Thursday, March 31, 2005

You can't force people to be bipartisan

I almost didn't read this CNN article. I thought it was just another, "Bush is saying the same old lies again," but after a while I decided to check it out:

Bush makes new retirement pitch
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- President Bush suggested Wednesday that lawmakers who oppose his proposal for a Social Security overhaul could face political problems as a result.

Excuse me? Apparently the whole article is about how Bush is going to punish people who oppose his ideas.

"But, Ted, Ted! I need some quotes! I don't want a summary. I want quotes! What did BUSH say?!"
"Now is the time to fix it, and I think there is a political price for not getting involved in the process."
"I think there is a political price for saying, `It's not a problem, I'm going to stay away from the table."'
"I believe there will be a bad political consequence for people who are unwilling to sit down and talk about the issue," Bush said in New Mexico last week.

Then at the end of the article, a quote from Chairman Charles Grassley, "the man assigned to put his Social Security ideas into a bill that can pass Congress."
"We got to turn up the heat on Washington, D.C., to see this as an issue and get a bipartisan agreement to get something done," Grassley said.

Um, excuse me?

The whole point of something being BIPARTISAN is that both sides AGREE with it. If you have to FORCE the other side to GIVE IN with threats of cutting them entirely out of the political process afterwards, then it's PARTISAN. You want it, they don't, and you're going to ignore them if they don't change their minds.

THAT'S NOT BIPARTISAN!
 

Students for War (in Korea, and in FRANCE?)

Incoherent Blather: Students for War
Yes, they're real, they want to invade North Korea, and they make fun of France.

You could make spaghetti in my blood right now...

In other words, my blood is boiling.

You see, on the machine in my office, my adviser wanted me to get two hard drives -- one for backups. So I did, and for a while I've been doing nightly incremental backups, and it's been fine, but it's just SILLY.

Now, back in my geeky days, in these situations I'd boot up my Linux machine, mirror my journaled filesystem onto another hard drive, and be happy knowing that if one drive died, the other one would still be up and running.

I knew that Microsoft was about 25 (literally, really) years behind the times when they released mirroring for Windows 2000, so I figured I might try doing the same on my Windows XP Professional machine.

So I go in and I convert the two disks to dynamic volumes. It reboots. It then reboots again. And then it comes up and they're both dynamic volumes, so I'm ready to try doing the mirroring (note that in Linux you don't need dynamic volumes to mirror, but no one at Microsoft actually goes to school before they start working there, so they're all idiots, and I hate them, and they'll never actually take the time to get educated because people don't care if their software developers are educated; I hate people too, by the way). Then I notice that that option is greyed out. I can create a new SPANNED volume. I can create a new STRIPED volume. I can create a new SIMPLE volume. I CANNOT convert my disk back to basic mode (which is another thing that pisses me off). And I definitely cannot mirror. I can see the option; it's just greyed out.

So I do a little searching and find out that Windows XP Pro **CAN** create mirrored volumes on **REMOTE** Windows 2000 Server (and Advanced Server) machines. Windows 2000 Server/Advanced Server machines can also locally create mirrored volumes too.

So I'm pretty pissed. Now, my university does give me Windows Server 2003 for free, and it might be worth an install, but I really don't want to deal with that. I don't want to run IIS (which I think *IS* available to me on this stupid machine) or MS-SQL server or anything else. I just want to mirror my damn drives JUST LIKE AN AVERAGE CIVILIZED PERSON!!!

Everyone in the world should have an operating system that can do software mirroring. It just MAKES NO SENSE OTHERWISE.

Maybe I'll get lucky and Dell will have installed an ATA controller that does hardware RAID-1. That'd be sufficient. That'd be a better. And, of course, because we're dealing with Dell and not Apple (or me if I had built it myself), that'd be a pipe dream.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know what I mean, know that I partially blame you for creating a market of ignorant idiots. We might have quality computers if it wasn't for this market.

Scape goat hiding behind the Bush

This administration really likes to find fall guys. It likes finding people to blame. An article on CNN.com today:
Bush commission on WMDs to fault intelligence sharing
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction will castigate U.S. intelligence agencies for their continued failure to share information after numerous reforms aimed at improving coordination, federal officials said Tuesday.

That's interesting. Because all of this information was delivered to the President months before September 11. We had no trouble gathering it before September 11. We even knew that planes were going to be used as weapons. Yet Rumsfield got pissed at us diverting money from his missle defense program (who didn't stop the slow moving planes) and Cheney, Bush, and everyone's hero Rice did not feel this information was important enough to take action on...
The report examines factors that might have led to errors, the official said, such as whether policy-makers were seeking preconceived conclusions, whether foreign intelligence agencies had reached similar conclusions and whether analysts had little information to work with.

That's interesting. Because Dick Cheney was working with our intelligence agencies to make a preconceived case up about Iraq.

Remember how pissed George Tennant was after no one would listen to him yelling about terrorists about to mount an attack on the US? Yeah. Bush does too. He fired him for that.

Can't we just get rid of Bush and Cheney? Isn't the administration the problem?
 

It's a FRONTSLASH, ASSHOLE!

UPDATE: Technically a "slash" is a "frontslash," so technically saying "C colon slash program files slash..." is incorrect too; however, somehow that's not so hard on my ears as hearing lots of "frontslashes" when clearly "backslash" is what you mean...

So far I've really enjoyed Al Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, which I've been listening to in audiobook form, which is read by the author, which is another treat. It has been fair and balanced. I recommend it. I really do.

However, today Al Franken disappointed me. This is going to seem anal, but he and his team of Harvard researchers ("Team Franken" -- some 12 or 14 Harvard undergrads and grads in a seminar that worked on researching the book) should know better.

/ is a FRONTSLASH. It leans "FORWARD" to the right.

\ is a BACKSLASH. It leans "BACKWARD" to the left.

If you're still confused, just say SLASH and the person you are talking to, who is smarter than you, will use your context to figure it out for herself.

You see, when you say:
ayche tee tee pee backslash backslash double-u double-u double-u dot web site dot com backslash with backslash some backslash stuff backslash after it dot ayche tee em el
YOU SOUND LIKE AN ASSHOLE. So stop that. (see Erin? This is something I wouldn't have even noticed if I actually READ the book. Hearing him read it gave a whole new dimension to it)
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Microsoft working on new ID system

Microsoft working on new ID system
SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp. will build software for managing identities into Windows in order to beef up security by giving users more control over their personal information, the world's largest software maker said Tuesday.

Microsoft is currently working on a new Internet Explorer Web browser and version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, but Stephenson declined to say whether "info-cards" would be built into the current Windows XP version or Longhorn.

These people just won't stop. But have no fear, Microsoft says:
While Microsoft's earlier plans involved the use of centrally stored information beyond computer desktop, the "info-card" system will keep data stored on a personal computer, Microsoft said.

"It's going to put control of digital IDs into the hands of an end-user, the end-user will be in full control," Stephenson said.

