Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm so glad they didn't call it 'GooHole'

Google Earth is now live. This is the result of Google's acquisition of Keyhole, which was the coolest world-mapping software I'd ever seen. It's like a digital globe you can spin around and zoom in on, and you can bookmark places, overlay the maps with information (I saw a French city that had an overlay of a map of that city in the 12th century), and share your findings with others.

There's a free version, and a couple of commercial versions with more options. They got hit pretty hard on the initial release news, so the downloads are disabled right now, but it should be available again in the next day or two.

using Google Maps API in Blogger

Google Maps has released a public API, making it easier to incorporate maps into your own webpage. Like so, hopefully:

You'll need to sign up for a key that is specific to your website; they don't even ask for an email address, just the URL you intend to use the API on.

Adding a map to a page is pretty simple:
  1. Add Google's script to your page
  2. Add an empty DIV to the body of your post where you want the map to be
  3. Add scripting to target that empty DIV by id

In addition to this there are two requirements that are specific to posting on Blogger:
  1. Blogger kicks up an error when you try to submit a post that has <script> tags in it. Underneath the error is a checkbox that says "Stop showing errors for this post"... click that and resubmit, and the post goes through fine.
  2. If you have Settings... Formatting... Convert line breaks set to 'yes', you need to make sure the entire script is on one line... <br /> tags in the middle of a script usually cause the script to fail.

There is a final caveat that applies to using Google Maps on any blogging system:
  1. When you assign an ID to the blank target div, make it unique and make sure that the accompanying script targets that unique name. On this page instead of using the ID 'map', I used 'map062905' because I probably won't put up another map today, but if I put up another one tomorrow I don't want the scripts to be confused. Each map needs a unique ID.

If you can see a map above, the code looks like this (line breaks and comments have been added for clarity):

<head> tag:

<script src="" type="text/javascript">

Post body:

// empty DIV with unique ID, styled to your liking
<div id="map062905" style="width: 300px; height: 300px; margin: 0 auto;"></div>

// script that calls the API
<script type="text/javascript">
// associate a new map object with the empty div
var map = new GMap(document.getElementById("map062905"));
// add size/pan controls
map.addControl(new GSmallMapControl());
// add map/satellite controls
map.addControl(new GMapTypeControl());
// center the map on your target and zoom appropriately
map.centerAndZoom(new GPoint(-122.676258, 45.508272), 4);


Note that the main Google script goes in the <head> tag, which on Blogger means modifying your template and republishing your blog. If you are absolutely sure that you'll never have more than one post with maps on the same page, you could move that script into the body of the post. Multiple posts that did this on the same page would mean multiple includes of the script, which might upset some browsers.

The API provides additional methods for adding markers and labels and overlays... I'll probably write about those once I've messed around with this more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

a stunning commitment to democracy and human rights

The Uzbekistani government massacred hundreds of pro-democracy protesters last month, and a NATO resolution to call for an independent international probe of the matter was squashed by the US government because supporting such a call might threaten our usage of Uzbekistani airbases.

Another fine moment in American political history brought to you by the Bush administration. It's almost like they are having a contest to see how disassociated our walk and talk can become before anyone notices.

the devil you know is the only one

Which hippie commie liberal freedom-hating anti-patriot said this?

"The administration should clarify its intent... people lack confidence in the credibility of our government. Even our allies are beginning to suspect what we say... it's a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy... with the secrecy, it's impossible. The American people will do what's right when they have the information they need."1

How about this?

"I do, however, believe it is important to the future of our Nation to recognize that there is a problem of credibility today."2

Or this?

"I believe the following significant and timely editorial which appeared in today's issue of the New York Times... merits wide attention. I concur in the conclusion expressed therein that the people of the United States must know not only how their country became involved but where we are heading."3

Or this?

"Accurate judgment is predicated on accurate information. Government has an obligation to present information to the public promptly and accurately so that the public's evaluation of Government activities is not distorted. Political pundits speak of the 'credibility gap' in the present administration. Indeed, this appellation is so widespread that it has become a household word."4

  1. Donald Rumsfeld, quoted in Chicago Tribune, 4/13/66
  2. Donald Rumsfeld, in the Congressional Record, 89th Cong. Pg. A1454, 3/15/66; also Chicago Sun-Times, 12/5/65
  3. Donald Rumsfeld, in the Congressional Record, 89th Cong. Pg. 21081, 8/19/65; also New York Times, 8/19/65
  4. Donald Rumsfeld, in the Congressional Record, 90th Cong. pg A792, 2/21/67

point and click instalibrary has the entire Penguin Classics Library for sale, clickity-click and it's yours for only 8 large (with free shipping, woot). There are 1,082 volumes in the collection, which you can browse by author or title.

