Friday, December 21

Two 'Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock' references in websites I've come across recently: seducingprufrockdotcom and Till Human Voices Wake Us. You can never have too much Prufrock.
Whoo-hoo! More wishlist goodness. My friend Stephanie got me 'The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion' and 'The Other Wind'. Thanks, Steph! (You know how to look these books up on Amazon yourself, right?)
Scott links Ralph Nader's letter about his goals for CitizenWorks (Sco-ahhhh-tt, you must fix your permalinks!). I don't buy the whole thing. But it raises some issues that ought to be addressed. Put it another way: I don't buy all of their answers, but I think we ought to address most of these issues. To wit:

1. Strengthen citizen participation in our political economy. Enact legislation that mandates publicly-financed public elections and broad reforms of the electoral process so that votes count far more than dollars.

Maybe it's not campaign finance reform as currently conceived, but we need something.

#s 2 and 5: Why can't we make more of a dent in poverty? Many Western democracies have done so. It means they're not the only remaining superpower, but is that necessary or desirable compared to raising the standard of living for everyone? I, for one, would be willing to give up some power and money to even things out in this regard, or, if you will, to raise the standard for the poorest people.

3. Issue environmental protection standards to systematically reduce global warming, and other damaging environmental toxics and promote sustainable technologies.

#4: Why can't we improve national healthcare? Why can't more people have basic health insurance?

#6: Why can't our national security policy mirror such concerns by focusing on helping other nations and engendering good will instead of resentment at unilateral action?

#7: Do we want cheap goods and services at any price? Are we willing to build on the back of cheap Latino labor, both at home and abroad? Or can we reconceive fair and free trade?

#8: Does our legal system work the way we want it to? Does it promote justice? Do prisons reform, or just incarcerate? Is reform possible? If so, how?

9. Defend and strengthen civil rights and the civil justice system, apply criminal laws against corporate crime, and fully prosecute consumer fraud and abuses. Expand consumer, worker and children's health, safety and economic rights.

10. Strengthen investor-shareholder rights, remedies and authority over managers and officers and boards of directors so that those who own the companies also control them. End the massive corporate welfare schemes that distort and misallocate public budgets. Reintroduce the historic function of corporate chartering as an operating instrument of insuring corporate accountability and the sovereignty of the people.

What do you think?
Matt linked the MIT Lord of the Rings hack: encircling the dome with Elvish.
Eric linked my post worrying about my Secret Santa saying 'I'm glad I'm not the only one.'
More on The Fellowship of the Ring:

It was wonderful. It really was. It stands on its own as a work inspired by the book.

However, to the purist, it must be regarded as separate from the book. It is not a faithful rendition of Tolkien's story. Surely it is not meant to be. I can understand that. Peter Jackson gets to take some liberties. He had to do what he could commit to and what he thought would sell.

But a lot of people are going overboard in their gushing.

I did a quick scan of the Daypop links for the website, and it seemed to me like a lot of people who gushed about it said things like 'I haven't read the books since sixth grade.' This is indicative of the distinction.

I don't think of Roger Ebert as an authority, but he got it right when he said "A true visualization of Tolkien's Middle-earth it is not." (via The One Ring).
What's this? Russel Crowe in a non-action movie? It's been a while. Anyway, A Beautiful Mind (Flash warning) looks interesting to me, maybe because I never quite made it to genius level myself. But, hey, I've got people skills, right? My IQ might not be Mensa, but my EQ is off the chart! Right? Right?

Wednesday, December 19

This picture of Matt photoshopped with a pizza made me laugh out loud (courtesy of anil in MetaTalk).
Hmm. I'm the only right link in Google to get people to the right place for that Yours is a Very Bad Hotel link in this search and the third right link in this search. So I'm seeing a lot of people come through here for that.
Yippee! We were going to see The Fellowship of the Ring today (in fact, it would be starting right about now), but AMC had 3 screens with midnight showings, so we went last night. One employee guessed there were 1200 people there. Awesome.

Here's my first review:

I'm a Tolkien purist, as you know, so there are a lot of things I could pick out that I didn't like as well as the original. But I'm going to wait on those things, at least for a while. I'll start by talking about some of the many things Peter Jackson did well (this requires discipline for me. I naturally go to criticism. But I think this is worth it. I want to enjoy it for what it is.)

Note: no spoilers.

First of all, let me just say, if you have thought about reading the book before you see the movie, or have even started it, you should finish it first. The movie is different enough from the book that I, for one, would certainly want you to be exposed to Tolkien's original first.

Second, I'm certainly planning on seeing it again. It was very good and there's so much to see and take in. The vistas and action scenes, especially, demand repeated viewing. Christine expressed it well: We wished we could stop and look around more, but we had to move faster than that. Guess that's what the DVD is for.

There is a lot of really good acting. Ian McKellan (Gandalf), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Ian Holm (Bilbo), and Sean Bean (Boromir) stand out to me as nearly flawless. Elijah Wood does a credible job, and maybe even better, as the protagonist, Frodo. Christopher Lee (Saruman) had really great moments (and probably acted his direction exceptionally).

Peter Jackson can obviously do great effects. The lidless eye and the world seen by the wearer of the ring were very well done.

The action scenes were awesome, with Legolas coming off as the coolest by far.


If you care to check it out, the Salon review calls it 'the movie of the year' (warning: infernal pop-up ads).

Secondarily: a lot of the previews really sucked. However, Tom Cruise's 'Minority Report' looked cool, and the 'Spider Man' preview was thrilling and sold me.

Tuesday, December 18

A fun, old game I'd never seen before: Alter Ego (via digital_insomnia on MeFi). Christine, I think you, especially, might enjoy this. Try playing a little, if you can.
Reflections on how technology is changing our culture, via Steven, who has some of his own commentary as well.

Consumers will get customized products - like selected songs on a burn-your-own-cd. Right, and good.

Napster-like services are the future - Gnutella and TiVo. Right, and good.

This will further the 'Balkanization' of our popular culture, without cultural icons than cut across subcultures, like Michael Jackson did in the 80s.

Now, draw your own conclusions.
Hmm. The Former Iranian President suggested that an Islamic nation that gets the bomb should use it on Israel. Now there's a scenario for you 'limited' nuclear exchange in the Middle East. Just let your mind run with that doozy...
Lest you think all Europeans think America is completely beneath them, John Sutherland gives us 52 things we do better in America. From my perspective, things to be thankful for. Admittedly, some of these things are pretty petty, but, hey...

Plus, commentary over on the Filter.
John bemoans strangers who chat happily on the El, since they might try to talk to him next. Obviously, his version is funnier.
Okay, now I'm starting to fear that my Secret Santa is going to be a deadbeat. I haven't gotten anything yet. So I had my wife check my wishlist, and there's nothing unaccounted for. Will the real Secret Santa please stand up? Did think Thinkblank have any thoughts about this potential problem? It would be interesting to study the 555 secret Santas to see how things turned out.

Now I know my Santa might have purchased the gift and it just didn't register on Amazon. We'll see.

In some ways, it doesn't matter, because my friend, Joyce, unexpectedly got me Shakespeare's Complete Works off of my wishlist, and that's a lot more that the Secret Santa 15$ limit.

My idea for next year is to do online Secret Santa, but maybe more as a cohort - maybe set up a Yahoo Groups list and then I'd do the assignments or something. I'd run it off of my site. Maybe other could pick it up. It might be fun to have a little more of a known group do it, especially if you figure Thinkblanks site will be even bigger next year. Who knows, maybe I'll do both. It was fun to get to know Erin and to gift her. Maybe Thinkblank could add this kind of functionality - the ability to do Secret Santa subgroups.
Okay, the secret's out: I was Erin's Secret Santa.