Oh, I see... So what's the point again? Why are you building this system if it's not to enslave the human race?

Keep in mind that Bill Gates IS a major supporter of the GWBush campaign.

Haunting Thoughts (and music...)

So, on the topic of secrets, there's something that I used to think about a lot a while ago, but I've forgotten about... at least until recently.

So it came up recently. Once. Probably a week or two (or three?) ago... and it's been on my mind ever since. I hated thinking about this thing years ago, and I hate thinking about it now, but just like years ago, I have no choice... I'm a slave to my thoughts.

And on that note, ever since Grey's Anatomy aired Sunday at 10PM, the song "They" by Jem has been going around in my head. It's just a very catchy song, and they played it at just the right moments in the show where it would be burned into my head... Like... It's like how we all feel like we have a "soundtrack" to our lives. We walk around thinking about what song would be played with this mood and this situation... Well, similarly, when certain important situations are going on in a show, I think we tend to more easily remember music (if it's the "right" kind of music) during that situation...

And so Jem has been going around in my head. I didn't know that's who sang that song. I had to keep checking the Grey's Anatomy page until they posted the music for the show... Oh, and if you're interested, the critical reviews of the show probably have a good point. It's an unoriginal show meant to draw people to ABC who are so used to going elsewhere for their medical dramas and comedies. Heck, in the next episode all the interns start living together, so it turns into a medical drama with funny situations about a bunch of people living in the same house for one season. EEEK!

However, perhaps it's because I'm worthless... perhaps it's "one of the sunniest smiles ever seen in a TV medical show" (referring to Ellen Pompeo)... but I'm hooked. I enjoyed Sunday night's premier, and I'm looking forward to continuing my patronage of the new Sunday night after-Desperate Housewives (i.e., 10PM EST) show on ABC.

And I don't mind the song (which, I think, was on some of the previews) going around in my head so much... I do mind the other thing. While there are plenty of other distractions throughout my day, I think the other thing is doing the worst damage...

From the song... (though the lyrics really aren't all that great; it's just the song's music is sort of eerie and fun at the same time; I get the same sort of feelings from Aimee Mann songs sometimes)
Do you see what I see
Why do we live like this
Is it because it's true
That ignorance is bliss

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Do you have a secret?

I just found out about postsecret.blogspot.com today.
You are invited to anonymously contribute your secrets to the PostSecret project. Each secret can be a regret, hope, belief, experience, fear, betrayal, desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before.

Create your own 4-inch by 6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. But please only put one secret on a card. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards.

He then takes those postcards and posts them as blog entries (at least the good ones). They're fun to read. It's one of those things where it's not like laughing at other people's secrets; it's like taking comfort in the fact that you're not quite that weird. Nearly every secret is something that could apply to anyone. You may not have ever been in the situations mentioned in each secret, but you very easily could have been and could have reacted the same way.

At least that's why I think it's neat. A wave of empathy washes over me, and I somehow feel connected to the people who have posted the secrets, and I can understand why they have decided to mail them in.
 

Genesis was a Band, not a Truth

Scary: Answers in Genesis Creation Museum

They call it a "walk through history." They say that evolution is only possible with UFO's an aliens, and say that that's what "scientists" are pushing on people.

One of the exhibits has people and dinosaurs coexisting together, walking around like it actually happened. In fact, some of the dinusaurs have SADDLES ON THEM so they can be ridden by their HUMAN MASTERS.

I learned about this off of Convulsive space: The Creation Museum, a blog written by a scientist (one of those people who acutally had to go to school to learn what natural selection was, rather than taking it from someone on the news who didn't have to go to school at all). I quote from that blog here:
There is a new museum being built called "The Creation Museum," and one of the exhibits shows people side-by-side with dinosaurs (in Eden). According to News Hour, one of the dinosaurs even has a saddle on it.

Come on people!!! It's one thing to say that:

(the Intelligent Design view) "Life must have been designed because it is too complex to be accounted for by natural selection,"
or

(the Creationist view) that "God designed all life as it is today and that fossils and carbon dating are tricks by the devil or tests of faith by God."

Both of these views are sincere and true-hearted attempts to reconcile the apparent randomness of evolutionary biology with the order that one believes God brings to the universe.

But it's another thing altogether to go around constructing total fiction at a MUSEUM. People and dinosours co-existing? There's no evidence for that in the Bible, and there is certainly loads of scientific evidence AGAINST it.

Again, I blame this on Dr. Tom DeLay, the idiot captain.
 

Apparently No Selective Pressure for Intelligence

So here's an interesting CBS News poll showing how America views "evolution" and "creationism" and how that compares to their political actions (i.e., their 2004 Presidential voting):

Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution
Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that God was not involved. But most would not substitute the teaching of creationism for the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Now, first of all, educated people know the difference between "evolution" and "natural selection" and these pepole also understand how to contrast "natural selection" with "intelligent design/creationism." Note that some really educated people know all of this AND the difference between "intelligent design" and simple "creationism."

You see, among religious and scientific scholars, evolution is uncontested. No one says that evolution isn't happening. If you're feeling the urge to say, "But Ted...," here, then I urge you to actually go out and do some reading (like a BOOK, not just an article), becuase you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

The real debate has to do with "natural selection" as a source of diversity (keep in mind that Darwin's book, which only said "evolution" ONCE in all its pages, was called On the Origin of Species; it was about SPECIATION) versus other sources of diversity, like things related to some sort of divine intervention.

These are delicate topics that most of the public does not truly understand. If we let the public guide these sorts of policy issues, we'd have to let them guide lots of other things that they know nothing about. This would mean the end of civilization.

If you don't know, don't raise an opinion. You're just messing our lives up. Your kids pay the price. And God hates you for it.

Bumper Sticker Gets Bush Town Hall Meeting Attendees Singled Out

Secret Service investigating removal of three from Bush visit
DENVER -- The U.S. Secret Service on Monday said it was investigating the claims of three people who said they were removed from President Bush's town hall meeting on Social Security last week after being singled out because of a bumper sticker on their car.

The three said they had obtained tickets through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

Why does this man (GWBush) even have town hall meetings when he's just going to preach to people who already agree with him?

I originaly read this on Incoherent Blather: Let the emporer hear no dissent!

I thought that was a cute title. On that blog the comment was made:
Now this kind of thing might fly under, say, Caeucescu, or Kim, or Mussolini, but should the man who claims God's mantle in promoting freedom be doing it at home? I know that this is symptomatic of my leftist-freedom hatred and my desire to advance the gay agenda and abortion on demand, but throw me a bone.

I thought that was a funny comment.

You know what was also funny? When Ari Fleischer and Karl Rove said that the outgoing Clinton administration vandalized the White House with graffiti and shits on desks and glued-shut cabinets and all sorts of things. He made that press conference, you remember it, when he said that he wasn't going to mention all the things they did, because that would prevent them put ill-feelings between the parties, but he was going to mention that it happened. Then White House officials called reporters telling them that INCOMING phone lines were cut (but outgoing worked) and they could have their number but it wouldn't work. The reporters would call the numbers and sure enough the line would be dead. Remember all of that? And then remember how they lauched an investigation and found out that the only vandilization that was done was done by Ari Fleischer and Karl Rove? HILARIOUS.

