log (2000/09/15 to 2000/09/21)

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Reality is better than:
Thursday, September 21, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

"It's crashed again."

"Well, come on, you're still running version three; it has a ton of bugs that they've fixed since. You should upgrade. I'm running version five!"

"Didn't Cindy say version five kept crashing on her laptop?"

"Well, yeah, but it's a brand new release with lots of new function! You've got to expect some bugs in that."

Lots of random disconnected links and stuff again today, since I'm doing these sitting in meetings at work (hi, Steve!) instead of relaxing at home.

Sad URLs of the day: Bob.org and Scream.com.

Janet says that (her son says that) the "9AND9NAY" signs along the highway are expressing opposition to a plan to put a gas pipeline along routes 9 and 9A (9A, 9-nay, get it?). Not bad! Although not knowing was fun while it lasted...

On Dr. Strangelove, TFBW (to whom I seriously owe a letter) points out this article about hands with minds of their own. Pertinent to all sorts of things!

From wannabe, Next time you think, think Fertnel!

The largest snak and snak by-products company in the world, makers of Glow Cheeze, MeatNickles, Crunchopolis and many other of your favorite treats. We serve taste buds around the whole world but never forget our ultimate destination.

On a more serious ("serious") security and privacy sort of note, looks like it's not just Cookies anymore:

Several of the DHTML behaviors included with Internet Explorer 5.0 allow you to instruct the browser to preserve Web page information. Form data, styles, state, and script variables can be persisted in the current sessionís memory stream, in the favorites list, in HTML, or in XML.

Which seems to mean, among other things, that even if you've used all the new Microsoft (anti-)cookie features to control your cookies, Web sites can use these new "behavior" widgets to record stuff on your computer, and play it back to themselves later, anyway. Cool, eh?

Note also the use of "persist" as a transitive verb. Eeeeeewww!

L. H. Bushnell

For Google fans, this from Art Medlar: The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page. All about how (a rather early version of) Google does what it does.

The Discovery of the Yosemite, by the guy what discovered it. (Yosemite is a cool place.)

Online stock quotes can't be trusted:

Yahoo shows Ford as jumping from around $26.50 (pseudo-split-adjusted) to around $29 (a 9% increase) on August 3. In reality, it dropped like a stone, from around $47 *down* to around $29 (a 45% DECREASE).

Presumably some program somewhere said "a drop that big must be a split", and either no human got a look at it, or they weren't careful enough about it. Ouch!

From Norbert Vogl, a program to help manage all those annoying Website passwords you have written on the wall by your display.

From Risks, Navy carrier to run Win 2000. Most Amusing Pullquote:

Selection of OS for aircraft vehicle will likely reduce costs, official says

Big dangerous things shouldn't be run by computers at all. Cogs and springs, I say! Also those clever things where the water flows down and makes the wheels spin around. I like those.

Tomorrow or after: what reality is better than, and Nomic.

Wednesday, September 20, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Everyone else is logging the genetically engineered fluorescent bunnies, so here you go. I don't really understand why PETA objects; no one's suggested that they're being maltreated. Do beings have a "right not to fluoresce"?

Weblog of the day: Beth Roberts. And not just because she links flatteringly to me, either!   *8)   Well-chosen links, good commentary, bits of life.

The davidchess.com store now carries XL, 2X, 3X, and 4X size T-shirts! (Thanks to the alert reader who pointed this out while we were asleep in the back room amongst the apple-barrels.)

Speaking of T-shirts, I got my DeCSS T-shirt, but I find I'm not really comfortable wearing it. I'd love it if it had the descramble.c code on the front, but it's on the back. On the front is a big red-slashed "DVD CCA", and somehow this isn't what I want on the front of my T-shirt. Too blatantly advocative, I guess; I don't want to say "the DVD CCA is a bad thing", I just want to say "hey, look at this code!"

Which isn't to say that the DVD CCA are my favorite people.   *8)   Their FAQ for instance is an irritatingly spindoctored document, steering carefully around the truth about things like region codes. (But I'm not about to go out and get a tattoo.)

Speaking of FAQs, here's a good one about legal arguments used by U.S. income-tax resisters (and in particular the nuttier and less likely to work ones). Sometimes-amusing reading. These people have basically mistaken the legal system for a Nomic (remember Nomic? Soon, soon...). Remind me someday to write up "The Law isn't like a Computer Program; the Law is like your Dad".

