The Christmas Post - 1 Week Late

So, I'm lazy (and busy) but mostly lazy, and haven't posted my Christmas post. Not that I had some huge thing to post or deep insights into the Season, but it can hardly go without a mention.

Obviously, my big gift to myself was building my computer (and buying the parts). J-- got her pink iPod mini (and she was surprised, thankfully!). She gave me a Wusthof Classic Santoku (or Asian) knife, a ton of sushi-making materials (which work wonderfully, I might add), way too much chocolate, and a nice broadcloth white shirt. I know I'm forgetting something, but we had a good Christmas between the two of us, and not just for the gifts. Although, the gifts were nice, especially the stuff from our parents. Automatic coffee maker, with built in grinder, you are wonderful, if a bit noisy. They should put decibels rating on packing for those things.

Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without the families. All in all, the gatherings weren't that bad, considering the sheer volume of parent/famliy exposure we subjected ourselves to, it's a wonder we haven't throttled anyone, much less each other.

Oh! I know what I forgot. And I'm wearing it for the love of Pete. J-- got me a T-shirt with a Get Fuzzy panel on it! I love that comic. Yeah, it's a well-worn path of comic strip, but it's so funny to me because the cat, Bucky, is the perfect example of how I imagine our cat Mina to be. Sarcastic, scheming, and somewhere barely underneath her skin, ready to usurp us at a moment's notice. I'm trying to find the strip, but only makes it easy to find the last 30 days of comics. This one was published on 11/24, if you're interested.

Anyway, since we're bored, we're falling back on on consumeristics roots and going to Costco.. never been there, but I here it's like a slightly less evil Sam's Club. Hey, at least I don't hear about Costco building stores literally on top of ancient ruins.

Half-Life 2 Mod - The Weird Side of Gaming

This has to be the weirdest use for a game mod I've seen in a while. Garry's Mod allows you to pose the characters and actually construct new machines in-game. A cool hack to be sure, but the screens used to demo the mod are, uhm, odd, to say the least.

Deep Thoughts from Supermodels

I think the title says it all

Link [via Gawker]

A New Tagline

Tonight, J-- and I went out for Chinese food. Which is to say, we went to a strip mall that served food cooked by Chinese-Americans. We had Triple Vague Delight, Six Ways, with rice. Of course, at the end of the meal we got not just the bill. Oh no, we also got fortune cookies. Ah, fortune cookies, that wholly American contribution to an ironically obscure practice in China. By the way, no one in China had heard of fortunes stuffed into cookies before someone in the States saw the market for them.

I digress. I dutifully crack open my fortune cookie, fully expecting two things: 1) A stale cookie and 2) A cheesy fortune. I get neither. What I do get is a crispy yet tasty cookie and an interminalbly profound fortune. So profound that I immediately say to J--, "this has to be stolen from someone".

The fortune? "Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought." The source? Chinese proverb? Nope. William Hazlitt. Wonder if his heirs can sue a fortune cookie manufacturer.

The Flame to End All Flames

I have to say, I have my doubts about the authenticity of this, but it's damn funny, no matter where it came from. I'm especially enamoured of the response form at the bottom. Classic newsgroup rage.


Up and running

My new machine is up and running. Actually, it's been running for a while, I've just been playing with it so much I didn't post.

One annoying thing to remember if you're building a new system and expect to play any game made in the last 4 years. Many of the game publishers are putting DRM on their discs now which won't allow you to play the game from a CD or DVD writer drive. You'll need to add a CD-ROM drive to pass their system check, usually every time the game starts up. One more BS thing to keep in mind.

So, my system as running currently is:

  • MSI K8N Neo Platinum motherboard (Model 7030)

  • Athlon 64 3400+

  • 512 MB PNY PC3200 RAM

  • 120GB Maxtor SATA 7200 RPM Hard drive

  • BFG Tech GeForce 6800 OC 128 MB video card

  • Rosewill Combo Drive (52x32x52x16x) Model C523216

  • Dynex 52x CD-ROM (Model DX-CDR100)

  • Thermaltake Silent PurePower 480W W0013

  • OEM Floppy drive

  • Antec CS400B Case

As soon as I get a little more RAM and a KVM switch, I'm all set.

Oh, and just for the record, while time-consuming (it probably took me a decent 5 hours to assemble and configure the OS), this was way easier than I imagined it to be (knock on wood). A great learning experience and something I'll have to do again, if for nothing else than the joy of actually building something that works. I can finally imagine what all the gearheads in the '50s must have felt when that GTO finally turned over after a rebuild.

Light posting

Not that my posting has been heavy with the holiday (or ever, for that matter), but it will be lighter still as I'm going to be putting together my new machine. Last component came today and now I actually have to do this. (Deep breath).

No, not "clean" as in no porn, but clean as in no spyware/adware. This site lists applications that are free of the nasty evilware that exists in so many programs. And, this software is available for free!


A plea to web app developers

Ok, this won't win me any points if some random web app developer happens across my page, but I have a request for anyone who'll listen.

Please, for the love of God, consider the actual user of your application.

Let me explain where this comes from. I work on the development of a web app, not in the technical sense (I'm not working in the backed), but I am using an admin-type web interface to modify and enhance the UI that our customers will use. So, in essence, I'm the middle man. I consume what our solution provider makes, use the product to create another product, and then maintain that second product. Confused? It's a standard scenario I'm having trouble verbalizing at the moment (Christmas is close and I want out of here; give me a break).

This is my dilemma, issue, beef, if you will. One of my tasks is to implement user assistance. I won't get into the idiotic implementation our solution provider has "provided", but suffice it to say, they need to read this post as well. We have gone with hosting static files on the same server as the web app, linking to those files from the UI of the application, and then doing whatever we need to do in our own "environment", so to speak. Yes, it's a hack, but it'll work for our purposes and minimizes the politicking that would be required to use, say, ASP. I digress...

My plea begins here. Adding a link to our static pages is fairly simple, unless you want to do anything except add a value for “href”. Why? Because the Active X control that has been implemented allows only for input of a protocol and an address. Because lots of people are linking to Gopher these days. (Seriously, that’s an option in the pull-down menu.)

This is a dead easy thing to implement. Allow me as a middle man user to add links to whatever I want however I want. I can't say how much the system cost the organization, but adding fifty bucks to the cost of the license to implement an Active X control that allows me to specify a value for “target”.

I know that right now, someone is saying, "just edit the code, dummy." Yeah, there's another shortcoming. While you can edit the code directly, sometimes code changes take. Sometimes they don't. No one set down why code would be reverted, or a way to change something and set an ignore switch somewhere. Even our developers went, "Humph, isn't that interesting?" Not very helpful.

After I rolled my eyes for the 7th time this morning, it dawned on me that I'm on the receiving end of a more fundamental problem. It's not that the tool couldn't accommodate these enhancements, it's that the solution provider didn't think anyone would use their product any other way than how they imagined it to be used. Ok, that was a mouthful, so I'll just say it bluntly.

The original developer was shortsighted. They envisioned a single scenario of implementation and use, for both the middle user and the end user. It never occurred to them, or was completely ignored by them, that legitimate uses outside of their development efforts should be accommodated. Every crappy HTML editor in the world allows you to set values for the “a” tag. Not theirs. Why? It would've cost them something, and they weren't willing to spend the resources.

Who am I to tell them how run their business? Their customer. While it may be a PITA for me to work with, I have to work with it because I have to provide a solution. The ultimate sufferer is going to be my end user, my customer, because I have to spend ridiculous amounts of time coding the simplest things, which leaves less time for me to actually assist the user. To me, that's a bad tradeoff.

So, my plea is this, web app developers (or, really, solution developers): Think about the actual end user. Make your solution fit what they will need. If your customers (people like me) are going to use you app to build other apps, I need to provide things like documentation, user assistance, UI enhancements, and god knows what else. Making it simpler for middle-level developers to use your apps only improves your products.


I'm addicted to mash-ups.

Most of them suck, usually because someone is trying out a new technique or learning their way around a mixer (and, no, I shouldn't be one to criticize because I couldn't mix two tracks of static). But once in a while, a great one comes out, like the Grey Album or Collision Course or The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

It's an interesting concept of doing music, completely (or heavily) relying on other artists for your source material. It's gets to the heart of copyright law or lack thereof. When does artistic freedom trump the rights of copyright holders (and not necessarily the artists who created the work). Should artists be able to consent to their work being used for such a project, or dictate the terms of another artist's project? Should artists be able to sample whatever they want as long as they don't try to pass the original work off as their own?