That reminds me of the time when Bush hired "independent polling agents" to call up Americans and ask them if their vote for John McCain would be affected if they knew he fathered an illegitimate black child. John McCain did not father an illegitimate black child, though he did adopt a child with his wife who happens to have dark skin. Either way, the pollsters put the rumor out there, and it soared.

This is Bush politics, people.
 

Canadian government kills 320,000 seals to satisfy seal meat seafood fetish

Activists to fight seal, elephant culls
Canada said last week it would allow hunters to kill 320,000 young seals on the ice floes off its Atlantic coast from Tuesday and earlier this month a South African official told Reuters that national parks were leaning towards an elephant cull.

Ottawa says the seal hunt helps ensure the health of what it describes as a booming seal population. It insists the activity is humane, but animal rights groups say many seals are skinned alive and die in agony.

For many fishermen in Newfoundland, struggling in the wake of the collapse of the cod fishery over a decade ago, sealing is one of their few sources of income.

Critics have questioned the science behind the hunt.

"The Atlantic seal hunt management plan is based on bad science, incorrect assumptions and flawed modeling," said Mhairi Dunlop of Greenpeace.

In South Africa, national park authorities say the burgeoning elephant population in the flag-ship Kruger National Park has made culling a necessity. The park has an estimated 12,000 ponderous pachyderms, well above the estimated "carrying capacity" of around 7,000.

Animal rights activists are horrified at the prospect of a return to culling elephants, which involves the herding and shooting of entire family groups.

There's a human population problem too, ya' know? But they're not going to open up the hunting season there.

It's not really a good article, and there are issues of conservation ecology on both sides of these issues, and they really aren't expressed for either side in this article, but people should at least know this sort of thing is going on... So... There it is.
 

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Tom DeLay is an Idiot, and This Proves It

This was forwarded to me today. It was an AP article, so I picked a random source on-line: Chicago Tribune | Man Tries to Steal Gun to 'Rescue Schiavo'

In the message I received, this story had the caption (emphasis added):
Man tries to steal guns from a gun store with a box cutter; surprised that store owner is armed with a gun.

From the actual article:
SEMINOLE, Fla. (AP) -- A man was arrested after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo," authorities said.

Michael W. Mitchell, of Rockford, Ill., entered Randall's Firearms Inc. in Seminole just before 6 p.m. Thursday with a box cutter and tried to steal a gun, said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

My Commentary: You see, recently Pat Buchanan has suggested that George W. Bush send the national guard in and rescue Shaivo. Thus, I don't think Pat Buchanan is any better than the man in that story. In fact, I blame Pat Buchanan and Bill O'Reilly for all of this.

Also I generally like to blame things like this on Tom DeLay, so as far as I care, the man in this story is just a surrogate for DeLay himself.

Thus, DeLay is a big fat stupid idiot, and that's a fact.
 

Neat and Geeky: Build your own PBX

So I just ran into The Geek Gazette - Build Your Own PBX and learned all about Asterisk - The Open Source Linux PBX and Asterisk@Home - The Easy Setup Asterisk GUI ISO.

Finally another nifty-cool project to do something really neat at home. You see, back in my day there were lots of these projects. Setting up a home network was a lot messier. Hell, setting up a Linux was a lot messier (which mke2fs parameters do I use? and how do I write a PPP logon script?). It was fun to get your whole house networked, file servers setup, domain logons and logon scripts setup, lots of things like this... And it was great experience! I was a "systems administrator" by 15 and a "systems engineer" with "systems administrators" to manage by 18. I couldn't have done this without all the great do-it-yourself projects at home.

Now, there have been a few attempts to get people excited about this stuff again, but those have mainly applied to adults (with "real" jobs) just trying to make the most of their homes.

I really think this PBX thing has the potential to be nifty enough to get kids interested in learning a little on their own. I'm probably being too optimistic though . . . Plus, even without Asterisk@Home there's really not a whole lot to setting up the PBX, ESPECIALLY because of the advances in VoIP over the last few years. Remember the good ol' days of when people actually knew what ISDN meant? Oh well...

I could be (married to the) President of Brazil...

Okay, when I was a lot younger, I thought that it might be a cool thing to be President of the United States. Wouldn't that make ma' and pa' proud? However, as I got a little older, I realized that that was highly unlikely and would require a lifestyle inconsistent with the lifestyle I *actually* wanted. At that point, I resigned to just aspiring to becoming such an expert in my profession (and, perhaps, in all things?) that I would be the guy the President calls on for the really big problems. I would be the wise man on the top of the hill.

Of course, I still had room to grow there. I began to shoot holes in that idea too. First of all, it was overly wishful thinking to believe that any president would be in contact with an expert of any sort. He would stay informed and govern by way of the people around him. (for a while, this made me think "Chief of Staff" would be a fun thing to be, but, again, I think there would be a lifestyle clash) On top of all of this, it's very unlikely that I'll ever come to know a president or even be propelled into enough fame for a president or his staff to even consider calling on. But ya' never know? The point is, it wasn't anything to count on.

Then lately a new idea shot into my mind (while watching The American President, I think). What if I married a woman who would someday become president? You have to imagine someday soon we'll have our first female president, and after that there will be lots and lots of them. There might even be a sort of de facto Affirmative Action put in place that shuffles women more quickly to the top. I could marry into someone else who already had that lifestyle, and I could have the best of both worlds. I could be "the first man." I could teach engineering at Georgetown with secret service agents at either side of me as I lectured (they'd learn something too). And I'd have the president's ear to nibble on whenever I wanted it.

But yes, I realize this is also very impractical. But apparently other people are just as ludicrous as me, so I have a little hope.

You see, my Uncle lives in Brazil. He's lived in Europe as well. He speaks something like eighteen different languages and currently works for the Ecumenical Council of Churches and teaches small developing villages how to build churches or something. It's kinda spooky, but I think he's worked as a translator, so I usually tell people he does translating sort of stuff, and I think that's pretty cool, and it's not so spooky.

Anyway, I guess he's had a European mindset towards e-mail and has only recently got a personal e-mail account to keep in touch. You see, my grandmother has been in and out of the hospital a few times lately, and I think he wants people to have an easier way to deliver news to him than by phone. Anyway, one of the first things he did was e-mail my dad. (my dad currently is being treated for a strange condition recently diagnosed as CIDP, so my uncle wanted to see how things were going there too) I haven't read the e-mail, but my mom tells me that in it he brings up a subject which he came up with a while ago and FOR SOME REASON HASN'T KILLED IT YET.

