...kind of a literary mashup of Asimov's 3-laws Robot stories, "1984", traditional cyberpunk, post-singularity, and cop noir. Good stuff.

Cute Girlfriendism of the Moment
Arlington had a Patriot's Day Parade today. I thought it was kind of endearing that Ksenia thought it was just some dumb thing for the football team at first. And it was interesting that she said she likes "this" kind of parade...as it turns out, as opposed to something with a lot military fluff and nonsense like they had sometimes in Russia (especially in a big town like Moscow, I'd wager.) I guess drummers and fifers in goofy colonial outfits and little league teams are a lot better than tanks and soldiers!

the hand that builds the cradleproject

(10 comments)
April 19, 2005

Project of the Moment
Lately I've been lax in charging my cellphone, and I realized that that might partially be due to not having a "cradle" for it...it seems like a small thing but being able to plop a phone into a handy little throne for it is a lot easier than fiddling with a wire and plug. So I thought I'd haul out my legos, too long dormant, and get buildin', just a kind of wrapper for the wire I already had.

This is what the table I dumped my Lego bin onto on looks like. I do have a lot of Legos. It looks more impressive in real life, I think, because it's a deep layer for pretty much the whole thing. This is one of the first times I decided to go with a table top as work space rather than the traditional floor...it might've been a mistake. Legos are falling off in all directions.



Close up of the pile, meant to give a slightly better sense of scale...



Here's the final result. Bigger and clunkier than I envisioned, but I was so happy to get something that seemed structurally sound while still allowing for easy connection and disconnection of the phone and the little plug that I don't want to give it another go. I didn't spend too much time on aesthetics but did add a few frills at the end.



Man, I almost hate to say it, but it actually feels like I might have "too many Legos". It was tougher than I remember to find the pieces I was after, though maybe I'm just out of practice. I think Legos meant more to be as a 3D modelling tool before computers and video games could render 3D images with no problem.

By the way, I'm sure there are Lego lawyers who wish I would call them "Lego bricks" rather than "Legos". Well, nyah, that's not how Lego works, but as long as you keep your quality edge you can still have your niche over junk like Mega Blox even if your name gets "Kleenexed/Xeroxed".

Funny of the Moment
Q. "How's your wife?"
A. "Compared to what?"
--Henny Youngman routine, via this Slate article on Michael Eisner.

dundundundundununDUN-- TEQUILA!

(8 comments)
April 20, 2005

So they got a new pope. I'd be a little happier if he didn't choose a name that kind of chimed in with the prophecy of the popes, before his selection I had read how the next pope is supposed to be the "glory of the olive", which some predicted might mean he's a Benedictines (since Benedictines are known as Olivetans), though of course at this point it might be a self-fufilling prophecy, since the new guy knows about it.

You know, for the gullible or easily spooked (I'm probably in the latter category) there are way too many things that hint that the world kind of ends in 2012. I think the Mayan calendar is the one that really gets on my nerves.

Quote of the Moment
The whole shooter craze never did much for me, but a tequila shot done in the classic style--salt, tequila, lime, involuntary neck spasm--is more than a shooter. It's a brief drama, a tragic opera of spirits that fits in the palm of your hand. Pain and passion, sweetness and tears, citrus and sodium and fermented cactus juice. B+
--Lore Sjöberg, "The Book of Ratings"

New Site "Feature" of the Moment
It hit me that since I don't get notified when comments are added to the site, I might miss it when someone adds a comment to an entry that is no longer on the front page. So I've come up with a delayed comment review tool. You can specify how many days past the original posting date as a filter.

What I found out was this month my comments have been discovered by some spam programs...online casinos for the most part. a few things for medicine. The posts were idiosyncratic...my new tool for viewing has a "show counts" only option because for some reason they spam came in floods on various, and very poorly chosen, days...looking for days with more than 10 posts posted after the entry had left the front page made 'em easy to find.

I'll keep an eye out and decide if I need to put some kind of filter up on the add comments feature. It might end up that you're not allowed to use the phrase "online" and "casino" or "casino" and "http://" in a single entry. Or I might try my hand at some trickery that makes it harder to automate fake posts.

