2009 May❮❮prevnext❯❯

the astounding ross sisters

--It's hard to find solid information about the Ross Sisters, or why they are so enthused for Solid Potato Salad, but about a minute or so in this video gets truly amazing.

FOLLOWUP: in the comments LAN3 xoxoxoBruce provides some information. Man, this video is also so great because of how well they matched the music to it, or vice-versa, like a human Tom and Jerry cartoon. (Someone else said it's "Hee Haw meets Cirque de Soleil")

This May Day seems to be a day of losing things and finding things: my hoodie (lost) my sandals (lost and found) my laptop's power supply (lost and found) my good sunglasses (found)
In one might be a textbook example of "TOO SOON": http://ISurvivedH1N1.com/ - am toying with the idea of shirts.
If a man knocks you down, and you can't get up, well bite 'im on the leg.
Johnny Bradley, on "Story Corps" this morning

Grabbed a shirt I had worn to EB's cookout in Rockport. Man, the smell of leftover sunblock is such a nostlgia trip, old days of amusement parks and working at daycamp.
My advice to anyone in any field is to be faithful to your obsessions. Identify them and be faithful to them, let them guide you like a sleepwalker.

Yesterday I amused myself for a few songs on iPhone by realizing the wires dangling from my old schoolish earphones can be used as single string guitars - cool bass sound.

the president would like to recognize the great job you're doing

--via Horklog who gave me today's enjoyable title.

I've been enjoying using forms of "to enjoy" as of late... I think somehow inspired by the use of the word embedded in this 2000 suck.com article:
Enjoyably, Critser describes fast food restaurants as the bathhouses of the childhood obesity epidemic, "the places where the high-risk population indulges in high-risk behavior."
I think enjoyment is an art that needs to be nurtured more.
Pick up a reggae album at random. Any reggae album. Listen to it and you will find a far more accurate, reliable and theologically sound exegesis of the meaning of Babylon than you will ever get from Tim LaHaye or any other so-called "prophecy expert."
That site is so great, sometimes I wonder if my own spirituality would be different if his kind of left-leaning, activist voice - calling out literalist and fundamentalist extremists on a number of very valid points - had a stronger say in the pop-culture.
At Foxwoods won $200 by being willing to lose $1000 (1/5 chance of losing)... at the table I played the role of the nebbish high roller.


aka "I know why the martingale sings"...

Last night I won $200 playing roulette at Foxwoods. ($225 actually, I decided to try for $25 to cover overtipping the "big win" croupier with a $20.)

I've been interested in the "martingale" system, (where you decide how much to win per go-round, then double up until you win or go broke) for a while, even though it is, of course, a sucker's bet. A friend first mentioned it to me in 1999 or so, and all the way back then I was able to write a simulation to prove that with any kind of house limit or limited bankroll, you are going to eventually lose, and in the long run lose more than you gain. A few months ago for a lark and to exercise a new laptop I had bought I wrote some nerdy simulations to see if there were any parameters of walking away that could change that. Answer: no, of course not.

My Aunt digs the slots, though, and on our way back from visiting Josh (my host in Japan) in Connecticut we decided to stop at Foxwoods.

It's weird how intimidated I was by the casino... there are all these little etiquette things, and I wasn't familiar with the procedures (do you exchange cash at the table? when is it ok to touch chips, etc), and I knew you're always being watched there... but of course everyone's a newbie sometimes, and they're pretty polite with any little goofs that even experience looking people make.) Also, I had no idea what minimum/maximum bets were going to be -- answer: minimum 10-25, maximum 200.

So I found a quiet corner, cranked up my baby laptop, and ripped out a perl script so I could have a better picture of what I was getting myself into. It was educational: I learned that an 80% of losing more money feels better to me than a 74% chance of losing less money, for instance.

Here is a Javscript version of what I made, so you too can find out how quickly or slowly you want to lose money: (it assumes you're always making a bet with an 18/38 chance of winning: e.g. chance of landing on one of 18 black numbers, and not one of the 18 reds or 0 or 00.)

number of runs
walkway goal
cut losses at
base bet
max bet
show me what's happening (warning: reduce # of runs!)

wins/losses settings number of spins
win % lose % # runs goal cut base bet max bet < 5 < 10 >= 10
One thing that was new for this go-round was counting number of spins: everything else being equal, I'd rather win or lose my money in fewer spins than in more, since (as should be blatantly obvious by now) I don't really enjoy the gambling process that much, I get nervous about the risk rather than excited about the potential gain.

I've seeded the fields with what I ended up going with: start betting 200, walk away if I win 200, walk away if I'm down 1000. A bit less than 80% of the time, I win 200, but when I don't win, I lose the whole 1000. You might notice something weird: it's not very martingale at all, since it turns out I got equal or better odds and results a lot faster by going with the house maximum, which was about what I'd want to walk away happy with anyway.

So in driving home with my Aunt, feeling a little smug (All these fratboy types were at my table making smaller bets and fretting more, I caught their attention with my role of nebbish high roller), I thought about a fairly precise metaphor for a life making (very) occasional casino trips like this: it's a probabilistic credit card. I can, around 4/5 of the time, make a withdrawl of $200, but at some point (if I keep doing this) I'm going to pay that back, plus about $200 interest. (And man, will I feel sheepish then, and of course a bit aghast at that seemingly HUGE streak of bad luck I just encountered.)

Some of my recent interest came in part where I mused to JZ, I bet you you could reliably win $200 at a casino, make a weird kind of life that way. (My previous studies were wondering if with an ability to take a giant loss, and accept humble enough wins, if there were some effective parameters) But, duh, you can't. If you could, you could take whatever you were doing and multiply it and win big, and that's just gonna happen at a game like this.