So my uncle has found a girl my age in Brazil who he wants to hook me up with. Ever since I broke up with my last girlfriend in November (this was around the same time my uncle visited, so he found out about this), he's been interested in this. Now, I've never been that close to my uncle. I like the guy, but he's always been on another continent, so he was always my Ambiguous Expatriate Uncle (AEU). Thus, I'm not sure I understand how he could be called on as a matchmaker in this particular case. You see, this girl not only lives in Brazil and has no plans to leave Brazil, but she doesn't speak ENGLISH and I do not speak PORTUGUESE and WE HAVE NEVER MET nor KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT EACH OTHER, yet (my favorite conjunction) my uncle is convinced there's SOMETHING THERE.

Now, understand that my uncle just married a Brazilian woman down there, and she only speaks Portuguese, and he at that time only knew a few Portuguese words. He's approaching conversational Portuguese now. (after learning a few languages, apparently you learn tricks; you see, instinctively all human language, regardless of roots, shares certain characteristics... apparently if you learn enough of them, you can count on these characteristics, and it's easy to pick up new language -- because children are hard-wired into these instincts, this is why they learn so quickly; adults lose that ability after the age 15 or so) Plus, he moved to Brazil to marry her and live with her. He's retired there now.

So apparently my uncle thinks it's all possible, and maybe he has reason to.

So this whole event made me think... maybe I could marry the leader of Brazil (I have no clue what form of government they have)... maybe THAT'S more probable than marrying into the first family here.

So that's what led me to the title. Maybe I should shoot for being the "first man" of Brazil...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Kiss me; I want your music and data...

Red Tacton has been in the news lately. It made it to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me today. So I thought it would be good to advertise it here too . . .

New Broadband Network Uses Your Skin
NTT has devised a new personal area networks technology called Red Tacton, which can apparently send data between products like your MP3 player, wireless phone, cordless headset, digital camera, or PC over the surface of your skin. Using Red Tacton, your epidermis can send data at a 2Mbps clip. Pretty creepy, no?

Transfer bodies of knowledge—using your body
It makes plenty of sense, though. Just imagine you’ve got a compatible phone in your hand and wireless headset clipped to your ear. Using Red Tacton, that is all you would need to transfer audio back and forth between the two devices. Data could not only transfer through different parts of your body, but also between two different bodies as well. Imagine being able to transfer music files by kissing someone on the cheek or exchanging digital business cards by smacking someone. High fives will never be the same.

...logo change?

From The Taming of the Blog: Maybe someone needs to consider a logo change?

 

Friday, March 25, 2005

Border's...?

Does anyone actually like the Border's Cafe?

So there's a Border's right by my apartment. I stopped by there today to get some sort of blended coffee or something and just to see what was new and popular in books.

So I look up for something like a "Frap" and all I can find are "Freezes." I have to imagine they're similar. I see that one of them is a "Cafe Freeze," which I would imagine is similar to a nice plain Coffee Frap. However, I see that you're forced to pick one of four options, including caramel and chocolate and two types of berry (I might have messed up one or two of those). I really wasn't in the mood for the coffee equivalent of schnapps, so I just ordered an "Iced Coffee."

I've gotten Iced Coffees at other places. They ended up just being fraps that weren't blended. That was NOT the case here. Here it was just COLD BLACK COFFEE. I should have knkown there was going to be a problem when she asked me if I wanted her to "leave room for cream." CREAM? In my ICED COFFEE? Oh, no...

So that was bad. Then as I was walking out of Border's I noticed that some of the last three books I've read are on the best seller's shelves (again, at BORDER'S!). I had NO IDEA of that when I read them! I got them on my own! Have I NATURALLY turned into someone who dignifies TRENDS? Have I NATURALLY turned POPPY?

No. No... I must be a trend SETTER. That MUST be it, right?

So I got back in my car. Continued to listen to my Al Franken book. That's the book that I was telling Erin about to find out that she had already read it and knew some of the kids who helped write it (in the 14-person "Team Franken") when she was in undergrad. :) (though I'm skeptical; I think she's just talking big. Once during undergrad she supposively called Natalie Portman a bitch to her face; I wonder if Portman heard her? It's believable, to me, but I just have to have a LITTLE skepticism... just to keep Morgan on her toes...)

So basically... I'm apparently worthless. :) And Border's sucks. :-p

Tim Sizemore Sentenced to 17 Months

Actor Tom Sizemore Sentenced to 17 Months Jail Time
According to one report, Sizemore tried to pass one of the drug tests by using urine from a prosthetic penis sewn into his underwear.

Following the sentence, Sizemore reportedly sobbed, gestured and begged for another chance as he delivered a rambling speech before being handed the sentence by Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto.

Got link?

I got linked!

You see, usually when I look at the referrals to this site, I see various other random blog pages due to the "Next Blog" in the upper-right hand corner of most blogspot.com blogs. Sometimes I see my home page, because this blog is linked from there in a couple/few places.

However, today I noticed sdoggspeaks.blogspot.com, which is a blog that I visit often (which is why it's advertised as such in my right-hand margin (scroll down a bit)). You see, I thought it was because my name got linked from one of my comments there or something like that... (but I realized that my profile would probably get linked to my name, not my blog) So I investigated.

Down the right-hand corner of that blog, I am the "Columbus" link. :-D I don't know why I was so tickled by this, but I was. :) Yay. :)

So I guess that means I have to start representing Columbus a bit better than usual. Um... Go Blue Jackets! (named that way due to Ohio's support of the Union in the Civil War, really, though the original icon is a blue-collored yellow-jacket bee-thing) Yay Destroyers! Go Bucks! :-D

William T. Sherman came from Lancaster, which is just outside of Columbus. In fact, he gave his "War is all hell" speach here, in Columbus, at Franklin Park. That's why there is a plaque there with "War is all hell" on it, comemorating the event. (Columbus school children learn this; Ohio-born/raised history teachers here are very proud)

And let's not forget about Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders, eh? Is that a good note to end on? I hope so...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

So I'm happy about all this Shiavo press...

So I'm happy about this whole Shiavo press, and I think the Democrats are too.

Everyone thought Karl Rove was a genius. Republicans never thought they could get away with his tactics, but Karl Rove showed them the light. He showed them how to drum up support in places that didn't previously exist before. He completely revitalized the Republican party taking it to places that GHWBush and all who came before him couldn't do . . .

But now the Republicans are starting to see why the past Republicans never went this way. All of this conservative moral mess has a lot of momentum. You just can't stop it. It just keeps going and going... And very quickly even evangelicals feel it's gone too far.

Just look at the polls. 70-80% of Americans think this Shiavo thing has gotten way out of hand, that includes 56% of evangelicals! The threat to the separation of powers has become extremely clear. People are starting to become afraid of the monster that Karl Rove created.

You wonder why so many Democrats voted for that bill? Because they knew it would backfire. They knew they could just be quiet, let it pass, and sit back and relax. Send a few Dems on some talkshows just to keep debate going... and give the Republicans enough rope to hang themselves.

So I think this is all very exciting. The longer this goes on, the sillier the right-wing policy makers look. Exciting stuff!!