Stupid spammers. Its really their tendency to flood days and also put up about 30 links sometimes that draws attention to themselves...if they would be smarter, they might go unnoticed, and people might not care as much.

oh e e

(13 comments)
April 21, 2005

Poem of the Moment
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you quite so new

--E.E. Cummings....by chance, SalonSlate.com had a article on his legacy on the day after I added this poem to the backlog. Must be a sign!

pick an animal any animal

(5 comments)
April 22, 2005

Video of the Moment
Big-Boys.com has a lot of videos, 95% fall into one of these categories:
1. home videos of people failing stunts
2. military people or dumb kids blowing stuff up (see 1.)
3. racing car wrecks
4. PG13 to R-rated boobies
However, this video of a tipsy woman ripping into her boss at an office party was brilliant.

Question of the Moment
Q: What animal would you be if you could be an animal?
A: You already are an animal.
--Douglas Couplan, "Microserfs"

Essay of the Moment
Semi-scholarly essay on "Metal" culture...I think most of use knew a few "metalheads" in high school, and this was a good luck at what that's all about.

express gratitude

(1 comment)
April 23, 2005

Almost missed doing an update today...which really would've been the first time in like 4 1/2 years. Well, I made it!

Advice of the Moment
"For the next few hours the old man revealed more of his ingredients for successful social living. Express gratitude. Give more than is expected. Speak optimistically. Touch people. Remember names. Don't confuse flexibility with weakness. Don't judge people by their mistakes; rather, judge them by how they respond to their mistakes. Remember that your physical appearance is for the benefit of others. Attend to your own basic needs first, otherwise you will not be useful to anyone else." Scott Adams (of 'Dilbert' fame), "God's Debris"--the book is pretty sophomoric but I like this passage.

age of anxietiesramble

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April 24, 2005

Ramble of the Moment
I made the mistake of bringing What the #$*! Do We Know!? for psychotronic movie night the other week. It turns out it's a big infomercial for "Ramtha" and related thinking...Salon magazine really rips it a new one, and although it was a bad movie, it was great movie night fodder. Though too many of the laughs might've been cheap shots about the Marlee Matlin, the deaf actress for the main character. (I was amused to see Ramtha has his own IMDB entry..."Primary Photo Not Submitted" indeed.)

Anyway, the film really took too many liberties with "quantum physics", but one idea I've been thinking about is being addicted to certain behaviors. They gave a neurochemical explanation that I don't know enough about to really judge, but sometimes I think I'm addicted to anxiety, in a real and physical way.

It's not fun. It's not like I'm happy to be anxious, except maybe on some weird meta-meta-level I can't even feel. But it feels like I have this free floating need to be worried and some vague concern--generally something real, but distant or unlikely, or something small but likely that I'm blowing out of proportion--

I wonder when this started? Because around 1997 or so, I remember people commenting how "up" I always seemed, just whistling and bopping along. I still bop along, but I think there's a lack-o-lacksadasicalness I no longer pull off very well.

My personal crackpot theory? Y2K's too blame. Not since my parent's not letting me watch the post-nuclear-war miniseries "The Day After" was I that fearful. I read too many of the wrong websites and had too much faith in the reliability of systems in use (i.e. so reliable that backup plans and workarounds weren't available) that I thought some serious chaos was likely. (Here's my September 1998 Loveblender Ramble trying to spread the bad word.)

Around that time, roughly at least, my blood pressure went up--from something surprisingly good to pretty mediocre. For a long time, I sardonically noted that this also corresponded with me going to the gym regularly for the first time ever, but now I wonder if it's just plain old anxiety.

After Y2K, it was mortality in general...barring some surprising advances in technology, I will be shuffling off this mortal coil someday. Now I'm proud of my response to this anxiety, I reconsidered my philosophical outlooks and really worked to get a sense of perspective and came up with The Skeptic's Guide to Mortality. Then of course WTC gave everyone a case of the willies, as much for what could happen next than what had already happened.