If I was better at math, I could probably come with an equation that explains the relationship of base bet and max bet and amount you want to win and amount you're willing to lose, and see how it never, ever beats the house edge, but for now I'll just depend on these clunky simulations.

BTW, how lame is it that Europe had a single "0" to give the house an edge, and some bright American came up with... "00"? That's some yankee ingenuity (but lack of class) right there, boy howdy.

bee at work


--Man, I'm bugged (get it?) when my best photos turn out to be the "mistakes" - I wasn't using the flash on purpose but the lighting came out so dramatically... focus wasn't great though, and the guy wouldn't sit still.

"Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy. "
Albert Einstein
(Allegedly.... UPDATE 2019 a little too good to be true, quote-wise.)
Thinking about listening to iPod while working, the theory that it's kind of a way of burning off surplus attention energy that could otherwise lead to distraction. It can be a delicate balance; if it's difficult work, I need all that energy, so silence is best-- and the easier the work is the more interesting the music can be.
Is looking for love like job hunting? Both seem less about showing your awesomeness and more finding someone ready for someone like you.
Also, love and job hunting; in both worlds, you just don't know what's really going on, and when it's a rejection, you might never know why.
Boston is kind of an ideal city, save for the climate. And maybe it's that way just to weed out the weak keep it from getting too crowded.

this blood's for you


drawblood - source - built with processing
Happy Birthday to My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan! (MELAS). She admitting to finding the original version of this (thrown together in like 10 minutes) a bit cathartic, so for her birthday I took her suggestion and added non-bleeding black-ink (click the black box) as well as making the drawing variable width. (The faster you draw, the wider the line.) [X] clears.

(I was planning on pre-loading the canvas with a bleedin' birthday cake, but it turned out to be a bit too macabre. But enjoy anyway Aunt Susan and have a great birth day and excellent year!)

http://www.slate.com/id/2217353/ - well organized bookmarks might be better than egalitarian RSS... I do something similar already.
How to regain a sense of urgency about the stuff in my Todo app? It has been hovering in the 10-20 overdue item range for way too long.
http://garfieldlostintranslation.blogspot.com/ - Garfield into Japanese and back again. Reminds me of old fun with Babelfish...
http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/true-believers-biggest-cults-in-tech-433?page=0,0 - the cults of tech. I miss Palm, sometimes.
The Transporter is an incredible piece of technology whose implications could revolutionize an entire culture.

All crewmembers are STRICTLY INSTRUCTED to forget this and treat it like a shiny elevator.

I think a basic innumeracy is at the heart of so much of life. A grid of 10x10 pennies looks so much less than 100...365 days is slow+fast at the same time. We can't even grasp our populations or our budgets.

oh james harvey!

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I commissioned this work from HARVEYJAMES because A. it was sort of a support a starving artist thing and B. his stuff is pretty awesome. (His LJ is pretty great too.)

I didn't know what to request, so I asked him to take inspiration from 10 hotties in outer space, "And maybe a dead or vanquished 60s star trek baddie like foe." I dig the Barbarella meets Sgt Pepper vibe he came up with!
"The greatest trick the square root of negative one ever pulled was convincing the world that it didn't exist."

The Word Wasn't Meant is a terrific name for a webcomic. And a pretty good webcomic. Yay Boston Geeks.
I have a dream-someday I will start a Java project, and they'll say "hey we're using the framework you know+dig" and not "hey! learn this!"

10 years

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--Haha, I still like the damn song

"Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both."
John Andrew Holmes, "Wisdom in Small Doses"

http://www.slate.com/id/2217604/ - nice gallery on American West photography, though it seemed to lose its thesis.
We forget how magical the humble telephone is; the telepresence of someone's voice in our ear, even if they're miles away. Wondrous!
http://www.slate.com/id/2217815/ - the linguists view of the Klingon language

bee-peat -or- the bee's knees


--I know it's a repeat, and I know the focus wasn't perfect, but I wanted to give a better sense of this zoom effect... and even this is 50% shrunk.

Here is the full image in its 8 Megapixel glory.

Rushhour Construction on Route 9 Westbound - because one lane should be enough for anyone.
A Java project with javadoc painted as "Documentation" and not just "reference" is hopeless. JAVADOC HAS NO PEDAGOGICAL STRUCTURE PEOPLE!
Looking forward to the Star Trek film tonight, got some great press, but just to be a dork I am wearing a Chewbacca "Chewie" retro T.
http://www.slate.com/id/2217905/ -minor movie spoiler, but a retrospective on when 'Trek had a really thoughtful study in the use of torture

neigh, i say thee, neigh!


--A nice counter to all the damn "rape-the-80s-childhoods" movies coming out. The GI Joe trailer really makes me wonder-- the joy of GI Joe in in the 80s was that it was like the Village People came to town to chew bubblegum and kick ass... making them all a bunch of Robocop-looking Master Chief wannabes seems short-sighted.

And of course, the Trek movie that followed was pretty grand, though with enough Fridge Logic issues that it's really better to enjoy the Space Opera aspect and not think about stuff too much

At the corner pub with my Uncle, he just bought a beer for this workman guy from Bavaria who does the big glass pieces at the various Apple flagship stores... he's proud of the big cube on 5th Avenue in NYC, but even more so the giant 42-foot single panes at the one in Sydney...

good morning to all you mothers out there


http://www.textsfromlastnight.com/ - like overheardinnewyork but txt messages.
Wow. "ctrl-F" search in Vista opening a new specialized app window, not that sidebar crap? Maybe there is hope for Microsoft.
Celtics win despite forgetting how to shoot in the final quarter. Man, NBA refs stink.

you can't say it wasn't interesting

I do not fear death.
I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

http://www.slate.com/id/2217899/ - on "nuke porn". Man, that EMP "side effect" stuff can still give me the heebie-jeebies.

http://learning2share.blogspot.com/2009/04/search-term-jugheads-hat.html - Archie comics' Jugheads hat explained - not just a goofy crown!
Real Life:
Subverted in Buddhism and Hinduism, in which not coming back from the dead is considered the greatest superpower of them all.

