log (2005/06/17 to 2005/06/23)

Good news, comrades! The Supreme Court of the People today affirmed the power of local soviets to allocate the use of land in whatever way most effectively furthers the aims of the Revolution, handing a smarting defeat to those reactionary running dogs who would put "private property rights" over the collective will of the masses! Local soviets may now freely allocate land not only to the use of the Party itself, but also to those forward-looking corporations cooperatives that do so much of the hard work of Revolutionary Advancement.

Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your autonomy!

(Sheesh. Next time I twit Scalia for something, remind me that he voted the right way on this one. I haven't read the decision itself yet, but it can't be good...)

So I just barely got the Sims 2 out of the box last night and installed it and played with it some. Very snazzy, a little slow switching between parts of the game. Also snazzy but rather annoying built-in interface to the web site for game updates and downloads and stuff: annoying because it insisted that the user name that I'm sure I registered with EA a million years ago didn't exist in their system when I tried to log on with it, but then when I tried to create a new account with that name it said that the user name was already in use. Okay!

Whoever actually solves this thing about having to have a different "account" on every stupid little Web site is going to become rich and famous. (And I mean actually solve, not just "do something that sounds like it ought to solve it on the PowerPoint".)

(Eventually I got it to work by going there in a normal browser tonight and "claiming" my "AOL screen name". Heh. But anyway we managed to download and install the latest patches so that neighbors won't accidentally kidnap toddlers and stuff. (Bug listings in virtual worlds can be pretty funny.))

Virtual worlds are Hot (one of the little comic progress messages that goes by while the Sims 2 is loading says "blurring reality lines"). (See not only the Sims, but Second Life, which involves virtual interactions with real people.) And naturally people are taking photographs in the virtual worlds that they hang out in, and naturally those photographs show up on flickr.

flickr photos tagged with "secondlife" (889 of them at the moment). And the Second Life Photo Pool (great fun as a slide show, with your browser in full-screen mode).

flickr photos tagged with "sims2". (See also flickr photos tagged with "sims", although they're a mix of The Sims, The Sims 2, and people and other things that are inconsiderately named "Sims".)

I was a Tom Cruise Body Thetan.

Awhile back I was impressed to be able to buy a book from Amazon for eleven cents (plus $3.49 shipping and handling). Then just today I was looking for another book, and it turned out to be avilable used for one cent (plus $3.49 shipping and handling). Too bad that "Amazon Prime" free-shipping thing doesn't work for the used books...

On our quest for interesting podcasts, a reader writes

Oooooooooh how I *wish* I could recommend something for you. I 'tried again' recently and was knocked down by boredom and astonishment. Almost everything I listen to is just *awful*.

You can be sure that if I do ever find anything half-good, I'll let you know.

which is very kind. In the meantime, we found a page about podcasts about sex (also here); at least it's not about podcasting. We tried a couple, and they aren't bad; but we like Susie Bright better.

We'll close by passing along a big podcast recommendation from reader Jonathan Flynn.

The Dave Winer, Adam Curry stuff is terribly dull -- I guess it made the blogs and so landed on your radar? Every time I've checked those guys out they're just podcasting about podcasting.

Here's everything to which I'm subscribed, in order of preference. I've sampled a lot of podcasts.

My personal favorite source of content is www.itconversations.com

As long as your portable player of choice can delete on the fly, I've found it's far easier to subscribe to the 'everything' feed and just sort it out on the device than to pick and choose on the site. Another alternative is to subscribe to the announcements feed, which will give a podcast with a 5 minute roundup of the shows from the week.

I think it'd be wise to put a few of the betters ones on your portable to get off to a running start. So I guess I AM linking to some specific mp3s, but the idea would be that you encounter future shows in true podcast fashion. I've gotten used to skimming the content on the big feed just like scanning channels on the radio. You can usually tell if you'll be interested in a minute or less. Here we go:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less'
'Human Nature'
Lessons from Game Design by Will Wright
Ontology is Overrated
Personal Fabrication

My favorite music podcast of the moment:
Only offers an AAC feed unfortunately, so you have to setup a conversion script if you don't have an ipod. Likely very hit or miss depending on your musical preference.

This is a feed with all the audio content linked from boingboing.net. I like it because it's random. One day you get a Beethoven symphony, the next an interview with Chuck Pahlaniuk. Since it's often referencing other podcasts it's also a good way to find shows you might like.