Most of the books on the list are available as free eBooks or audio at Project Gutenberg.

Monday, June 27, 2005

from the balcony

Who needs Ebert & Roeper when we've got Statler & Waldorf?

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Define 'insurgency'. It's a word that gets tossed around a lot in the doublespeak propaganda lately. In the sentence "The US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday warned that the insurgency in Iraq could go on for another 12 years", 'insurgency' means 'those citizens of Iraq who oppose the US occupation of their country'.

We seem to be in the full-time business of pushing our worldview on people who don't want it. Which is interesting, since the US exists because a few insurgents, with the help of the French, opposed the English doing the same thing to us. We cry foul when things don't go our way, and then violate our own laws, the Geneva Convention, and any other rule of conscientious behavior when we see our chance.

I've always thought that a true test of any idea is 'would you still support it if the roles were reversed?' Christians supposedly believe that this is a useful test, though you wouldn't know it to watch them... the 'Golden Rule', now tarnished, has been replaced by the 'Yellow Ribbon'.

Indeed have many fuct things come to pass.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Killer Japanese Seizure Robots.

If you don't remember why go here.

forensic locksmithing

Future Darwin Award winner Arthur Richardson is the type of guy you don't want to give your keys: he jokingly pretended to swallow a friend's keys, and then accidently actually swallowed the damn things. His doctor told him it was a problem that would work itself out and gave Richardson a very nice x-ray image of the key. At this point the friend, who has (a) an idiot for a buddy and (b) no keys, called a locksmith to get new keys made. The locksmith then proceeded to cut a new set of keys using the x-ray image as a template.

Somers said the X-ray was unlike anything he had ever seen. The key was clearly outlined in the picture, located just to the right of the spine. "I've seen all kinds of things. This is the most bizarre," Somers said Thursday afternoon as he held up the X-ray to the light. "It's a perfect silhouette."

Richardson said he has learned a lesson from the ordeal: "Never put a key in your mouth."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

cool tools: PDF Reader

I'm going through a tutorial right now that's in PDF format. The PDF file is 6.2MB. But if I check the task manager to see who's bogarting the memory on this machine, I find that Acrobat has a 172MB footprint. Close Acrobat, reopen the document, and it drops to a 44MB footprint, which grows a little larger each time I view a new page, asymptotically approaching the 172MB value I saw before. For a 6 meg file.

Loading the file in Foxit's PDF Reader, the first thing I notice is that it opens immediately. It doesn't spend a few seconds loading all sorts of nifty filters and plugins that I won't use anyway, it just opens the damn document. Checking back in the task manager I find that PDF Reader has a 1.2MB footprint. Obviously this means it hasn't loaded the whole file into memory, so I click through the pages, and find that the maximum memory footprint hovers around 14MB. Going from a page that is graphics-intensive to one that is pure text, the program even gives up some memory, something I've never seen Acrobat do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

this one's obvious too...

... but it's still nice to hear that someone somewhere is getting a clue.

Republican senator Chuck Hagel:

Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq.

The reality is that we lost long before we even got there, Chuck, but don't let that stop you from trying to fix what you helped fuck up.

i could have told you that


If you've ever secretly harboured thoughts that a colleague - or even your boss - behaves like a psychopath, you may be closer to the truth than you dared to imagine. A study has found that there are far more sub-criminal psychopaths - self-serving, narcissistic schemers who display a stunning lack of empathy, but are not criminally inclined - at large in the population than had previously been thought. Some even end up in managerial positions.

No shit? They're just figuring this out? I've had managers that were so bad their names became verbs, usually used as synonyms for "ass-rape" or something similar. Their behavior was so deplorable that if you were merely betrayed by them you felt honored that you didn't receive further attention. A 'stunning lack of empathy' indeed.

Palin on top of the world

Michael Palin has another travelogue that "chronicles his six-month journey over the Khyber Pass from Pakistan to Afghanistan and then into India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Burma." His previous shows (Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure and Sahara) were brilliant... he's the perfect tour guide, able to find beauty and humor in the strangest places.

