Archive for January, 2004

blog machine debates

I’m taking this post to link the new blog of my old friend delobius. We met back in the day at the UofMN, where we slacked off together in my first (and only) C programming course.

This morning I wrote this huge response to his post asking about whether lies are black and white or shades of grey, and debated posting my response here instead of in his comments. So now that I’ve written another huge response to his latest post on political discourse, I decided to post it here instead. Anyway, he’s a great guy, political disagreements aside.

I agreed with almost everything in the post initially. Name calling in politics is pretty much pointless, and about as likely to convince someone of your point as it is to enrage them beyond the point of rational discussion… But I do NOT agree with the premise that Bush is obviously not a terrorist.

Dictionary.com defines terrorism as:

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Bush is clearly using force and violence to coerce foreign governments for ideological or political reasons. (Does destroying them completely count?) He’s changed his tune a couple of times about why we invaded Iraq, but whether it’s ideological or political, I think we’ve got it covered there. (Of course, giving him complete credit for these actions is probably unwise, but lets take that in stride for the sake of this argument.) That leaves only one question…

Did he break any laws to do it?

If he hasn’t broken any laws… he’s not a terrorist by dictionary definition, he’s just an asshole with too much power.

I’m not up on my global treaty knowledge. (But a quick google search reveals at least one page on laws that were perhaps broken by invading Afghanistan.) As far as I know our “war on Iraq” has circumnavigated (if not overtly broken) international peace treaties and/or accords. If these treaties can be considered “law” then we’ve got ourselves terrorist actions performed by our government…

If not, well, we’ve still got the term “asshole” to fall back on.

ice commercials and snow plow pictures

So yesterday we visited the commercial circus that is the ice palace. Not one, but two giant wall-sized TVs blast commercials at you with the sound echoing over megaphones as you walk in. I felt like I was in some science fiction dystopia ala Minority Report or something. I mean, here we are in negative degree weather, and they’re showing Campbell’s soup commercials on a giant TV that is literally so big that you can’t look at the ice palace without seeing it.

I honestly recommend you NOT go. Or at least, don’t bother going inside. There are a couple of neat ice sculptures, and a giant garish purple column spouting a two-foot flame from the top of it, but otherwise, there’s nothing inside you can’t see from outside. And if you want to go ice-skating, do it at a local park… the rink size will be the same, and you won’t have 50 other people trying to squeeze onto it simultaneously.

They do a light show that is perfectly visible from across the street in pretty much any direction. It’s nothing special, and in my opinion definitely not worth the $5 admission.

I was so upset about the commercials that I could have left after about a minute, (not to mention the fact that it was uber-cold) but Laura wanted to finish up her roll of film, so we stuck around long enough to get some pictures here and there. I took a bunch with my cameraphone, but only a few turned out decently.

We went home to warm up and Laura cooked a hot yummy dinner of breaded Quorn (faux-chicken) patties cooked in Campbell’s tomato soup. We both had a good laugh about the irony.

This morning as I left for work everything was covered in probably six inches of snow. About a mile down the freeway, everybody stopped, and we were stop and go for another mile. In that time, I started taking pictures with my cameraphone, mostly of just random shit, until we finally started moving again, about the time the freeway split down to two lanes, because there was a two-semi, two-car pileup covering the leftmost two lanes. Of course, I didn’t even think to get any good pictures!

Then, having finally accelerated to 55 for the first time that morning, and as I was cursing myself for not taking any pictures of the accident, four dump truck snowplows entered the freeway literally one car ahead of me. They spread quickly to cover the entire freeway, dumping sand and/or salt behind them as they went. I was stuck behind these giant orange beasts almost my entire ride down 394. I didn’t mind so much though, as I decided I would be able to redeem my earlier photographic failure by taking pictures of the plows!

First, I had to maneuver around the car in front of me. No point having him in the shot. Once that was taken care of, I whipped out the camera, and BLAM-O! –out of memory error! I scrambled to erase a few of the stupid random pictures I’d taken earlier, and snapped a couple of quickies before I had to exit the freeway–all this while driving dangerously close to the four giant snowplow-behemoths.

I wish I’d thought to empty my camera last night after we got back from the ice palace. I’d have gotten some pictures while the dump trucks simultaneously raised their rear dumper thingies… I think they had to periodically do that in order to get the salt to the back of the truck. Anyway, it was a sight to behold. But you’ll have to take my word for it.

juggling in the brain

So today jasonj forwarded me an interesting article on how juggling is good for your brain. It’s crazy stuff, that greymatter.

