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What's above your head?

Wednesday, August 4, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Section 2. That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.

Section 33. That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.

I see a certain contradiction there, personally. Fortunately it seems unlikely that the citizens of Missouri will get rid of that "equal rights" stuff in section 2, and with any luck at all they'll eventually realize that the "shall exist only" stuff in section 33 isn't compatible with it.

Too bad they're not that mature yet.

And speaking of immature, on the national level we have the

Constitution Restoration Act of 2004
"Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."

Pretty scary (given possible very broad readings of "acknowledgement"). Brought to our attention here, which we found here, both of which are worth looking at in their own right.

And I think that's about my quota of worrying about people with Imaginary Friends In The Sky tonight. Or at least in this paragraph.

On our recent excuses for not posting so much, a reader writes:

I remeber when you didn't think FFX was any good.

Well, yeah. But as reflected there we got to like it better pretty quick, once we got used to the very linear nature of it. The early parts of the game are sort of scripted and claustrophobic, but as you get more party members and more items and skills and stuff there's more variety. And now that I'm in the late stages of the game I've escaped most of the linearity, and I can go anywhere in the world that I want to, and work on random side-quests, and play around, and it's much more like the kind of open ended games that I tend to favor.

From Bill, a story about nerdy tattoos (including, appropriately enough, some with video-game characters in them).

Bryce (the cool program that I once spent hours making some pictures with) is (again) under new management. I should get the latest version sometime. Or not.

Speaking of imaginary friends in the sky (again already), bookslut links to a rather interesting CJR piece about how the press reports religious issues. Worth reading itself (not that I entirely agree with it), but here I just want to note my annoyance with a particular statement:

Journalism is grounded in this world and embodies a belief that everything can be known. On the other hand is religion, which is fundamentally about mystery and the unknown. Faith is grounded in this notion, that we surrender ourselves to greater powers beyond our reach.

That annoys me. Faith is grounded in the notion that we surrender ourselves to greater powers beyond our reach? That's true if by "Faith" you mean, say, traditional Christianity and probably Islam. I don't remember a whole lot of "surrendering" in Judaism, though, or Zen Buddhism. Or Ariadnitism. Or Taoism or Shintoism or Unitarianism or...

When people mean "Christianity", why can't they say "Christianity", rather than saying "religion" or "faith", as though theirs was the only one?

Flipping annoying, it is.

Gosh a mickle:

I did my first major group mission in City of Heroes. I'm so proud.

Page 23: "Selling Resource Manual: This manual includes information about some of the products we sell in our stores, as well as operating instructions, demonstration and selling tips, and how to troubleshoot common problems for customers."

Did yoy know that your links disappear in IE after you return from clicking on them, then reappear if you click anywhere else on your page? Well, they do.

What did you get on your SATs?

"... rectangle with 5 sides ..." could they not declare that the shape they have drawn is called a rectangle and has five sides and that is the Way Things Are and have always been ?

smoke a hog ghaicl Go Chile mask!!! Log me as Hick. go leash mick "Gosh a mickle?" What's that some, sort of anagram? Maybe "Me a sick hog"? Or perhaps "Cogs like ham"? Or, getting off the pig theme, "OMG! He licks!" or "Kim! Lego Cash!" or "Mike log sac" (I know that one's not good) or "Ick! Go lash me." Maybe it's "Him a leg sock." Pray tell.

when i last sent a message in this box my the tab on safari said "two lovers embracing by a..." what's that all about? Knee 5?

mickle sorta rhymes with Steve Urkel.

Does it involve a bus?

Sometimes I think the strongest argument in favor of thermonuclear war is that it would get rid of consciousness. That way all you philosophically minded people would shut up about "reciprocity" and "contamination". Of course, you'd also be dead -- which further ensures that you clever bastards won't find some other scheme to sneak them in.

whoa. I was wrong; it said "lover's embracing by a..."

Without, ehem, that apostrophe. It's a title, obviously; there's a place on an html page where you're supposed to put a title, and that's a title. Very simple!

I don't remember having talked much about "reciprocity" or "contamination" myself (musta been that other guy).



Yeah, isn't that cute?

We decided that the ability to redefine words doesn't count as omnipotence (unfortunately for me).

And it's not an anagram (well, actually it is; thanks!); I recall the next words being "dill pickle, dog my cats and rowr-bazzle!", but Google doesn't entirely agree.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So let's see. There was a piece of spam (of which I got several copies) that whenever I opened it my mail client would crash, and I opened it once and the client crashed, and I brought it up again and eventually opened the spam again and the client crashed, and I thought "ah, it must have been that spam; I won't open any more of those", and then later in the day I opened another one by accident, and the client crashed.