But I'm neither a lawyer or an artist, so I'll just sit back and enjoy the product of this controversial practice. Like today: presenting, The Beastles.

More mashy goodness at DJ BC: The Boston Mash-up Project.

New Apple signiture iPods




I don't even know if that's a word. But this story has all the elements of a classic West Michigan story; 2nd-tier University, Lowell, and rednecks.

Raychel Swift was driving back to Lowell Friday afternoon when her pet boa constrictor, Mr. Cracker Basket Sassy Pants, sneaked out of a pillowcase and slithered its way into the car's dashboard.

Take that Florida. Mr. Cracker Basket Sassy Pants. Man, I need to find a dealer around here.

Shutdown GPS; stupidest idea yet

I'm a conservative, that's no secret. I support this administration when I can. I have issues with a few things they're doing, but Ashcroft is out, so that's one huge thing off my list.

Until today. This has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. In the event of a terrorist attack, the government could shut down the GPS system.

First of all, why? Is the huge barrier to sucessfully carrying out a terrorist attack knowing how to get out of somewhere? I'm pretty sure they were doing this long before Garmin had a handheld unit. Not to mention, the event that would trigger a shut down of the system is the very event the shut down is meant to prevent. You see the logical black hole created with that last sentence? Yeah, that's where this idea emerged from. Hopefully, it looks around, sees the idiot telling people (with a straight face) about possible implmentation scenarios, and then heads right back into that logic hole.


Maps, get your maps

Doing some work at home, I stumbled across .gov sites with block- and tract- level maps of almost every county in the country. They're FTP sites, but the PDF maps are current from 2001. Wonder how long before this gets pulled down to save us from "the terrorists"?

Block maps (FTP)
Tract maps (FTP)
County voting districts (each 000.pdf is an index)

Blockbuster decides to confuse yokels

I wonder how long before they get sued over this. I have money down for three weeks.

Blockbuster Video is implementing a plan on 1 January to allow you to keep your video an additional week beyond the due date without penalties. However, if you keep it beyond that week, they charge you for the full movie, minus the rental fee.

I have two problems with this:

  • So, now, not only will new releases be gone on Tuesday afternoon, they won't be back in the store for half a month.

  • The first time Jane from Allendale's kid forgets to turn in "Walking Tall" and she gets charged for it, her first call is to Sam.

Plus, don't video stores pay hundreds of dollars for the videos they rent out? Are they going to charge customers for the video they actually rented, or are they going to charge consumer retail prices?

First Day

Well, it's official; I'm a Wolverine. I think we're actually required to say that as new employees of the University of Michigan. I'll read through the hundred or so dead trees I was handed today during orientation.

Nothing too spectacular today; your basic sign-here, date-here, smile, sign-here kind of day. And then I got to lunch when I got to my office. You know that standard easy day you get when you start a new job? Find the bathroom, find the coffee, decorate your cube? Yeah, not me. I'm in it head-first. Thank God I have a vacation over Christmas.

I'm working on the MPRIME project. A very cool and worthwhile project; should be a challenge and a blast. Can't be any worse than what I tossed at my last employer.

Anyway, light posting for a while until I get to a) breathe and b) figure out what I can and can't do at the U.

Go Blue (sorry Dad; I'm not required to cheer for the football team so, take heart!)

The end for Ann Arbor (stop cheering)

For anyone who doesn't live in Ann Arbor (A2 to the initiated), this town has one, ok two, huge problems. The first one is that residents (which around here means "non-students") don't like the University. Oh sure, they love football and being able to say they live in Ann Arbor, Home of The University of Michigan, but they really, secretly, hate the damned University. All that traffic, all those students, all that lost tax revenue. It's enough to drive a socially-over-conscious-fiscal-conservative mad.

The second problem is related to the first. See, residents outwardly love the University so much, more and more students keep coming here. From everywhere. And (and this is the worst part), some of them aren't rich. I know, it's awful. So, some people in the city thought if they build affordable housing, more students will not only come here, but maybe talented people will stay or come and work here, too. I know, it's crazy, but they've been told that it works elsewhere.

Enter the residents again. In order to build affordable housing, you have build affordable housing. Somewhere. Which leads to the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) scenario. Ann Arbor is Overrated (it's a blog and a statement) has one of the best quotes ever to sum up everything that is wrong with A2.

What could happen if their concerns [on development issues] are overlooked? "What happens is that more and more affordable housing keeps coming, and the risk is that you could just create a ghetto of some sort," [Judith Marks, the president of the West Liberty Homeowners Association] says (emphasis ours.)

Lovely. Someone in A2 has actually found a way to turn a liberal buzzphrase into a euphemism for "projects". Read the comments being left on AAiOR for the reaction from some business owners about why the fight the neighborhoods are putting up is futile and ultimately counter to their desires. It's a beautiful switlie to the collective snooty head of this town.

More movies

I didn't know this, but they have made a new version of the Merchant of Venice (trailer at

Stars Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, and Lynn Collins. Opens 29 Dec 04.

Official site (gratuitous use of Flash)

It will be curious to see how the play gets treated in this ultra-sensitive, politically-correct world. Even in the best of times, the play has had its critics and apologeits; the loonies that come flying out of the woodwork with an all-star-cast movie should be entertaining.

Interesting aside; there is an open-source stock trading program at Sourceforge call Venice.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Depp) trailer is online

And it looks really cool. Note that this is not a commnet on the movie itself, just the visuals, but they are awesome. Check it out at Yahoo!.


McSweeny's: History's Most Notable Films Reconsidered

In the vein of yesterday's post on insulting cultual icons, I present McSweeny's second look at some of the best films.


Wanna play a game?

Here's a list of way too many board games (yeah, they still make them). This list is heavily skewed towards fantasy/risk-type games, but it's got a lot of other. Definately won't find many of these at Meijer's.

Slashdot story

My apologies

I'm an idiot. I neglected to enable commeters to actually, you know, comment. For the time being, posts that have comments turned on should allow anyone to post. However, if you aren't registered with TypeKey, your comments are moderated, which means they won't show up until I approve them. Sorry, but spammers are everywhere. If I get hit with a spammer, I may go to requiring a password from TypeKey, but I hope that doesn't happen.

Bravo to CyberNET employees

Proving once again that Barton Watson and his ilk are not representative of the West Michigan work ethic, soon-to-be-former employees at CyberNET spent their Thanksgiving weekend salvaging Roadlink USA's computer system. For their efforts, Roadlink will give them contracts for employment.

Congratulations to the soon-to-be-former CyberNET employees. And thanks to Roadlink USA. A bright spot here and there for these people is more than welcome.

Link (Previous entry, 2, 3)

I hate

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not like the Beatles. Commence the hate now.

Done? Cool, because the Guardian today unleashed its writer on every huge act from James Brown to Bob Marley to, yep, the Beatles.

There's sure to be something in this article that makes you nod with approval and then curse in disgust. Brilliant stuff.


Down the rabbit hole; CyberNET's descent continues

Amongst the clamour of people trying to associate themselves with the Van Andel family now that Jay has shuffled off this mortal coil, TV 8 managed to get inside a warehouse with a pile of goodies that Barton Watson kept for himself, apparently on the company dime.

The list of vehicles includes a Bentley, a Ferrari, a BMW, and... a Ford Focus??? I'm wondering if someone got wise to Watson and decided to help themselves to something, just nothing that would blip too hard on anyone's radar.

Link to story (Link to previous entry, 2)

Free Anti-Virus Software

I've been using Avast as my primary anti-virus application for a number of years now with great results. However, in the last couple of months, Avast has upgraded the application (a common occurance), but broken something. My system is slower and, when I had the Network scanner turned on, noticably lowered my connection speed.

So, I've gone looking for a new, free, AV program, trying things out before I shell out for McAfee or Trend Micro (screw you Symantec and you're resource-hogging applications). First up, AVG.

Bush's America: It's officially an overplayed excuse

God cut from Dark Materials film

The director and screenwriter of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to remove references to God and the church in the movie.


"You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America,"

Uh, right. And the same result wouldn't have come about if Kerry were President. Sorry, I don't buy it. Making a movie of this series of books (I want those hours of my life back, Pullman!) would be difficult under any circumstances, and the administration in the White House would be pretty low on the list of issues. First, despite Mr. Pullman's statements to the contrary, this series of books is a stinging attack on the Church. Mr. Pullman obviously has some issues with the Church, and wrote about it. He's not unique in that, and I hardly think he deserves to be held up as The Neo-oppressed.