A friend of mine has been brainwashed...

So there's a friend of mine who has been brainwashed into being very vocal about his support of the conservative agenda.

But he's not a social conservative. It wouldn't surprise me that in a few years he'll find a wife, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and start reading the Bible every night, but as of right now I'm pretty sure all of those things still make him cringe.

But those are the things that are unifying his party. It's not a "big tent" party. They'll never support Christie Todd Whitman for president. Sure, they'll let her under the tent, but they'll keep her off the stage at primaries. Ronald Reagan certainly wouldn't get a nomination nowadays. (Barry Goldwater REALLY wouldn't) The Republican party that inspired the Governator, the party of Nixon, would also be left on the sidelines of this new "big tent."

So this friend is a Libertarian; he's just afraid to admit it. He likes being called a Republican, especially now that they're the regime in power.

[ did you know Alexander Hamilton, an architect of the separation of powers, said that the whole way our government could fail was if one party took control of both the executive and the legislative and managed to appoint judges? ]

He doesn't support any of their social initiatives, but he brushes them off. He doesn't think that's that important. After all, they don't legislate social issues anyway (or, wait, do they? gay marriage? Terry Shiavo?)...

He certainly doesn't want to go Democrat because he's grown up in an environment where Democrats were thought of as uneducated dogooders. (however, his party insists that Democrats form an educated liberal elite that is trying to rule the country from the sidelines... and his party insists that it is the party of doing good... so I don't see how that's consistent)

If he met Anne Coulter in person and didn't realize who she was, I think he'd hate her.

But he insists he's a Republican.

Now, I don't think he should find a way to label himself a "liberal." I don't think he's a liberal. I just think he's smarter than a strict conservative. And I don't think the Republican party is the party for him. But they're going to continue to confuse him and brainwash him into voting their way... Even though he doesn't come close to sharing their values. It's sad. It's scarey.

The world's going to hell, and the conservatives are driving the bus.

I hate country music...

So, I think I really hate country music, especially country music sung by men.

You see, it's not so much the music itself. Some of it is catchy. And real country (e.g., Johnny Cash (when he's not covering people to sell albums), Loretta Lynn, etc.) I have no trouble with. It's this popular country...

And it primarily has to do with the lyrics. I think the Tracy Atkins song, "Songs About Me," has really become the object of my animosity. You see, it's a song about a business-type person meeting a country singer and explaining to him that he's not really into country. The country singer explains to him that country's so great because they are "songs about me." The songs sing about "family, and god, and good hearted women" or something like that. By the end of the song, the business-type person realizes what he's missed. He's ready to join the Nazis and sing "songs about me."

You see, all male country songs have gone this way. You know that "Have you forgotten?" song by Darryl Worley? Well, when it came out it rallied Bush support. It said that it was wrong to question Bush's intentions. "CHORUS 1" reads:
Have you forgotten how it felt that day
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away?
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside
Going through a living hell
And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

First of all, no Democrat ever said that people shouldn't worry about Bin Laden. However, Bush did. I take this from a whitehouse.gov press release transcript.
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.

This isn't the first time Bush has said he wasn't worried about bin Laden.

Once Bush went into Iraq, most Democrats were asking about bin Laden. Their sentiments almost tracked country bumpkin Darryl Worley's song.

Toby Keith has been pretty bad too. He's the one who sings about kicking ass and taking names. Both of them do it just to sell records. They don't really give a damn. They'd probably finance terrorists if it would promise them increased record sales later. That's the sort of moral fiber you have with these people...

But I really don't want to say that politics are the only thing that sours country music for me. It's the whole "family values" thing. And it's destroying America.

Conservatives (I like to refer to them as "new Republicans") in Congress don't care about family values. They just realize that it gets them votes. Once they get into office, then they can push fiscal legislation down the throats of their constituents, and their constituents (who are bleeding from the asshole) pretend like they like it!

So I blame country music. The anthem of the new Republican.

I dunno why I complain...

So I don't know why I complain about the writing. I do enjoy it, when I get going at it. For one, I really enjoy working in LaTeX. There's something satisfying about using TeX to typeset my document, and I can't explain it.

And when I have a completed project, I feel good about it. I feel productive. I feel like I've done something nifty.

Yeah, I do get jealous when I see that other people are out seeing movies or doing crazy wild things like that, but when I get momentum going, I get to do those things too...

So I don't know why I'm complaining.

Hiding my Laptop Lust

Well, let's lighten things up a bit after those last two posts...

Understand that I absolutely hate my Toshiba Satellite 1905-S277 laptop. There are lots of reasons why, but the biggest reason (and this is a documented feature) is that Toshiba Satellite engineers still cannot figure out how to build a laptop that doesn't overheat.

For example, it's easy to get the bottom of my laptop up to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. No joke. I'm not making that number up. However, that's something I can "deal with."

The big problem is that despite the BIOS upgrade that keeps the LOUD FAN ON ALL THE TIME, the laptop still will spontaneously overheat and shut off with no warning. In TOSHIBA'S USER'S MANUAL it says that the user must constantly save his or her work to prevent it from getting lost when the laptop shuts off automatically. Gee, that's nice, isn't it?

Well, combining Windows XP with wireless networking and this laptop has made me hate nearly all computers.

So then TOM got a new laptop (from his adviser)... And it works great. It's light. It's quiet. It's cool. It's fast. Its wireless network is a lot less flakey than all of the PCMCIA cards I've used with this heap of crap... And I'm jealous.

So I want a laptop, but I don't want to tell Tom, because he'll think I'll just be doing it because he did it... And, in fact, that WILL be why I'm doing it! But he doesn't need to know that.

Alright, so that's the story.

Summary of the Previous Mess

What follows this post, The Girl Named R-e-gr-e-t, is really friggin' long. It belongs in a book (that no one would buy) and not a blog. Here are the Cliff's Notes (which defeat some of the purpose of the whole damn thing, but oh well...):
  1. The fact that people I know personally are starting to read my blog is making blogging more complicated. It would be nice to know that no one other than people I have no chance of meeting would ever read this thing, because this thing will primarily be either about public issues (which everyone knows about) or people/things in my personal life (which I'd be perfectly happy keeping out of the hands of people/things in my personal life)

  2. There's not much I can do about that first point, so I just have to post as usual and hope for the best.

  3. There's little to no way I can communicate the following without sounding like I have some agenda and risking being misunderstood.

  4. Some introductory stuff.

  5. Erin inspires more feelings of regret than I can count. New Orleans in particular stings quite a bit, especially when she complains about her current boyfriend being too demonstrative. It stings even more because recent reflections reveal things that I previously didn't realize.