On the other hand I managed to create a .htaccess file with the right bits in it, and now the RSS and ATOM feeds are being served with the correct MIME types, and Mark Pilgrim will stop scolding me by proxy.

(Note that Mark's latest posting is recommended for being non-geeky, interesting, and involving an imaginary abandoned bookstore.)

So the Democrats apparently nominated some Senator from Missouri or somewhere as their presidential candidate. Pretty boring! I was hoping for a stripper, or Howard Stern, or Ralph Nader, or Barney or something. Maybe Tinky-Winky.

Apparently Fafblog attended the convention! Lots of coverage that others have missed (I'm surprised no one else mentioned the "mighty robots" line in the nominee's speech).

Subject: dont ask me that cambrian avogadro

More political geekage: The Internet changes rules:

The Internet has helped minimize the advantage Republicans have held in fundraising since the FEC was established in 1975 to track contributions. Kerry has raised $186 million, more than a third of it on the Internet, for the campaign leading up to his nomination tonight.

That's given him rough parity with the Bush campaign, which has raised $242 million.

Rad, eh?

Also geeky: Totally Gridbag. "So, I figured I'd make an animated weblog... thing." Flash and Java class library humor.

And that's about it for tonight. I feel very rushing-about-y, although I did get in a few minutes of FFX (had to get Wakka's and Bahamuth's overdrive meters full again). Now I should go to sleep. I want to leave you with a final image, something to remember this moment by.

How about half a watermelon? Is that too obvious?

Monday, August 2, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

"Okay, here's another one: 'When liquid splashes me, none seeps through. When I am moved a lot, liquid I spew. When I am hit, color I change. And color, I come in quite a range. What I cover is very complex, and I am very easy to flex.'"

"Also easy."


"It's 'The New York Times'."

"Oh, right."

In memoriam, Sidney Morgenbesser. A life worth noting in general, but noted here specifically because at least once in my life I'm misattributed his most famous line ("Yeah, yeah" in riposte to "Two negatives make a positive, but two posititves never make a negative") to Saul Kripke or somebody.

So the main logworthy thing I've done recently is to pan the (audio) book "Gasping for Airtime". I'll stick a copy in here also, to give the impression that I have a significant log entry today:

(I listened to this as an abridged audiobook. I suspect the abridgement of being somewhat inept, but I also suspect that I wouldn't have liked the book much more if I'd read the complete thing.)

Jay Mohr was a minor player (a "featured performer", which is apparently somewhere down the totem pole from "cast member") for two seasons of Saturday Night Live sometime in the 90's. Judging from the vast bulk of his story about it here, he pretty much hated the whole thing. He had panic atttacks, he obsessed constantly about whether or not the sketches he wrote would get on the air and whether or not he would get on the air (hence the title), he didn't like many of the people he was working with, he drank, he goofed off, he even stole material from a standup comic and submitted it to the show as his own (the show, he says, was eventually sued over it; neither he nor I know why he wasn't fired for it).

So this is basically a depressing whiny book about someone being comparatively unsuccessful at something, and complaining about it at great length. The book itself isn't funny, and it gives us no evidence that the author is funny. The audiobook is narrated by the author, and when he reads passages where he's quoting someone, he sometimes "does" their voices; they aren't funny. He mentions a few (a very few, really) of the sketeches that he wrote for SNL; as far as I can tell those aren't particularly funny either. We do get some glimpses of how SNL works behind the scenes, but they're pretty uniformly negative glimpses of chaos and arbitrary decisions, and I can't help but suspect they're too colored by the writer's negative attitude to be especially true.

Why do people do comedy? Is it about the connection to the audience, or about the windows it gives on the absurdity of the world, or the political or human or otherwise truth hidden behind the laughs? This book doesn't tell us anything about that, except to suggest that the reason the author does comedy is a strong desire to be on television. And it gives us no reason to care about that.

So yeah, I was sort of mean. But on the other hand I didn't even mention the annoying namedropping.

More in the "very mysterious spam" department:

Subject: Important News and Announcements

Darling LowPrice-Software Customer!

My name "Backdated H. Badgering", and I working at Top-ProgramTools Company.

You are realy is so essential for all of us!

You waste your money and time on my organization,
and We proud to introduce that our organization have complete upgrade of soft-tools store.