Random Science Fiction idea: if everyone got themselves into cryogenics at death, and resurrection was known to be possible but expensive, life would be about trying to set up enough rich descendants, and having them like you, to bring you back.
APPLE UI FAIL: if you're gonna tell me "some of the playlist files could not be found" TELL ME WHICH GODDAMN FILES CAN'T BE FOUND- you need a "Details" button, FFS.

i like elephants


--Gotta show this one to EBB...

http://www.slate.com/id/2218103/ - The Republicans' Fight Against Empathy. Next up: Their War on Puppies and Flowers.
Apple: love how your anti-piracy crap + bad UI makes transferring my music miserable. Kirk: grateful for the alt. of Amazon's MP3 store.
Does Vista going 64 bit help my life in any way, or just make various bits of hardware and some fun old software not work?


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I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.
Also, Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
Great stuff.
I like Big-Endian and I cannot lie
You other geeks can't deny
When the order of the bits is the same as the bytes
You know that sh*t be tight
Perl/Java MD5 Victory Rhyme



(via harveyjames)
http://www.slate.com/id/2218297/ - why Republicans are sore-r losers than Democrats
M&M "Premiums" for $4? Seriously?
White birthrates rebound; Moslem collapse; Black stable - everything you know about demographics is wrong, or at least worth revisiting.


My friend, an old high school buddy, with the Nome de Web JacquesDemain, runs a small private forums. It runs a bit libertarian, and someone posted the following link to a big PDF paper... this is my long winded and rambling response, and I welcome any feedback here as well.

bladwintm wrote:
As for the Europe thing: I'd much rather have American Taxation than European Taxation. (see http://www.timbro.se/bokhandel/pdf/9175665646.pdf [2019 Update: Wayback Machine Link] to see why.)
So I read through the paper. Here are my thoughts as I went through it....
GDP is the commonest way of measuring material prosperity and the only criterion for which there is widespread consensus and co-ordination regarding the measuring procedure to be followed.
Translation: GDP is easy to measure, so we're going to measure it. To their credit, and a bit of my surprise, they do address the criticisms of this yardstick on the next page but their fundamental course is set. Jumping ahead, they feel free to inflate the importance of this metric into statements like "Connecticut, for instance, has almost twice the material prosperity of old European great powers like France and the UK." But of course in that same graph, Washington DC is LITERALLY OFF THE CHART in material prosperity, over twice the nearest state. Strangely, Weirdly, the authors, who go to HUGE lengths about the importance of a 20% difference in GDP between the USA, and explaining that Luxembourg fits between Delaware and Connecticut (all the foregin capital) are silent about this elephant in the room. So clearly we want every city to look like Washington DC, don't we? That gunfire in the background is probably gunfire of CELEBRATION!
various indexes aimed at measuring other aspects than GDP alone. These indexes also factor in equality, for example, in a calculation of total national wellbeing. The obvious problem about them is that they are extremely sensitive to the choice and weighting of the variables included. In other words, these indexes are extremely arbitrary. In Sweden, for example, an index of this kind presented recently by a statistician of left-wing persuasions showed Bulgaria coming higher than the USA in terms of wellbeing. Such methods and indexes are patently absurd.
I honestly don't know much about day to day life in Bulgaria, but this sounds suspiciously like condemning the methodology in large part because they don't like the result.
So much for GDP comparisons. Private consumption is another important welfare indicator. Basically this is a question of people deciding their consumption for themselves, the possibility of riding in a new, roadworthy car, the food we eat, the number of pleasant and time-saving restaurant visits, the possibility of experiencing creative leisure, and so on. Access to the new products of technical progress is every bit as important today as it ever has been. Take, for example, the importance of having access to a computer and the Internet, or being able to 'buy time' by consuming good precooked food or services.
So, in this viewpoint, TV dinners and "time-saving restaurant visits" are automatically the signifier of prosperity. Clearly, we all eat like this because we wish to make time for our productive leisure activities, and that a quick run down to the 24-hour Taco Bell after work bodes better than taking the time to cook and make a nice meal with our loved ones.

This was made in 2004, before the latest "OMG economapocalypse!" (which I'm hoping was a bit over-stated, but we ain't outta the woods yet) One of the takeaways from this downturn was hey, maybe we shouldn't be collectively running our credit cards 'til the numbers wear flat to live like this. I'm reading on, wondering if the authors will address the big debts folks in the USA carry, or how in this time so many of us were apparently banking on house prices going UP UP UP! (to my meager credit, I heeded the murmurings of a bubble and got my butt out of home onwership the instance my life circumstances changed and a home wasn't where I actually wanted to, you know, live.)