Since then...eh, it's been a few things. Every once in a while I'm grabbed by something really "menacing", an EMP strike that melts all the electronics in the hemisphere, the asteroid strike, the supervolcano, etc etc. But more often it's just the fear of job loss, or...hmm, come to think of it it's that job loss thing that really gets to me, even though I know I do have potential Plans B through G or H or so that should do ok at keeping me from utter destitution. (Sometimes just the specter of a forced lifestyle change seems absolutely haunting!)

Logo for the "Nuclear War Fun Club"--detail from a notebook back cover I decorated in high school... using hypothetical branding to cope with big dreads! (Linked image is a little large, but potentially interesting)
Though I can think back to some elements of this that precede my awareness of Y2K...dread about nuclear war (oh man...I forgot that for years any loud airplane sound scared the bejeebers out of me...maybe that was the missiles coming in? Later, after I had matured past the concern, my buddy Mike pointed out that the missiles I should worry about travel much faster than the speed of sound. Though the Emergency Broadcast Signal can still make my heart leap into my throat.) And in college I remember wanting to find out, is there anything about the make up of AIDS-like viruses...deadly, but with hugely long dormant periods...that makes them less likely to be spread like the flu? So it's always been an element to one degree or another.

Sometimes I wonder if anti-anxiety medications would be a reasonable "life style" option, something that would actually improve my general sense of well-being (or maybe just my blood pressure!) without bringing on a whole host of problems on its own. (The latter being Evil B's take on it.)

that's entertainment!

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April 25, 2005

Funny of the Moment
"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Schenck v. United States (1919)

Holme's famous dictum on the limits of free speech was shaped by personal experience. On March 7, 1847, the six-year-old attended the Boston Lyceum's Theater's world premiere of the new musical comedy, Hey, Everybody, There's a Fire in the Theater...We're Not Kidding.
--"America (The Book)", by "The Daily Show".

Quickies of the Moment


IgSmBfgame

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April 26, 2005

A month or so ago someone from this one band asked if they could use my old Young Astronauts in Love cartoon on a shirt. The musician's comment that he was having trouble making a good cartoony astronaut me realize that I'd been drawing the basic form since high school, and reminded me of one particular time I used it: the victory screen for my Windows game InterGalactic SpaceMan BlastFest:

Space Man Red is the
InterGalactic Champion!
All Hail SpaceMan Red!


You can download it from my Alien Bill Productions page. It still runs on modern versions of Windows, though you probably need to download the "vbrun300.dll" file linked at the bottom of that page. But I thought I'd share that victory screen as well as the custom sound effects I recorded for the death screams of the little jetpack wearing astronauts:

scream: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / victory!


One of the voices is actually Dylan of Sidebar "Fame" (who was subletting from me in Waltham at the time)...bonus kudos for the first person on the comments section to say which one. Also, the "victory" sfx is clearly not me.

Anyway, I've toyed with the idea of a port of InterGalactic SpaceMan BlastFest to the Atari 2600, but it's still a long way off, if ever.

the waste vastland

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April 27, 2005

Article of the Moment
NY Times article Watching TV Makes You Smarter--it argues shows like "24" and "The Sopranos" are much more complex than the ones in years previous, bucking conventional wisdom about tv getting dumber and dumber.

Heh...you know, now I don't feel as smug about the way I haven't watched much TV at all for the past years.

axiomaticallyramble

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April 28, 2005

So lately I've been thinking about how everyone has to select (or they find have selected for them) the values that are "axiomatically good", things that are just spending our finite lifespans pursuing, and resist further justification, or make it irrelevant. I don't think most people will have just one.

For a lot of people, that's "kindness"--you can only push the "golden rule" so far, at some point you think you should do nice things even when you're not expecting to get similar treatment back. For other people it's "beauty", or "sports", or "God"--following religion even beyond the threat of hell or the hope of Paradise.

As I've mentioned before, one of my personal axiomatic goods is "interesting". It's more nebulous than some of these concepts, but its pretty definite for me, and a driving force. When I see art, it doesn't matter if it's beautiful and inspiring, more if it's clever or thought-provoking.

That's why I love the web so much, it's a great big cornucopia of stuff that meets my criteria of interesting. And this site is an attempt to capture that, and to post the stuff I find interesting, and sometimes make some of my own.