The books themselves trade heavily in Church mysticism and elements of Gaia-based religions. Guess which one is always right and ends up solving the problems in the book? Making this movie is difficult because the themes are huge (religion as a war), the characters are complex to visualize (lots of CG) and the size of the audience is inversely related to how faithful you are to the story.

So, cheers to the BBC for biting on the beginning of what is sure to be a years-long PR campaign to make "His Dark Materials" a watered-down blockbuster version of what were mediocre books.


Stem cell solution?

The main argument from religious circles to prevent stem-call research is that you have to kill an embryo in order to harvest the stem cells. Apparently, the Catholic Church has defined a point at which the death of an embryo is actually the death of a whole person.

William Hurlbut, "an earnest young member of the [President's Council on Bioethics] conservative wing", has come up with a novel, if not creepy solution: harvest the cells before they become an embryo.

As Hurlbut puts it in his presentation paper, "Incompletely constituted or severed from the whole, subsystems with partial trajectories of development may temporarily proceed forward with a certain biological momentum." In other words, the parts of an embryo—or the parts that normally would become an embryo—might produce stem cells, even if, to avoid the moral problem, we kept these parts incomplete or severed.

Basically, he wants to turn off a gene that tells the cells "you become an embryo". The cells continue to develop, eventually producing the desired stem cells, but never become a defined organism. Of course, not just stem cells form. Other things, called "organ primordia" also form. That's limb and organ "primordia", "a ball of tissue, grown inside some poor creature, full of bits and pieces of what would have been a body." Definitely high on the shiver scale.

I think it's a brilliant solution, if it works. I have little confidence that it will ever be a long-term, widely-used technique. While conservatives have a high tolerance for activities that aren't covered by their beliefs, they also have squeamish stomachs. All it will take is someone posting picture of "organ primordia" on a high-profile religious website and opinions will turn in a hurry.


CyberNET saga: Local girl makes good on elitest upbringing

Krista Watson, formerly Krista Kotlarz, of Rockford, and also wife of the late Barton Watson, is under investigation for running the Ponzi scheme known as CyberNET (or Cyberco). She may not be charged for months, but you can bet that, when they find her, she'll get the punishment due to Barton.

Wow, someone from Rockford who thought they deserved everything. There's a shocker.

Link (Previous entry)

Open-source strikes again?

Someone posted this to the HATT Yahoo group today; Nvu, an open-source WYSIWYG HTML editor with an integrated CSS editor. Since I (currently) work for a draconion tech company staffed by Luddites, I will have to check this out at home.


Why I Voted Against the Gay Marriage Ammendment

My friend John Auchter is one of the most intelligent (and by the number of "discussions" we've had, most patient) people I know. John is also really freakin' good at putting those wonderful ideas of his into comics. His latest comic is one such example. To writ:

Now I will say this: Hopefully, in these few weeks between election seasons, we can talk about this in a less emotional way. I think those who would like to see gay marriage legalized have to respect and acknowledge people's religious feelings on the subject. Nobody likes to have something they find distasteful shoved in their face.

For instance, I don't ever want to have to see a Cirque du Soleil show. I don't want to ever vacation in Branson, Missouri. And I don't ever want to tour a veal farm. I have no firsthand knowledge of these things, but the mere thought of them makes me queasy. Perhaps if I were a more free-thinking person I could. But in these cases, I wear the badge of closed-minded prejudice with pride. So, yeah, I understand how being forced to discuss homosexuality could be unpleasant for some. Hold that thought.

And he hits on nail on the proverbial head. Majority isn't always right. Just look at Branson, Missouri.

Personally, I voted against the gay marriage amendment because I don't think it's government's place to tell me what and what is not moral. That's a slippery slope no one should ignore. But, John is a lot funnier about it, so go read his comic and the commentary (you're not allowed to skip the commentary) right now.


Affidavit for Search Warrent for CyberNET

WoodTV has posted the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for CyberNET. Any teachers out there, you can use this to illustrate just what a Ponzi scheme is.

Link (PDF)

CyberNET dirty all over

This case just gets worse and worse. The remaining executives seem to be rallying around the missing head of Barton Watson and looting the company while they can. Creditors are filing lawsuits left and right but, surprise, there's no money left. Why?

[CyberNET's Chairman Jim] Horton said he doesn't have any money to pay creditors; and yet, just before Watson killed himself during a standoff with police last week, Horton wired money into his own bank account. One million dollars of that money went to an office in Hong Kong. $750,000 went to Barton Watson's mother. Another $20,000 went to Barton's wife Krista, with Horton's wife Angie receiving $20,000.

Right. Since his golden parachute got a hole shot in it, Horton is now screwing the creditors out of everything he can get.

Prison is too good for people like this.

Link to quoted story
Link to Watson 911 tapes
Link to Watson suicide story
Employee reaction
Employees to get no more checks
CybrNET was a "Ponzi" scheme - mLive
CyberNET's final employee newsletter (news story, no actual newsletter)
Employees return to work after raid
Barton a "true con man", and OCD, apparently

Gadget Lust

I want a set of these! Logitech behind-the-head, dual headphone, boom mic, and the cover is red. Very cool.

(Actually, I'm just posting this here so I don't forget it.)

ThinkGeek :: Logitech Internet Chat Headset

Bill O'Reilly defending Dan Rather?

Before you think he is, he's not. Dan Rather's mistake of running with a story he should have been more skeptical about is only the cover for Bill's other objective. Like so many before him, O'Reilly is not defending Rather. Rather, he's protecting his bread and butter - old-school journalism. The Bush papers (and Swift Boat Vets before that) are not the fault of bloggers who got away with something "wip[ing] out a lifetime of honor and hard work" simply by having a LiveJournal account. In fact, if O'Reilly had done his homework, he would know that the bloggers were the first ones to debunk the papers.

And if you think O'Reilly isn't protecting himself, check this quote out:

Unfair freedom of speech did him in. This is not your grandfather's country anymore.

Nice. Nothing like playing the Fear card. But, to be fair, he's right. This isn't your grandfather's country anymore. No more will the Hearst's and Clear Channels (other side)of the world have sole ownership of information. They may control certain media, but there is always a voice available to, well, people like me. Not that anyone reads this, but I can still publish it, which is a step in the right direction. And there are many other smarter and more dedicated people out there whose voice is being heard on the internet. They are the ones who have kicked in grand-dad's teeth and changed the media.

O'Reilly mentions that the flaw in journalism is that journalists rely on other journalists for information. I submit that what is really pissing him off is that, under the Old Guard, he was only accountable to those from which he got the information. Now, he's accountable to everyone. Me, you, Slashdot, Boing Boing, Fark, hell, even Jason Kottke can weigh in if he wants. Yeah, I think that might have something to do with Bill's defense of Dan.

New York Daily News - Home - Bill O'Reilly: Dan got smeared

Don't buy that plasma TV just yet

CNet is reporting that, maybe as early as next year, the price on plasma and LCD televisions (and, theoretically, computer monitors as well) will plummet in the next 12-18 months. "Plummet" here is defined as 30%, which means that a 20-inch LCD TV from a well-known manufacturer will be under $299, down from $700 to $800 today. According to according to Tasso Koken, vice president and general merchandise manager for Sears home electronics, "[t]he 2005 price drops in LCD will make the 2004 reductions look like a walk in the park".



How to eat sushi

I may not have ever had good sushi, after reading this HOWTO. I wish I had some way to validate what this guy is saying, because it sounds like he does.

Sushi Eating HOWTO [via J-Walk Blog]

Firefox hacks

This is a fun little site. All kidns of Firefox and Thunderbird hacks. [via Alice & Bill]

Unreal Tournament Mod

Finally, a reason to play Unreal Tournament! A single-player (offline) mod that looks like it was inspired by Painkiller. I think I got Unreal for free with my mobo.. woo hoo! Now, if I only had a hard drive.

Hmm... that sounds like a song. "If I ooooonly had... a hard... drive..."



*smack head on desk* THIS is why Tech Writers are not respected

Once again, Tech Writers don't get it. (Name and contact info removed so I don't have to deal with some guy bitchin' about me posting his info all over the place.)

On Wed, 17 Nov 2004 18:28:54 -0800, [President/Principal Writer]  wrote:
> Speaking of google, what's the difference between doing a little
> research about the contents of a test and an employer using goggle to
> underhandedly find out information about a candidate.
> [President/Principal Writer's first name]
> --
[President/Principal Writer]
President/Principal Writer
[Company name]
[Company website]
MSN: [removed]
Yahoo: [removed]
There are two pains in life, the pain of sacrifice and the pain of regret.