Liberals sometimes annoy me although I'm a liberal in many ways myself. But I find this for instance annoyingly condescending.

I wished this family had a cultural broker, someone who would help them with shopping and our library system and who could teach Zena how to read. They were in a magical country bright and shiny with possibilities, but they needed someone to teach them that all that glittered was not gold and that children need toothbrushes and beds more than action heroes.

I mean, sheesh! Let's assume that foreigners are stupid and helpless and need our enlightened help and guidance, eh? Although let's word it more nicely. "Culture broker"? Fleh! Maybe they wanted to buy their kids cool toys...

Naughty M$!

Complaining about Microsoft: Although they're very protective of their own intellectual property, they can't be bothered to stop infringing on others' copyrights. Wurra wurra wurra!

And finally someone who has even deeper doubts about the International Olympic Committee than I do. Fun exposé stuff there!

Tuesday, September 19, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

I rented "Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" the other day, and watched it (sitting on the floor in the livingroom, too close to the television set because the only headphones I'd been energetic enough to find have a cord that's too short) at night after everyone else was in bed. I rented it because I realized I'd never seen it, and it's so deeply ingrained in the collective unconscious that I ought to have.

It was (of course) bizarre. (Filmsite.org has a detailed and mostly accurate summary of the film.) But nowadays we're used to wild cinematography and acid irony and stuff like that. The things that struck me as most bizarre-anyway were: the fact that Blockbuster (and a buncha other places) refer to it as a Comedy, and the fact that it's called "Dr. Strangelove".

It wasn't obviously a comedy, in that I didn't laugh much. If it's a comedy, it's of course a Dark Comedy. But I think Dark Fantasy comes closer. It has some silly characters, but since they're busy destroying the world in non-funny ways it's hard to get real amused, even in a Dark Comedy sort of way. Especially at the time it was made, I can't imagine it feeling terribly comedic. Maybe calling it a comedy was part of the message...

Love the Bomb

But anyway! The more interesting question is the title. Dr. Strangelove is in fact a rather minor (although very memorable) character. Putting his name in the title suggests a Whole New Level of Meaning to the film. I like titles like that.

Pursuit intervention termination management: Would you like your car to have a device in it that allows it to be shut down remotely? Well, California has a bill for you:

Existing law does not require that vehicles offered for sale in this state have a pursuit intervention termination management system installed. This bill would impose that requirement on new motor vehicles on and after January 1, 2005, and on all vehicles required to be registered in the state on and after January 1, 2008.

This bill would prohibit any person from removing, bypassing, or tampering with a pursuit intervention termination management system.

But if anyone's worried about their car being remotely bungable, by law, they needn't be! See:

This bill would make it a crime for a person who is not certified as described in (7) or is not an employee of a certified manufacturer or manufacturer's designee to render a motor vehicle inoperable by activating a pursuit intervention termination management system or a component of that system.

Well, that's certainly a relief, eh? These people are certainly happy about the bill; I think the title on this page is kind of revealing, eh? "Legislative Assistance", indeed...

In yesterday's puzzle, many smart readers noticed guest/quest and guilt/quilt. More obscurely, David Haan notes gat/qat and gere/qere. A quick check with

perl -ne "print if /gu[aeiou]/i" <words

and manual scanning yields plague/plaque, and possibly even fugue/fuque.   *8)

I asked because the other day I noticed how similar g and q are in various fonts, and I was wondering how much potential for confusion there was. I couldn't immediately think of any words where a g/q distinction mattered, hence the question in the log here. Now we can anticipate that people offering quest rooms, or opening guilt shops, will have to be careful in their choice of typefaces (see also tonque piercing).

A reader writes:

September 23 is Pagan Pride Day. "We Are Everywhere".

(The old "cypherpunks" id seems to be gone, so I can't follow that last link, because I'm tired of registering at sites this morning.)

From TBTF, old anarchists never die, but some become Anglicans (how's that for a blind link?).

And from Andrew A. Gill, a bunch of translations of "Jabberwocky".

Je brolgo, la sxlikesblaj tovoj
Giris en geal' kaj bornis;
Mimziaj estis la borgovoj
Kaj la dejma vork' elgornis.

"Atentu, fil', la Jabervokon--
Dentmordanton, ungtenanton!
Kaj la Jubjub-birdon, kaj
Frumjozan Bancprenanton!"