  6. It's been verified: my feelings for Erin are still strong. I'd love to live with her, and I'd be perfectly happy if that involved sparse-to-no physical contact and lots of space. I just like having her around lots more often.
And with that, I hope to almost never post anything about my love life (or whatever you want to call it) again. There are much better things to post about... Like:
And others, I'm sure...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Clocky, the rolling alarm clock

Hit snooze and this alarm runs and hides
Scientists at MIT's Media Lab in the United States have invented an alarm clock called Clocky to make even the laziest of sleepers, those who repeatedly hit the snooze button, leap out of bed.

After the snooze button is pressed, the clock, which is equipped with padding and a set of wheels, rolls off the table to another part of the room. Each day, the clock finds a new place to hide.

"When the alarm sounds again, simply finding Clocky ought to be strenuous enough to prevent even the doziest owner from going back to sleep," New Scientist magazine said on Tuesday.

Clocky

Crazy Things Plants (and Animals?!) Do: Genetics Gone HAYWIRE

So I heard a story, Plant's Genetic Repairs Astound Scientists, on All Things Considered today. I thought it sounded like a pretty important and pretty interesting story.
All Things Considered, March 23, 2005 · In a surprising finding that challenges the conventional rules of inheritance, scientists have shown that the cress plant arabidopsis can overwrite the genetic code it inherits from its parents and revert to that of its grandparents or even great grandparents. Scientists say they now hope to learn whether this is just an aberration, or something that could be happening in other plants and even animals. NPR's Joe Palca reports.

However, I hardly found any news on it! I did find these articles:
For some reason the second link didn't require me to register at first, but it now does. However, I found the first link which provides that story without registration.

From that first link:
Mendelian inheritance, the central tenet of genetics, is under attack from a few scrawny weeds that have not read the textbooks. The weeds are somehow inheriting DNA sequences from their grandparents that neither of their parents possessed - which is supposed to be impossible.

An image on their site has a good summary of the findings (click for larger):

Genetic mystery (click for larger)

That seems like major news! I guess Terry Shiavo and Michael Jackson are far more important though. My mistake.
 

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why can't I just get paid to do nothing?

As I mentioned briefly in the previous post, Ex-girlfriends run my life, this week is my spring break, and it is a busy week.

You see, my adviser is in Honduras this week doing some community service down there (he is the faculty adviser of a campus group of engineers who tries to do good things, like put electricity in every room and install a computer lab in an HIV clinic in Honduras), so I don't get to meet with him until Monday after his class, ECE 858.

Now, the first couple of lectures in ECE 858 are going to be given by a bio professor that we work with. Then my adviser is going to give some catch-me-up lectures on stochastic processes (specifically Poisson processes and how they fit into Foraging Theory), and then we talk about the prey model (or what we call "task type choice"). That will be my lecture. He's asked me to give those lectures, and he's asked me to do it without PowerPoint but rather up on the board.

Now, the stuff we're teaching is brand new. In fact, we're writing a book on it. In fact, this task type choice stuff is currently my chapter. That means I need to finish that chapter this week. That way we can go over it Monday and make quick revisions before he sends out a PDF to the rest of the class.

Now, on top of that, I need to prepare a lecture over this material. This usually isn't an issue for me, but this lecture I'm going to give to my PEERS (I'm taking ECE 858 as a student, keep in mind) and I'm going to give it in a format that is completely unfamiliar to me. You see, nearly every lecture I have given has been in front of some PowerPoint slides. For a number of reasons, my adviser doesn't want to do these lectures like this. This means I need to plan out every single line of the lecture and write them up on the board as I go. This not only means I need to practice making sure that I don't write crooked (as in, diagonally down the board) but I also need to practice giving a lecture with students at my BACK.

You see, every time I lecture I remember my high school theatre... Which means I basically remember people yelling out, "Quarter turn!!" Thus, typically when I lecture I walk back and forth always facing my audience. It's going to be different trying to present to them while I'm also needing to write on the board (and look at a tablet of paper in my other hand).

So I'm kinda busy this week. I REALLY need to get momentum going, especially if this sky diving thing goes through for tomorrow... and especially if I'm seeing Angie for lunch Friday... and especially if sometime this weekend I'm seeing The Ring 2 with Kristen...

But I don' wanna. It's my break, damn it! :(

I know David Sedaris; in fact, we're best friends

So I haven't been blogging the past couple of days, and I blame S.Dogg from S.Dogg Speaks. You see, my post, Yes, but do *I* like sad songs?, was a direct response to one of hers, and I had to wait to continue posting until I was sure she read it, but she didn't return to read it until yesterday (and late yesterday)... and so in the meantime, I've been sitting on my hands.

So I've been itching to post that apparently David Sedaris and I are best friends. If you're not familiar with David Sedaris, then you don't listen to enough NPR, and something is missing from your life...
Let me back up a little bit. You see, on Saturday Tom and I were out shopping. During our adventures, Kristen gave me a call. You see, her parents donate regularly to Catco and because of that always have tickets to shows on hand. However, they would not be available for the Saturday show, so they gave Kristen her tickets. She would have gone with one of the two boys (a doctor and a lawyer; go Kristen) she's dating, but neither of them called her up, so she called me. It had been a while since I had seen a play, and I always liked the theatre, so I thought it would be a fun thing to do. Oddly enough, I think the last play I saw was another Catco play with Kristen, and we sat in the same seats we sat in Saturday! I can't be sure of that though...

Anyway, I also need to mention that on Friday my Creative MuVo TX FM [1 GB] USB flash/microdrive MP3/WMA/etc. player (that doubles as an FM tuner and triples as a USB memory stick) arrived. This thing is really slick. Take a look at the generic MuVo page to see how it works. It's just a memory stick that comes with a caddy that supplies power when it's not plugged into a PC. It's really neat, and I like it a lot.

However, on Saturday I didn't know if I liked it yet. So before seeing Kristen, I went to Audible.com and downloaded a couple of audio books to it. I saw that a number of David Sedaris pieces were available, so I downloaded the David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall (as well as the Daily Show's America, The Book, The Audiobook, which was pretty funny too).

So on the way to Kristen's, I listened to some of the Sedaris performance, and I about died laughing in the car. So I was in a pretty good mood when I saw Kristen. After the play, for some reason, I brought David Sedaris up, and she tells me that one of her friends is HIS COUSIN! Apparently this friend is getting married sometime soon and Sedaris is going to be at the wedding. I asked if he was going to speak there. She said that she didn't think so, and I thought that was pretty rotten.

So anyway, by way of Kristen's friend, David Sedaris and I are best friends now (note that I am not gay) and he'll be speaking at my wedding... whenever that is... and if my presently-imaginary fiance doesn't like it, then she's no woman for me.

That was a long road to nowhere, wasn't it?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Yes, but do *I* like sad songs?

On S.Dogg's blog there was a post, Okay, I like sad songs, that answered five questions:
  1. Total amount of music files on your computer?

  2. The last CD you bought was . . . ?

  3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

  4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

  5. What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why?
I was one of the answers to that fifth question, so I have been called to answer these questions myself. I've been meaning to, but I really think this is difficult. Ever seen High Fidelity (GREAT soundtrack!) or read High Fidelity by Nick Hornby? The main character takes top 5 lists very seriously, and he puts a lot of time into them. I kinda feel like that. If I'm going to make any sort of list in such a way that is supposed to reflect upon me, I want to make sure I really make a statement with it.

