log (2001/07/13 to 2001/07/19)

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Snappy phrase:
Wednesday, July 18, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barley,
smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a grain of millet,
smaller even than the kernel of a grain of millet is the Self.
This is the Self dwelling in my heart, greater than the earth,
greater than the sky, greater than all the worlds.

-Chandogya Upanishad

That's from the first batch of "wisdom" recieved from the BeliefNet lists I mentioned the other day. Most of them are the typical "my God can whup your God" sort of thing, but I liked the "smaller than a grain of rice" one.

Under the High Wall (on the resting)
Sweetness fills the shade of the High Wall to your east. Under this sweetness lies a small expanse of fod. A mobile releases mildly to the west; far in that direction a tower proudly plants itself, while the ground rises more slowly to the south and relaxes to the north.

That, on the other hand, is from the very odd and interesting interactive fiction story "For a Change", cited on Apathy, and playable on the Web. Reading it is like tasting an exotic candy. I don't have the patience to actually solve the puzzles; if someone figures out how to get the songlantern, let me know. Just the word "songlantern" is worth the price of admission, though.

Unaccountable newsgroup posting of the day:

All computers in the world MUST sync with ATOMIC clock before 12:00 AM 21 July 2001!!!

You must sync your PC's date and time with Cesium Atomic clock. Use this very small and tiny program written in PHP. Do you know that Cesium Atomic clock located in Boulder, Colarado, USA
is the world's most accurate clock!! It does not lose or gain one second even after running for 25 MILLION YEARS!!! This clock is the official time USA and for the world.

Wow, I didn't know they'd had an atomic clock running in Boulder, Colorado, USA for twenty-five million years. Cool! (Note: I didn't look at the very small and tiny PHP program being advertised; I'd strongly suggest not running it, whatever it is.)

James Taylor Lewis Grimmelmann went to Europe, and he sends us a whole bunch of yummy postcards. Now I hardly have to bother going myself!

Abuddha's Memes has moved. They have also posted a link to a couple of sites about how much fun the future is going to be. Unimaginable fun!

Here's a SlashDot piece that attempts to shed some light on the murky "Microsoft software loses lots of nuclear material" story we cited the other day.

A reader writes:

I've heard of Prima Nacht as "droit de seigneur" (Google-d all over); there's no real documentation that it ever happened.

and an iain truskett writes:

No such thing as prima nacht. That particular phrase is a somewhat dubious mixing of languages.

However "prima noctes" did exist. If you do a search for it, you'll find a number of references to the Braveheart screenplay since it was a pivotal plot point.

(prima noctes -braveheart)

So the Web may be the Storehouse of All Human Knowledge, but you have to be able to spell...

Now the Big Tub is all full of Water, and soon we're going to start up the Pump. Then we have to decide how much to worry about the various places that are dripping slightly that probably aren't really supposed to be dripping...

Tuesday, July 17, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Do people constantly misuse the phrase "due diligence" in the meetings that you've been to recently, too? Or is it just a local thing?

So the Big Tub is now installed in the tennis court, and a garden hose is filling it ever so slowly ever so slowly with water.

The installer guy called last night and said "how about tomorrow?", and he and his crew arrived almost when he said they would this morning, and I had no trouble getting to the bank to get the paper money to pay him with, and although it got cloudy and it rained pretty hard a few miles from us in various directions, it didn't rain hard enough at the house to interfere with the work. Everything went just swimmingly (ha ha ha!).

So, Goddess, what did I do to deserve this good luck this time?

Monday, July 16, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Title of the song
Naive expression of love
Reluctance to accept that you are gone
Request to turn back time
And rectify my wrongs
Repetition of the title of the song

Steve showed this to everyone on Friday, and has now added it to his every-growing Generic Literature Page. As my contribution to the linking of this truly great piece, here's yet another copy of the lyrics, and a page with lots of different mp3's from these guys.

Apropos of yesterday, Dad writes:

Oh common! Prima Nacht was the right of the lord of the manor to spend the night with any bride under his dominion. He had first grabs on her - before her husband. I thought everybody knew that.

My only excuse is that I couldn't find it on the Web. How could anything true not be on the Web??

Hack o' the day:

In support of freedom of choice in browser software, this web site is Microsoft-Free on Fridays. Please use any browser except MSIE to access this web site today.

All obituaries, all the time.

Thanks For The Memories ... The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave. (This link provided for entertainment purposes only; management takes no official position on the issue of the government conversion of citizens into subconsciously controlled zombie sex-slaves.)

And speaking of bigamy, Columbia Gives Bigamists Free Rein:

"The best punishment for a bigamist is a second marriage,"  joked Chief Prosecutor Alfonso Gomez Mendez.

Ha ha! What a card! Bet he's fun at parties, too.

That link was from Anton Sherwood, and so is this one: our Astronomy Picture of the Day of the Day, What face on Mars?:

Nobody knows the geological history of Mars. Nobody knows why the laundry on the bedroom chair smells like root beer. Understanding reality brings more questions. Mystery and adventure are never far behind. Perhaps fun and discovery are just beginning.

From Steve and/or Ian: Pokéthulhu! Gotta catch you all.