Also, I'm wondering if this paper will take on income distributions. I'm still wondering about the giant spike of Washington DC on that chart... if the USA's averages are dragged up my a small number of supermegahyperconsumers, with F.U. money to burn, do I really care, does that really form a metric that makes USA me certain I'm better off than poor ol' EuroKirk?
The higher level of retail consumption means that the Americans have more 'gizmos' than Europeans
(Better Living Through Gadgery! My favorite part of that chart, besides the obviously dated ~1.2% penetration rate for cellphones in the USA, is that while every country has a mid-90s or better % of households with TVs, "TVs per 1000", USA dominates all comers. IF A TV IN EVERY ROOM AIN'T LIVIN, I DONT KNOW WHAT IS)
For several centuries Europe led the world in terms of prosperity and progress. As little as a hundred years ago, much of the American continent was virgin wilderness. Today, a hundred years later, the USA has completely overtaken Europe to become the unrivalled leader of the world economy. Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come any where near. The really prosperous American regions have nearly twice the affluence of Europe. It is worth reminding ourselves what this means. In these regions the average American can get exactly twice as much of everything as the average European. Which goes to show the importance of an economic policy to stimulate growth
HAHA, Wow. At first I was going to put "In these regions the average American can get exactly twice as much of everything as the average European." right after that "gizmos" line as pointing out the crazy bias of this kind of research, but... jeez, do you think maybe BEING a "virgin wilderness" (2019 Update: or at least unindustrialized - conservatives tend to downplay the fact Europeans were not moving into unoccupied places) - they and having tons of natural resource to exploit, rather than having supported centuries of relatively crowded growth, might actually be a net plus when it comes to making a century of economic progress? Or maybe having relatively docile neighbors and big wide oceans and not getting bombed nightly in giant World Wars?

C'mon! Our unique position in the world is only in part due to economic policy.... and if you're charting our growth over 100 years, maybe you'd do well to see how much of that growth happened after those dirty rotten commies like FDR starting marching us down the road to Socialism,. (Come to think of it, a much more interesting topic would be comparing the USA's path to say, Brazil -- as they self-deprecatingly put it "Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be")

UPDATE: and the more I think about it... "average American" seems to be playing into that fallacy that tends to think of "average" when "median" would be more appropriate! 99 hobos plus Bill Gates is on average a really rich guy, but the median is still "just a bum". What weasel words, especially when framed with a pompous "it is worth reminding ourselves what this means."

I admit I started to glaze over a bit during the next section. Diagram 3:4 is interesting, the one plotting per captia GDP vs % of households of incomes under 25K... it's visibly a looser correlation than some of the other charts, but I can almost see it as the corner of an elbow curve, that % below 25K (and a relatively coarse measure to begin with) isn't gonna sink below 20% no matter what kind of Washington DC-esque rich bastard super-GDPers a state is swamped with.
The media image of the American poor is that they have great difficulties to contend with, that they are dossers, junkies and in various ways marginalised.
Here there are some more compelling ideas, that it's not so bad being poor in the USA... they might not have health care or retirement but they sure have a car (kind of necessary in a wide open country with generally spotty public transportation) and a *color* tee vee, by gum! (For reals. It's funny that they bother to list "color" even as their chart also makes the distinction of "wide screen") But again, it's telling that thus far, they are setting up "they're poor but not poor like you probably imagine it", and citing a lack of data to explain why they're not doing comparisons against the poor of Europe.
The average American household has a home that is 80 per cent larger than its average European counterpart. Europeans, in other words, are more crowded in an American perspective.
Gee, it's almost like we're only 100 years away from having been virgin wilderness or something.
BY ANY METHOD OF MEASUREMENT, EUROPEAN economic development has been relatively poor over the past thirty years, which of course prompts one to ask: Why?
Again, I think they should insert "that we found convenient to use" at the end of the first clause.

To speak with authority that the numbers they elected to use are therefore proof that the USA has the best model, where I assume they're going with this, is a bit of a stretch.
This, of course, is because, the higher the tax burden and the larger the public sector become, the greater will be the power of political decision-makers and public bureaucracies. Private players, consequently, will have less scope for deploying their in-comes and assets as they themselves wish to. High taxes also generate counter-incentives to work and entrepreneurial initiative.
So, here's where the rubber meets the road, with Conservative truisms. They're not 100% offbase, but it ain't all gospel.

The liberal, of course, might point out that some decisions made in the public sector are for the benefit of the public, as opposed to the laissez-faire world where decisions are generally made to the benefit of making more money...and hopefully that averages out and does more people good, and we don't get to stuck in tragedy of the commons situations, and people as individuals achieve broader thinking (the sort of thing where, it makes sense to fund a general fire department rather than a subscription based one, since if your neighbor gets cheap and lets his house burn, you're in more danger than otherwise... or "we might be building up McMansion ghettos and horrendous schools, but as long as I can send my kid to private school from my gated community, I'll be A-OK")

And then there's the "counter-incentive" argument. "WHY WITH THESE HIGHER TAXES I'LL ONLY MAKE 200K RATHER THAN 300K...DAMN, MAYBE I'LL JUST TAKE IT EASY THEN" This does seem to correlate to a real world. In fact I think you have to at least argue a bit why the opposite isn't true, maybe an entrepreneur has a certain financial goal in mind, a fixed dollar figure that they work even HARDER for because they know a certain larger percentage of their gross is going to be taxed away.
The further equalisation goes, the less difference there will be between economically efficient and inefficient behaviour. It is our hypothesis that in large parts of the overripe welfare states of Europe the incentives for choosing behaviour that is good for growth are simply not big enough. This applies, not least, to Sweden.
I still think there's a presumption here that the important difference is absolute cash amounts, and not percentages.... in much the same way people will elect to be poorer but richer than their neighbors than richer but a bit poorer than their neighbors, some common-sense truisms in this field deserve to be challenged, and here they are often taken for granted.

The next section starts talking about "Americans work harder", but the LS ratio seems like an odd duck:
The LS ratio (labour supply ratio) relates the actual number of hours worked in the economy's regular employment sector to the number of hours which would be worked if all individuals of adult age (16-64) worked full time, apart from taking five weeks' holiday.
Five weeks of Holiday? Man, that sounds practically european in its decadence!

More to the point, I don't know if I trust this metric and its muddling of unemployment with, you know, how many hours and how hard and long Americans vs Europeans are working, and the quality of life is issues that I find most interesting.