'Theory of Everything'
This show is wack. Hard to describe, perhaps best enjoyed if you dive in without knowing anything. Might want to hit the archives.

A science news show run by two stoners who fill it up with tons of so-lame-they're-kinda-funny jokes.

A BBC show: 'In Our Time'.
Very, very British people discussing things like 'The Assassination of Tsar Alexander II - did his killing cause the Russian Revolution?'. Perhaps not technically a podcast in the 'amateur' sense.

Isn't that generous? I'll have to try some of them sometime. What's your favorite podcast, if any?

Happy Fathers' Day to all (fathers and otherwise). We went out to that new Hanada Hibachi place for an early dinner. It was Way Fun, with the guy swirling the knives around and tossing bits of cut-up zucchini at us, and making little volcanos out of onion rounds and flaming saki. And the food was fresh and good.

For dessert I had Mango Mochi Ice Cream, not having any idea what it was. Turns out it's mango ice cream wrapped up in sticky rice paste (mochi). The little daughter had Green Tea Ice Cream. She said it was strange to be eating something that color; sort of like eating a bowl of wasabi or something. Everyone else had the Fried Ice Cream.

I decided to follow up on the "make your syndication feeds look reasonable in a browser in case someone clicks on the little icons" idea that I encountered months ago, so I typed "rss css" into Google and one of the first hits had some good examples and stuff. So now the syndication feeds all do something halfway useful if you click on them in Opera. In Mozilla the first one gives a confusing "what do you want me to do with this here RSS file?" prompt, but the second and third do the same better thing that they do in Opera. And in IE the first one gives a "this might be a dangerous file containing nasty viruses that will cause your computer to explode!" warning, and the others appear as a blank white page. At least at the moment, on this machine.

I'll probably keep poking at that a bit to see if I can get more browsers to do righter things. (I changed the feeds' MIME types from "application slash whatever plus xml" to just "text slash xml", but it doesn't seem to have helped any.) Right now it's just a CSS formatting of the feeds anyway; maybe someday I'll learn XSL (which looks like a Very Silly Language so far) and make it even cleverer. (Why do browsers contain embedded XSL engines anyway? How often do they get used?)

I finished and wrote up Bova's "Saturn". I wasn't impressed.

The mytob virus writes rather amusingly:

Subject: fhgnonhjjuhw

Dear user log,

You have successfully updated the password of your Davidchess account.

If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact Davidchess customer service at: webmaster@davidchess.com

Thank you for using Davidchess!
The Davidchess Support Team

In other davidchess news, I added a Google sitesearch to the search page, but I was too lazy to get the page to validate; that particular bit of momentuum seems to have worn off for now.

For Fathers' Day I got a copy of "The Sims 2", and the guidebook. Looks to be an order of magnitude more complicated than "The Sims", and very different in general. Individual characters age and die, so it's more about cultivating families over the generations than about cultivating individual characters during an eternal Now. (Although the hardcopy manual that comes with the game reveals the "cheat" that turns off aging. Is it really a Cheat if the manual tells you how to do it?)

1 person recommended Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean instead of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger [DVD] [DVD-VIDEO]

A reader writes:

I go to Indian Brook, and Quest for Spinach was written by a small band of Tamarack Farmers in the '80s.

(See a couple of years ago at about this time.) Which reminds me that next weekend it'll be time to drive the little daughter off to Vermont again, which is always fun (modulo being without the little daughter for a month). I do love Vermont.

- 6 for "iris chacon"
- 2 for "american community survey"
- 2 for "how to hack yahoo webcam"
- 1 for "chess clipart"
- 1 for "halle barry"
- 1 for "naked pictures of helen"
- 1 for "princess leia organa"
- 1 for "sexy videos"
- 1 for "toga"
- 1 for "troops"

We are pleased to note that those Notebooks that we recommended all those years ago are still going strong. And there's an associated weblog that you ought to read. See also A Simple Model of the Evolution of Simple Models of Evolution, and the page about psychoceramics which led us to the page about Medawar and thence to a review of Chardin's "The Phenomenon of Man" that makes us feel better about the fact that we've never finished reading it, although we started a really long time ago.

And finally, flutterby points us at the 78RPM jukebox; yes, they have "yes, we have no bananas". Or at least one cover of it...