On this trip he met with the Dalai Lama:

"I was expecting to be rather over-awed, sort of a bit dumbstruck by him, but as soon as he came in, it was just sort of something in the eyes, a little look of mischief that he really has ... it was just sort of like meeting a fellow Python," Palin said.

Palin's travelogues are the best of both worlds: you get to see places all over the world, but you don't get mugged/cold/dysentery/targeted as the local representative of US imperialism.

Monday, June 20, 2005

google maps the world

Another cool Google Maps hack - this one overlays year 2000 census data.

Google Maps also does the world now... nothing like the resolution of the US maps, but it's cool being able to grab the satellite view and drag it around to see different countries. It's like spinning a digital globe.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

cookie? no, thanks.

Marketers are getting their knickers in a twist over people like me who delete their browser cookies - they are even marketing the idea that cookies are good for you. I call bullshit on that. I believe that the prevailing browser cookie models are broken, and this is probably going to turn into a long-winded explanation of why I believe that and what I think can be done about it. Non-nerds are free to leave at any time.

Most browsers give you some control over how cookies are stored on your machine. There are usually permission options and persistence options:
  1. deny all
  2. allow all
    1. Scope:
      1. for all sites
      2. for originating site only
    2. Persistence:
      1. for all time
      2. for this session only
  3. ask every time
    1. ask for each cookie
    2. apply choice to all cookies from this site

Some of these options are trivial - allowing all cookies or denying all cookies require no further input from the user. But if you choose to be selective about which sites store cookies on your machine, you quickly run into options that don't make much sense. For an example, suppose you choose to have the browser ask you every time: if you allow the cookie, you get a cookie. If you disallow the cookie, you basically get an antimatter cookie, a sort of meta-cookie that blocks further cookies from that site. In effect you are blacklisting the entire web, by hand, one site at a time, when what you really want to do is whitelist the few sites to whom you wish to allow free cookie privileges.

Some sites don't function well, or at all, without cookies. Many don't require the cookies to persist across sessions, but within a single session they use cookies to track state changes - you added an item to your shopping cart, you logged in to your email account, whatever. Since these sites are becoming more prevalent, turning off cookies entirely doesn't seem to be an option, so at the very least enabling cookies for session-only persistence can save you a lot of hassle. For the majority of sites, session-only persistence is also the very most access that needs to be enabled... if you 'surf' the web you visit hundreds of sites you'll never see again, and there is no reason to be storing all of their cookies unles you are specifically trying to help the data-miners target you.

For commonly used sites, it would be (and is) nice to have cookies that persist across sessions. What is needed is a simple way to elevate the cookie privileges of a specific site, and by simple I don't mean "navigate through three layers of menus and then plow through the list of blocked sites to unblock the one you want", which is the way most browsers handle it. So, finally, my proposed solution:
  1. Set all cookies to 'session only'.
  2. When a site sets a cookie, a little cookie icon is activated on the toolbar.
  3. If you decide you want cookies from that site to persist across sessions, click on the cookie icon and that site will be added to the whitelist, subject to your other permissions (i.e. 'all cookies' vs 'originating site only')

This setup has the advantage of only storing cookies for sites you authorize, without bugging you all of the time. Plus the marketers take it in the shorts... it's a win-win situation :).

I guess I need to dig into the Firefox code and see if I can implement this instead of just bitching about it. Another day, another post.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

no more grandfather paradox

Quantum physicists have decided that the rules of quantum theory make the grandfather paradox go away. This time-travel paradox asks what would happen if you went back in time and killed your grandfather (quantum physicists are always killing things in their thought-experiments... poor Schrödinger's cat) before he met your grandmother (apparently quantum physicists draw the line at killing grandmothers)... therefore your parents and you yourself would never be born, so how could you have gone back in time?

The current theory matches what Heinlein said all along: nature abhors a paradox, and you obviously didn't go back and kill your grandfather, because you're here. Now they're saying that you couldn't if you tried - that the collapse of probability functions does something irreversible to the spectrum of possibilities. In Feynman's sum over histories approach, the history that actually happened is so much stronger than all of the other possibilities that it over-rules any possible changes.