Now that probably goes counter to the spirit of that list... But... Still... I wanna put some time into it.

PLUS, lately I've been doing a great deal of Internet streaming for music while at school, at the apartment, or otherwise. For a while I was on a real FCUK FM fan, but lately I've gone back to listening to my local CD101 radio station. However, I've found a lot of good music in Winamp's "Interet Radio" section under their "Media List."

In my car, I've been listening to a lot of NPR. Now, locally we have a classical radio station (WOSU) and we have our own NPR station too (WCBE) (and both have AM equivalents too), so the NPR station is free to play a lot more worldly music and some very nifty new music that I later find migrating over to alternative stations (like CD101 or Voltswagon commercials :) ).

Now, this makes me feel a bit like a geek, but while I've been writing, I've been listening to a lot of classical music. It doesn't distract me. It calms me. I get into a rhythm. I can really get going.

Now, because of all of this, I unfortunately only have about 1700 songs on my local PC. Compared to my friends, that's kinda puny. I do have lots of CD's though, and at FIRST that's the big reason why I didn't go MP3 crazy when everyone else was. It also didn't help that I kept different collections on different PC's (home, laptop, office, etc.). However, now I've just been soaking up music from these other sources.

So for now, that's my answer. I'll come up with a better one soon... And, again, maybe that's not the spirit of the "poll." But... it's all I got now. So go ahead, you can laugh all you want, but I've got my philosophy . . . (hint, hint? we shall see . . .)
 

Today . . .

So today my last final was due. It was a take-home final. I got it done last night, submitted it on-line, got a response back from the prof saying it went through, and I was really happy that was done.

So today I had a meeting with my adviser. He's heading to Honduras all break. You see, he heads up an "Engineers Without Borders" type group (ECOS) that has put together a number of computers and is heading down to an HIV clinic there for children (all the way up to something like 21 year olds). Now, some of the newest treatments have greatly reduced the number of deaths there, so their morgue hasn't been getting as much use, so the clinic has decided to turn some of it into a computer lab. ECOS is going to install that computer lab. ECOS is also going to bring electricity into the whole clinic building. It's going to be a busy week. Now, Sunday (the first full day they get there) they get some time off and the whole group goes to a nearby village to watch some reenactment of something eastery. (apparently Easter is soon? And Sunday is "Palm Sunday," or something? I don't know what all this stuff means...)

Anyway, the point is that he'll be gone all week. We start ECE 858 next quarter. I'll be taking the class, but my research is one of the second topics we want to cover in it, so he's asked me to lecture the class. I just hope my peers take me seriously.

Now, I've done plenty of lectures and teaching before, and I usually do best in front of my peers. However, I nearly always do it in front of PowerPoint slides. He doesn't want to do that in this class. He wants us to give the lectures at the board, step by step, so that they take notes. This is completely unnatural to me. You see, I come from a background where I really care about things like "quarter turns" and I very rarely write on the board. ... As a consequence, I worry that it's going to be awkward for me to talk with my back turned, and I am worried that I'm going to write (hopefully leigibly!!) tiny and at a slant (diagonally down the board). It'll be really bad if I trip over myself.

So that'll be my break. I need to get that task type choice (i.e, prey choice) chapter done and prepare lecture notes for this very different type of lecture.

So after the meeting today, I was really bored, because I have a week to do all of this, so I went and saw a movie. It's been SO LONG since I've done that. I saw Hostage. It was okay. I didn't like the end... I should have saw BeCool or something else, but Hostage was at the perfect time.

I also got my 512MB SanDisk Cruzer Micro and my Creative MuVo 1 GB TX FM MP3 player/voice recorder. They both serve a very similar function for me, but they're really just toys. I've been storing lots of stuff on-line, but some things are just too large to practically put on-line... So I figured I'd get something like this.

So I played with these a little bit.

Tomorrow, Tom and I are going shopping for some things of his. It'll be nice to shop again.

MAN, it's GREAT that this quarter is over. I'm seeing movies. I'm playing with toys. I'm RESEARCHING. And I'm SHOPPING. We'll probably go to Easton. HOPEFULLY it will be nice (though a storm (rain) is supposed to come in toward the end of the day...)... So I'm excited.

So that's my day.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ring II Review

I got a kick out of this CNN review of the sequel to The Ring:

EW review: Trite 'Ring' sequel hollow

I don't know why, but I just thought the review was sorta funny. It was a good read.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Graphing Calculator Story

Speaking of This American Life, last weekend they did a segment (as part of the "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" program) on the graphing calculator that has been a part of the Macintosh since the PowerPC. It's a GREAT story.

The Graphing Calculator Story

The gist is a couple of contractors on a project find themselves jobless after the project is cancelled (for like the 5th time). They believe in the project so much and have so little needs (no mortgage, no family) that they sneak into Apple day after day to finish this project (using spare office space wherever they can find). They end up having to explain themselves to the Apple execs, who ask them to silence themselves (the silence has only very recently been broken) as the execs gradually bring the project back on-line so it looks legitimate. Yes, eventually they get compensation for all of this.

It's a GREAT story. Check it out. You might even listen to the real audio stream from thislife.org. You can fast forward to Act Two: Not Far From The Tree, which starts at 26:30 into the show and ends around 39:00.

WCBE is cancelling "This American Life", but I'm going to be okay...

My local NPR station, WCBE is cancelling one of my all time favorite public radio shows, This American Life. That last link is important. You see, as I was writing this blog, I wanted to link to the TAL webpage, so I googled it.

If you go to the TAL website, you can find all the episodes available in RealAudio. This is a surprise to me. I always thought I had to PURCHASE them from Audible.com. Apparently this is not the case! I'm SO EXCITED.

I was always pissed when I would forget to turn on the radio Saturdays at 2PM. Now there's still hope.

Of course, this becomes a public goods problem. I'm counting on the rest of the nation supporting TAL so I can get it for free. Is that reasonable to count on?

I have a take home final to finish. I have lunch to fetch. I have research to do before my meeting tomorrow. Happy St. Patty's Day. :) :-/

Oil in Alaska

First: I don't care about baseball! You have better things to do with your time! (like putting a tighter leash on the Bush administration)

Second: Senate OKs oil drilling in Alaska

Florida's junior senator Martinez cast the pivotal vote. He did it because the Bush administration has promised him to extend the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf off Florida's shore from 2007 to 2012. He feels that by 2012, the politicians in power won't be able to use Alaska as precedent for starting drilling off of Florida. Apparently the people of Florida are strongly against offshore drilling there; they want to protect the environment. Florida's senior senator voted against the Alaska drilling.