“Human brains probably must be viewed as dynamic, changing with development and normal learning.” ~ Arne May, of the University of Regensburg in Germany

This got me thinking about the concept of our dynamic brains, and wondering about Einstein’s brain. I mean, was it all misshapen when he was born? Or did it change as he spent years thinking about math and science all the time?

I wonder about what parts of my brain are over (or under) developed?

Of course, the email’s subject was “we’re smarter”, and DrBombay posted about how we’ll soon take over the world. This reminded me of last night when I was wondering when they’ll release seasons of the Animaniacs on DVD so I can watch all the episodes of Pinky and the Brain. (I love that show!)

While I’m posting interesting links… today is the birthday of poet Howard Moss, (according to the writer’s almanac). When I went searching around for him, I found this awesome poem by Erica Jong called For Howard Moss. I’ve never really liked long poems, but sometimes (very rarely) when they’re split up into shorter sections like this you can find a good one.

On the subject of interesting links… I’ve just about decided that I want to adopt a format similar to Jason kottke’s in that he has links scattered in among his posts. I don’t, however, want to use the same implementation he uses. (Follow the link for details on his convoluted homepage.) I’m not sure what the best way is yet to achieve what I want to do, but I only need two types of data intermingled, not five, so I feel that there has to be a perfectly easy way to do it. In fact, an idea just came to me that involves using an entry’s “category” to select a CSS style that controls formatting of the post… hmm. Maybe I’ll work on that soon!

resignation celebration

So I’m excited to blab about this–now that it’s all official and stuff–I start a new job in 2 weeks! It’s going to be great. I’m super excited.

I put my letter of resignation (cowardly according to Jason) on my bosses desk before I left last night, along with sending an email to everyone I work with. The response has been surprisingly positive. (As in, “good luck!” and “best wishes” rather than “good riddance”.) For instance, I just had an extremely satisfying conversation with my boss, who I don’t really deal with on any sort of regular basis, but who I gather has some amount of respect for me and the work I do.

Last night we had an impromptu party in celebration. Tom brought the booze, (which only he, laura and I really consumed). Then we fixed the other Tom’s laptop (installed some drivers for his new keychain-drive) before playing a round of Guillotine, which I felt was a blast.

I think there will be an official party in the works… probably on Friday the 13th! (Black cats and all!)

talisman tango

This morning has been a slow recovery from last night’s foray into none other than *trumpets sounding*: Talisman! The game drBombay has been trying so desperately to find and play. At juggling last night, Travis (who hadn’t been there in awhile) revealed that he had a copy of talisman at his place that he’d never even played.

We set it up on the round table in our kitchen, and Laura, DrBombay, his friend Rick, Travis and I spent a couple of hours playing it, despite a missing deck of spell cards. (Somehow, Travis’s copy had an extra minotaur figurine instead.) I took a picture, so you can see at least a bit of the glory that was had.

This version of the game was the 3rd edition, and DrBombay has been working pretty exclusively at getting a copy of the 2nd, as he has fond memories of it, and has apparently heard from various sources that they screwed it up with the last release. The lack of spell cards did detract quite a bit from the game, but I think we all had a pretty good time anyway.

When Travis finally won, I felt that it was pretty abrupt. If he hadn’t had a one-time +7 to his attack, the game might easily have continued for another hour into the night. I kind of feel like you should have to beat all the other players rather than just the dragon king. I guess all the expansion packs change the goals of the game in various ways, so maybe it wouldn’t feel quite as jarring when you play with them.

Travis, it turns out, has an extensive collection of the types of game that we’ve all been so excited by lately. We were going to play Killer Bunnies, but after two hours of Talisman, I think everyone wanted to call it a night. Hopefully there will be more gaming excitement soon!

Link discovery of the morning: http://bookcrossing.com/. Across between geocaching and the library, this site deserves some exploration. I’m debating releasing a book into the wild myself!

movies and links and tabs, oh my!

Why is it that I can’t seem to close any given browser window (complete with 5 to 10 open tabs) without finding at least three more links I want to follow before I do? I was in the process of trying to shut down mozilla (so I could upgrade from 1.6b to 1.6) when I stumbled into this really cool list of movies that made various 2003 top 10 lists. (link via kottke.org) There are a few more movies that I want to see now as a result. (And Lost in Translation has moved even higher on my “must see” list.)

agreeing with who?

I was surprised to finish reading this quote and find out who it was from. I agree wholeheartedly. My opinion is that capitalism is not evil in and of itself (I do actually question the concept of “evil”), but I think great wealth nurtures an “above the law” feeling. Strangely, poverty also leads to lawlessness… often out of desperation. I wonder if the phrase “below the law” is inappropriate.