This is the pain of the industry, if you ask me. Googling your name for info is already cliche in some circles. If you don't think that people are plugging your name into search engines before or after talking to you... wow. That's like not looking up the bio of an acclaimed writer. You'd have to prefer the experience of being ignorant.

To be fair, this post was quickly followed by a number of people pointing out that you can use this activity to your advantage, a kind of free advertising. Does you name show up in newsgroups being helpful? A potential employer might like that. Of course, you may not want your name turning up as you're knocking a common practice for someone doing due diligance on a candidate or company. The real issue is that what Mr. Poster expressed as an "underhanded" practice is a belief held by more people in the Tech Writing world than you would believe. Did you know that some employers expect writers to do other things besides write? I know, we need a union to stop these things!

You mean Emeril doesn't actually cook?

Yeah, surprise all you Uber Yuppies.

So who does the cooking? Mostly guys like Ernesto. Hardworking faceless guys from places like Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico. You were expecting a bunch of Italians singing opera flinging pasta? Wrong. You hear mariachi music and guys cursing in Spanish.

Yep. And the author even gets the big picture in there:

Perception can be more important than taste in my business.

Nice, quick read.


Avoir MP Parrish!

Canadian MP Carolyn "I hate Americans" Parrish has been dismissed from the Liberal party by PM Paul Martin (who is also leader of that party). Why? Good question.

On "This Hour has 22 Minutes", MP Parrish stomped on a President Bush doll. Oh, it should be mentioned that this filmed as Bush was announcing he was coming to Ottawa. (It's unclear if a TV broadcast was in the background as Parrish did the jig, or if the show spliced it together later).

This isn't really that bad. The problem is, Parrish can't seem to keep her mouth shut in front of cameras or reports when someone mentions the good ole' USA. It's like Cartman and Styx; she just has to bad mouth Americans. Good thing to do to a big trading partner. Smart for the economy and all that.

So, c'est la vie. Avoir, see yah around, toodles MP Parrish. I'm sure you'll be fun to watch as an Independant.

Link (Previous post about MP Parrish)

Lorem Ipsum mug

Sweet! A Lorem Ipsum mug (and other things Cafe Press) available from Geeky? Check. Marginal quality? Check. Esoteric? Check. It's a triple threat!

Lipsum Store | CafePress" href="">Link

The Top 40 Bands In America Today - 2004 Edition (as compiled by bloggers)

I've heard of about 5 of these bands (Bruce Springsteen?!?!?), but I'm game to try new stuff. I have a hard time taking what some of the MP3 bloggers are serving up usually, but once in a while I find something I really, really like. One of them clued me into iRate radio as well, which is great for getting great, free, legal music.

Anyway, the MP3 bloggers have a big circle-jerk and came up with this list. Sounds like a good place to start, if you can stand the constant references to other bands you've never heard of.

Link [via Kottke's remainders]

John Cleese - funny, online, and free!

John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, has begun to put clips on his website, some for free. He's also a wine connessoire, but without all that nose-pointing-in-the-air drudgery that most snobs give you. I don't know if that content will be free (I wasn't able to find any).

He also has a members section (of course), and the site is definately not modem-friendly. But, it's John Cleese, if you like that sort of thing. Membership is a little steep at ~$50/yr, but I'll look at all the free stuff I can find. Be warned, the navigation sucks (Flash-based hunt-and-click).

[via The Times Online]

CyberNET Group building raided in Grand Rapids

Whew! That was close! I interviewed at this place (didn't get an offer) about a year ago. As my significant other said, "everything happens for a reason, eh?".

CyberNET Group building raided in Grand Rapids

(Update, Grand Rapids, November 17, 2004, 5:27 p.m.) Federal officers from about every agency you can name entered The CyberNET Group building on South Division Avenue, south of Fulton Street, in Grand Rapids Wednesday morning.

[via WOODTV - News]

Ze Frank's Communication Course #1

Substitute the phrase "you miniscule twit" for every comma in your email and let the hilarity begin. Is it bad if I do this already?

Check out the rest of the substitutions and let the co-worker bashing continue!

Link [via Boing Boing]

Blue Balls from Bungie

This past weekend, I "finished" playing the single-player of Halo 2, arguably one the most anticipated games of the season. I'm glad I cashed in $20 worth of gift certificates, though, since the "ending" of the game was the storyline equivalent of dry humping in the back seat.

Ok, aside from the good game play (which I still prefer on PC), the game was solid. I noticed a couple bugs (like your AI teammates forgetting to come along with you), but overall a decent game worthy of loading up a few maps to play again.

What hooked me, though, was the storyline. Right from the start, the game gets you with a great story (which knowing the 1st game will enhance greatly). And then, just when they build it to a huge crescendo, it's over. OVER! No conclusion, no resolution, total cliffhanger. Let the credits roll (cursing at the TV, like I was) and there's another cliffhanger afterwards.

Damn it! Who the hell is writing the script for this thing at Bungie? Did they take a hint from Microsoft and forget to implement the most important part of the software, the one everyone wanted?

So, they got me. Shame on me for thinking they would, you know, finish the game. For those of us who won't be using Xbox Live, we're screwed out of the best part of the game, the one they obviously devoted more time to; multiplayer.

Oh, and I'm guessing that to find out what the end of the storyline is, I'll have to not only buy the next game, but the next Xbox system as well. What? You thought they would find another game to push sales of Xbox Next? HA!

FCC has a website encouraging you to get digital TV

I can't tell if this is weird or just poor presentation, but the FCC has a website encouraging consumers to get digital television. We already have an HDTV and love it, but does the government need to encourage this? In a few more years, you'll need to have one to get cable or broadcast television. Seems to me that's more than enough motivation for most Americans.

If you link to the site, beware the annoyingly stupid sounds effects and crap-ass navigation.


God speaks to this woman through Scrabble

Wow, this is, er, crazy.

Link [via J-Walk Blog]

Best 404 Page

Very funny.


Marine Mom To Mickey Mooron: STFU!

Eva Savage, mother of Marine Jeremiah Savage who was killed in Iraq, was featured in Farenheit 9/11. Unfortnately, Moore forgot to make sure it was ok to use her son's name and likeness in the movie. This is her response.


Once again, bloggers make crappy journalists

See, when a real newspaper (or station) like CNN or the New York Times or The Washington Post do a story, they fact check. Facts are these really difficult things to get for many bloggers because they have an agenda. Always. Like me. This whole post has an agenda behind it. I'm sick of hearing that "this election wasn't fair" or "Bush stole the election... again!" You know why? Because I read more than the circle-jerk of blogs that always agree with me or on which I comment.

Take for instance this story from the Post (reprinted on the Seattle Times website) about the allegations of vote theft, hacked votes and phantom voters.

One by one, it pops the balloon of conspiracy surrounding the vote. It also raises an interesting point; if any of these theories were true, why isn't their candidate saying anything? You would think that John Kerry, of all people, would see the benefit of pointing out that over 1000% of the people registered in one Ohio country voted for Bush.

But he's not. Why? Because someone looked at why the numbers were that off.

The Ohio vote-fraud theory appears to stem from the curious ways of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. During even-numbered years, the county's canvassing board posts vote totals that include the results from congressional districts outside the county that spill over Cuyahoga's borders. The quirk made it look as if the county had 90,000 more votes than voters.

That's all it took? Christ, with a truth threshold that low, maybe it's time to start looking for Han Solo's name in a vote register somewhere.

Oh, and in case you didn't know, vote discrepancies are common in elections, especially national elections. Why? Because voters are stupid. They mangle ballots, they mark things twice. Not to mention that at a macro level, counting that many things accurately is pretty damn hard. An operation at that level will have a tolerance. Elections are no different. Statistically, the "anomalies" in this election are within the "anomalies" in other elections.

In other words, move on, nothing to see here.


Never Coming to a Theatre Near You

This book sounds like a great reference for movies, movies that don't suck. Glad to see that Ronin made the list; I love that movie.


Submission, by Theo Van Gogh

Submission, by Theo Van Gogh

Theo Van Gogh (who was related to the artist of the same name) was brutally murdered on the streets of Amsterdam by an Islamic fascist for daring to make an eleven-minute film about the oppression of women in Muslim society....

Go. See it now. Now. Right here. It's eleven minutes. Eleven minutes that illustrate what a life is worth to some people.

