log (2005/04/22 to 2005/04/28)

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What is the sound?

Inside my head

Thursday, April 28, 2005  permanent URL for this entry

Find out what's going on inside my head!

So I went this morning for another CAT scan of my sinuses, so the doctor can see if the prednisone ("A serious complication of long-term use of corticosteroids is aseptic necrosis of the hip joints") that I've been taking for a month has done anything.

After the scan they told me to wait in the waiting room for another ten minutes so they could "make the disc". I waited for ten minutes, and the tech came out and handed me a CD. "For your doctor". I said that they hadn't done that last time, and he said that yeah sometimes they do it and sometimes they don't.

When I got to the office I naturally put the CD into a drive. It had a relatively simple directory structure, and a bunch of files with no extensions, called descriptive things like "IM1" and "IM2". Definitely not jpgs or gifs or pngs, but strings found a few interesting acronyms inside, and googling on "DICOM" revealed that that's the name of a common medical imaging format, and that there's a free DICOM reader out there for the downloading.

Way cool!

If I had more l33t ski11z I'd make an animated gif or a flash movie or something out of the 89 frames of slices through my skull that turned out to be on the CD, but since I'm lazy I'll just give you the side-on skull shot (the very bright things in the full-size image are presumably fillings; be sure to brush after every meal, kids!) and one notable slice (those eye-shaped things on either side of the sticking-up nose-shaped thing are my eyes (eeeewww!)). Note also the amusingly realistic-looking optic nerve bundles and all.

Not really as hi-res as I might have guessed or expected; it must take lots of experience to see actual polyps or whatever in an image this grainy. But still, way cool.

On our newly-valid HTML, a perceptive and discerning reading writes:

Subject: Re validation

Sexy! Huzzah!

Thank you, thank you. We'll see if my interest stays high long enough to clean up the HTML, put the CSS into an external file for efficiency, and so on.

In the talking place, a reader writes:

"There has a sequence of photos within it in which a female otter is tied to a bed and an otter in a leather mask breaks open oysters on her bare stomach."

The Story of Otter?

No doubt. *8)

Takes chutzpah to call your browser-related project "IE7":

IE7 is a library of JavaScript modules that provide a layer of W3C standards compatibility for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5+. IE7 supports CSS2/3 properties and selectors and fixes numerous rendering bugs.

A kind person suggested I might use it to make the cool semitransparency effect on the Broken Koans page work even in IE. I'm not sure if I'm that energetic; good idea in principle, though.

The Small Denominational Order of Loose Change. I do love creative religions. See for instance "Footprints in the Sand (the Discordian version)". (Thanks to Messer Xin over on the newsgroups for the initial pointer.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005  permanent URL for this entry

So I've ben geeking out and not being very verbal and all, but you lucky readers benefit anyway! I was working on getting some HTML generated by an ancient Perl script to validate, and when it was all validating I thought to myself "that wasn't so hard; I really ought to try again to get the ol' weblog to validate". And if you'll scroll down to the bottom of this page, you'll probably find a little (recolored) W3C logo to click on and see that I succeeded.


I took it easier this time than last time: used HTML rather than XHTML, and kept the table-based layout. My only requirements were that the end result validate, and that it look sufficiently identical to the pre-makeover version.

It does validate (the HTML and CSS are still a real mess, but it does validate!). And except for a few font sizes and spacings that are just a few pixels different (varying with browser), it looks Just The Same.

The most annoying thing that I ran into was a bug in the way Opera deals with borders on inline elements (or something like that). As soon as I put the HTML 4.01 Strict DOCTYPE on the file, Opera apparently changed its internal "quirks" setting, and started putting extraneous rows of blank pels between the syndication-feed icons over on the left there. I eventually fixed this with the lyrical:

/* Work around Opera ?bug */
div.button {
  line-height: 1pt;

of which I'm very proud.

Then I had to subtly adjust a couple of perl scripts (including the one that makes the syndication feeds), that have baked-in knowledge of the inner details of the log's HTML conventions. What a silly system!

So given all that, no time to write any significant words tonight. If the makeover has caused the log to look funny, or to in some sense not work, in your browser, drop me a line in the comment box or whatever and let me know.

