log (2001/07/27 to 2001/08/02)

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Yob sleezle nopi:
Thursday, August 2, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

I'd better be...


keeping my job.

late for that appointment with the sour cream and onion potato-ratio chippers!



(a) bette bride.

up and at 'em. A real go-getter. A peppy atta-boy, can-do, high-rollin' mover and shaker. A fast tracker!

Indeed! And more extendedly:

The history of Pinocchio with Cricket-speaking, where one looks at as the boys bad have to trouble to feel themselves to you to correct from who know some more than they.

I was all Lumley out there in the night that moved, with me eyes all sweet and deep like to cast a river. But was it ta gi' ya a ha' credit? Not with them watchin' an' chitterin', nosir, sos I figure we'll never see blonde Amy 'round again, least not all put together.

Pressing my body back against the bales of oats, against the rough jute that bound them together, holding my breath. The key had fallen out of my pocket, a foolish mistake, clattering to the wooden floor, something an amature would do. The clack, clack of leather heels as the guard made his way towards the sound and then, as I winced, the click of the gun's action snapping into place.

Words are so cool. Who thought up words, anyway?

From Meta-cubed, someone at the MIT Media Lab tracking the most frequently blogged links. Could be cool! Unfortunately it's had a glitch today, and instead of the daily data he's put up the most-blogged links of all time. What are those? Not surprisingly, it's almost all very meta: Blogger, BlogSpot, the Webloggers webring, and so on. Actual content? Kottke, The Onion, and SlashDot. So now you know!

Tomorrow maybe it'll be less generic. An interesting number: he says he's monitoring 10,290 sites. That's a bunch of sites!

More good links on the Code Red Worm, from Red Rock Eaters. I'm slightly boggled by the huge fuss that's being made about this worm, given that it lives only in IIS servers that haven't had the latest security fixes applied. Sircam ("I send you this file in order to have your advice") seems considerably more dangerous, both to random users (who don't run IIS, but do run random things that come in the mail) and to Important Government Officials (who also run random things that come in the mail, and who could be Very Upset if one of those random things is Sircam, and starts mailing copies of Very Important Secret Documents to all sorts of random email addresses). But go figure.

(By the way, to the three dozen or so people from whom I've gotten Sircam-bearing email lately: could you please put some more interesting documents on your disk where the virus can find them? I'm thinking, say, love letters, or important stock tips, or really good porn. So far the virus has been sending me really boring stuff!)

New York Times talks to Vernor Vinge about the singularity and stuff. Pretty neat!

The Secret Connections between "Fight Club" and "Calvin and Hobbes" REVEALED! Who says there's no serious scholarship on the Web?

From the referer log: a pretty cool site. Nice design. Stuff of various kinds. Also words.

Gosh, I'm feeling articulate today!   *8)

Wednesday, August 1, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Whew! This afternoon I gave a forty-five minute talk, which wouldn't be all that unusual except that it was done via telephone. The conference center said that there were like 60 or 80 people there, but I have direct evidence of only about four (the host, someone who called me up afterwards to thank me for giving the talk, one person who asked a question at the end, and the very nice lady at the conference center who actually ran the thing). For all I know, even those four might have had their phones on hold most of the time, only checking in for a second every few minutes and thinking "geez, is he still talking?".

It was weird, speaking into this little plastic thing, looking at my slides on my own computer, and just sort of trusting in some abstract way that someone was listening.

Sort of like weblogging, in a way. Come to think of it. *8)

package main;

sub symbol_table_for_package_named($) {
  my $pn = shift;
  no strict 'refs';
  return \%{"${pn}::"};

So Ian and I were talking about introspection in Perl (yes, this is going to get geeky for a bit, sorry), and it occurs to me that one of the little quirks of Perl that make it seem sort of, well, immature is how fond it is of strange notation.

I mean, to get the symbol-table hash for a package named foo, the language could have provided an ordinary function, so you'd say "gsth('foo')". But no! In fact what you do is write "%foo::". This is sort of like writing a function to take the average of a bunch of numbers, and instead of invoking it as "average(@numbers)", writing say "$%%&*()numbers():$?".