(and she's where I got that 80s music link, which ended up being pretty indicting. Little did I know that she was one of the first people to link it. I just assumed it was going around. But she picked it up from the author and he later analyzed the traffic flow. So I was trying to be all secretive and stuff, but she probably knew what was coming anyway.)

Anyway, Erin seems pretty cool: Irish, a standup comic, artist, educator. Check out her site.

Monday, December 17

Physical Heresies (via Steven, with commentary):

The electron is the thing that’s wiggling, and the wave is the electron. It is its own medium.
The quantum world isn't necessarily microscopic, it's just different.
A 'photon' is not a particle but a field described by a wave function of the interaction of two atoms.
The quantum world is a world of waves, not particles. So we have to think of electron waves and proton waves and so on. Matter is “incoherent” when all its waves have a different wavelength, implying a different momentum. On the other hand, if you take a pure quantum system—the electrons in a superconducting magnet, or the atoms in a laser—they are all in phase with one another, and they demonstrate the wave nature of matter on a large scale. Then you can see quite visibly what matter is down at its heart.
The problem with reconciling gravitation and quantum mechanics comes from viewing matter as made up of point particles.
Quantum orthodoxy has led us to wrong conclusions about the fundamental nature of reality.

I'd really like some diagrams to go along with this. Maybe I need to get Mead's book.

I'm no physicist, but this stuff makes sense to me intuitively as plausible explanations. I like this guy's reasoning.
Really good writing over at USS Clueless today. Go read it all.

You especially might want to read his lengthy discussion of the problems of foreign aid to developing countries. Steven makes a good case against much of foreign aid, and for debt relief. Another item on the liberal agenda is probably worth considering too: reform of Western involvement. Our corporations and institutions like the World Bank have some pretty shady involvement in developing countries. I think that would be another critical place to work, instead of just dumping in money that might simply be wasted.

I posted this basic idea to Steven's bulletin board, and others posted comments.

See also, on Steven:

Google, the desktop metaphor, and the future of computer interfaces.

Steven has a point: the Palestinians are badly led, or not led at all. This is a major problem. I still think Israel ought to take that into consideration more, but there's enough guilt to go around.
John lost a fish. Rest in peace, Chisaii Sakana.
Funny: a petition to have Peter Jackson write and direct Star Wars 3 instead of George Lucas.
Matt took Wired's Autism-Spectrum Quotient test and got a 28. The average was 16.4. 80% of those diagnosed with autism scored 32 or higher. I scored a 12. I am not remotely autistic.
I was afraid the Iowa Hawkeyes were overhyped in the preseason when they went on a skid recently. But now they're resurgent, beating #2 Missouri handily on saturday.

Friday, December 14

You can buy your Lord of the Rings tickets for the first showing at Cinemark at 71st and 169 here in Tulsa online. That's the show I'll be at, if you want to go together (No stalkers, please.).
On the video index you can also find Inside the Trailer - stills with commentary. Very nice, and worth a look. Even it gives me chills.

One comfort: the principals are articulate in their interviews...that is, except for Liv. Arrgh.
I watch almost no tv (I'd have to break away from Alpha Centauri), so I haven't seen the Fellowship Character commercials. They gave me the chills.

All except the 'Arwen' video, of course. Better to call it the Liv commercial. She will save him my eye. Bahh. I'm a purist. We didn't need this meddling. I hope we've got the option of choosing the real thing when the DVD comes out.
A synapse fired: 'sheesh' is almost a palindrome. If you spell it with an 'x', like some transliterations of Chinese, it becomes one: 'xeex'. It's still not phonetically palindromic (if there even is such a thing).

The way my mind works...
Matt points out another Microsoft security problem. Sheesh. You'd think they could get it together.
Don't make these guys mad: a PowerPoint presentation - Yours Is a Very Bad Hotel. Some funny stuff about a bad experience. A little over the top, but hey...

Wednesday, December 12

I had a roommate for a while who was a huge Pearl Jam fan. He insisted they were not pop. We insisted they were, mostly to goad him. His brother, whom he respected very much, came to dinner one night. Terry asked his brother 'Is Pearl Jam pop?' expecting a no vote. His brother replied 'Do they play it on the radio every day?'. Case closed.
This comes in from our Australia office with the infamous lagado reporting:

: Hi Sean, how's things?
: Here's a link I thought you might find interesting:
: An interview with Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic
: "Around 1979, I began to question the utility of manned submarines and felt
: that we should shift to robotics. I took a sabbatical to Stanford and I
: began to design the Argo-Jason system--that was the first tele-operated
: robotic system. Ironically, my first test expedition was the Titanic. . . .
: Quite honestly, the Titanic was a cover for classified military purposes: to
: go inside the Thresher [a lost U.S. nuclear-powered submarine] and find the
: nuclear weapons that were on it. Little Jason Jr., which went inside the
: Titanic, was really designed to go inside the forward torpedo room of the
: Scorpion [another lost U.S. submarine], but they kept it under wraps."

I did find it interesting, so here it is.

Thanks, John.
If you got tired of no updates and stopped checking, we've got 4 new posts on the twinlog in the last couple of days.
Interesting Post article on psychological warfare (via USS Clueless).
Followup on the whole nature of Islam question: Franklin Graham's View of Islam. Highlights:

[Many] terrible deeds...are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.

You might say 'Christian teaching, too.'. But not orthodox Christian teaching. Aberrant Christian teaching. Check out Islamic orthodoxy:

The brutal, dehumanizing treatment of women by the Taliban has been well-documented and internationally condemned. However, the abusive treatment of women in most Islamic countries is nearly as draconian and falls far short of the dignity, respect, and protection almost universally given to women and mandated by the United Nations.

The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.

One example is the treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic government of Sudan. In the past year, our hospital in southern Sudan was bombed seven times by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. These bombings pale in comparison with the two million Christians and animists killed, and thousands more enslaved, by the regime in recent years.

In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.

Muslims are free to worship Allah in the U.S., but Christians are not free to worship Jesus in most Muslim countries. There has not been a single church in Afghanistan since the exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, destroyed the first and only one in the history of the country in 1973.

I think they said on 'The West Wing' that The Taliban is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity. That is not true. Ask basically traditional Muslims around the world how far the Taliban is from their beliefs. I don't think it's going to be very far.
Funny sendup of Segway by Matt, Jason, and Meg. If you've checked out the Segway sight and followed the hype, you should read the spoof.
via Daypop: somebody made a Hello Kitty laptop. (Christine, this is especially for you.)

Tuesday, December 11

It only took me two times to get an act I wanted.

The Eighties Pop Act Test deems me:

50% Eighties Pop Act

You are The Smiths: You were a peripheral player in the eighties, people thought it was cool to be your friend, but they never really wanted to spend time with you. Go watch Twin Peaks reruns.

Yeah, the Smiths rule. And I really liked 'Twin Peaks'. People did too want to spend time with me.

I can't tell you where I got this link because I'm the person's Secret Santa.
Oh yeah, want my DK2 review?

It was wonderful. I went out and bought it that day. Comicy[sic.] goodness. If you have any interest at all you should invest in it.
Interesting Post article on psychological warfare (via USS Clueless).
And, again, from Robot Wisdom (I'm not linking everything, go check), a different role for the B-52. Conclusion: close air support is always tricky business.
Patricia Cornwell thinks she knows who Jack the Ripper was (also via Robot Wisdom)
Must-read, autobiographical account of Robert Fisk being beaten by Afghan refugees (via Robot Wisdom).