Good night!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005  permanent URL for this entry

At the bookstore buying a manga for the little daughter (InuYasha volume one, and not the lame "AniManga" that's just lots of stills from the anime; the real manga!), I saw this lovely little book on the Impulse Buying Table (old fashioned clothbound, sensible-looking, no pictures or dust cover or blurbage, just the title and the author's name, just the size to fit easily into a pocket), and I snatched it up and bought it.

Turns out that On Bullshit is by Harry G. Frankfurt, a Professor of Philosophy at Princeton (arrived nine years after I left), and the lovely little book is from Princeton University Press. I'm enjoying it greatly. Very short, very clear, very funny.

ftrain reminds us with a couple of recent entries why "weblogs must be updated regularly" isn't true; especially here in the days of syndication feeds, you can write good stuff just every few months, and you'll be read.

I occupy my lunch hours with lying. On Thursday I went into Shakespeare & Co. -- it's quiet at lunch -- and said "I need a book about otters for my son. He's gotten very into otters."

A path through the country of mind: from a very amusing mistake, to what prompted the mistake, to evhead in general, to evhead on the virtue of bigness in design, to someone else on the same subject, to more of the same, and finally to a piece about cards that you can give to people talking annoyingly on cellphones. What fun.

Now some politics. (Apologies if the Salon ones are premium-members-only or anything.)

A "volunteer" police state:

Just over a month has passed since two friends and I were forced out of President Bush's town hall-style "conversation" in Denver about privatizing Social Security. Despite the support we have received from elected officials in our request for answers from the White House regarding this incident, Karen Bauer, Alex Young and I still await a satisfactory explanation of why our First Amendment rights were violated.

Raped by statute:

In Kansas, and in many other states, when two teenagers have heterosexual sex, even the dreaded sodomy, the penalties are relatively mild. If Matthew had had consensual sex with a girl, and the state had prosecuted him at all, the longest sentence they could have given him was 15 months. Instead, because Matthew had sex with another boy, and only because he had sex with another boy, he has spent the past five years in Ellsworth Correctional Facility in central Kansas.

Yet more reasons not to like Santorum:

The outrageous thing about Santorum's bill is that it's a gag order on data NWS has to collect anyway. The Service can't even forecast extreme weather without continuously monitoring weather patterns across the country.

Currently the NWS makes this information available to citizens, other government agencies, and the private sector (including AccuWeather!). Santorum's proposal would forbid NWS to offer this information for free on its website. Presumably the NWS would still have to give the data to AccuWeather and other firms to sell back to the public.

Remember, boys and girls, it's not a stupid business model if you have influential friends.

On the same story, Elf Sternberg asks "How much does a senator cost?". Not all that much, apparently.

Sexual revolutionaries:

"Persepolis" author Marjane Satrapi talks about why Iranians don't think sex is sinful, the hypocrisy of American saber-rattling over Iran, and why George Bush and the mullahs are "the same."
Do you see similarities between the Christian fundamentalists in our government and the mullahs in Iran?

They're the same! George Bush and the mullahs of Iran, they use the same words! The mullahs of Iran say we have God on our side; he has God on his side, too. Both of them are convinced that they are going to eradicate evil in the world. But when these words come out of the mouth of a mullah, it's normal. It's a shame that the president of the biggest secular democracy in the world talks with the same words as the mullahs. It's extremely scary.

Do you have any advice for secular Americans who are faced with living in a country that's increasingly governed by religious fundamentalists?

If I have any advice, it's that every day that you wake up, don't say, "This is normal." Every day, wake up with this idea that you have to defend your freedom. Nobody has the right to take from women the right to abortion, nobody has the right to take from homosexuals the right to be homosexual, nobody has the right to stop people laughing, to stop people thinking, to stop people talking.

If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it's that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don't know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.

The difference between you and your government is much bigger than between you and me.

Flurgh, politics!

On a lighter note (and speaking of bullshit) here's an excerpt from a recent alt.philosophy.zen posting of mine. The context: in a fit of pique I have referred to another poster as a "HAMSTER"...

> This is the sin against the Holy Spirit! Someone will soon be at your stoop
> mumbling "Excommunicato te . . . "

Yeah, I got carried away. *8) Fortunately I don't speak Latin. Not much, anyway. (Mutatis mutandem! Ipsi dixit! Fiat lux!)