(Now some Perl hacker is going to write me and say that in fact that does compute the average of the numbers. Which is sort of my point.)

Of course if you want to you can define your own "symbol table for package named" function (as above). But it's not Manly...

From Screen Shot, a site all about design mistakes. Some of them quite fun.

Unclear on the concept: LostAndFound.com. How exactly is this supposed to work? I'm so confused!

How to Buy Meat

In the grand tradition of Lileks comes When LPs Roamed the Earth, a collection of noteworthy images from the covers of those old "vinyl record" things. Selections range from "hubba hubba" (is that really Mary Tyler Moore?) to just plain cool.

On a scrap of paper on my desk: "Ref# 21-VBZKK". In my handwriting, too. I wonder what it meant? Hopefully it wasn't too important.

Words to live by:

I'm finding that my satisfaction with my work day is inversely proportional to the amount of surfing I do while at work.

Well, of course: the Celebrity Nudity database.

Quote of the day, from yet another Microsoft Security Bulletin (listed under "mitigating factors"):

the attacker would have to entice the potential victim to visit a web site he controlled, or to open an HTML e-mail he had sent.

Now let's see! How could an attacker possibly entice someone into opening a piece of mail? Hmmm...

From Mouth Organ, Singapore decides sex is a good idea after all. Making babies builds strength! Strength crushes enemies!

From the referer log: davidchess.com: your source for quality info on USB sex toys.

From Memepool, a bunch of urban and adventurous artists who like do (or did) strange things in cities and stuff.

More broken koans! I'm gonna hafta give these their own page sometime.

What is the sound of two hands clapping?

Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When anyone asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy would raise his finger. Gutei heard about the boy's mischief. He seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and ran away.

A student attempted to write an app to interpret the I Ching, but the app did not work. Approaching the master, the student asked, "Does the PolyLine object have Buddha Nature?" And the master spoke with wisdom of RoundRects and filled regions. The student said: "Now I understand Bresenham's Algorithm."

At this, the master unplugged the student's computer.

A monk told Joshu: "I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me." Joshu asked: "Have you eaten your rice porridge?" The monk replied: "I have eaten." Joshu said: "Then you had better wash your bowl," and the monk replied "Okay."

A monk asked Joshu: "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?" Joshu answered: "Moo."

By being virtually indistinguishable from the originals, the last two raise the point that koans are already pretty broken in some sense, making the idea of a broken koan interestingly meta. In particular, a broken koan should ideally be completely free of that sense of cognitive tension that might tend to jar the contemplator out of the ordinary state of consciousness...

Tuesday, July 31, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

I love the way having a weblog lets me show off the impressive depths of my ignorance! I referred to "Delta of Venus" as a novel yesterday; having poked around the Web a bit, I realize that like "Little Birds" it's a collection of short stories. Now I'm even more curious to compare it to the movie...

He's always saying stuff like that. Broken Koans seem to have struck a chord! Presented for your edification:

Zen is like a finger pointing at the Moon; once you've seen the Moon, there is no longer any need for the finger. Unless you have to scratch yourself or something.

Shuzan held out his short staff and said, "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?" Eating his rice, one monk said to the other, "He's always saying stuff like that."   --

Pupil (concerned): Master! How did you get the bruise on your forehead?

Master (laughing): Turning too quickly, I hit my own head!

Pupil: Yeah, I hate when that happens.   --

Pupil: Why did the Bodhidharma come from India to China?

Master: I have no idea. Why do people always ask me that?

Hui Neng once approached a student who was sitting in meditation. "Why do you spend so much time sitting?" he asked. "Because I want to become a Buddha," the student replied.

At this, Hui Neng picked up a brick tile from the floor, and began rubbing it with his robe. "Why are you doing that?" asked the student. "Because I want to make a mirror," Hui Neng replied.

"But Master," said the student, "no amount of -- oh, wait, I get it! Very funny, very funny."

Monday, July 30, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Three people were walking on the road, and they saw a man standing on a hill.

"I wonder what that man is doing," one of them said, "perhaps he is waiting for someone."

"I'll bet he's looking for a cow that has strayed," said another.