I don't agree with all of his conclusions, that these people were innocent victims of war, and so innocent in attacking him. But this is a powerful experience, and he tries to wrestle with its meaning.
Matt is a very good writer. He recounts his feelings and experiences which circle around his father's recent stroke. It prompted me to recall my recent experience with my grandfather's death. I wrote to Matt:

the ironic thing about funerals is there's this great gathering to observe a loved one's life that that loved one would have really enjoyed. too bad we can't do such things more often prefuneral.
That Yahoo pop-under survey is driving me stark raving mad. I even took the darn thing.

Friday, December 7

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

If you're as big a fan as I am, you will go and read everything.

How did this slip by me? Why didn't I see this before? I'm not into comics any more, but it's already on the streets and I don't have it?!? Must. remedy. immediately.

I mean, just look at the sketches. Wonder Woman. as amazon. with rope as hangman's noose. Frank Miller rules the world.


That wasn't near enough. So I went back to Daypop where I found it, and found a MetaFilter thread. That linked an Onion article. It talks about screenplays and a possible Batman: Year One script. It mentions 'Batman: The Animated Series' in Dark Knight style. Anyone know how to get a hold of such a thing?

OK, I think that about covers it for now.

Wednesday, December 5

Time's list of global influencers. Nothing noteworthy or alarming that I can see here. You?
The Palestinians' lawyer is recommending illegalization of the state of Israel, a full global embargo, no further US mediation (citing prejudice in favor of Israel), and other things.
And an interesting post about how Marines kill tanks. I have a friend who's a Marine Reserve and drives the Hummer for one of these units.
Interesting ideas about nuclear threats over on Clueless Comments:

Should we rule out use of nuclear weapons? Never. We sent a clear warning to Saddam before the Gulf War that if he used chemical or biological weapons against us we would retaliate in a way that, in the words of envoy Jim Baker, "would take Iraq 100 years to recover from." The implication of that threat was unmistakable. The same warning will have to be given again before we deal with Iraq this time around. The problem is that this time Saddam knows that the destruction of his regime is our prime war aim. In the Gulf War, he knew that we only intended to eject his troops from Kuwait.

I suspect that this time Saddam will be told by Israel that any imminent chemical, biological, or nuclear threat perceived by Israel may result in an Isreals first strike nuclear obliteration of Iraq or at least of those places in Iraq where such weapons are suspected to be located. Israel lacks the luxury of "defense-in-depth." It cannot absorb a first strike secure in its ability to survive and retaliate. I suspect that lights are burning late in Washington as these "next step" issues are pondered.

If I were a work of art, I would be Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

I am extremely popular and widely known. Although unassuming and unpretentious, my enigmatic smile has charmed millions. I am a mystery, able to be appreciated from afar, but ultimately unknowable and thus intriguing.

Which work of art would you be? The Art Test

How can you do better than that?

With just one little change, I could have been Piet Mondrian's Composition A.

I am rigidly organised and regimented, although my cold and unapproachable exterior hides a clever way of thinking and a rebellious and innovative nature. A lot of people don't understand me, but I can still affect them on an emotional level.

(By the way, if you're wondering, I found these tests on the Daypop top 40).

Funny posts and stories from Dean. It's been awhile since I have read him.
My viking name is Jokull the Lawless. Cool.
Trivia: Enjoin is its own antonym. Other self-antonyms include fast ("moving quickly; fixed firmly in place") and cleave ("to split; to adhere").

Amazing! I know the meanings, but I'd never though of it that way. Thanks,!
Cool, a map of Middle Earth (Flash warning) on the Lord of the Rings site that you can explore (via vincentmeanie on MeFi, who has a beef, though I don't.). I love it that they have the quotes from Tolkien's map on this map, like 'Angmar - Here was of old the witch realm of Angmar.'.


Exploring a little myself, I think Rivendell's too busy. I'd like less art and a more minimal approach, but that's just me.
So how'd the MetaTalk discussion develop? Basically, my argument was ignored. The sarcasm comment was intentionally snarky. There was some snark back. No problem. No one else defended respect for people of faith. y6y6y6 called the majority of what he's read in the Bible 'pretty goofy'. I basically said 'that's stupid', ie, no thinking people reach that sort of global conclusion about the Bible. At least allow that it's an important historical document. No. Instead, the right to insult faith was defended twice. Stanley Hauerwas said 'Liberals are those people open to all points of view except those points of view which are open to all points of view.'. This exchange further proves that. Those of us of faith are often ignored out of the discussion among today's 'intelligentsia'. A report from the front.
Hold the phone! The Dow went over 10,000 today.

Tuesday, December 4

Heads up, Tulsa folks. I'm going to try to attend the first showing of The Fellowship of the Ring here in Tulsa. It appears that it will be at 11:50am on 12.19 at Cinemark at 71st and Hwy 169. I'm going to do some checking. If you want to attend together and haven't talked to me about it, let me know.
Hmm. Got involved in a thread talking about Christianity that got kicked into MetaTalk.
The searches that bring people to my site these days are much more satisfying than the former ObL frenzy. Usually I'm confident searches can find something of use, now. Some samples:

kennings, including the top result for 'kennings today'
Major League Baseball Contraction (29th result)
'I protect those who come here.' (only result!)
opinion of Roy Lichtenstein (105th result (how'd someone get that far down?))
Israelis Hit West Bank and Gaza in Sweeping Air Raids
(note: this is my redaction of the article.)

'Israel launched the assault after one of the most deadly waves of Palestinian suicide bombings inside the Jewish state in years.'

'Israel began a second day of air strikes after the government's classification of Arafat's Palestinian Authority as a supporter of terrorism paved the way to harsher retaliation.'

'Making his first public comments since the Israeli offensive began on Monday, Arafat hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Arafat told CNN television: ``He doesn't want a peace process to start.'''

'The decision at a government meeting to attack, and brand the Palestinian Authority an organization which supports terror, prompted a walkout by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' Labor Party which widened cracks in Sharon's broad coalition.'

Monday, December 3

I'm a sucker. I read the latest 'Star Wars: The New Jedi Order book - Edge of Victory I: Conquest (now that's a lot of names). It turned out to be pretty good. There was actually some progress in the plot. But, it's still, basically, the Jedi and the New Republic getting killed for the seventh book in a row. Even the original Star Wars cycle was only 3 installments (with other back story in lots of formats).

Another complaint: It's really not about any 'New Jedi Order'. It's mostly about the same characters, with extra focus on the Solo kids.

I did like the focus on Anakin in this one. I suppose I'll read the next one. Like I said, I'm a sucker. It's really only a couple of hours of my life. This one was a lot less painful than many of the others.

Wait, one more thing: I didn't specifically mention how tired I am of the practically invulnerable Yuuzhan Vong. And now there are hints that's what going to bring them down, to some degree, is their own religious fundamentalism. Yawn.

Okay, one more thing (with no promises that this is the last): The review for the next book on Amazon actually says:

But even in the midst of despair, while the fiercest battle of all looms on the horizon, hope arises with the birth of one very special child....

Haven't we done this plot in Star Wars, like about 6 times before (Anakin 1/Darth, Luke, Leia, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin 2)? Sheesh.
Chances are you've seen this already. It's all over Daypop. But, just in case you haven't, on the off chance that you care, the secret of IT/Ginger has finally been revealed. It looks...interesting. May it turn our urban spaces in to something more urbane. I hope it will. But I doubt it.
My buddy Robbi says people die musically as they grow older, like pretty shortly after college. Now I know some of the reason why: having children. It takes an act of will to add music to an already noisy environment. And when I'm by myself, in the car or when the kids are napping, I just want to enjoy the silence. Hmm.