If you think about Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics this makes a lot of sense as well (more so than most things in quantum theory). It's mixing metaphors a bit, but in essence this interpretation allows a back-channel for information from the present to guide the collapse of probabilities in the past, and in the sum-over-histories view the 'future history' in which the waveform has collapsed has a much greater amplitude than any of the others. You can't meddle in the past, because you didn't meddle in the past. This interpretation strongly supports the idea of a forward-pointing arrow of time, but ironically it relies on waves going backwards in time to do so... I'll leave that one for the philosophers.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Tweedy's NEXT music

Wired is kicking off their Chicago NEXTFEST event with a night of music curated by Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy. NEXTFEST is an event inspired by the old World's Fairs - a vision of the future, like a yard sale at the Jetson's. NEXTMUSIC, in the hands of Tweedy, provides a beautiful counterpoint to the glass-and-chrome future being presented at NEXT:

I love thinking about what the future holds, so I was thrilled to be invited to be part of WIRED NextFest and to share my vision of the future, said Jeff Tweedy. Which is not very futuristic really and admittedly a little bleak.

Honestly, I had a lot of trouble conjuring up a rose-hewn vision of our collective tomorrows. Instead I have focused my attention on music with the kind of sturdiness and self-sufficiency the post-apocalyptic lifestyle I'm anticipating might require. The kinds of artists making the kinds of music that won't be interrupted or even miss a beat when the power goes out.

The kind that would be fleet-footed and nimble if the Man came crashing down in the middle of the night. In other words, I pictured folk music. All there ever was in the first place.

There's not much information about who is playing the gig, but Joanna Newsom is confirmed, which would be worth it alone.

If you're in Chicago, NEXTMUSIC is 22 June at the Vic Theatre, and NEXTFEST is 24-26 June at the Navy Pier Festival Hall A.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

books and crooks

The House decided to ditch part of the Patriot Act: they think that tracking your library records and bookstore purchases might be a bit much. You might recall that the last time this was voted on, the Republicans violated numerous rules of decorum and at least bent a few laws by keeping the vote open indefinitely until they could pressure enough people to change their vote. They only allowed the vote to go through when they were assured it would fail. This year a weaker version was proposed (it still grants the FBI the right to track computer use in libraries) and 38 Republicans crossed the line to the sane side, incurring the wrath of their fellow party members who basically told them the usual, i.e. if you don't toe the line the terrorists have already won.

It's still got to go through the Senate, though, and the White House has threatened to veto any legislation that shrinks the Patriot Act. This administration's dedication to the democratic ideal brings a tear to my eye.

GOP bulldozes Sesame Street

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is on the chopping block... a House subcommittee voted to withdraw all funding within two years. Apparently Republican kids don't need 'Reading Rainbow'.

"Americans overwhelmingly see public broadcasting as an unbiased information source," Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said in a statement. "Perhaps that's what the GOP finds so offensive about it. Republican leaders are trying to bring every facet of the federal government under their control... Now they are trying to put their ideological stamp on public broadcasting."

Maybe they'll let Sesame Street stay on the air if Bert and Ernie get separate rooms.

jobs directions

Steve Jobs on finding your way in life:

My third story is about death. When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

From his Stanford Commencement Speech.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

tinfoil hat

Seems a bunch of people think the WTC attacks were an inside job.

The problem is that the glee with which the Bush administration has fucked the constitution (and the economy and our standing with the rest of the world and the Geneva Convention) can be mistaken for a sense of purpose that I don't recall them having before 9/11. And a bigger problem is that the people of this country assumed that the resolve they saw in this administration after the attacks was similar to their own... but it turns out that the administration's resolve tended more towards abandoning every tenet of the Republican party and working very hard to create a permanent emergency that would justify their militaristic whims. No tinfoil beanie is required - just a willingness on the part of the government to lie, and an unwillingness or inability on the part of the people to judge for themselves.

But I might reconsider donning the tinfoil hat if this attempt to repeal the 22nd amendment is successful... that's the amendment that limits a President to two terms. If they pass that thing, I'm elsewhere fast.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

hey, you got your free speech in my defamation of character

The EFF has put up a legal guide for bloggers.

Monday, June 13, 2005

ground control to... umm...

Suppose you're an amateur radio buff and you've built a satellite but you need to find some way to protect it while it's out in space. You could go to all the trouble of engineering the radiation shields and thermal protection... or you could just ask the folks on the International Space Station to stuff it into an extra spacesuit and kick it out the airlock. A very ingenious solution. I love the idea of this human-shaped satellite cartwheeling through space, beaming happy little radio packets to the industrious people on the ground.

glitch in the Matrix

Check out this Google map... and click back and forth between the map and satellite views. What should be the bottom of a lake is instead some sort of circuitry or something like the inside of a computer chip.