[via Michael J. Totten]

Poor Dan Gilmor

Dan Gilmor, author, Journalist (that with a capital J, mind you), and Blogger (also with a capital) has a problem. Actually he has many problems, but this particular one is a commenter he's acquired in recent months, a troll. Granted, a troll of the worst kind, but a troll none-the-less.

The troll has become somewhat of a problem for Dan because, as trolls are known to do, this one has mired up many a comments section of Dan's less-than-technology angled posts. See, Dan likes to trade his popularity for the Left, spinning any incident of marginal importance as the Tea Party du jour. His troll enjoys spewing idiocy for the Right. To me, this seems like a pretty fair balance in the Commons that Dan has so dilligently put forth as the New Media. You know, the one where everyone has a voice.

Oh, unless you disagree with Dan. Then he'll threaten you with a new *shiver* Comments Policy. That's right, if Dan doesn't get his way, he's taking his ball and going home, closing comments on any future political posts. Of course, a troll is better than that and will comment of political stories in the comments of other posts, so the likely outcome would be no comments anywhere on Dan's website.

Pity, he almost got it.

Ohio Election Data Analysis

The original poster on this kuro5hin article starts out trying to cast doubt on the Ohio numbers from the election. Fine, nothing new there. But, someone who actually knows how to crunch numbers pipes in in the comments section with some pretty interesting numbers and, well, basically says "I don't see anomolies, but if you do, refute this data".

This is why numbers, and not emotions, matter in elections. Because when you get down to it, you can spin "voter attitudes" and "I remember 2000, and this year was different", but if you can't quantify it, it doesn't count.


And dumbass time continues

So, apparently if you own a NBA team, you no longer get to have an opinion. Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavricks, Benefactor, and blogger, has been fined by the NBA for this entry in his personnal blog. (He has held back on directly commenting, and just announced the fine.)

He also asked what the blogoshpere (I hate that term) thinks of this.

I think it's bullshit. My company is ISO certified. If a member company got fined every time a they complained about some aspect of the ISO board, ISO would be richer than the United States. How does an orginization think it's going to grow or address issues that members have with it when they won't even let you voice your opinion? Is the NBA that scared of what one owner thinks that they have to try and silence him through fines (which, by they way NBA, if you havne't noticed, it's not working).

Does it affect how I interact with the league? Not really. I gave up on the league a long time ago. Hell, I live in Detroit and I didn't even watch the playoffs. The league is more interested in making superstars. It's better business. It's easier to polarize the league and concentrate on three or four uberteams than it is trying to make a wholly competitive league (look at baseball for the eventual outcome of this). I find it amusing to watch Cuban go at it with people who still don't get it, and never will. Sorry you're out some cash Mark; but if your opinion is worth every dime, if to no one else but yourself, than that's good enough for me.

And now, for something pretty damn funny

From El Reg:

Trippi isn't the only one to blame. All the blogging believers are at fault.

Even if Jesus set up a blogging cafe in the center of Rockport, Texas and extolled the virtues of a woman's right to choose while snapping pictures of gay weddings with his Nokia, it would have made no difference to this election. All of the bloggers would have told themselves about the miracle, while Bobby and Bobby Sue went right along with their business.

The longer the Democrats pretend that their vacuum of righteousness is actually reaching the public at large, helped by NPR, the more trouble they will be in. Be it an internet wasteland like New Mexico or fat pipe rich Connecticut, it doesn't matter. George W. Bush kicked your blogging ass.

'nuff said.



Alice and Bill have an article today about some of the upcoming supercomputers.
But the big news is IBM's prototype Blue Gene/L, being developed for the Livermore Labs. It currently runs at 70.72 teraflops --but they're still tweaking it. When the final version is finished, it should hit 360 teraflops without breaking a sweat.

The current record? Two years ago, 35.86 teraflops. The newest computer, IBM's Blue Gene, potentially could increase the record by a factor of 10. What are they going to use this for, you might ask. Well, at least they're doing the right thing. Blue Gene would (finally) be powerful enough to do protein folding, something which is currently being done through distributed computing (and a very worthwhile cause, I might add). Protein folding could lead to huge advances in the understands and eventual treatment of Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, and Parkinson's disease.

Computer science (the real science part) is finally producing machines that can do things not just that humans cannot do, but doing things we never thought we'd desire to do. Sure, playing chess against a machine is a novel activity, but divining intelligence from such an encounter is another thing altogether. When we do reach the computing power of a human brain, what then? It's not like we'll stop development of computers; we'll obviously surpass that level quickly. And that's a big deal. For the first time in history, mankind will have access to answers from an intelligence more powerful than himself (faith-based Q&A aside).

How does that molecule act when we drop in, say, this new chemical? Does the reaction differ in someone who is taking drug A? The computer will tell you, accurately and relatively quickly. Whole buildings will be devoted to simulating individuals many times over, simply to test reactions to, well, anything we can imagine.

It's a very exciting, and scary, time.

Why the semantic web is a pipe dream

This article on Metacrap is a quick and dirty reasoning about why this renewed talk about the "Semantic web" is a load of, well, metacrap. It's a business, people, and all they want to do is sell you something. If this brilliant idea were remotely achievable, it would have happened already. There are no tools we don't have that are fundamentally stopping a world of meta-meaningfulness.

I'm looking at you, tech writers. Content management is all about metadata. This is a must read for every tech writer, even you crotchety ones.

2.3 People are stupid
Even when there's a positive benefit to creating good metadata, people steadfastly refuse to exercise care and diligence in their metadata creation.
Take eBay: every seller there has a damned good reason for double-checking their listings for typos and misspellings. Try searching for "plam" on eBay. Right now, that turns up nine typoed listings for "Plam Pilots." Misspelled listings don't show up in correctly-spelled searches and hence garner fewer bids and lower sale-prices. You can almost always get a bargain on a Plam Pilot at eBay.
The fine (and gross) points of literacy -- spelling, punctuation, grammar -- elude the vast majority of the Internet's users. To believe that J. Random Users will suddenly and en masse learn to spell and punctuate -- let alone accurately categorize their information according to whatever hierarchy they're supposed to be using -- is self-delusion of the first water.

The Morning After


I voted for George Bush.
I am not a redneck.
I do not spend my days watching cars race around a track, drinking cheap beer and slapping my woman on the ass.
I am not a bible thumper. In fact, I am an atheist.
I am not a homophobe.
I am educated beyond the fifth grade. In fact, I am college educated.
I am not stupid. Not by any stretch of facts.
I do not bomb abortion clinics.

You will not be thrown in jail for the sole reason of being a liberal.
Your child's public school will not suddenly turn into a center for Christian brainwashing.
Your favorite bookstore will not turn into puritan central.

This is not Nazi Germany in any way.
You will not be forced into concentration camps.
You will not be burned in human-sized ovens because of your religion.
We will not be forced to wear uniforms and march in line every day.
You will not live in fear.
If you think this is a country in which you have to live in fear, I have some friends in Iran who would like to have a little talk with you.

And here's why Bush has 4 more years

There's going to be so much wailing and gnashing of teeth, you'd think the Democrats were the ones that would set up a Theocracy. JasonUCF on Slashdot summed up wonderfully why the Democrats lost. And why they will continue to lose until they change drastically.

I can't find the right word. Annoyed? Depressed? Flustered? None of them carry the meaning for me.

This was not Bush's election to win. This was Kerry's election to lose. And man, did he lose.

When will the democratic party realize that they need to get in the game, play it tough? America doesn't want a smarty pants North Eastener with a fake politican smile a mile wide. America obviously responds to the aw shucks grin, the not too einstein but firmly resolved mindset.

When will we realize that whining about problems won't work when the majority of the population doesn't want to think about problems? They want a bed time story, and someone to turn the light on and off for them.

When will the democrats grow a fucking backbone and nominate a real candidate? I swear this makes me think of the axiom that, at heart, democrats are goths. They love losing, and lamenting about losing.

Kerry's campaign was self destructing a week before it won Iowa. I don't think they ever got a campaign together that worked. There was no clear delivery, no clear ideology, NO RESPONSE to the clear Republican attacks. When Kerry won the primary I was flabbergasted. I figured we probably wouldn't win then, but I held out hope, I stood on street corners, I called people, I campaigned.