If my wife, Christine, were a character in The Lord of the Rings, she would be Galadriel, Elf, Queen of Lothlorien, wife of Celeborn and grandmother of Arwen.

In the movie, she is played by Cate Blanchett.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

Galadriel and Faramir aren't ultimately matchable. He is far below her station, immeasureably far. That fits.
Something I don't expect you to be interested in: a long discussion on Clueless Comments about the relative value of the B-1 bomber and other military aircraft.
Also on the good ship Clueless, military lessons learned in this war:

The most important characteristics of heavy bombers are, in order, range, accuracy, and bomb load.
No amount of technical intelligence gathering [Signal intelligence, or SigInt] can completely replace spies [Human Intelligence, or HumInt].
Sometimes coalitions and alliances are liabilities.
Aircraft carriers continue to be valuable.
Diplomacy can't solve some problems.
"Smart" munitions are worth what they cost.
So are "improved" munitions (e.g. cluster bombs).
Air power alone still cannot win a conventional war, though it can make it much easier.
Specialized weapons (e.g. C-130 gunships) can be very valuable. Not everything has to be multirole.
Aerial tankers and cargo planes are as important as combat aircraft.
Mobility is a force multiplier.
Training is a force multiplier.
Communications is also a force multiplier.
Steven recounts the fascinating story of the vagaries of circumstance in relationship to the Battle of Midway (WW2), one of the 3 key battles of the war, in his estimation (along with El Alamein and Stalingrad).
Wholey Cow! I noticed some headlines about Enron, but I didn't know they were becoming insolvent. Amazing. How can this kind of thing happen? They got too big for their britches, I guess.
Off the beaten path: Jason's Tube obsession continues.
More of Matt's Meme: The MSN portal now has text ads at the top (though with a little different, actually less obtrusive format) (via toromorama).

Now, Rob notes that Google might have prompted some of this, but i'm giving the props to Matt!

Anyway, the textad is a much preferred form to any other previously encountered.
Very Important Explanation! Doc Holiday speak: 'I'm your huckleberry.' and 'Ain't that a daisy.'. Latter 19th century slang (via Jason).
AIDS is a global epidemic. World Aids Day was saturday. I didn't log saturday, so I'll log it today. My link of choice is UNAIDS. I have spent some time in both Tanzania and Ethiopia, where the virus is very widespread. My heart goes out to these people.
Archaeology Today: 'Bronze Age Pompeii' Found Buried by Vesuvius. That's 2000 BC to you and me.

Friday, November 30

Mainly for Christine: Top 100 names of 2001 (from the Social Security Administration, and they should know, right?) (link via fnirt on MeFi). William is 14th for boys. Sean is 59th. And Elizabeth is 7th for girls. Guess we're just like everybody else. And I thought we were counter-cultural :-)

Actually, now that I look at it, this page has a lot of links to potentially interesting information.
Recent interview with Philip Yancey, a particularly thoughtful and honest Christian writer.
While I was over there, I found that Steven's analysis of US talk about Iraq got linked in the sidebar and deserved it.

And in that thread, raysmj linked a slate article (warning: annoying pop up ad) giving reasons not to attack Iraq.
Hmm. Like I said, I'm back into MetaFilter after a long hiatus. They're having a lot of self-policing discussions over in MetaTalk. I don't think they're making much progress. You can check it out if you like. At any rate, something great got posted.

Freeze! Self-Appointed MeFi Police!

And if I need to, I'll use it!

That is all.
I decided to nose back over into One of their discussions centers around the importance of software and with the dominant theme being Rebooting Civilization.

Software and computation are reinventing the civilized world —"rebooting civilization," in the words of David Gelernter. "It's a software-first world," notes Stanford AI expert Edward Feigenbaum, chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force in the mid-nineties. "It's not a mistake that the world's two richest men are pure software plays. Or that the most advanced fighter planes in the U.S. Air Force are bundles of software wrapped in aluminum shells, or that the most advanced bomber is run by computers and cannot be flown manually". Everybody in business today is in the software business. But what comes after software?

Physicist David Deutsch, a pioneer in the development of the quantum computer, points out that "the chances are that the technological implications of quantum computers, though large by some standards, are never going to be the really important thing about them. The really important thing is the philosophical implications, epistemological and metaphysical. The largest implication, from my point of view, is the one that we get right from the beginning, even before we build the first quantum computer, before we build the first cubit. The very theory of quantum computers already forces upon us a view of physical reality as a multiverse."

I don’t necessarily buy that this is true. Multi-reality might be true at the quantum level, but that doesn’t mean it has huge metaphysical implications. If it does, it might point toward multidimensionality instead, for example, the kind that's being discussed in string theory.

One aspect of our culture that is no longer open to question is that the most signigicant developments in the sciences today (i.e. the developments that affect the lives of everybody on the planet) are about, informed by, or implemented through advances in software and computation.

I don’t think that’s right. Biological comparisons are ofter more apt. We just happen to be in love with our creations. God's creation is a better model for understanding, with better depth, than what we have created.

As before, I find Jaron Lanier’s reflections on this topic to be most useful. While we have faster, bigger, cheaper computers in accordance with Moore’s Law, software has, in many ways, gotten worse, not least of all because we’re locked into bad standards – there’s strong persuasion for me to use MS Windows and Office because everyone else does and I know files will be compatible.

Jaron writes ‘One question to ask is, why does software suck so badly?’. He goes on:

To tie the circle back to the "Rebooting Civilization" question, what I'm hoping might happen is as we start to gain a better understanding of how enormously difficult, slow, expensive, tedious and rare an event it is to program a very large computer well; as soon as we have a sense and appreciation of that, I think we can overcome the sort of intoxication that overcomes us when we think about Moore's Law, and start to apply computation metaphors more soberly to both natural science and to metaphorical purposes for society and so forth. A well-appreciated computer that included the difficulty of making large software well could serve as a far more beneficial metaphor than the cartoon computer, which is based only on Moore's Law; all you have to do is make it fast and everything will suddenly work, and the computers-will-become-smarter than-us-if-you just-wait-for-20-years sort of metaphor that has been prevalent lately.

The really good computer simulations that do exist in biology and in other areas of science, and I've been part of a few that count, particularly in surgical prediction and simulation, and in certain neuroscience simulations, have been enormously expensive. It took 18 years and 5,000 patients to get the first surgical simulation to the point of testable usability. That is what software is, that's what computers are, and we should de-intoxicate ourselves from Moore's Law before continuing with the use of this metaphor.


If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Faramir, Man of Gondor, the humble younger brother of Boromir.

In the movie, I am played by David Wenham.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Power

That's cool, because I really like Faramir.

However, if memory serves, Faramir has darker hair and complexion, different from his brother in that regard. I would have cast him differently, looks-wise. We'll see about the portrayal in a year in 'The Two Towers'.

Wednesday, November 28

More best of MeFi:

Did you know that someone photoshopped a picture of ObL to include a picture of mad Bert in the background that the major wire services picked up? And MeFi was one of the first places to break the story. (Before you sputter with disbelief that I didn't know this - I did. But if you didn't, it's worth a look.)
Then I found out that I have a Kottke number of 3. Hmm.
Hmm. I found this MetaTalk link in my referrers today. Turns out Steven mentioned me with gratitude twice. You are most welcome, Steven.

(Want my two cents worth on the debate? I guess most people like the mix of interesting links, a few of the serious, and personal stories. I like them. Fewer people like Steven's serious take. But I do.)
Interesting NYT editorial on fate of International Space Station (via Robot Wisdom).
Matt's meme: text ads are now popping up everywhere - Matt started it on MetaFlter. Evan adopted it for Blogger. Now Daypop's got it. Matt's got his finger on the proverbial pulse of this enlightened use of the Internet thing. Now we just need to find him a job.