Have people always looked to ancient languages for linguistic fancy-dress? Back when Buddha was speaking in colloquial Pali (roughly), was there some then-already-long-dead language that the institutionalized priests spoke on special occasions? When every soldier was cursing in Latin I guess the academics spoke Greek; the Greek priests maybe Etruscan?

I imagine to myself a scene very very early on, where the common people were speaking the very first real language ("nice leaf" "thanks"), and the Priests of the Great Mystery had an ecclesiastical language consisting mostly of grunts and shouts and head-banging. ("and now wise one Ogg will read the homily: oooka oooka oooka wa WAAAAAAAAOOOOOOO gugga gugga")

Gugga gugga!

Sunday, April 24, 2005  permanent URL for this entry

So I know I've been spending too much time hanging around alt.zen and friends when Google Groups says

We were unable to post your message

Your account or Internet address has exceeded our posting limit at this time, please try again later.
If you believe this is an error, please mail groups-support@google.com.

Sheesh. Wonder what the posting limit actually is?

I've been having great self-indulgent fun, though, bullshitting about the nature of the universe and enlightenment and whether "heat" is any more real than "cold", and wondering whether to point out that X is clearly a sock-puppet of Y, and trying to get people to be nicer to each other, and getting pointers to all sorts of inneresting Buddhist and otherwise stuff to read, and delving now and then into the archives for the history of one or more of the nasty feuds that run through the groups, and trying to give a friendly impression to the occasional newcomer (despite the nasty feuds that run through the groups), and so on and so on.

Long-term Usenet addiction is definitely for the young, though; too tiring for an old fogy like me. *8)

I finished another book. This was one of the little daughter's, read at her recommendation. It was good.

So our April Fool's joke was of course a great succcess. Were you fooled?

There are levels of reality which we are prepared to accept. However, the relevant issue here is that...oh...no...please don't hurt me....

Yeah right I was fooled alright, the search engine SO looked like it was pointing me to naked Iris Bacon pix an all I got was some Buddhist crap, jeez you'd think people would have stuff to do rather than not be posting naked Iris Bacon pix

Not a bit, and you can't prove otherwise

AoD_ELiTe_WaSp> whats the alt command for ™?
TDJ_Bilbo_Fett> alt+f4
AoD_ELiTe_WaSp> i will try it
(Exit)> AoD_ELiTe_WaSp

Once. But I won't get fooled again.

April is the cruelest month: it contains my birthday, after all!

No. I already knew that your "phones" did not have tail-fins (with or without the adjectival hyphen). If they had tail-fins, they would work. Obviously.

Flying cars - like the ones these people are building? [link]

M got it from NetFlix; get M from NetFlix - Peter Lorre!

Am I Novel Or Not? [link]

Yes, at times, I was fooled. I probably will be again at some point.


Unitarian Jihad Names: [link]


If I say, "I don't know," does that mean yes?

Yep, that definitely means yes! Thank you for your cooperation!

This "Iris Bacon" thing is very appealing somehow. And/or "Irish Bacon". Preferably "nude Irish Bacon".

The (very funny) IRC log is from the inimitable bash dot org. Which has many many very funny IRC logs, as we pointed out sometime in the vanished past.

("Unitarian Jihad Names" is very silly.)

I'll let you puzzle out and/or enjoy the rest of the replies yourself. Oh, on the tail-fins: we got a call the other day from some tech type (the little daughter's cellphone rang and by the time I found it in her backpack it stopped ringing, and then immediately mine rang, and it was a guy from the telephone company) who said that there'd been "a routing problem in that whole part of the network" and that things should be all better now, and I said that yeah they did seem to me.

It was so much simpler back when it was just wires plugged together.

Haven't been doing much "Web smurfing" lately, so not much to pass along in that area. One: from the Flickr 'blog', some pictures from the Kids with Cameras folks, who give camera to kids in nonoptimal circumstances and encourage them to record their worlds (ref the very amazing film and book "Born into Brothels").

And other than that it's just been a nice long-feeling weekend (for no reason I can think of), and the air's still been nice and cool and sweet, and I still can't smell (I have a prescription for another bleedin' CAT scan so the nose doctor can see if the prednisone and all that he put me on for awhile did anything in that area), and all like that. My mind feels somewhat stuffed with stuff and my self feels sort of busy and hurried, but things are good.

Things are good.


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