A 4 million popular vote for an administration that admits no wrong, that has no coherent diplomatic policy, that has no coherent domestic policy. Why? Because 9/11 changed everything? Because we needed to "kick some ass abroad"? These are the responses I get from Bush voters. They don't even know what the Clear Skies act is. They're not familiar with North Korea. We have to find a way to dumb ourselves down into simple ideology. Easy digestible soundbites. It sounds ridiculous but I see no other way -- 1992 was "The Economy, Stupid", nothing else has worked. People don't want to think about problems, they want to eat McD's and watch Joey.

I'm so... frustrated.

I take issue with a LOT of what Dan Gilmore says today, but he's got one good point I'll agree with; maybe it's actually time for a new party. And Nadar doesn't count.

Link to Slashdot comment

Why Kerry lost

I love flickr; the meta nature of the photos you get with even the most cursory searches are bizarre. Here's one that's pretty damn weird (photo of a diseased fish, anyone?), and the comment for the photo is even better. To writ:

Why Kerry lost:
The refusal of the Democratic party to represent left/center mainstream values of peace, environment, small business, and innovation. Instead, homo-marriage, stem cell research, and minor issues that do not affect majority have hijacked the party. Homo-marriage lost Ohio for Kerry, and the next four years with it. Was it worth it? No, not for Matadors. Our natural resources will suffer for this. Our support is no longer worth it. You freaks are the new Nader. Get out! Time to take our party back!


The Big News

It might take them a while, but eventually everyone will pick up on this. If Bush wins, the Republicans will have control of the White House, the Senate, and the House.


Australian Slang

A long list of Australian Slang.

It wasn't easy but we've tried to include uniquely Australian slang here and to exclude British and American slang even though these are commonly used in Australia. We see no point in informing the world that "fridge" is Australian slang for a "refrigerator".

Here are a few that might come in handy:

  • Bog in: commence eating, to attack food with enthusiasm

  • Dunny: outside lavatory

  • Liquid laugh: vomit

  • Mystery bag: a sausage

  • Tinny: can of beer

  • Ute: utility vehicle, pickup truck

[via J-Walk Blog]

Voting in AA

No, no stories of improper voting procedures or anything like that. In fact, Ward 5 used the draw-a-line-put-it-in-the-machine scantronic (fantabulous!) machines. Slick as ever and (virtually) idiot proof, although Idiot R&D is working on that.

No, the cool thing was a conversation I overheard while standing in a very short line at 4pm. A gentlemen was getting his ballot when one of the poll workers mentioed how busy they were (as he was handing the gentlemen ballot 1450-something). The gentlemen asked how many they usually get, and another poll worker stated "Usually about 400 or 500 for the day."

Keep track of the elections

CNN has a tacking center. No stats now, but soon I'm sure.


Wired Mag's Creative Commons CD

A 320kbps MP3 version of November 2004's freely distributable Wired Magazine cover CD - includes Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Dan The Automator, Gilberto Gil, Cornelius, and many more Creative Commons-licensed tracks for remixing, spreading - unmissable.

I got this with my issue of Wired this month. It has a little bit of everything and well worth getting. Plus it's legal and free; best of both worlds.

Link [via LegalTorrents]

Yes, I'm really that dumb

Ok, so I hosed this site. Boo me. I will be attempting to repost some of the original posts, manually entering the original time they were posted to recover my archive.

Unfortunately, all comments are lost. I have them, I just don't have a way to put them back with the posts. Sorry. Like I said, I really am that dumb.

Mental note: Just stick with one tool; the tools just don't play well together.

Internet Users Want A Voice

Wow, way to catch on to a new trend there Wired.

Internet Users Want a Voice

About a quarter of Americans have rated products, services or people online, according to the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project survey. The results point to the growing significance of online rating systems. By Daniel Terdiman.


Best clip you'll hear today (when I post it)

I'm listening to and downloaded Bob & Tom show from Sept 17th. At about 21:10 in Hour 2 of the show is one of the funniest things ever said on morning radio:

"But they had the Anti-Pirate guy dressed like a pirate?"
"That's like portraying the Pro-Life Hanger."

I'll make a clip when I get home.

UPDATE: I posted the clip here. Listen. It's seriously funny.

Pushing Your Limits - CSS for the designer

This is a great presentation on redesigning websites with CSS. It also has a lot of links to resources to learn more about using CSS.

Link [via]

Can we be done now?

Hate is a powerful thing. It turns normally dull people in raging maniacs, rational people into lunatics, and intelligent people into idiots. Take William Gibson and the words he chooses to express that which he cannot (or will not).

To wit:

"...I think we're getting a pretty good idea of what Trotsky felt, looking at Stalin." -Jack Womack


and, as a sweeping generalisation, I suspect more of those Americans with whom the rest of [the world] come into contact, either because they're online or because they travel, are likely to have voted against Bush, because they are the ones who know what is going on in the world."

That's right, friends. Not only is Bush like Stalin (you know, the guy who killed 8-20 million of his own people), but if you're not online or traveling, you're not worthy.

You know, I was this close to voting for someone other than Bush, because it felt right somehow. But when (supposedly) intelligent people make statements that imply that I am not intelligent enough to recognize a new Stalin or (the Lefts favorite) Hitler, and neither are my countrymen simply because they didn't read enough Womack (or Gibson), I think my mind is made up for me.

Thank you William Gibson. Oh, and you are officially an irrelevant ass.

Verizon accepting pre-quals for FIOS

Verizon has 15 megabits down, 2 mbts up (sweet) for about $5 more a month than I pay now for 3 mbs down, 256K up. Oh come on, get in the area Verizon, I'll give yah a try.

The site is hosed right now because it made the front page of Slashdot, but it'll be back.


Tutorials for Photoshop

A lot of them... great resource.


Shoe Lacing site

It's a site with 22 different ways to lace your shoes. Who knew there were so many?


Free Online Graph/Grid Paper PDFs

Just like the title says, this site has a ton of PDFs with grid/graph paper patterns. Perfect for a quick print out when the supply closet is drained.


Just... wow

You know, I get that people don't like Bush. Hell, I can't believe the guy supports the PATRIOT act myself. But damn, Ted Rall, you need some good drugs because you are way too pissed off for your own good.

Yes my reader(s?), welcome to the seething undercurrent of militant socialism. Mr. Rall uses every marginal device from the left to punch home this wonderful monument to fearmongering. Oh yeah, it's all here: Bush is Hitler, the 2000 election was stolen, politicized 9/11, and not getting the real terrorists. He even throws in some real issues (such as the probable election of a couple SCOTUS justices), just to keep you off his trail.

So, I salute you Mr. Rall. If the guys on Crossfire are partisan hacks, you sir are a full-on puppet.


= - Loads of Books on the web

Tons of stuff to read and research over at

[via J-Walk]

Why we'll never have peace

Statements like this are why the world will never be peaceful until one religion wins in totality. Remember, this statement was made on 17 Oct 2004

"Sir, why do the government clerics ignore the killing of the prisoners during the time of the Prophet? 600-700 prisoners were killed in the raid on the Qurayza tribe.

"Why do they conceal this? Why do they hide the fact that the Prophet gave the order to assassinate some poets - to assassinate! Not in military operations, but rather by individual assassination.

"Why did he order the assassination of K'ab Ibn Ashraf, the Jew, leader of Khaybar ? And then he ordered the assassination of the leader who successive him. As a result, the Jews became fearful and terrified."

The Prophet here is Mohammed, as in The Mohammed, who apparently assasinated a lot of people at what is called by some the Qurayza Massacre. This happened thousands of years ago and we're basing terrorist policy on this event.

Some modern Muslims have apparently interpretted this event as carte blanche to kill in retribution for those that have wronged God. You see the huge loop-hole for modern terrorists in what suddently can be interpretted as "wronging God". The power of clerics grows pretty quick in this situation.

So, why no peace? Because policy on both sides is being dictated by 2,000 year old events. And don't think that a Kerry White House will suddenly bring a sense of logic to any of this. How do you convert a fanatic? You don't; that's the problem.

This is a concept so foreign to American's (and many Europeans) it doesn't even register the first couple times you realize it; Islamic countries don't just base law on religion, religion IS law. Islam is Jerry Falwell's wet dream, a complete Theocracy.

You can't co-exist with fundamentalists; they don't believe in co-existance. You must convert or be eliminated. That's the whole point of fundamentalism; total and complete involvement.

Link [via Drudge]

Heinz Kerry Separates Self From Mrs. Bush

"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good," Heinz Kerry said. "But I don't know that she's ever had a real job - I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things."

Laura Bush taught in public schools in Texas from 1968 to 1977, the year she married George W. Bush.

Good job, Kerry! You just lost all your teacher votes!