Tuesday, November 27

Now this is fun: Matt's thinking about a best of Metafilter slot on the archives page. His idea thread elicits nominations and can point you to some of the best of MeFi.

The self-parody thread is funny, but you have to be kind of experienced over there (it's kind of the new 1142). Plus, believe me, I didn't read the whole thing.

The MeFi community took on for stealing Matt's design. Some funny stuff.

Anyway, you get the idea.
Here's a beautiful poem by the inimitable ee cummings (via Eric)(Why? Because everyone needs more poetry.):

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
by e e cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
I agree with everything Eric says about the situation with the Twins.
I really like John's Chair Trilogy. If you want and innocent, guilt-free laugh (since laughter, after all, is the best medicine) then GO AND READ IT!
Here's something kind of cool: Robot Wisdom is part of the syllabus for a Intro to Soc class at Parkland College.
The quick victory in the war is creating political problems. But I keep thinking it was right to fight and not dance. My uncle works for the Indiana State Police. He says 'If you're going to fight, fight. If you're going to dance, dance. But don't fight and dance.' Translation: fight to win. The political problems need to be treated. But we’ve got in trouble in the past mixing war and politics (fighting and dancing). If you’re going to fight, commit, and get the job done.

Strangely, this doesn't mean I condone the violence. I'm very conflicted on this issue. But there you have it.

Monday, November 26

It's just as I hoped: When I looked for the unabridged Lord of The Rings on tape the versions I found were in the 100$ range. Maybe I didn't look in the right place. I found them today on CD for about 35$ apiece at Amazon. I've heard 'The Return of the King' as read by Rob Inglis, and it was wonderful. I'm sure they're all the same.
Also via Jason, Secret Santa with Amazon wishlists. What a great idea. I'm in!
Wholey mackerel! Some dudes broke into, swiped 'hundreds of thousands' of names and credit card #s, then sent an email to everyone who got hacked, mostly just to prove a point (via Jason).
And there's a nice article in about Matt and Metafilter.

Random thoughts:

The title of the article is 'metafilter man'. How cool would that be on a one-of-a-kind tshirt for Matt?

Maybe there needs to be a 'metaflirter'. Interesting idea.The URL is available.
From the Daypop Top 40: a new gravity map of the world. Cool.
Wish I was going to be in Chicago to take in the Van Gogh and Gaugin exhibit. But I'm not going to, and I can't make a special trip.
I'm back. But you probably didn't know I was gone.

I found out last sunday that my maternal grandfather died the night before. So I hastily arranged stuff and flew out to Florida last monday. I got back saturday afternoon.

You probably chalked up the lack of posting to Thanksgiving, but there was more to it than that.

Monday, November 19

Matt got stuck in traffic at 3:30 this morning with other people coming back from watching the meteor shower. Cool.

If I was an Autobot, I'd be:

Blue Streak

Take the Transformers personality test at!

Very interesting article on CIA paramilitary involvement in Afghanistan by Bob Woodward.
Whoa. I had a big accident on my bike on saturday. Going too fast to make the turn, pushed off the cement wall, laid her down on our left side. A little sore on the ham, knee, and hand abrasions today.
Have you seen beatgreets? Jim Higgy sent me a neworder card from them and it was rad.

Friday, November 16

Wil Wheaton reports that Wesley Crusher might be in 'Star Trek X'. I got this at MetaFilter, and there are some crazy Star Trek geeks in that thread. My opinion? TNG was entertaining, but ultimately the cardboard characters were unsatisfying. I appreciated DS9's and Voyager's attempts to make things more interesting, more complex.
Cool. I found out from thewebtoday that Xerxes reputedly built a canal in Greece and now there may be some evidence of it.

That sent me off to Google. There I found some pictures (the latter with the appropriate selection from Herodotus (so here's another map relative to Herodotus' history) and a tourist map (the canal was apparently dug near Nea Roda (thinnest part of the more eastern peninsula)). If you haven't got the idea yet, or need to brush up on your history, here's a summary of the The Persian Wars. Finally, just to be complete, and give Google its due, here's another history with a less-detailed map.

(I'm going to post this on MetaFilter, too, so if you're curious, you can check it for comments.)
Jeff excoriates the Major League Baseball contraction idea, for various reasons. The new Sports Illustrated is in favor of it because it will help improve the quality of the game.

The real problem here is owners who are in it for the business and not for the fun and to win. Are there any guidelines MLB could enact to help with this problem?

Thursday, November 15

And Shimon Peres is talking about widespread support within Israel for a Palestinian state saying many people think it's their 'best bet'. Aptly described. It's a long way off. I'm not getting my hopes up. But this could also be the beginning of more good news.
There's a lot of good news coming out of Afghanistan for us. I'm sorry for the loss of life of civilians and others, but hopefully much of that will now change. Aid can come in now. Multinational peacekeeping troops are ready to get involved. The missionaries were saved. Afghanis are rising up against the Taliban. The political plan looks as good as it can. The Nothern Alliance doesn't seem to have their hearts set on ruling alone. I hope for good outcomes.

Wednesday, November 14

Can American Airlines possibly live through all of these bad things?
Review of Roy Lichtenstein's artwork (via Robot Wisdom). You might also check out his gallery at

I like his ironic pop art best. I interpret it as subversion. Here's
an example (there are lots more choices at that site, too.).

Does anybody look at this art stuff I put up? Oh well...
Hmm. I might have to start watching the Nets. (I've given up on the Hornets. Their management, especially, is terrible.) I like Jason Kidd and Keith Van Horn especially.
I need this controller (via cHutler on 13 Labs). It's only 200$. (Don't worry, Christine, I won't buy it without your permission. Sure would work well for me and the kids playing games, though! :-)
All of a sudden my # of hits is down. I attributed it to fewer people searching for Os--- b-- L---- pictures, my somewhat infrequent updates, and unknown factors.

I failed to notice I'm getting fewer referrals from Robot Wisdom. Jorn took the sites that support Israeli divestment off the top. There you have it. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Thanks, Jorn.

Tuesday, November 13

Archaeologists Unearth Roman City, Winery in Egypt
Remember my post about how much I like Mike Martz' mad scientist style of football? Bob Stoops at Oklahoma is kind of like that. He airs it out. He calls trick plays. They don't always work, but they often do, and it makes things exciting. I think it energizes players, too, to practice such plays and then have them called. It's one thing to practice a play for desperation. It's another thing to practice a play that you know has been called in cool situations.

(By the way, Matt McCoy, who threw the lateral mentioned in the article, goes to our church. It's a fun connection. Matt had an interception a couple of weeks ago, too.)
Kabul falls. Reportedly, the Taliban will now wage guerilla war. That could be particularly sticky.

Update: Steven discusses guerilla warfare. In short, the way to fight it is not fight it. You stop supplies and starve them out and stay ready to defend. If you try to go root them out, they'll eat your lunch.

Monday, November 12

Sorry for the lack of publishing lately. As you can see, I've had some posts. We were having some phone problems at home and then I was having problems with my BlogBack code, which I'll have to restore some other time.
I started and finished reading Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' over the weekend. It was great.

While I was at Neil's, I came across a fansite for Terry Gilliam. I really like his movies, especially '12 Monkeys' and 'The Fisher King'. I accidentally, but happily, watched these two on consecutive nights. The theme of insanity is so strong in these movies and almost all of Gilliam's other work - what is insanity? and when is it more sane to be insane than sane? Very provocative.
Reportedly, bin Laden is now confirming that he was behind the 9.11 terrorist attacks.