Reality is crumbling.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

a sense of function (but a disregard)

Bloc Party's new video for Pioneers (embedded Quicktime) is a pretty incredible animation.

Friday, June 10, 2005

closed windows?

Cringely's got an interesting take on the Apple/Intel thing... he thinks they are lining up to knock Microsoft out of the market. Since it doesn't make business sense for Apple alone (the Osborne Factor plus pissing off a bunch of die-hard Mac fans) and doesn't make much technological sense (AMD would have been a better match) there must have been some strong motivation for the switch. Intel could have suggested (funded?) the move out of a desire to have someone develop software that actually uses the features of their chips, instead of merely dumping bloatware on them like MS does.

Apple already has a portable operating system (OSX is BSD Unix and a dash of Linux with a pretty face, by way of NeXTStep), so making the move to the new chips isn't as drastic as it seems. The *real* move happened when OSX came out, so it's actually kind of funny seeing people get irate now - technically the OS they are using isn't part of the Mac lineage anyway. It's the veneer of Apple ethos that has continuity with the past, and if Apple didn't see a need to discard that ethos when they made changes at the operating system level, it's unlikely they will discard it when they make changes at the hardware level.

This looks like a win-win situation for everyone except Microsoft: Apple gets more powerful hardware, PC users likely end up with another choice of OS, and Microsoft gets a fire lit under their asses. Some rabid fans on both sides of the PC/Mac divide are getting their knickers in a twist, but they're like the people who put "Be American, Buy American" stickers on their Mexican-made Fords while scorning US-made 'Japanese' cars - once Apple moved to a Unix base, the whole thing became an abstraction. Use what works.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

flogging a dead horse

Eric Alterman:

This just in: The new ABC News/Washington Post poll, here, shows 52 percent of Americans disapprove of the job President Bush is doing overall, reports ABC News' Polling director Gary Langer - the most in more than 75 ABC/Post polls since his presidency began. His approval rating is 48 percent.

Bush's Iraq approval ratings haven't fared much better: 41 percent said they approve of the job the President is doing in Iraq, while 58 percent disapprove - matching his career-high Iraq disapproval mark.

George W. Bush's approval rating is now a full twenty points lower than Bill Clinton's was on the day he was impeached.

Reasons cited included "the 'corrosive effects of the war in Iraq' and the gap between what Americans say are their political priorities and what they see occupying President Bush and lawmakers in Washington".

I hate news like this... it always gives me a little glimmer of hope that things will get better.

[via SEB]

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

cool computers

Our new computer is sitting in a UPS warehouse in Illinois right now... it should be here next week. As I was speccing it out one of the crucial things I paid attention to was cooling... not so far as to go water-cooled (yet), but still choosing a combination of case and power supply and CPU fan and GPU fan that will keep the thing from locking up (or melting down) without sounding like a lawnmower.

Turns out I could have just built a case out of fans.

Or dropped the whole thing into a fishtank full of oil.

The other kind of cool, as applied to cases:

Fine woodworking
Flash Gordon

your papers, please

In a closed-door session yesterday the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reauthorized and expanded the absurdly misnamed Patriot Act, giving our government powers we've long condemned other governments for exercising on their people.

In a move antithetical to our Constitution, the new 'administrative subpoena' authority would let the FBI write and approve its own search orders for intelligence investigations, without prior judicial approval. Flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment, this power would let agents seize personal records from medical facilities, libraries, hotels, gun dealers, banks and any other businesses without any specific facts connecting those records to any criminal activity or a foreign agent. The panel rejected attempts to limit this extraordinary power to emergencies - creating the likelihood that it will be used in fishing expeditions and in investigations unrelated to terrorism.

One more nail in the coffin... how many is that now? I've lost count.

for lack of a... clue?

The "Battle for American Values", Bill O'Reilly's aquatic hatefest cruise, has been cancelled due to overwhelming lack of interest. has the scoop.

even better than the real thing

Improv Everywhere strikes again:

Back in January, U2 announced the dates of their "Vertigo" world tour. I contemplated trying to purchase tickets for the May 21 gig at Madison Square Garden. I was a big U2 fan growing up, and MSG is right across the street from my apartment. I ultimately decided it wasn't worth the steep ticket price. The tickets to the event sold out literally in seconds. As I was thinking about the show, a few things occurred to me:

- U2 is playing right across the street from where I live.
- I have rooftop access at my four-story apartment building.
- U2 is famous for playing on rooftops.