"Or perhaps he is just enjoying the breeze," said the third.

So the three people went up the hill to the man, to find out.

"We're just curious," they said, "are you waiting for someone? Or are you perhaps looking for a cow that has strayed? Or are you just enjoying the breeze?"

"None of those," said the man. "Actually I was taking a leak in the bushes."   --

Hmm. Perhaps this will start a whole genre. Broken Koans?

Threat, or promise?

Given the broad attention that this matter has garnered, Adobe's change of heart and the fact that Mr. Sklyarov remains in custody, we expect that there soon will be significant protests aimed at your offices calling for his release. While the EFF does not have the ability to control independent protests, if you indicate your willingness to meet with us by the end of the day Wednesday, July 25, we will, as a sign of good faith, refrain from calling for or organizing additional protests before that time. --

Thanks to the inimitable NTK for that one.

We went up to Cold Spring on Sunday, just the four of us. It was fun, as always. The weather (the air, the light, the world) was utterly perfect. We sat on the pier sharing a loaf of French bread with a few dozen pigeons (and sparrows; the kids loved trying to throw the bread so that the few tiny quick sparrows would get to it before the many fat slow pigeons), for quite awhile. The little boy said "ooh, look!" and there behind us (we were sitting for no particular reason with our backs to the river, which seems odd in retrospect but was perfectly natural at the time) was a huge red ship being towed slowly up the Husdon by two big tugs. (When I was little, I thought they were "tub boats", maybe because I played with them in the tub.)

The ship said "Orkney Spirit" in white letters on the red bow. So it was probably this ship, a double-hulled oil tanker. Dunno where it was going. If I had a digital camera and I'd had it along, I would give you a colorful highly-detailed picture of this huge red object being towed north through the brown-blue water, with the green and rock of the cliff on the opposite shore looming above it all. Quite imposing!

Has anyone else noticed a new idiom in the names of pretentious restaurants and hotels and things? The idiom consists of egregiously inserting the word "at", as in "The Willows at Westchester" (where Westchester is a county, and not something you can strictly speaking be "at"). There's a seafood restaurant in Cold Spring that used to be called "Dockside Harbor Seafood Restaurant" (semantically an odd name in itself; a harbor next to a dock?). Now it's apparently called "Northgate at Dockside" (or "Northgate at Dockside Harbor", depending on which sign you look at), which is utterly silly. Whereabouts, one wonders, is the south gate?

Maybe this is an old idiom, and I've just recently noticed it. I suppose the origin is in things that were really at things. If you opened a restaurant on the grounds of an old (or even a functioning) estate, you might call it "the Gatehouse at Snooty Manor". Perhaps that's the feeling that these particular would-be snooty places are trying to capture.

I'm not sure why it annoys me, rather than just interesting me. I suppose because it reminds me that many people with money have little or no sense. Which should be a happy thought, really; it means that those of us who do have clues should have an easier time staying prosperous. *8)

On the way home we passed under Dick's Castle, as we always do. On a whim, I turned into Dick's Castle Road and we drove up to the building itself ("Didn't that sign say Private Road?" "Is this private property?" "Daddy, where are we going?"). There are striped sawhorses blocking all the ways into the actual grounds, but we got a pretty good look at it from the dirt road. Nicely maintained, but clearly deserted. It is famous for many things, notably for not being the castle used for the Wicked Witch's Castle in the Wizard of Oz. Note that some people have taken pictures of other nearby large houses, under the impression that they were Dick's Castle.

You write stuff down so you can forget it -- it may be that someone else, some other 'you', reads what you've written, and tries to connect back to you, but for you it's gone-gone.

That from Alamut. Quite true. Perhaps equally true, you write stuff down because you are going to forget it. And if you write it down there's some hope that that future back-connection will get a chance to happen. Which may or may not be the same thing (compare and contrast).

Audie England

Over the weekend I rented and watched "Delta of Venus" (the R-rated version). Most of the Web seems to think it's a lousy movie, but I thought it was pretty good. Europe at the start of WWII, decadence and love and art and writing; also some nice juicy sex scenes. All quite well done. It works better sensuously than it does narratively, but we're talking Anaïs Nin here after all!