As usual, Steven also has a lot of very lucid war commentary, including his opinion that bin Laden's claim to have nuclear weapons is a bluff.
I love kennings. There's a site about them, formed into a game. I'm not into the 'game' or modern uses. I'm very conservative when it comes to kennings. The best come from Beowulf, eg, 'Beowulf, leader of the host
unlatched his word-hoard.' (Grendel Attacks about 2/3 down or Edit/Find on Page). Anyway, here's the selected, classic stuff.

What are Kennings?
Kennings are an old Norse poetic device based on the analogy. They're similar to Homeric epithets. Where the Greeks might say "the wine-dark sea" in their epic poetry, the Norse would say "whale road." This of course comes from the analogy "sea is to whale as road is to horse" or something like it. To use the standard shorthand, this becomes

sea : whale :: road : horse
You can also diagram it as

sea road
----- :: ------
whale horse
The key to the Kenning Game is realising that such an analogy provides four kennings possible (or at least permissible). In this case, we have

sea = whale road
whale = sea horse
road = horse sea
horse = road whale
You get these kennings by going "vertically" then "diagonally" from the word in question in Figure 2. With a valid analogy, you can always get a kenning by going vertically then diagonally. Try it and see.

Some of these seem a little strange, but we might make sense of them by positing that "road whale" for "horse" is the product of a culture of aquatic intelligent beings that ride whales the way we ride horses. Some kennings do come out strangely, but one thing we are after in art is the novel viewpoint.

sun : moon :: gold : silver

sun = gold moon
moon = silver sun
gold = sun silver
silver = moon gold

Friday, November 9

As you know, I link almost everything Lovecraft. Jorn has The HP Lovecraft Library online. As I've written before, there's some question about copyright (they state here they believe they're okay, and I'm inclined to agree), so view advisedly. (And, by the way, I listened to the sample of the Audio they're selling, 54 hours of voice synthesis. Do not buy it. If you want to support them, just give the money.)
Jason calls his weblog all London Tube maps all the time'. It's interesting, especially if you're into design. As Jason notes (and others with him) the new London bus maps are really easy to read and very useful.

(I've got to say, he also links to a letter from Satan which is well-intended by a Christian to provide an alternate perspective on Christianity, ie, from Satan's point of view. You may think it's in poor taste, but it is a fair statement of classical Christianity's view of Satan. CS Lewis, who was a great writer, did something similar with 'The Screwtape Letters'. I imagine Jason thinks this is a gas (and the music is corny), but I think it's largely based on correct theology, though mayb a little hokey.)
I enjoyed the webpage for the PBS special Warships
Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past and I think he's right in some regards. However, the sad thing is that he didn't do more about that when he could have. It would have been too politically costly. He's the one who brought us 'It's the economy, stupid.'
Fermi's Paradox II: What's Blocking Galactic Civilization? Or Are We Just Blind To It?

Hugh Ross is a physicist who says it's actually not surprising that there aren't any other life-bearing planets in the universe, not to mention civilizations. Design Evidences in the Cosmos. Design Evidences for Life Support.

Wednesday, November 7

If the filmmakers themselves can't cut it, the fans will.

Interesting story of The Phantom Edit.

The author writes:

While it advances the story faster, the film obviously cares for its characters even less than before.

This isn't true, strictly speaking. The editor had only so much footage to work with. S/he may be very interested in character, but just not have the material to work with.

More than anything, "The Phantom Edit" magnifies problems that can't be fixed with clever editing: too many bland, uninvolving characters (the stoic Jedis, the stoic Princess Amidala, way too many digital characters), too few scenes with Darth Maul, no renegade comic relief à la Han Solo, and a typically confusing final battle that takes place in about 13 different locations at once.

What can I say? Right. But I still love the Star Wars universe. I don't have to let it go, yet.

I finally got through on the 'Breathing' trailer I posted yesterday. It was cool. All of those things will probably still be wrong. But it's Star Wars. Most of all, I love the Jedi concept. I love thinking about other races of beings and space travel. I like the heroic subplot.

But some of the execution, some of the characterization, most of the dialogue comes up short.

Tuesday, November 6

Amazon comments: I like Amazon. I hope they live.

But, their interface is too busy. And I've noticed they've added a Target tab. And now they have an ugly 'Look Inside!' icon.
Arundhati Roy didn't want to be pigeon-holed as a pretty authoress with some political views, so she cut her hair off. Picture and recent interview (via Robot Wisdom).

By the way, I checked her Booker Prize winning novel, 'The God of Small Things' out from the library. I read the first chapter and a half and it didn't grab me. I doubt I'll go back to it. I'm not in the mood to persevere. Her writing is self-indulgent, 'precious', though I agree many of her values.
I've been really struggling with the pronounciation of garnishee. Now I think I've got it.
The Star Wars Teaser attached to 'Monsters, Inc' is now on the web. If you're having trouble viewing it, as I am (presumably because their servers are getting squashed), you can start with these stills (via Robot Wisdom).
Something I didn't know until I found it in my referrers: I'm the third of three results for the Google Barley's Uptown Dive.

Monday, November 5

One of the reasons I avoid conflict is because I don't like being wrong, and we tend to say things we regret when we're angry. On the other hand, if we don't vent those things sometimes and get them out in the open, it can do real damage. But I'm often not willing to do so because I'll say thing I regret and I'll have to say I'm sorry and I don't want to. There's something messed up in there.
Is it worth it to get Launch for free if I have to look at pictures of Tom Green with his finger in his nose and gross copy advertising 'Freddy...'? Yes, I guess, but it's close.
I'm thinking of the word excoriate today.
Remember back when the Spice Girls were big? I know it's hard to remember. In the ministry team I was on, we all decided to give ourselves Spice Names. Mine was Despondent Spice.
My Word of the Day for wednesday was eldritch. Turns out, the etymology is 'elf kingdom' (the word for kingdom in Old English being 'rice' like in the German 'reich'). Cool.
ABY - Anybody But the Yankees. I'm glad the Diamondbacks won.

Friday, November 2

If you like REM, you'll probably like

Backspin: R.E.M. Album Retrospective
still liking: Gorillaz

"There's a lot of manufactured bands, and they're all manufactured very poorly. We just thought, if you're going to manufacture something, why not do it properly?" Jamie reasons.
Purple Haze all in my brain,
lately things don't seem the same,
actin' funny but I don't know why

I know why: lots of ganja.

(By the way, when I debated a little my freshman year of high school there was a Jimmy Hendrix paradigm that if you couldn't understand the words of the debater then they didn't count for anything. Hmm.)
Here's a kind-of-long-but-somewhat amusing discourse on specialness (via 13)

Wednesday, October 31

I posted the Reformation Day stuff on MetaFilter and it engendered some discussion.
Oh yeah, Matt's got a fun new graphic at the top today: SpookyFilter.
Our favorite guy who used to write a weblog-type-thing, Greg Knauss, and his wife had a son (via plinth on MeFi which engendered some kudos for Greg).
Fascinating piece on NPR yesterday about the music recording industry and it's history. It seems ASCAP, then a monopoly, was overcharging. BMI was formed, which ASCAP scorned. BMI looked for new music and found Latino sounds as well as a lot of country, rock, etc. A whole new sound was born. It's very interesting, and almost ironic, given today's copyright wars. 2 paragraphs from Digital Century. Some dude's essay about how the system works today and its problems.
And while we're on the subject of Episode 2, some pictures from the site for your enjoyment (culled from over 45 for you, my loyal reader!): Anakin, our young heroes in action, cute young jedi, Amidala reminiscent of Leia in Episode 5, Obi-Wan with chillin' beard, young Anakin?, Anakin, Boba Fun, Amidala exploring the challenging world of bare midriffs.
I listened to Garrison Kiellor's 'Writer's Almanac' this morning and it inspired me.