I’m just thinking out loud here. Anyway, read the quote:

“In today’s world, it is not enough to limit oneself to the law of the
market, one must avoid the evils that stem from capitalism, which put
profit above the person and make [the latter] the victim of so many
injustices. Those who always suffer most in the crises are the poor.
This is why they must be the special object of the vigilance and
attention of the state. At the root of peoples’ social, economic and
political ills is usually the rejection or neglect of real ethical,
spiritual and transcendental values, it must not be forgotten that
the common good is the objective to attain.”

– Pope John Paul II, Vatican City, Dec. 15, 2003

“what you do like fluid”

[quote from e’s mystery comment-poet]

the way a drip skulks in the faucet
sixty seconds or more before
–plink!–
slapping itself down on ceramic
an ice pick–or single jackhammer stroke

wear that dress, the ghost one
that flows around your legs when you walk
slit slipping loose those sexy stockings
stalking your legs across the ballroom floor
not covering so much as hovering

his paws show no sign of it
fur tufts stuck between toes don’t betray it
a mounting pressure behind those following eyes
seconds in air, he flies from couch to kitchen tiles
pouncing expert on the teasing toy

and finally, us together, webbed in blankets
arms sticky and slithering, covering cocoon-like bodies
in a passion of moistness, a smothering humidity
we drown ourselves intentionally
and come, up, gasping for air

a couple of interesting blog-related links

I have no idea if these are new, but they’re new to me.

The first is an idea that I’ll bet lots of people have had over the last few years… I remember wanting to do it about six months ago, but never making any motions toward it. Then I ran into this post on dive into mark where he mentions Bloglines. It’s a free web based RSS aggregator. I intend to sign up the very next time I’m bored and reading.

The second is the world as a blog. This neato flash map shows blogs as they’re updated all over the world. This site almost inspired me to add GeoTags to my site before I decided that was too much information. I suppose I could add generic tags for my city or my zip code or something, but that just doesn’t seem quite as fun.

Right now, it’s light on the other side of the world, but the world as a blog is picking up far more blog updates in the US than in eastern Europe, Australia and Africa. I wonder how accurate it is.

riding the I-have-nothing-to-blog-about whale

I have had dozens of ideas for entries the past couple of days, but a combination of illness and busy-ness has kept me away from blogging.

(You’ll notice it hasn’t kept me from moblogging!)

The busy-ness was mostly at work. I tend to squeeze out entries when I need a break from my projects, or when I have some downtime, and since wednesday, it feels like I just haven’t had time to even take a break, much less think about blogging. I was basically shoved onto this project that someone else had been working on, (they left on vacation). Without ever having worked on the project before, or even seen the specs or anything more than a quick glance over the person’s shoulder, I had to finish the project, clean up all these bugs in the site, and fill in a relatively large amount of previously untouched static content… for launch on friday. No problem!

The illness has been odd. I didn’t really feel sick until yesterday. But the whole week my voice has been in and out of “audible” levels. (I want to make some kind of neat comparison between my RL silence and my blog silence here, but a better way to do so is failing me.)

Last time I was sick (yes, maybe two weeks ago now?) someone made a comment like “aren’t you sick an awful lot?” And I responded, (or wanted to respond–can’t remember which) with a vehement “No!” I don’t feel like I’m sick all the time… but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I am. I do have an (unhealthy?) aversion to going in to the doctor. (Mostly because they hardly ever seem to do anything more than prescribe antibiotics and/or tell you there’s nothing you can do but wait-it-out.)

Laura is back in town. I feel like I’ve had more people ask me why she was back so early than there are people I told she was going to be gone for a month… but we’ve probably explained to everyone by now (who cares) that her cheepo train deal didn’t work out because vancouver isn’t considered a part of canada to the train ticket folks. I was very glad to see her, and we’ve only had a smidgen of the at-each-other’s-throats crabbiness that we were experiencing so often last month. It was tonight, and I hope it was just that I had a shitty day at work.

Jason accompanied us to unicycling; just long enough for me to play a couple of seven-minute games of hockey, and then we all ate sushi a few blocks away at Taiko–this tiny hole-in-a-strip-mall sushi bar that has excellent sushi, even if the wasabi didn’t seem very authentic (or good) this time.

After Taiko, we came back to our place and watched Whale Rider. It was a good movie, but I teased laura that it didn’t have enough special effects. I would like to have seen more of the father’s plotline in the movie. I felt a little like there were some story elements missing from the finished product. Or maybe I just felt a little let down plot wise. But overall, an excellent movie.