Audie England whispering "yes" with her eyes barely open and all her clothes on (for the moment) is sexier than most of the sex flicks I've sampled in lonely hotel rooms. I've probably just been watching the wrong kind of porn.   *8)   I wonder what the unrated verison (or NC17 version, depending who you ask) is like? Is there a DVD?

(I'm less happy with the choice of a vaguely Sylvester Stallone looking guy for the male lead; but one can't have everything.)

So then I went upstairs to look for the book, and found that I apparently don't have it. I've probably never even read it; typical for me these days, I have some of her short stories, but not the novel. Yet another thing for the wishlist!

Friday, July 27, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the enforcement of such right.

What do you think of that? Not that I actually want to start an actual gun debate here in the pages of CEOLN...

Speaking of politics, go and read this very sane ftrain piece on the WTO and dead protestors and stuff.

Cops and global economic competition are both fine in my book, as long as the former doesn't get trigger happy and the latter doesn't get insanely, lustfully greedy, with piggy, snorting eyes.

I enjoy porn, and I vote!

Sextuple-Negative Department:

A three-judge panel from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a government motion to dismiss the challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000 that cuts off federal funding to schools and libraries that do not install software designed to block access to pornographic material on personal computers.

So let's see. The judges rejected a motion to dismiss a challenge to a law that would defund libraries that do not install software to block pornography. That's six negatives, which is an even number, so it must be a (let's see) pro-pornography decision. Oh, good! We like pornography around here. (But do we have the guts to wear the T-shirt?)

By the way, one of the parties on the wrong side of that case is the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Ever heard of them? Me, neither. These are apparently the folks who aim the trickle of funds that the Feds earmark for museums and libraries and suchlike. The ones that shouldn't be allowed to require censorship in exchange for funding.

Note that I'm not endorsing the general concept of government funding of anything in particular here. It's just that, given that the government takes away lots of money from people and then gives it back to other people, they shouldn't be giving it back preferentially to people who install dumb stuff on public computers.

What the U.S. Congress is up to, right now. A pretty cool link (have I given it beore?). Of course it only includes a subset of stuff. I'd like to see stuff like:

11:43 AM: in the cloakroom, a lobbyist for the American Society of Fleen Manufacturers reminds Senator Whiffle of the importance of the domestic Fleen industry to the economy, and extends an invitation to a flesh-tasting party to be held next Tuesday.

But that pretty much goes unrecorded, I fear.

My tax dollars at work!

A helicopter was whomp-whomp-whomping overhead when men with guns drawn surrounded Glen Coberly's tomato patch about noon Wednesday and ordered him to the ground.

Geez, we're All Politics today, aren't we? One last political link, and the latest mailing list that I've subscribed to: SpinSanity.com, and its mailing list. Theoretically non-partisan analyses of irrational rhetoric from all sides of the issues. Potentially lots of fun.

Okay! Politics over. If you still don't have a weblog of your own because you're still shopping around for weblog-enabling doojahs, here's another one to look at: onclave.org. Haven't tried it myself, but have heard at least one person praising it.

Now yesterday when I said that by using Georgia and Verdana on the site I was (mumble mumble), I was only half lying. I'm actually using Garamond and Verdana, as all of you were too kind to point out, knowing that I would eventually realize my embarassing mistake on my own.

I like Georgia, as a face. The trouble is that, in the Popular Browsers, it acts funny. Normal-sized Georgia is fine; vis:

Georgia, default size

But I want my Log slightly larger than normal size, and at size plus-one Georgia (at least on my systems and my browsers) suddenly goes all bold-like; viz:

Georgia, size plus one

Note that Garamond doesn't do that. So I use Garamond, rather than Georgia. (I think I use Georgia on some other site somewhere, but burst me if I can recall just where.)

A reader writes:

A riddle: Take the title of "solipsisms anxiety stupid", the first from "dispersal sheep buff", and the second from "insensible fain melody." Reiterate. Who is the author of the result?

I'd tend to guess Philip K. Dick, but perhaps it's a trick question. What do you think?


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