Here's a tip from where it's NOT playing in the sticks. Shut your wife UP. Or at least explain to her the concept of "insulting" or "tact".

News Flash - Jennings Worried About Being "Objective"

If anything tells you about the sad state of journalism in this country, just read what Peter Jennings has to say.

"I'm a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective," Jennings said.

Yeah, that would be terrible if you were held to, you know, standards. No wonder Peter had to come to America; where else can a Canadian with an agenda do more harm?


Operation Clark County

This is asinine. The Guardian, a United Kingdom (that England, y'all) newspaper has the roster of 85,000 registered voters in Clark County, Ohio. You go to the linked page, enter your email (supposedly, you're an concerned English person) and you get the name and address of a voter in that county.

You're then supposed to write to this person and encourage them to vote for who you, as a concerned world citizen, would vote for.

For those who don't read the Guardian on a regular basis, they are a fairly liberal news paper, who pride themselves on going that extra step. Usually that means corssing into non-objective reporting, something our domestic news sources jumped the shark on a long time ago.

Predictably, reaction has been less than positive.

I really hope this backfires; I don't think we get much say in the British PM, do we? Limey bastards, indeed.

The required Jon Stewert post

Everyone in the world with a blog is posting this today, but I'm going to link to someone who has the transcript up. If you have the means (and by that I mean broadband), download the video. There are bittorrents everywhere (a page here, as a matter of fact). Even if you don't have broadband, download the movie; it's worth every byte.

Others will expound on Jon's profound appearance on Crossfire. Suffice it to say that, while I respect him immensely, it's sad when we have to make our comedians the voice of sanity on CNN.

iFilm streaming video
CNN transcript
Leiter Report (blog w/ transcript)

Court Halts Sale of September 11 Coins

About damn time, too. Fricken vultures.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday obtained a court order to temporarily suspend the sale of commemorative Sept. 11 coins heavily advertised as being minted from silver recovered at ground zero.


I can't keep up anymore

To the Christian right, "Dred Scott" turns out to be a code word for "Roe v. Wade."

I can't keep all this crap straight anymore. Can we just get rid of Ashcroft and make some of us conservatives feeel a hell of a lot better about voting based on other issues?

By the way, I clicked through some of the linked articles in the Slate article linked here, and I am so disheartened by the conspiracy-theory-laden talk on these pages... I need to ask my folks about this stuff.

Page-addressable PDF

Awesome tip.. thanks to Jon for the info! I'm putting this here so I don't lose it.

In yesterday's item I complained about the opaqueness of PDF files. As Mark Kunzmann pointed out (in email), the situation is less dire than I suggested. He illustrated by pointing me to page 100 of the government's energy report here. I can point you to the page describing necessary URL syntax here. This scheme is workable, for large documents like the 170-page energy report, thanks to the same HTTP 1.1 byte-range technology that I've been using for random access to MP3 audio.

Thanks for the reminder, Mark. This falls into the category of things I used to know, but forgot. Now arguably, there's a reason I forgot about it. You rarely (if ever) see PDF URLs ending with #page=6 in the wild. My feeling is that's because a PDF page is an arbitrary unit of content, and it usually won't precisely address the element you'd like to refer to.

Note that there's also the #nameddest option, which works like an HTML fragment identifier and takes you to a specific location within a page. However this seems to be used even more rarely. I suspect that's because of the manual nature of the procedure required to prepare the destinations. Courtesy of Planet PDF, here is that procedure:

First up, you'll need to create the destination. To do this from within Acrobat:

  1. Manually navigate through the PDF for the desired location, and magnification
  2. Go to View > Navigation Tabs > Destinations
  3. Under Options, choose Scan Document
  4. Once this is completed, select New Destination from the Options menu and enter an appropriate name

Now that you have created your destination, you can link to it using
a similar syntax to that used for page linking. After the name of the
PDF, append "#nameddest=" and the name of your chosen destination. So,
if your PDF has a named destination, "TOC", that points to a table of
contents, then your link code will look like this:

<a href="">Link text</a>

[Planet PDF]

Live and learn. Or in this case, relearn!

[Via Jon's Radio]

Fake text generator

No more lorem ipsum for those test layouts.

Link [via TinyApps]

SpaceShipOne Captures the X Prize!

It has begun...

Awesome for the team and a real tribute to ingenuity and good ole elbow greese. I can't wait for the announcement that they've achieved orbit.
Link to Slashdot
Link to CNN

X Prize Launch - SpaceShipOne

SpaceShipOne started its pursuit of the X-Prize today by launching from the Mojave Spaceport today. While the flight appeared to have some issues (the rolling post ignition reared its ugly head once more), the flight was successful. Rutan and Co. have two weeks from today at 11:34 AM EDT to make a second flight to the 100km altitude.

It's difficult to say at this point just how significant this prize could be. Cheap, efficient, and solid technology to orbit payloads in the hands of private business and citizens will revolutionize the way we think about and use space. The difficult part is to say how this revolution will materialize. Will we vacation in space? Will we finally start to reach beyond the surface of this planet in numbers? Will science finally have a way to experiment and manufacture things in ultra-low gravity?

Aeronautics changed the way we think of the world; places once off the grid are now accesible just by changing planes. Extrapolate that concept to space flight and then you start to get really excited about the potential that is quickly becoming part of our lives.

Spaceflight Now running commentary
Link to Slashdot discussion
X-Prize homepage

The interrobang‽

We need to bring this back!

In 1962, the interrobang (‽), was introduced by the New York publishing establishment as "a twentieth century punctuation mark". The interrobang combined the functions of a question mark and an exclamation point. It received some attention at first, but never caught on, although for a brief period during the 1960s it was added to some typewriter keyboards.

What a great symbol for the internet-enabled masses. How many times have you gotten a message that ended with the string of question marks and exclamation points. (ala ?!?!?). You can make the symbol with Unicode; just enter &#8253;.
Link [via BoingBoing]

UPDATE: Go figure, Microsoft, the king of standards, doesn't support the Unicode for the interrobang. If you're reading this post in IE, sorry. Try Firefox; it displays this properly and it's a hell of a lot safer.

Oh please, oh please, oh please

How bloody cool would this be? A (Virgin-themed) space hotel. Sure, Richard Branson is a loud, arrogant, blowhard, but he's got the track record and accumen to, if not pull something like this off, at least give it a good gooes in the right direction.

It's getting closer to reality. Sounds like Branson is going to license the SpaceShipOne tech from Paul Allen/Burt Rutan. Private flights could begin as soon as 2007. We need to bring Howard Johnsons back just to have one in space.

Link [via Drudge]

Bashing the McMasses

Another great article from what is becoming one of my favorite sites, Spiked. In her article/critique "Bashing the McMasses", Josie Appleton takes filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who made the "docu-blockbuster-cum-human-experiment Super Size Me," to task. It's good to see people who watch movies for the techniques used to sway your opinion and not get caught up in the emotion with which so many filmmakers try to cloud your judgement. (See any Michael Moore or Leni Riefenstahl joint for ample reference material.)

Super-Size Me is one of those films that starts off with a pre-ordained path: the filmmaker is dating a vegan chef and walks all over Manhatten on a daily basis, which makes him relatable to the majority of Americans (oops, forgot to turn off that sarcasm toggle... ah, there we go).

Read the article; it's a wonderful example of why so many "artists" love deconstructionalism. If you can't or aren't supposed to deconstruct a piece of art, you can't put it in context. No context == no frame of reference. Very post-modern.


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - The Adventure Game

This is SWEET! BBC Radio 4 has re-released the Infrogames Hitchikers Game as a Flash game. I want to hug the program director over there.

It's the END! Again...

If someone writes in a paranoid manner about paranoia, do they get a hat or sticker or button?

One easily can imagine a tyrant with worldwide ambitions and high-tech capabilities scheming even now to pull off the greatest hoax of all time, after years of conditioning the public to anticipate precisely such a crisis. This may sound like the ultimate techno-paranoid nightmare, yet it's consistent with the high volume of current warnings that the end is nigh.


List item: Bust eBay cherry; check

Slowly, I start to get this internet thing. I sold my first thing on eBay (well, things actually, but. one's a little different). I still haven't got paid or shipped, so the process isn't complete, but it was very fun to watch my item get bid on at the last minute... knowing that somewhere, someone is looking at the same page I am, trying to buy something I currently have.

It's not as if it's the money, because getting excited over $40 really wouldn't do it. Do salesmen get a rush when they make a sale, like somehow they succeeded in converting the buyer?