Most recent lists we joined: the several "religious teaching of the day" newsletters from BeliefNet. Found from, believe it or not, The Pornographer's Diary, which we got to from Jane Duvall's Other Journals I Read page (all sorts of squishy nasty lovely sexy things on those two pages; hardly any on the BeliefNet page, though).

And speaking of squishy nasty lovely sexy things, the Taliban have banned individual access to the Internet in Afghanistan (file under "we have a real fragile belief system that must be shielded from the world"). On the other hand, you can still get to hate sites from France, since France is apparently not part of Afghanistan (we'll mention it if that changes).

Much better to fight against hate sites with targetted advertising!

White extremists congregating in Yahoo clubs and chat rooms will now be greeted with banner ads urging them to "fight hate and promote tolerance."
Yahoo is donating $3 million worth of ad space to Tolerance.org over the next three years. The ads will also pop up when the portal's search engine is used to look for 75 keywords such as nazi, hate or diversity.

That's all; just Lots o' Links today. Must dash off and see if the tub-of-water installer's family emergency has settled down yet, so we can find out when our tub of water will be installed. Gad, atoms are so inconvenient...

Friday, July 13, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! (Thirteenths are often Fridays)

Speaking of trivia, two (different?) readers pointed us to this page for an explanation of "post-haste". I'm not sure I believe it. Would enough people write "hurry, postman, hurry!" on a letter for it to become part of the language?

Insert coin; many people saw a gambling device or other annoying machine:

Game over.

Goddamn machine! That's the third one.

Bell Bell Bell Plum

pull handle. Ka-ching! Sorry, you didn't win anything, thank you for playing. Try again?

Others said other things:



Change Returned

Indian Head nickel

and one imaginative reader saw a ranting device:

Ka-chink! Now, if I only have three minutes, perhaps I'll just point out that "state interest" has nothing to do with individual rights. Rather, it is language intended to sound as if it is within the proper scope of action of a government that protects individual rights, but is actually intended to implement various collectivist ideas. That is, it embodies the notion that the State has legitimate interests that are apart from, and in conflict with, the rights of individuals. Throughout history, the State has had interests that it enforced, often with murderous results against the populace governed by that particular State and certainly against those with the great misfortune of living under the sway of other States. "The interests of the State", as distinct from the rights of individuals, include Prima Nacht, emminent domain, racial segregation and various forms of religious facism. States, after all, did not arise as a way of protecting individual rights. They arose as a way of one group beating their desires into the flesh of another. "The interests of the State" is simply what's left in modern political thinking of this awful legacy.

(I should point out that "rant" is by no means an insult hereabouts.)

Your assignment for tomorrow is to find out what "Prima Nacht" means in this context.

Nearly Blind Link Number One: Plush Cthulhu.

Nearly Blind Link Number Two: Dobbertin Surface Orbiter.

One mark of a really cool computer game is that it has lots of cool little things that it didn't have to have. In Dungeon Keeper 2 (which I've been talking about too much, and playing way too much, lately), you can build a casino for your minions to entertain themselves in. Sometimes a minion will win a jackpot in the casino (they didn't have to include that). When that happens, pretty flashing fireworks appear over the casino room (they didn't have to do that, either), "Disco Inferno" starts to play on the soundtrack, and all the creatures in the room start dancing. Now they really really didn't have to do that! And consider how much trouble it must have been: they had to add motion frames (or however the 3D works) for a couple of dozen creatures, so that as well as battling and sleeping and walking and eating chickens and being tortured, they could also disco dance!

Fairies disco

I had a jackpot in my dungeon the other night, and I possessed a nearby creature so I could go in in first-person mode and watch the dancing. There was a fairy (captured from Team Silver and converted through a frank exchange of views in the torture chamber), and she was dancing, and that was cool, and then another fairy flew in and started dancing too, right next to her! Extremely cool. See the screen shots. (The giant dancing is really hysterical, but I didn't get a static screen shot that does it justice. Many of the other characters' routines are memorable, too.)

It's a very cool game.

There's now a male edition of the Naked News. Also cool! Although I'd rather they had males and females on the same show. More convivial and all.

Guninski finds a serious security hole in Office XP, and writes it up amusingly:

Recently I bought Office XP. It was quite unpleasant feeling giving so much money for so buggy product...

If a user visits a specially designed html page with IE or opens or previews a message with Outlook XP arbitrary commands may be executed on his computer. This may lead to taking full control over user's computer. Using another approach to this bug allows reading, modifying and deleting messages in user's Outlook XP folders...

Solution: Uninstall Office XP and Windows.

Microsoft's advice is slightly different.

Speaking of Microsoft, everyone's logging this; you've gotta wonder what it actually means. News reports are always such a jumble...

Kurchatov scientists discovered a fatal flaw in the Microsoft software donated to them by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This same software has been the backbone of America's nuclear materials control system for years. The Russians found that over time, as the computer program is used, some files become invisible and inaccessible to the nuclear accountants using the system, even though the data still exist in netherworld of the database. Any insider who understood the software could exploit this flaw by tracking the "disappeared" files and then physically diverting, for a profit, the materials themselves.

Apparently making the rounds at the Media Lab, a very funny court decision:

After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier, having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented. Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties' briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such) the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

There's lots more in this vein; do read the whole thing. Don't explore the site any further, though; it's owned by some nutty Libertarian talk-radio guy or something, and you might be offended. *8)


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