In short, Jacques, not too impressed with this paper.
http://www.slate.com/id/2218360/ - Obama as parallel-parker; "pragmatic" and "moderate" are music to my ears.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
Pablo Picasso

Thinking of a September Euro trip. Friends in Switzerland, Germany, Portugal all sound hearteningly psyched about hosting me a bit :-)
Dear makers of CSS:sometimes you just want a table as a grid with non-chiseled borders, not a pile of bordered boxes. Please make this easy
CSS: So the "solution" is to use a dark background for the table, light for each cell, and use cellspacing for the border width -- primitive, but otherwise you have to play dumb TD style games.
"Oh it was partially set in New Zealand! No wonder it was an even better movie than Lord of the Rings!"
"Lord of the Rings was a much, much, much better movie."
"Did Lord of the Rings have a heroe with retractable forearm claws? I think not. Game, set, match."

Note to future self: the setting for not letting a jostled mouse wake Windows are under the mouse, not the power settings.

a dream of fire


--OK, this passed the test of making me laugh, hard... especially OK since I don't think anyone got really hurt. But man, I could just imagine the debriefing... YOU ARE A FIREMAN. YOUR JOB IS TO PUT OUT FIRES. ONE THING YOU DO *NOT* WANT TO DO IS THROW FIRE AT PEOPLE, AND SET THEM ON FIRE.

Of course it brings to mind Steve Martin's great monologue from Roxanne:
I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream - and I hope you don't find this too crazy - is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, "Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!" That would be bad.
I love that "I have a dream, a little dream" construction, which is why I echoed it when kvetching about Java projects and the way each project makes you learn a new dumb toolkit, and that maybe someday I'd join a project with a toolkit I was familar with.
Life is a fortuitous event...and when it's over, you're dead.
some old guy in a kosher deli, overheard by Anthony



My entry for Klik of the Month Klub 23, made in 2 hours. Another one of my "simplistic game around a novel physics-y interaction" games -- originally it was going to be the basis of JoustPong 3D but between painting myself into a corner, graphics-wise, and general concerns that it would be too difficult, I'm happier with it simplified.

(It almost feels a bit more aquatic than aerial. In fact, coming up with the scheme I realized it's a bit like the old Atari arcade game Toobin'.)

It never hurts to ask. Unless you ask for hurt.
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

under the shadow of the palms he sings to call her to his arms

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--Spike Jones, "Shiek of Araby", though mildly cut off...

Some explanation:
So growing up I loved the less-goofy "Canadian Brass" version of this song. It starts with an almost spoken-word verse:
Over the desert wild and free
Rides the bold sheik of Araby.
His Arab band at his command
Follows his love's caravan.
Under the shadow of the palms
He sings to call her to his arms:
And then of course a chorus that is (almost) shared with the Spike Jones version:
I'm the Sheik of Araby.
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you're asleep,
Into your tent I'll creep.
The stars that shine above
Will light our way to love.
You'll rule this land with me,
The Sheik of Araby.
I've always liked this and its hint of unrequited longing, even if it was a bit stalkerish (interesting how the Spike Jones version kind of flips the stalker aspect.) But just recently I found out there was a second verse that makes the Sheik an even worse guy!
While stars are fading in the dawn,
Over the desert they'll be gone.
His captured bride close by his side,
Swift as the wind they will ride.
Proudly he scorns her smile or tear.
Soon he will conquer love by fear.
Yikes! Now he just sounds like a big jerk.

So the above wasn't quite the Spike Jones version I was familiar with -- that one doesn't "reverse" who is creeping into whose tent, and adds a different verse:
Oh, I'm the Sheik of Araby
And all the women worship me.
You should see them follow me around. Not bad!
Even wives of all the other sheiks,
They beg to kiss my rosy cheeks
And that ain't bad -- in fact, that's good, I've found. I'm a cad!
When I lay down to sleep
I'm counting girls instead of sheep
From my harem I can't scare 'em out. Why should I?
They're beauties from all races,
And some have pretty faces.
I'm the Sheik who knows what love is all about.
In hunting up a transcription of that Spike Jones verse I found this dic.academic.ru page that reminded me that the Canadian Brass version adds a quiet "with no clothes on!" to the end of each line of the chorus. (Though that page says "with no pants on" is the more canonical refrain.)

From a Dream this morning:
"Tonight we're studying places to find water and how to make it drinkable..."
"Think of all the potabilities!"
The first speaker was an artist who did a big installation on top of a building, with all these mannequins representing people who had died from laughter. In my dream, my pun got a big laugh.
Why do so many Java Webkits assume that what Java programmers really want to be doing is writing servlets? How about old Perl or PHP hacks?
This green hoodie seems especially enamored of hiding, camouflaging itself as a towel or blanket. Very stealthy!

what's coming out of YOUR wallet?

(1 comment)
The exploration into cardholders' minds hit a breakthrough in 2002, when J. P. Martin, a math-loving executive at Canadian Tire, decided to analyze almost every piece of information his company had collected from credit-card transactions the previous year. Canadian Tire's stores sold electronics, sporting equipment, kitchen supplies and automotive goods and issued a credit card that could be used almost anywhere. Martin could often see precisely what cardholders were purchasing, and he discovered that the brands we buy are the windows into our souls - or at least into our willingness to make good on our debts. His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a 'Mega Thruster Exhaust System' was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually.

Martin's measurements were so precise that he could tell you the "riskiest" drinking establishment in Canada - Sharx Pool Bar in Montreal, where 47 percent of the patrons who used their Canadian Tire card missed four payments over 12 months. He could also tell you the "safest" products - premium birdseed and a device called a "snow roof rake" that homeowners use to remove high-up snowdrifts so they don't fall on pedestrians.