Monday, September 18, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

So yesterday after getting money out of the money machine at the grocery, I noticed that there was this lottery-ticket machine right next to it (appropriate in retrospect!). Due no doubt to subliminal signals emanating from the latter machine (I don't normally do lottery things) I bought a one-dollar ticket ("Loose Change"). I scratched off the little boxes, and wow the numbers added up to more than 100! So I was a winner! Then I scratched off the Prize Box, and hey I'd won one dollar. I went over to the counter and the lady took my ticket and gave me a dollar bill. Wow!

I think it was a Sign: "Don't waste your time."

From LarkFarm, a very cool (hahaha!) newspaper: The Antarctic Sun: "News published during the austral summer for the United States Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station, Antarctica." (It's not summer there now, of course. They start publishing again in October; you can read the archives in the meantime, though.)

Femmes aux Tetes de Fleurs...

Also from LarkFarm, The Salvador Dali Museum. Not a huge amount online, but some interesting stuff about this here strange painter. I like Dali's stuff; for awhile I had the title of his "Femmes aux Têtes de Fleurs retrouvant sur le Plage la Dépouille d'un Piano è Queue" in my email sig file. It got me a few interesting queries from French speakers.   *8)

Many years later I was reading an SF short story somewhere, a very odd and rather surrealistic short story, and reading the last scene, in which three women with flowers for heads find on the beach the skin of a grand piano, I realized that the entire story had been a setup for that Dali painting. I was impressed! I searched the story and the book for some subtle acknowledgement, but found none. I wrote the editor. They never wrote back. I doubt it was accidental...

Cute kid story: the little boy was taking a bath yesterday, and I was in some other room doing something and he started calling "Dah-Dah! Daddy!". So I gallumphed across the house ("DAH-DEEEE!"), and into the bathroom to see what the crisis was. He was lying in the tub with one finger in his mouth.

"Daddy!" he said seeing me, "when I rub my teeth with my finger it makes a squeaking noise!"

When was the last time I (or you) discovered something that important?

Today's Puzzle: find a legitimate English (or American) word containing one or more "g"s such that, when you replace one of more of the "g"s with "q"s, the result is another legitimate English word. (Caveat: I dunno if there are any such words; I'm just wondering...)

Security Weenies: Description of Internet Explorer Security Zones Registry Entries. Just in case anyone (else) was looking for it...

I must have whanged my right thumb good a few weeks ago. There's this interestingly-patterned crease (dent?) in the thumbnail that's been moving gradually (very gradually, admirably gradually) up toward the clippers and freedom for (well) for a few weeks now.

Isn't that interesting?

Friday, September 15, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Hey look, Friday again!

What's the first thing you know?

So now Geegaw's gone and done something really different! Had me very confused there for a minute.

http://[word][word].[tld]/: AngryPacket.com (cute name, and interesting identity confusion), and EvilPlan.org (where an entity lurks).

Bill points out a Feed interview with the very cool creator of The Sims:

Actually, this one guy invented [the Sims language] and had to train another voice actor, and then train another one. And they'd have these long conversations back and forth, kind of teaching each other the language. It was fascinating.

Well, the main project right now is a version of The Sims that's online. It's going to come out some time next year. It's going to be kind of a massive persistent world, you know, fifty to one hundred thousand people in a city -- kind of like Sim City from the top down except there'll be houses, real houses made by real people who are logged into the game.


What do you think?

I try not to.

I wonder what percentage of people who work in various big cities carry mobile phones and how this compares to mobile phone people in smaller cities, in little towns, in rural settings.... Also I wonder about the difference between city mice and country mice. And if rats get too easy for cats to catch, what will that do to the cats, long-term?

I am what I type.

Size isn't everything.

Will the real capsaicin please stand up.

flames, flames on the side of my face

Messing about with:


the Netscape newsreader

Oh, that last one was me! It seems to be a halfway-decent newsreader (I'm considering trying to convince a group of semi-technical folks to start using NNTP, and I'm looking for ideally a good newsreader that they already have installed...).

Reader links:

Everything is on the web, even stuff that you wouldn't think should exist at all. An ejector seat for your living room? No problem!

Are you embarassed by having too few pimples? Do you pine for the subtle lingering scent of chocolate from your beauty products? Apply liberally.

and someone who was probably really looking for a search box:

nude david duchovnu

nude david duchovny

I think I liked the first try better...

Old Jed's a millionaire!


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