He noted that today is John Keats' birthday. SELECTED POETRY OF JOHN KEATS (1795-1821).

And, since everyone needs more poetry, here's a particular selection, seasonally appropriate, and ode to my favorite season. (Incidentally, we did an AP practice essay on this poem in high school and I got marked down because I didn't write about how autumn can be compared to aging people. Maybe he was thinking about that, since he died young of TB, like his mother and sister before him. Oh well, it's still a great poem.)


1 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
2 Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
3 Conspiring with him how to load and bless
4 With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
5 To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
6 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
7 To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
8 With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
9 And still more, later flowers for the bees,
10 Until they think warm days will never cease,
11 For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

12 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
13 Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
14 Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
15 Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
16 Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
17 Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
18 Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
19 And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
20 Steady thy laden head across a brook;
21 Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
22 Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

23 Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
24 Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
25 While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
26 And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
27 Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
28 Among the river sallows, borne aloft
29 Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
30 And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
31 Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
32 The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
33 And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Today is also Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517. He was largely criticizing the practice of selling indulgences. He didn't intend to split with the church. He left room for the Pope to slip out of the indulgences corruption. But the Pope didn't, and the split eventually came.

The first thesis:

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

I think he was right. Repentance is not something we do once or 3000 times as much as it is how we are to live before God. Another way to describe this is humility.

Finally, Kiellor read WH Auden's Musée des Beaux Arts. Wonderful. The thing I like about Auden is that he uses normal language and events and lives, but still talks about important ideas, interacting with art like, in this case, 'Brueghel’s Icarus'.
via Daypop Top 40

Star Wars Ep 2 Teaser Trailer in Theaters (attached to 'Monsters, Inc')
Mildly interesting 'Fellowship of the Ring' movie update.

Tuesday, October 30

All Steven All the Time: good post on normal anthrax vs. bio-warfare anthrax.
Steven had a helpful dialogue with some questions from 'The Guardian' about the war in Afghanistan. If you want plausible answers to why things are being done a certain way, give it a read.
Today's Daypop Top 40 links: some dude's wicked-cool Tron Halloween costume, and, since I log all things Lovecraft, the Cthulu plush doll.

Monday, October 29

Steven had an amazing analysis of the proposed Department of Defense budget, per my request. You should read it. Preview: the importance of training, Osprey-bad, pork, artillery-good, and too-expensive jets.

More expansively, I really agree with Steven that the military needs to be focused on training personnel, much more so than on capital acquisition, as I've said before.

From research I've done before on the new destroyers, I think they're budgetting for one at a time, budgetting one per year, or something like that.

Thanks, Steven.
Followed a referrer to Found an old discussion they had about Karl's Modern MetaFilter Front Page Post Generator. Hilarious. Read about it on the MeFi front page and in MetaTalk. Then I found what Matt once wrote (with a hilarious, non-mean comment about Steven).
A strange blip just crossed my mind. Why not dispense it?

Does the fbi have a file on you? The new contest/meme:

am i fbi or not?
Lockheed Martin got the 200 billion $ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter contract, announced on friday. For more links, scroll to the bottom of the Yahoo article, or surf the MetaFilter thread.
Seen the links about the 40 ft crocodile-dinosaur? It now has its own website (warning: Flash intro).

Sunday, October 28

As you know, I don't usually double log with the twins, but we've got some pictures up that you ought to see.

Friday, October 26

FISCAL YEAR 2002 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL (hair warning) (via kliuless on MeFi).


$317.5 billion total

$7.9 billion for Missile Defense, an increase of $2.7 billion over the fiscal year 2001 appropriated amount. (now included under the new heading 'Counter-Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction')

$18.3 billion – for the Defense Health Program, providing a 50 percent increase in funding over fiscal year 2001 levels (this is probably money well spent - take care of personnel.)

$2.8 billion for the procurement of 15 C-17 airlifters and adds $180 million over the budget to support a follow-on multi-year procurement of C-17s.

$10.1 billion for Navy shipbuilding

PROCUREMENT: $61.4 Billion - $936.8 million for 11 V-22 aircraft (Osprey - I, for one, am glad, simply from a technology point of view, that the Osprey is going to get a chance.), $3 billion for 48 F/A-18E/F fighter aircraft.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: $47.7 Billion, including $1.5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter.

You're a smart cookie (that's why you read "interact', right?). What conclusions do you draw from these figures?
Alan Moore wrote the graphic novel that recently came out as the movie 'From Hell'. Before that he wrote the critically acclaimed 'Watchmen'. The guy who wrote the 'X-men' script is going to work on 'Watchmen'. Promising, but I can't imagine condensing the meaningful material of 'Watchmen' into one feature film.
Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Does the current and planned military buildup guarantee the future of the Joint Strike Fighter? I guess it does. We'll see. The contract winner will be announced today.

Thursday, October 25

Here's another Arundhati Roy page.

For a little balance, here's one critique. This guy probably has a point about Roy's hyperbole.

Wednesday, October 24

Hmm. This alternative keyboard for the Palm is very enticing.
Freaky. They found the camera of a photographer who was killed in the WTC collapse with the pictures he shot of the tragedy, time-stamped. I still look at these pictures and think things like 'Dear God...' (via
Steven graciously responded to my post about China's army (half-way down). Thanks, Steven.
Alberto Giacommetti is one of my favorite sculptors. The Museum of Modern Art has an exposition of his work (Flash warning) right now and has some of it online.

Without being a scholar or having officially studied him, his figures speak existentialism to me - we live, as we dream, alone. We are separated from one another. We are fragile, negligible objects in this world. Don't miss his 'City Square'.

On a totally different scale, I really like Paul Granlund's sculptures. The largest concentration appear at Gustavus-Adolphus College, where Granlund was sculptor in residence and still has his studio. His Dancing Francis is very famous, and we now have a copy of it at Wartburg College, where Christine and I attended.
I keep reading about Arundhati Roy lately, so I decided to follow some of the links. Here's an interview she gave to The Progressive in April. She's the Booker Prize winning author of 'The God of Small Things'.

There is such grandeur in India and so much beauty. I don't know whether they can kill it. I want to think they can't. I don't think that there is anything as beautiful as a sari. Can you kill it? Can you corporatize a sari? Why should multinationals be allowed to come in and try to patent basmati rice? People prefer to eat roti and idlis and dosas rather than McDonald's burgers. Just before I came to the U.S., I went to a market in Delhi. There was a whole plate of different kinds of dal, lentils. Tears came to my eyes. Today, that's all it takes to make you cry, to look at all the kinds of dal and rice that there are, and to think that they don't want this to exist.

I hate to be the deflater, but, yes, you can corporatize a sari. You can make it into chic fashion in the States. And that could happen any day now. Fashion co-opts tradition and individuality all the time.

I can't be a part of the large convoy because it's not a choice that you can make. The fact that I'm an educated person means that I can't be on that convoy. I don't want to be on it. I don't want to be a victim. I don't want to disappear into the darkness. I am an artist and a writer, and I do think that one always places oneself in the picture to see where one fits. I left home when I was sixteen and lived in places where it was very easy for me to have fallen the other way. I could have been on the large convoy because I was a woman and I was alone. In India, that's not a joke. I could have ended up very, very badly. I'm lucky that I didn't.

I think my eyes were knocked open and they don't close. I sometimes wish I could close them and look away. I don't always want to be doing this kind of work. I don't want to be haunted by it. Because of who I am and what place I have now in India, I'm petitioned all the time to get involved. It's exhausting and very difficult to have to say, 'Look, I'm only one person. I can't do everything.' I know that I don't want to be worn to the bone where I lose my sense of humor. But once you've seen certain things, you can't un-see them, and seeing nothing is as political an act as seeing something.