Link to completed auction

Foreign Policy: Hating America

You read statements like this, and you suddenly realize that no one person is worthy of leading this country.

There are many issues on which the United States is the crucial organizer of collective goods. Someone has to be concerned about terrorism and nuclear and biological proliferation. Other countries might bristle at certain U.S. policies, but would someone else really be willing to bully, threaten, cajole, and bribe countries such as Libya to renounce terror and dismantle their WMD programs?

Thank God for checks and balances


Link (via Arts & Letters Daily)

This is how you read (on the web anyway)

Very cool research... I'd love to see a website redesign based on this.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Ouch... Genesis crashes

In what is definitely the worst possible scenario for the Genesis project, the parachute on the re-entry craft failed to deploy and the stuntman-piloted helicopters never had an opportunity to attempt a recovery. Unless some miracle remains for the team, looks like the whole project is a wash over the most basic part of re-entry; slowing down. Tough luck.


Who Cares About the Truth?

Oh god, I'm slipping into moral realivism.

Such rough-and-ready pragmatism taps into one of our deepest intellectual veins. It appeals to America's collective self-image as a square-jawed action hero. And it may partly explain why the outcry against the White House's deception over the war in Iraq was rather muted. It is not just that we believe that "united we stand," it is that, deep down, many Americans are prone to think that it is results, not principles, that matter. ...some of us find worrying over abstract principles like truth to be boring and irrelevant nitpicking, best left to the nerds who watch C-Span and worry about whether the death penalty is "fair."

So, by not opposing the Iraq war, you may as well have joined all those nuts not engaged in worrying about "abstract principles like truth".

An unswerving allegiance to what you believe isn't a sign that you care about truth. It is a sign of dogmatism. Caring about truth does not mean never having to admit you are wrong. On the contrary, caring about truth means that you have to be open to the possibility that your own beliefs are mistaken. It is a consequence of the very idea of objective truth. True beliefs are those that portray the world as it is and not as we hope, fear, or wish it to be. If truth is objective, believing doesn't make it so; and even our most deeply felt opinions could turn out to be wrong.

Oh wow, I agree. Unfortunately, the author falls into the same trap most liberal mouth-pieces do; they forget to turn this mirror on themselves.

Disgusted by the right's lust for absolutes, many of us retreated from talk of objective truth and embraced the philosopher Richard Rorty's call for an "ironic" stance toward our own liberal sympathies. We stopped caring about whether we were "right" and thought more about what makes the world go round.

Remember, the point he's working towards is that liberal thought needs to now search for absolutes. But when the right does this, it's lust. Kids, this is lesson number one in how to hold dual, and opposing, positions on the same subject. And, what critcism of the right would be complete without a reference to 1984

What [O'Brien, the sinister representative of Big Brother] cares about is getting rid of Winston's idea of truth. He is well aware of the point I've just been making. Eliminate the very idea of right and wrong independent of what the government says, and you eliminate not just dissent -- you eliminate the very possibility of dissent.

Very true. Orwell understood well that silencing criticsism isn't enough for absolute control. Absolute power involves intellectual control at such a fundamental level, the individual ceases to be meaningful. The world of 1984 also flexed a muscle currently missing from our political body: children. An entire generation of Winston's life was completely enslaved by the government, escewing even the family unit. Parents vanished based on children's accusations and it was simply a fact of life, something Winston saw coming long before running into his neighbor at the Ministry of Truth. Wonder if strengthening the family unit seems a fairly worthwhile endeavor now?

Link (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Space Capsule Heading Back to Earth

As mentioned before, the Genesis project is scheculed to return to Earth today. Good luck to the team; I hope they catch better than Bill Buckner.
Yahoo! News - Space Capsule Heading Back to Earth

Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Beyond dentistry

I think I have to read this.

"The danger of American foreign policy," [John Gray] writes, "is not that it is obsessed with evil but that it is based on the belief that evil can be abolished." Such foolishness, he points out, is far removed from the wisdom of America's founding fathers, for whom "the purpose of government was not to conduct us to the Promised Land but to stave off the recurrent evils to which human life is naturally prone".

Link (via Arts & Letters Daily)

HHGTG Text Game Redux

A computer game written by Douglas Adams is being revived to coincide with a new BBC Radio 4 series of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
The text adventure will appear on the station's website and was described by the late Adams as "the first game to move beyond being 'user friendly'".

Link; Link to Radio 4 website for series

Attack of the codes

Is this trend officially over yet? Between the Alton Brown/Good Eats code, the Geek code, and the Personal Growth Geek Code (wtf?), I think we're slowly approaching apogee.

So, of course, I had to find out what my Blogger Code was.

I'm so lame, apparently in more ways than I thought.

-------- Begin Blogger Code --------
B3 d t+ k++ s- u- f- i- o- x-- e- l c+
-------- End Blogger Code --------

(copy and decode here)

Damn it, NHL, don't do this

Is this the future of sports?

National Hockey League team owners are now seriously considering forming a new league.

Don't negotiate and it's "The NHL is dead; long live the NHL"? I have no doubt they can do this, I just have serious doubts about the effects. I certainly, as a fan, would have some major quibbles about an ownership move to destroy a league simply over negotiations. Lock-outs are one thing, but damn guys, shutting down the league? May I refer you to IRL?

Of course, the players aren't exactly winning a lot points with me either. Come on, how much do you need? I'd feel really bad if Yzerman couldn't buy yet another house somewhere that I'll never be able to afford to visit. Yep, cry a river I would.

If nothing else, this is a move to pad the fans for a protracted, dirty, and immature lock-out/walk-out. Reading stuff like this only cements the end of the coming season.

One note to the NHL; I still don't watch or pay attention to MLB after their stunning display of concern for the game in the 90s. Just something to consider.


Kerry citation a 'total mystery' to ex-Navy chief

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman has no idea where a Silver Star citation displayed on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's campaign Web site came from, he said Friday. The citation appears over Lehman's signature.

"It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me," he said.


Asked how the citation could have been executed over his signature without his knowledge, Lehman said: "I have no idea. I can only imagine they were signed by an autopen." The autopen is a device often used in the routine execution of executive documents in government.

Deeper and deeper.


F you, too, MP Parrish

They tortured people in Iraq, they (the Iraqis) have no weapons of mass destruction. Could somebody explain to me whether you think they're idiots or geniuses?"

Idiocy only shows when you say stuff like this to Reuters. What a moron.

Oh, and if I'm an idiot, then you can kiss my tourism dollars goodbye as well. I'll stupidly spend my hard-earned, valuable money right here at home.

...Prime Minister Paul Martin, has pledged to put relations with Canada's largest trading partner on a warmer footing.

Good luck with such wonderful rhetoric coming from Parliment. Americans love to be called idiots.


Wow, politicians lie?

Kerry apparently has the ability to solicit multiple citations for the same medal, something the Sun-Times quotes as calling "bizarre". Of course, the original citation, issued by the Commander of Naval Ops in Vietnam at the time of the incident isn't there. Wonder why?

Oh, and his own website is citing him as receiving a medal that doesn't exist (link to PDF, see page 2)--on an official form. Interesting.

Link to Sun-Times article

Zeeland native murdered in California

Unbelievable. Jason Allen, a Zeeland native (working as a counselor at a Christian youth camp; surprise), was found shot in the head next to his fiance (or girlfriend, the papers are still working that one out) on a beach, apparently in their sleep. No motive, no leads, just two dead people laying on the beach killed in their sleep.
“This is a very disturbing case. It appears to be a terrible crime and absent of any motive. It’s a cause of great concern to us. The victims, from all indications, from all sources that we have, were very up-standing citizens, very honorable people who had an absolute absence of enemies,” says Lt. Dave Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

I hope there's nothing else going on here; and I hope whoever did this fries. I don't know the family, but this kid is my brother's age...

Article published before their bodies were discovered, with family information (Link)

UPDATE: The Fark discussion on this turned up an interesting missive. User RosevilleDan mentioned the Zodiac Killer (Google search), a 60's-era serial killer that is apparently still on the loose. He linked to a page describing similar killings linked to the Zodiac Killer. Interesting theory, especially since dormant serial killers coming out of hiding usually have reasons for doing so, and reasons can lead to clues. Why has the killer (if it is The killer) been dormant? Why come back now? Of course, it could be someone completely different, but it makes one stroke their chin just the same.

Twitter has pushed me too far

Inspired by Matt Haughey's stand against Twitter , I re-logged into Mastodon on all my devices and shelved my Twitter access. I haven&#...