It's kind of funny how stereotypical this stuff seems, and now I REALLY want to see the bug tough biker guy who goes ahead and buys the premium birdseed.
iPhone does some useful tricks to disguise app switching lag- tho at times I'd say it needs an "hourglass" cursor, but Apple would HATE that.
Haven't said much but man... what a bummer of a time for the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox. Bruins might have the least excuse though.
I've been growing my beard for charity. Was I supposed to tell anyone about it first?

RAGING AT THE MACHINES,Good mother loving crisco damn it, why are ALL SERVERS rhino sucking MAESTROS at obfuscating stupidity? HATE HATE HATE

baby elephant walk prelude


--via the BBC Animals in the Womb series. The Dolphin was cute too!

Before persuading by logic, someone must be persuaded in their system that logic is the best means to accept. Logic cannot be used for this.

Last night at my UU covenant group we were talking about personal ethics. One idea occurred to me is that maybe "a balanced life" should be elevated to the status of a "moral good" - otherwise, it's hard to argue that we're not compelled to be absolute zealots for causes we support, but may not be willing to go ballistic about... gay marriage, fighting hunger, the environment, pro-choice or pro-life, etc.

This is a stance more compatible with Eastern religions - the "moral clarity" and zealotry impulse runs deep in Abrahamic faiths, like how Revelation 3:15-16 (KJV) says
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
(Even with food, I kind of dig lukewarm! Maybe not so much with water though.)
realism and toleration - tolerance as the key to a nation's success.
I am almost sickened by how difficult it is to get a Java applet to talk to a basic Perl upload script to transfer a file.

have a milky way today


Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo. (via Kate)

Here would be a good trick for a dog: nudge poop into plastic bag, carry bag home. Wouldn't that be just pragmatic?
I kind of dread Gov. Schwarzenegger ever being stricken by cancer, because of all the "IT'S NOT A TU-MAH" jokes I wouldn't not make.
DREAM: A McDonalds on a long road on the Seneca Indian Reservation. They had been forced to make Ghost Bread wraps, but the bread was more like Ethiopian, spongy.... stupid subconscious!

terminator: salvation army


Guess what movie I saw? Hint: not a very good movie.

If Skynet won, and then, like, the Star Trek Borg arrived on Earth, could they make, like, Borg Terminators?
They stuck a "Guns in National Parks" amendment on a Credit Card Reform Bill... eh? There should be a law against irrelevant amendments (but what amendments might THAT BILL have?)

photo unload

You know, the other week I bought a replacement for my Canon, which about half of these are from. The new one is... well, sleeker, more megapixel than my old one (which was an experiment in going for a slightly larger form factor) but man, I'm a little bummed I didn't get much of that "hey new toy!" feel.
http://www.wired.com/wired/scenarios/ - heh, the hardcopy of "Wired predicting the future" at a time Windows 95 was buying all their adspace
You know, I wish they DID make "liquid courage" except it didn't make you drunk, just a bit braver.

horses snorting fire? is that possible?


--Johnny Ginger lipsynchs, twice, to Spike Jones' cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky". This version squelches the original's punchline which was "...sung by Vaughn Monroe / I can do with out his singing /but I wish I had his dough" - I guess by the point this was made, too few people would get the joke (Monroe was one of the first big singers of this song, dunno if he was over-exposed or what.)
I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional and intellectual feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.
Carrie Fischer's Journal, struggling with an on-set crush on Harrison Ford

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Carrie Fisher

Very nice quiche-centric making and picnicking outing yesterday with Miller et al. Though I learned the Japanese grocery store at Porter Exchange is leaving... grr! Stupid expanding Lesley U--where am I going to go for rice balls now?

do you remember?


--I love the meta-level goofiness of this. (via)

What a crazy fun holiday weekend. Quiche making and picnic, Rock clambering and picnic, kayaking and cookout. Thanks to all who made it go!

on gay marriage

(1 comment)
(2019 UPDATE lost a video youtube p9VoXfuWtdA ... hints of it on google are tantalizing)

Here's to the faint hope CA Supreme Court will overturn Prop 8...

I'm happy more states are gradually switching over. In theory my inner moderate wants everyone to be content with some kind of "civil union" compromise, but really I'd rather just see marriage for any two people who can give meaningful consent.
Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

What we call matter is not completely dead, but is merely mind hide-bound with habits.
Charles Sanders Peirce

Sex and respect go together like...
...you and me, please.

Note to future self: RegisterStartupScript() -- the secret to .Net "make a javascript popup (or whatever)". Woohoo, now I have .Net street cred!
Today I'm less "screw the CA Supreme Court" and more "screw 52% of voters in a state that opens its Constitution to the whims of the rabble"

we get so much beauty for free in life

Rudy Rucker writes:
If it was for some reason hard to see clouds, can you imagine how much people would pay for the privilege? Like, if there was only one spot on Earth that had clouds, everyone would be going there and having these big spiritual experiences just from seeing the clouds.

This is a cloud I saw in Big Sur. We get so much beauty for free in life.

"From the data, from that picture the Air Force took tonight, what we've got out there is the original pilot ship. On the basis of observations, the others were guided down. Pattern-wise, one lands, then two, making groups of three, joined magnetically. Is that possible?"
"If they do it, it is."
General Mann and Dr. Forrester, War of the Worlds (1953).
You know, I liked this at first, but realized there's an implicit "or could our data be wrong / could this be an illusion" that Forrester is ignoring...
We will look at how gay couples [in Massachusetts] are making out.
WBUR's Tom Ashbrook, just now. Sounds kind of personal!

God is perfect, why did He create discontinuous functions?

You can't take your dick out on the moon.

Bought a cheapish 23" wiiiiide monitor. I love how my desktop wallpaper of the Lynn shore peeks out the sides of the browser window-

do you feel lucky?