It seemed obvious that "U2" would have to play an unannounced gig on my rooftop an hour before the doors opened at the Garden.

300 people gathered on the street and traffic slowed to a crawl, while people in nearby buildings crowded the rooftops and watched from windows. The cops were roused from their donut-induced comas and proceed to arrest a bunch of people, shutting down the concert right in the middle of the encore. Once they figured out it was all a joke, they still needed to justify the hour or so of their time so they slapped everyone with an "unreasonable noise" charge and a summons to appear before a judge, who will probably either fine them $10 or ask them to do another concert.

critics these days

In Des Moines a cop walks out of the courthouse and sees a man spray-painting "Police Academy 7" on the side of a white pickup truck. He calls for backup and 15 officers rush to the scene and attempt to surround the man, who then turns the spraypaint on them... so they shoot him. There are numerous realities floating around this story; in one of them the man pulled a replica handgun from his pants and was shot dead, in others he simply reached into his pocket and nobody knows how he's doing. The police department is understandably not saying a thing pending their investigation into the real-life similarities between their cops and those portrayed in the Police Academy movies.

UPDATE: it was his own truck, it was a toy gun, and he's dead. They say he "had a history of mental health problems and was wanted on a mental health warrant". Presumably the mental health problems were what made him think that standing in front of the courthouse spray-painting a truck with a toy gun tucked in his waistband was a low-profile place to hide from the law. I just have this picture in my head of 16 cops standing around a dead guy on the sidewalk, spray can inches from where it rolled out of his hand, and one of them says "god damn it... now we gotta do paperwork".

... *and* the horse you rode in on...

Sometimes it's just nice to know we haven't cornered the market on absurdity here in the US:

A student at Balliol College was arrested and detained in custody for a night after he verbally abused a police horse early on Monday morning. Sam Brown, a third year English student, had his fingerprints taken and was released with a fine of £80 following the incident which took place on Cornmarket Street.

Brown was fined for "causing harassment, harm or distress", after he repeatedly called the officer's horse "gay".

Brown and his friends, including former Balliol JCR President Daniel Konrad-Cooper had emerged from the Cellar Bar and were surprised to encounter two mounted policemen.

Brown inquired, "How do you feel about your horse being gay?" of one of the policemen, stating that his colleague's was clearly not gay. After repeated comments on the sexuality of his horse, and despite warnings from the policeman about his behaviour, Brown's offer of an apology to the horse was rejected and he was handcuffed and taken by the officers to the police station.

The arrest was made at 2.20am on Monday morning, and Brown was in a state which he described as "pissed out of my head".

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

simply the breast

My friend Writermama has famous boobies (2.13MB WMV video excerpt of MSNBC's 'Connected: Coast to Coast' segment on lactivism).

interstellar coding

It's been so long since I had to program in any language other than assembly (PIC and HC11) or Verilog (fucking POS job) that I decided to look through the books and study up. It quickly became apparent that most of the languages I learned in school are archaic... even C++ seems too bogged down - the best thing it's got going for it is that it's not C. Yeah, I know they are the workhorse languages that run everything, but sheesh they are unintuitive.

Looking through the new languages, I decided on Python and Ruby, and after reading a couple of papers on each it seems Ruby fits my mindset best right now, so Ruby it is. I've been reading the pickaxe and writing some small programs, and it's so intuitive... it's almost like what Perl would be if Perl made any sense.

Today I found a great tutorial of sorts, the Art of Computational Science's Kali Code for Dense Stellar Systems. It's a start-at-the-bottom tutorial in both Ruby programming and celestial mechanics that is presented as an almost 'See Spot run' dialogue between two astrophysicists. This appeals to the nerd in me in *so* many ways.

Anyway, you have a little time before you need to phear my leet Ruby coding skillz... but don't get too complacent. Muahahahaaaaaaaa... erp.

hamster of doom

You'll need:
  • a hamster
  • some tape
  • and a knife

The end result is about what you'd expect it to be.

too many mind

At the age of 53 Cary Grant participated in a series of experiments with LSD. In his autobiography he records his perceptions, and they read like the teachings of the Buddha. 1956, lacking the foundation of early spiritual training and suspecting that there was more happiness available than I seemed able to grasp, I had grown much more tolerant of, and receptive to, the knowledge of others. Other searchers, other sharers. Humanitarians in all fields of endeavor. At the age of 53, after three unsuccessful marriages, either something was wrong with me or, obviously, with the whole sociological and moralistic concepts of our civilization.