And things that I don't find interesting...sometimes I have trouble getting behind it. For instance, home ownership wasn't "interesting" to me, and so while I tried to live up to my responsibilities to Mo, and also show appreciation for the things I liked about having a nice comfortable house, some of my efforts were half-hearted, because the whole affair wasn't that "interesting". (And nowadays, I'm realizing that sometimes I resent things that siphon time during the week away from my pursuit of the "interesting".

So I've been mulling this idea for a while, and last night I had an epiphany of sorts...I think this concept of "interesting" is so ingrained in me, it might just explain why I'm so bad at remembering names but so good at remembering aspects of people's lives that they share with me, like jobs or anecdotes. Names usually aren't that "interesting", unless they're distinctive or have a cool backstory they're just tags applied to people, but a career or anecdote usually has details my brain will latch onto. So this whole "interesting" thing seems to be deeply mapped into the day to day functioning of my brain.

Anyway, that was the new thought. I don't think I've rambled about this before, but I'm not sure, it sounds familiar...anyway, what do you readers find to be the "axiomatically goods" of your life?

UKism of the Moment
Iraq War Legality Row 'A Damp Squib', Says Blair. Never heard the phrase "damp squib" before...turns out a squib is firecracker, and/or "A broken firecracker that burns but does not explode". So I guess it's something that seemed to have potential to be metaphorically explosive but will fizzle out instead. Now you know.

WWBD

(12 comments)
April 29, 2005

Link of the Moment
Next time I'm out trying to decide what car to buy, I should stop and ask myself...What Would Batman Drive? A very cool history of how his car has been revamped over the years, including the movie and animated versions. Man, he must've spent a lot of time in the garage. I think my favorite is the behemoth Frank Miller Batmobile.

Or maybe you'd like a lifesize model of an X-wing? Now on Ebay for a Buy-It-Now of $85K.

Anecdote of the Moment
Mostly Harmless had just been published in paperback and I invited Douglas [Adams] in as a guest, as well as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who had just manhauled a sled across Antarctica, losing useful items like fingers and toes to frostbite. As the great explorer told an epic tale of suffering and endurance, Douglas's face fell.

Afterwards, in the pub, I asked if something had upset him.

"Oh, not really," said Douglas. "It's just that talking about being locked in a hotel room to write an overdue novel seems pretty tame stuff compared to trekking across a thousand miles of icy crevasses."

"Well you need to put things in perspective," I replied. "First of all, your struggle was on a more human scale, and the result is a unique achievement no-one can match. Secondly, just before we went on air, Ran Fiennes got lost in the basement of Broadcasting House looking for the toilet."

Douglas smiled and picked up his glass. "That makes me feel much better." --Dirk Maggs. With the opening of the new Hitchiker's Guide movie, slashdot linked to this series of Douglas Adams anecdotes from some cool people.

don't panicking

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April 30, 2005

Saw the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie last night. Not half bad! In particular, I thought the casting/characterization was right on, especially with Zaphod, who for the first time didn't feel 2D to me. They actually showed towels being useful, rather than just talking about it. Also, at times Ford and Zaphod feel actually a bit alien, especially early on, rather than just "people in space".

They skipped many great lines from the book, which is to be expected, but weird when they left in the line's setup in to advance the plot. I was half-tempted to yell "WHY DIDN'T YOU KEEP IN THE LINE???" sometimes, but overall I liked it.

Review of the Moment
I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world's manganese supply. Who knew what it meantóbut one had to assume the worst.
--from Matt Taibbi's Scathing review of "The World is Flat"

New Site Feature of the Moment
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed a new solution to the "what should I title the sidebar now that it's not just "Dylan and Sarah's Pointless Sidebar"--whoever has last made an entry gets to name it. Good idea? Too confusing? I kind of like it, though I agree with someone who pointed out that the comments link would be nice at the top...but I can't figure out how to make it fit on the same line as the title, and it's confusing if it comes between the title and the text. As always I'm open to suggestions.

Come to think of it, is "xyz's sidebar" the best formuation, given how the feature will change? What about "sidebar by xyz"? "xyz's aside"? "xyz gaiden"? (Sounding like a Japanese fanboy with that one...gaiden is Japanese for "side story".)