Our Company want to remind Ya that our company suggesting that this time Our firm have more larger base of software Cheap software products for very cheap value with your individual Client concession.

would you be so kind as spend Moments of your precious Time to see our updated Soft store righ here:
[link redacted]

  With the best wishes, Customers Service Department, "Backdated H. Badgering"

Link redacted by me, everything else exactly as received. Very odd. (I didn't check for IE-exploit payloads; maybe that was it.)

A reader writes:

I and a few friends have started a wiki about the Codex Seraphinianus at http://www.blinkenlichten.info/codex/. Our purpose is that it be an useful resource for the reader (both the well-acquainted and the unfamiliar with this wonderful mysterious book) with annotations of its illustration and content; we also intend to analyze the writing in the Codex through statistical means in order to find out if it's just rubbish or if there is a message in there, and if so translate it. Well, since you have talked about the Codex on the web a while ago, we thought you might be interested in checking it out (and maybe help us divulge it, or contribute to it? :) )

which sounds like a darn good idea, so here I am divulging it. (Why do I have the feeling that years ago I could / would have dived right in and started contributing to it, but that right now I'm unlikely to? Advancing age, or an addiction to Final Fantasy X? Or something still more sinister?)

More spam gleanings:

I'm cold, you said, staring at the continuation we had to feel through yesterday. There were many examples of animals all around. I don't know how he found that place. It was time...

Yeah, so it's one of those "random strings of found text" sort of days. These things happen.

But when you choose a language, you're also choosing a community. The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python.
I don't think it's publication that makes the best hackers want to work in research departments. I think it's mainly not having to have a three hour meeting with a product manager about problems integrating the Korean version of Word 13.27 with the talking paperclip.
The people I've met who do great work rarely think that they're doing great work. They generally feel that they're stupid and lazy, that their brain only works properly one day out of ten, and that it's only a matter of time until they're found out.

And for that matter

Whether the hog ever actually existed or is some sort of Faulknerian myth, it has definitely been the topic of conversation in small towns across southern Georgia.

From Rebecca, a classic that I'm pretty sure I've logged before but what the heck:

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

New Republican ad campaign:

Political analysts say this advertising through the Supreme Court's closed circuit TV system allows the campaign to target its spending to specific constituencies that will likely be a factor in the upcoming election, rather than playing to mere voters that will not be a factor in the election.

And from Rebecca again:

Gulab is completely illiterate. Ask her what she does for a living, and she'll tell you she makes electronic circuits and chargers for solar lighting panels. And before you start wondering whether you heard wrong, she'll tell you that she also installs and maintains handpumps, water tanks and pipelines. Not only is she running her household comfortably with her salary from this work, she is also one of the most respected members of her community.

(Not funny, just extremely gratifying. It'd be nice if she learned to read along the way, it occurs to me.)

On the other hand, funny (that's today's Completely Blind Link).

Veering back into politics again, here is an interesting story about a Republican dilemma: listen to the faction that wants access to people's money, or to the faction that wants to control their behavior?

The Bush administration has until the end of today to decide whether to take a stand in a Supreme Court case pitting former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and President Bush's brother-in-law against a coalition of evangelical Christians.
Though Starr is widely respected among Bush administration officials, the other side has hired a lawyer who is almost as admired: Miguel Estrada, who was Bush's choice to be a circuit court judge before Democrats blocked his nomination.

In the same sphere, a reader writes with an amazing thought:

Is it just me, or wouldn't a court need the right to "hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of" a law in order to enforce it? If a court can't interpret an act, it can't make _any_ determination as to what it means at all.

So if this law were to pass, and to be valid, the 'defense of marriage act' would be unenforcable, at the national level at least.

Isn't that a great image?

"Hey Federal Court, the DOMA says that no State has to recongize any other State's same-sex marriages, but now this court over here has found that State A has to respect State B's same-sex marriages in thus-and-so circumstances. Apply the DOMA and make them stop!"

"Uh, sorry, but the Marriage Protection Act says that I have no jurisdiction to decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of the DOMA, so I can't do anything for you, gosh, awfully sorry."

And from a similar source, a pointer to Electoral Vote dot Com, which has interesting statistics and stuff from the electoral vote point of view, which is strictly-speaking more important than the popular vote view that the media are always reporting polls about (if perhaps not quite as important as the Supreme Court vote view, as mentioned above).

And lastly, as I run entirely out of breath, I point to recent activity on the inimitable Hitherby Dragons.

"Restrain yourself, Mr. Brom," Mr. Collins says, sharply. "Our business plan must not include concrete milestones that precede the fiery death of humanity."


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