I learned may things in the quiet of that small room. I learned to accept the responsibility for my own actions, and to blame myself and no one else for circumstances of my own creating. I learned that no one else was keeping me unhappy but me; that I could whip myself better than any other guy in the joint.

I learned that all clichés prove true; which is, of course, the reason for their repetition, even when the meaning has been forgotten by the constant usage.

I learned that everything is, or becomes, its own opposite. A theory I can sometimes apply, but would find difficult to convey.

Monday, June 06, 2005


This is the Christian Right, in their own words. Look elsewhere for sanity.

pod people

So this guy walks into a shipping warehouse... and talks the clerk into giving him $2.6 million worth of iPods, and then he disappears.

I'm thinking someone asked what his all-time top-five desert-island MP3 song list was and he just couldn't make up his mind.

'Safety' is a big buzzword these past few years, but safety is always going to fail, because while you are busy locking all of the doors all it takes is one person to open one door and your security is worthless. It doesn't take Jame's Bond's toys to commit a crime when social engineering works just as well; many people in the workforce are treated so poorly that they'll go out of their way to help out a kind stranger. And trying to stop this from happening by making a visible show of defensive force just shows the enemy where not to go.

As long as people trust other people there will be room for someone to take advantage of the situation. But it's a big mistake to think that this means "never trust anyone"... you can't keep all of the doors shut forever, and your paranoia will freak out your neighbors. If you make it a policy to shoot the messenger, eventually you just stop getting mail.

stalker or soulmate? you be the judge

About 10 years ago I had a friend who would often call me in the middle of the night. A typical conversation would go something like this:

Me: "Umm... hello?"
He: "I think she'd like me..."
Me: "Wha? Greg? Who do you think would like you? What time is it?"
He: (usually it was Liz Phair or Sarah McLachlan).
Me: "You think she'd like you? Why?"
He: "I really think we could hit it off."
Me: "Sure, given the chance (which you will never get), there is a slim possibility that she will look past your stalker-like obsession with her to see your pure motives... but you're never going to get that chance."
He: "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! Why can't I go out with (insert object of obsession here)? Cultural elitism is keeping me away from my soulmate..."

It went downhill from there, but you get the gist.

Ten years is a mighty long time in internet years, so discerning stalkers have new tools at their disposal. Like this chap who started as an online... well, cry for help is a phrase that comes to mind. He's basically got a portfolio of reasons why he thinks the universe owes him dinner and a chat with Natalie Portman. His site got a million hits in the first week, and since one of his key tactics is to try to get his message to someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Natalie, I'm thinking he's got the six-degrees of separation thing on his side, but possibly also a third-degree stalking charge that won't look too good on his resume.

The few times I've been in the presence of a musician/actor/author that I admired, I figured the best thing I could do for them is just leave them the hell alone. They are generally either just trying to live their lives (in which case intruding would be rude) or they are self-absorbed with their fame (in which case I wouldn't want to talk to them anyway). The ones who refer to themselves as 'celebrities' (yea, sorry bud but that means you, Wil) really get me... what is it they think is being celebrated? You were on TV? Whoop-ti-fucking-do.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) is following in the footsteps of Frank Zappa when it comes to naming his children - he named his daughter, born yesterday, Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette.

I'm thinking private school. Definitely.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

moment of playground zen

Near a playground in the park blocks downtown a little girl who was maybe 4 or 5 years old, rag doll in hand, walked past me singing:

This is Major Tom to ground control, I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here am I sitting in a tin can, far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do

My first thought was that I wished I knew more people as cool as her parents. Then I realized I wish I knew more people as cool as her. This kid is taking "young & hip" to whole new extremes.

Which reminded me that someone left a comment the other day on a post I made about 18 months ago... the post was about Salt Lake City and the punk scene that was there in the early 80s, and the commenter pointed out that the scene had already gone to hell by the time I showed up; they were in the first-generation punk scene in '78. I figure I can be forgiven for not showing up in the scene until '82, since I was 10 years old in '78, plus even if the first generation punks thought the scene was dead nobody had bothered telling the shitkickers who continued showing up at the Indian Center with baseball bats in hand well into the mid 80's.