--Fascinating coverage of an amazing machine, the Dice-O-Matic mark II. Just rolls dice and records the results.... over a million rolls a day! (And the Mark I was made of Legos!)

http://www.smackerel.net/black_white.html - a study in HyperCard and early multimedia-- cool but would have loved a wider study. The old B+W Mac screens - so cool and museum exhibit-y. I think I missed out not being part of that culture. In general, the way computers don't come with a widely-recognized programming environment (like BASIC back in the day, even) saddens me.
Note to Future Self: Eclipse UI design is a bit retarded- try double clicking on things, maybe it will show you a window right clicking won't.

so happy about the new movie

--via horklog

Note to future self: Tomcat context tag might be lurking in server.xml, where it will override that conf/Catalina stuff, and/or context.xml. This was hard-won knowledge today.
Is there a movie with dialog "You shot him!" "What do you care, you're a nihilist" "But... you shot him!" - I thought Big Lebowski, but no-
6 years ago today I mentioned "heomald" (a possible Palm typo) appeared no where on Google. Still my site is the only source of this word.
http://www.thepostgameshow.com/?p=658 : Prop 8 PLUS: Lets Defend Traditional Singing By Defining Songs As "Music Of and By Heterosexuals"!!

then he COULD see her now, wouldn't that be better?


....and now we're in the future they're talking about. Sort of. The sardonic, skeptical tone of this video is terrific. Along with the goofy technology. And the Benny Hill-esque closing music.

Like all compromises, the CA supreme court's decision to allow marriages made in the pre-Prop 8 interval likely annoys people on both sides of the issue. I like to think of it as a ugly, harsh, modern California respecting the "Full Faith and Credit" clause in regard to its former, friendlier self. (But I really would like to see Prop 8 get smashed away by the voters... 52% seems like an awfully small number for Constitutional "amendments")
This chart makes me sad: http://www.ajaxjsf.com/ -- too many java ajax jsf toolkits, too little time.
The man we know as Ernest Hemingway was actually a collective of highly-literate elephant seals operating an elaborate bearded puppet.

His 'suicide' was the result of increased orca activity.

"Ice Road Truckers", "Most Dangerous Catch"... I'm waiting for "Tough but Dumb Camera Crews"

what THOSE women want

So I'm trying to pull together a trip to Portugal/Germany/Argeles, and my host in Portugal will be Johnny, a friend of my AFS exchange brother and veterinary intern (I think thats a rough idea of her current role) - she also happens to be a ferociously terrific writer as you can see on her blog Which Surprised Her... (Portuguse women often adopt masculine nicknames, a habit that to to be frank I find kind of hot.) A while back she wrote a piece What These Women Want:

It's been a girl fest lately, and we've been discussing relationships a lot. Men often complain they don't know what women want. This is what we, my mates and I, have to say.

We're in our early thirties-late forties and are, respectively, the ones who are happily married, the ones who are happily together, the one who is so happily together she's doesn't seem to get it anymore, the one who is happily not looking for together right now; the one who is unhappy bcs she keeps breaking up and falling right back into it; the one who can only do flings and has a little black book, the one who cannot do flings at all bcs she always becomes emotionally involved, the one who thought she could cope with flings and is unexpectedly smitten, the one who had a fling turn into an actual love relationship, the one who doesn't even want flings bcs she is perfectly happy alone with her child; the one who says she doesn't want a relationship bcs she was hurt too much but secretely harbours hope, the one who says she does but is visibly too jaded and out of faith; and the one who is waiting for her boyfriend to move out of his ex's flat. We don't always agree abt the details but we know what we want from our men and, for most of us, this is it:

  1. We want our men to understand that sometimes we have Bad Hair Days, Bad Bum Days, and we need an extra ego booster - extra bcs we want our men to think us beautiful and sexy anyway, and to fancy us like bloody hell, and to show us that they fancy us like the bloody hell.
  2. We want our men to understand that sometimes we want them to devour us, we want to merge with them, become one amidst a charm of hummingbirds, but partnership doesn't mean parasitism. We are fiercely independent too, and it is healthy that we meet our mates alone sometimes, that we actually want to, healthy to not always be joined at the hip.
  3. We want our men to not be intimidated by our strong personalities, intelligence or need for a life beyond them, this isn't a geisha drive-thru; in fact, we want men who'll thrive on it.
  4. We want our men to say 'No', and stand up to us. Please stand up to us, we need our men to be men we can respect.
  5. We want our men to be intelligent and cultured, we want to be able to chat with them for hours abt big things and small things, to always want to chat with them; our men may sometimes be aggravating but they're never dull.
  6. We want our men to not be put off by our tears, bcs we sometimes cry and it won't always make sense, they can't always fix it - and it IS alright, we just need them to hold us and pull us onto their laps and cuddle for a bit.
  7. We want men who are manly, bcs if someone's going to be girly in a relationship it'd better be the girl. We respect men who can cry, men who can show pain and sadness, men who can be vulnerable without pulling away - and we want those men as well - but little whiners make us shudder.
  8. The Porties among us want our men to not ever - EVER - read Paulo Coelho/be too esoteric bcs we, as a whole, have found out that that equals absolutely, staggeringly, unbelievably mindfucked.
  9. The Porties among us want our men to keep their bleeding mouths shut regarding past relationships/sexual encounters for the most part. It is not included in our cultural mating rituals, it is no one's business, and we firmly believe there should be only two in bed, not dozens.
  10. We want our men to be able to discuss everyting with us, including their exes , we want them to be able to vent if they're still ruminating, if it was traumatic, if they're still finding their footing again - but no ad nauseam obsessing though.
  11. We want our men to make us laugh and giggle, we want to be able to be silly together.
  12. We want our men to make us laugh in bed, sex must never be a power struggle or a source of grief. One of us had a boyfriend with always half-mast erections actually tell her The others were tighter. [And we stil want to kill the limp little fucker.] We want men who will tell us how they like it, show us how they like it, show it when they like it. No need to wake up the neighbourhood really but they must never just lie there like a log. This isn't assisted masturbation, and a huge chunk of our pleasure is enjoying theirs.
  13. We also want our men to be able to listen to what we actually like without being emasculated. One of us once heard back I know what I'm doing!, prompting her to snarl in frustration If you did I'd have had an orgasm long ago!
  14. We want our men to not be selfish, we want to be part of their lives, not a hobby. We will happily and yet with a certain ammount of self-sacrifice accommodate exes, children, pets, relatives - we certainly expect the same. If their backs are spasming so badly that they can barely move, let alone drive the 40 minutes to be with us, we will be furious when we find out they spent that very evening jumping up and down at the corner cafe watching the football match with their mates [and that's part of the reason the one of us who keeps trying to break up keeps trying to break up].
  15. We want our men to not be threatened by our mates who are men. Our mates who are men are honorary girls and they've long accepted the fact that, to us, they don't really have a penis. One of us was accused by her boyfriend of coming out of the garage with her mate while wiping and smacking her lips. [Knowing that people expect from others what they themselves would do, all of us are so disgusted we can barely look at him.]
  16. We want our men to like our mates who are girls. The one of us whose boyfriend has yet to move out was out looking at flats with him and they were discussing the space they needed (she has two pets and a tiny flat and they intend to mostly stay at his place) when he said And I probably should get an extra room for *insert her best friend's name here*. It was adorable and profoundly right, we're super loyal - but we also want our men to know that our mates are good for them, and very often we have not started a fight or nagged bcs during a dissection session they told us to not be daft and brought us to reason. Our mates know more abt our men than our men are comfortable with but they reign us in, and our men should kiss their feet.
  17. We don't want our men to move in with us right away. In fact, were they to offer [one of us experienced this on the 2nd day], it'd cause a stampede for the hills. But we need to feel that we can build a future together, that it is indeed a partnership, not a protracted affair.
  18. We want our men to be emotionally available. We know that being wanted is a turn on and during those tentative early days we reply to them when we feel like it, bcs we do feel like it, and we want our messages to be clear. If they want us, they should let us know as it happens - not by Wednesday at the earliest so we don't think them too eager. Interest begets interest, and waiting in trepidation for them to deign to move their King doesn't do much for our self-esteem. It makes us feel rejected and ugly and by now we know better than that. We're not playahs and we don't do games.
  19. We want our men to be emotionally honest. We want them to ring when they said they would, to show up when they said they would, to do what they said they would (we also want the rest of the world to behave this way, btw), and to NEVER make promises they cannot keep. We want our men to know we are trying out best to be lucid and not create expectations, but if they create them for us and not follow through we will be FUCKING PISSED OFF. The one of us looking for flats was in tears today bcs the ex is emotionally blackmailing the boyfriend, begging him to stay, asking what has she ever done to him that he wants to leave her, and he is ravaged with guilt.
  20. We want our men to know we certainly are not like that, WTF?! A man who stays with us stays with us fully, completely, all of him. We want our men to know we can have understanding and patience but there's only so much time we will wait for a proper outcome. We can't say when we will say Enough!, but we know we will say it soon enough. And then our mates will help us cry it out and cry it out we will, but we never beg.
  21. We also want our men to know that we don't like ambiguity. We don't like to remain in a limbo while they sort out their sorry lives. We'll survive the Nos, it's the eternal Maybes/Eventuallies that make our sanity disintegrate. Pain is harsh but prolonged pain is impossible to bear. Our men made a decision? We want them to fucking own it already.
  22. We want our men to have the courage to tell us they stopped wanting to be with us the moment they stop wanting to be with us. A man who no longer wants us we no longer want, even as we still do. We live by blunt truths.
  23. We want our men to know that if they were brave enough to end it when it needed to be ended we may spin from the pain but we will feel respected; we will forever respect them in turn.
  24. We want our men to be absolutely decent human beings, there's nothing better than being able to trust someone. We don't like bad boys and their drama and anxiety-inducing ways at all. It's a home, not a misfits' retreat.
  25. We want our men to protect us from the Big Bad Wolf. We can be fierce and stand on our own feet, we carve our own way, but we need a cave to retreat to. Our men are it, or they're not our men.
  26. We want our men to be good fathers, and we'll forever be judging their capabilities/potential on that. Husbands/boyfriends don't last forever, we're acutely aware of that (and yet we all pray ours will) but fatherhood does. The sort of men they are matters not only to us but to the children we'll hopefully have with them. And if we can't dream of having children with them, whichever way they come, then there's no point.
  27. We want our men to understand that our pets are family, and untouchable, and we are and forever will be animal daft. One of us had to once point out to a fling that it could never go beyond that and state his dislike of animals as one of the reasons (there were more); he replied But if I made you choose btwn your pets and me you'd choose me, right? - and to this we collectively say 1) No one makes us choose anything and 2) Oh, honey...
  28. We want our men to realise that our evergrowing piles of clothes, books, shoes and bags make us better persons.
  29. We want our men to leave the toilet seat down.
This is what we want from our men, and it is not too much to ask, we know it isn't. And we know it bcs we would never ask for what we ourselves aren't more than willing to give.

Just saw "Up" in 3D. Great flick! Also, I'm in love with the typographical trick of the title.
Last Titanic Survivor Dies - as Lore Sjoberg put it "Time is an iceberg that sinks every ship"
New (to me) UKism: "Best of British!" (for "Best of British Luck to you") -- I love the kind of casual undertone of "eh wot" superiority...

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