(Oh yeah, I got to this via some stuff at Debater's Corner.)
Matt rants about Windows XP. Right on. At least let me opt out of the default Big Brother ware. Even better, let people opt in. I agree with Matt. This tack is a little surprising given MS's legal troubles. But not that surprising, given their arrogance.

Tuesday, October 23

Some thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan (reflections on this article):

There are a lot of civilian deaths and collateral damage. What do we think about this? Is it acceptable? Will it create more terrorists and further ill-will toward the US in the Middle East and around the world?

How do we feel about the refugees that are being displaced? Do we want to help them and the countries that might receive them? How?

Never, ever, forget The Law of Unintended Consequences. What might they be in this case?

What kind of government will come into being in the wake of the Taliban? It's hard to believe it would be worse, but will it be better? Will we contribute to a better government? How?

The Taliban has been fighting opium production. Will it go up as they are weakened? Is that okay? Will we address that?

How do we plan on addressing Islamic fundamentalist terrorist support in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq?

What should our relationship be with Pakistan? If they will join us in the fight, are they our friend?

What other countries are we cozying up to in coalition-building? Is it okay, for example, for Russia to have a free hand in Chechnya if they will support us?

How do we view Afghanistan's already-oppressed civilian population? Do we want to make any plans to help them? Do we have any?

There are more questions, but these are a start. This situation is extremely complex
I forget how I found this link to the Ayn Rand Institute.

I think their many of their views are absolutely crazy. To wit:

What ideas have undercut America? Politically, America's policy is one of appeasement, which emboldens our enemies. We occasionally half-heartedly bomb individual terrorists, but we negotiate with and leave unharmed the countries that perpetrate the attacks. Our leaders have been taught in college that pragmatism—the abandonment of a principled stand—is practical. Morally, America has been disarmed by altruism, the idea that sacrifice for the sake of others is the moral ideal. Our leaders think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force is necessary, America's self-interest. And the moral relativism and egalitarianism flowing from our universities causes our leaders to identify our enemies simply as men who have different but equally valid values. Our enemies are not seen as the evil they are.

I conclude that these people would have us unilaterally attack countries we view as terrorist. They are anti-altruism, which I think is wrong, not to mention nonChristian (which they would also be, of course). I 'think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force necessary, our self-interest', so I guess I could be one of our leaders. What of the times when our self-interest impinges on the self-interest of others (not terrorists, as in some part of this case) say, Afghani civilians. Terrorists are evil. This justification, though, could give unlimited rationalization-ability to anyone in leadership. I don't want that, do you?
Snarky fun: Fametracker (via Textism), featuring this quote in the Keanu Reeves Fame Audit:

Everyone everywhere must by now understand that The Matrix kicks ass two times.
Interesting interview with Douglas Coupland (I might have found this via Daypop).

I loved 'Microserfs'. 'Girlfriend in a Coma' was weird. His latest book, 'All Families Are Psychotic', sounds even weirder. I'm not planning on reading it.

He's got great titles, though.
Don't recollect whether or not I mentioned that John 13's wife, Jen, had an encounter with a panhandler. As she says, 13 Labs might become the panhandler weblog (it is, de facto). Funny.
I'm trying to resist. But I don't know if I can. What do you think, Christine?

Here's a review for the object of my desire: Civilization 3.
Jim featured Joy Division's Substance cd last wednesday. Now that's a good cd.
Like some of my posts, Steven has a list of interesting Google searches that have brought people to his site.
Apparently, the People's Liberation Army (of China) is thinking of broadening their definition of warfare. They have published a book entitled 'Unrestricted Warfare'.

Should U.S. financiers whose trading adversely affects Chinese “red-chip” companies be assassinated? Should Beijing covertly fund political-influence operations in the United States?

Facing a potentially huge nuclear-weapons buildup as well as an even bigger high-tech conventional-arms race to reach parity with the United States and Russia, members of the echelon of senior colonels who will be among tomorrow’s PLA flag officers are looking beyond the nuclear age to a new and more stealthy form of war.”

The book is part of a larger effort within the PLA to develop a means of challenging the United States through “asymmetry” — not by trying to match the United States missile for missile, but by turning the strength of China’s adversaries against themselves as a judo artist subdues a larger, stronger foe. “Understanding and employing the principle of asymmetry correctly allows us always to find and exploit an enemy’s soft spots."

“Hacking into Websites, targeting financial institutions, terrorism, using the media and conducting urban warfare are among the methods proposed...The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.”

You might want to read the rest of the article (via Robot Wisdom).

This is scary stuff. It's the logical conclusion of where the world has been heading, but it's still very scary. How about this critique of the US military:

The Americans have not been able to get their act together in this area. This is because proposing a new concept of weapons does not require relying on the springboard of new technology, it just demands lucid and incisive thinking. However, this is not a strong point of the Americans, who are slaves to technology in their thinking.

I'll send this stuff to Steven, the expert among my friends, and see what he thinks.
More interesting searches in my referrers: tolkien zionism and baylor guy man looking.
Whoa. MeFi added TextAds when I wasn't looking. I don't mind. I looked at all of them. I think Matt could even go to subscriptions, or some kind of MeFi pro.

I AM 32% GEEK.

I probably work in computers, or a history
department at a college. I never really
fit in with the "normal" crowd. But I have
friends, and this is a good thing.

Found this at the always-enjoyable Daypop Top 40

And, by the way, no, that doesn't look like me. I haven't yet gone to the full beard for winter from the summer goat[ee], my head is buzzed, I don't usually wear my glasses, and I'm a lot better looking than that guy (It's true. Ask my wife!).
Will financiers ditch Amazon if they don't make a profit in the fourth quarter?
I read about a hands-free, head-mounted mouse in the new Wired last night. It tracks with where you're looking on the screen and works to the pixel. It sounds great, but don't forget The Law of Unintended Consequences. Would we develop the equivalent of carpal-tunnel syndrome in our necks. What's that, vertebral tunnel syndrome? Or at least tendinitis? That would really stink.

Monday, October 22

I'm going to start watching Debater's Corner because I loved Jeff's weblog 'Shadow Government of the USA' back when it used to run. It's not about debate, it's got great links with a debate focus, but they can obviously be applied to a desire for general knowledge of the world.

(Debater's Corner is a division of Hobbsblog 2, Inc.)
Do you remember I'm trying to cut back on NFL consumption? But I was in the car for 9 hours yesterday and it was a good way to pass the time.

Anyway, the Vikings played stud yesterday, and I can't believe it. I have a deep suspicion that it was not their defense that beat the Packers but that somehow the Packers didn't execute on offense, and, in addition, we finally did execute on offense.

Further NFL reflections:

This parity thing (read: salary cap) is crazy. Winners lose and losers win. Not that I don't like it. I think parity and the salary cap and revenue sharing is a pretty good thing. The problem is that players will jump ship so quickly for more money. Then teams don't build teamwork that extends past a year. They're constantly retooling, which is contributes to parity. I think the athletes, many of them, are keeping score with money. They don't need the money, but they want the respect the money represents. I can understand that. But I think it's a bad basis for decision making, and it seriously degrades the game. It's a symptom of real lack of character in our society as a whole. Thus, I'm trying to patronize the NFL (and other professional and monied sports) less.

Mike Martz is a mad genius. Who else practices a downfield lateral on an inside reverse? He also has incredible players. On top of that, I'm a huge Kurt Warner fan: he's from Iowa, he's got piles of character, and the dude can flat play.