So here we go... We're going to destroy an extremely fragile part of the northern environment. This action may not lower gas prices AT ALL, but it will inflate domestic oil company profits. It is going to take a tremendous amount of energy to install the oil infrastructure up there. And eventually we're just going to run out of oil again (though if there is any relief due to this action, we're going to stop dumping any resources into research on alternative fuels).

It really amazes me how many politicians nonchalantly brush the environment aside. It's a bonus if we can save a tree or an animal, but the important thing is keeping business flowing.

As long as our suburbs look like the grassy African savanna, then our environment is okay, right?

What's your footprint?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Gizoogle

So I already knew about this from before, but recently someone (edit: Jenn Onofrio at Carnegievandertramp) else pointed me to it and I found that they have expanded it. They've added more. Apparently someone is very serious about making Gizoogle a phenomenon. The general idea is that you search for a page and then click "Translate Text" and it will translate the site into Snoop-speak. (ahem... Drop it like it's hot)

HOWEVER, you really need to check out the samples page and the images page.
Ghetto Barbie Image

Mama jizzy iced a man
Put a gat against his heezee
pulled mah pusha he's dead
...
Too late,my tizzle has come,
sends shiva dizzle mah spine
bizzles ach'n all tha time, ...

 

Beware the Ides of March!

If you didn't notice, today is the Ides of March. That is, it's March 15. If you remember your high school literature classes, you'll recall an eery vision of a soothsayer calling "BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH" to Julius Caesar.

So have a Caesar Salad (which is called a Caesar Salad because it started out as the house salad of a place called Caesar's) today to celebrate it being March 15!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Geek? I just don't understand...

When did geek become such a general term? Everybody's a geek now!

I remember when geek meant you were something technical. You knew something special. You had some special skill. You were a geek because you were geekilly good at something usually technical. Then there were nerds. Nerds were worthless, and geeks knew this.

But now someone watches Star Trek and reads The Code Book and suddenly they think they're a geek!! And those people who actually do rise above and beyond being an idiot aren't called geeks... They're called nerds! Just because the geeks can't live up to their names!

So the rest of us who actually have to be useful are being FORCED to be grouped together with ICKY NERDS, and REAL GEEKS HAVE NEVER LIKED THAT.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Dublin FIRST Wins Gold

Over the weekend, robotics team I used to mentor won the Chairman's Award at the FIRST regional in Pittsburgh. This is the largest honor FIRST bestows to any team (at a regional). Last year they won the Engineering Inspiration award, which is the second highest award. The year before that (their first year) they won the Rookie All-Star Award. The Engineering Inspiration as well as the Chairman's Award both are tickets to nationals, but the Chairman's Award also gets submitted to the national competition to be eligible for the national Chairman's Award, so it's a big deal to win this award.

I was present for the Rookie All-Star and the Engineering Inspiration (before that I was a part of another team who will be competing at the Buckeye Regional shortly (shortly?)). This is the first year I haven't been on the team. I'm a little jealous to miss the year that an OSU FIRST team wins a chairman's award, but I'm happy that the team I helped start was the one that ended up doing it.

However, I wonder a little about the Pittsburgh regional. Charlene Censored-Name, an awful woman (who mentors the high school team that OSU started a long time ago (but has since left)) who heard we were starting a new team and informed the teachers there that we've been known to get involved with girls on the team (which is completely unfounded) which gave us a rough first impression with the teachers there, won the Woody Flowers award, which is basically the highest honor you can give to a mentor. This makes little sense to the rest of us... So the guess is that few Woody Flowers submissions were made to that regional. The regional looks a bit small. ... So maybe the competition isn't as tough there? Of course, many of the biggies showed up there. Chief Delphi (team 45) and team 188 (Canadian team?) were both there, and they chose Dublin to come with them into the quarter finals, which shows that both there WERE some good teams there and that Dublin DID perform well. (though I think the aliance got beat in the quarter finals :( )

So I'm a little jealous. It was good to see Liza looking happy in those pictures. (see the gallery at Dublin's website) It's nice to see her smile. It's nice when we get along. It's upsetting when we don't. Girls have trouble understanding things, and girls like her seem to have trouble moving on.

So anyway, I'm proud of them. I'm glad it finally happened. I'm really excited for their prospects next year. HOWEVER, I know Alan will be graduating soon (after this summer, I think!), so I don't know who is there to take over for him!! Liza? She would be good, but I think she has other things to worry about. Will she do FIRST next year? She'd have a hard time saying no if someone asked her to... But assuming she doesn't (and/or doesn't want to lead)... Then... who? Matt REEDER?! EEK! Who? Back when we had this "cloud" organizational structure, there was always a chance that someone from one of the other teams (who works with the home school team now, anyway? Laura O'Rear?) could come and help a team that was down in personnel, but I think that whole thing has faded... It's really hard to tell. So I'm a little worried about that.

Really, Dublin could probably do okay on their own, but their own high school talent will be going off to college very soon. The last of the Dieterle's is sailing away soon, for example. And I know that last year Mr. King talked about getting less involved, though I think he's pretty deep in it now. He has a family though (including a fairly new baby) so it's hard to tell there too... Anyway, even if the Dublin team could do well on their own, there should at least be the IMAGE of a semi-professional engineering support staff working with them. It allows them access to OSU facilities and gives them a little more confidence that there are real designers available who will make sure things work (true or not? does it matter? :) ).

So that's what's new in shamrock-town. Exciting stuff. They'll probably make the local news (at least a Dublin newspaper). I hope they can raise enough money for nationals. They had a lot of money raised already before the season... hopefully they ran a surplus. <?>

So huzzah to the Dub-sters. I'm proud of you.

Friends offering me jobs...

So an older (by a year) friend of mine called me today to deliver me some news. The news was exciting, but it has nothing to do with this post. However, after the news, we started talking about how things were going. You see, after he got his MS, he took a job at MIT Lincoln Labs working on guidance systems for some missle defense systems. Plenty of his job is hush hush (a lot of product specifics), but plenty of his job isn't hush hush too.

Anyway, he mentioned that some summer if I was looking for an internship, he might have some positions available to do some controls-type work, specifically in the area of Kalman filtering (advanced linear estimators in state space). He said that it's a nice environment... really a good mix of academia (people publish there and work on state of the art research) and industry (they get paid a lot of money (he got $74k/year out of graduating with his MS) and do all of the business-y things that industry-type companies do). He thought it might even be something I consider after I get my PhD.

This was interesting to me on a number of levels. For one, it was odd getting a job offer from a peer. This is especially funny because earlier in the conversation we talked about how his adviser used to disregard things his boss said. When he was being advised by him, it seemed strange. But now that he's had a little more exposure, he realizes his adviser and his adviser's boss both went to grad school together and thus it's a hard time for them to take each other seriously as boss and employee. The other reason this was odd was because during his MS, my friend was sick of school and found no value in a PhD, but now that he's been in industry, he speaks very highly of them. He's even considered going back to get his, but he then remembers the homework and the meager monthly stipend and that keeps him from pursuing that. And that leads me to the main reason why I thought this was odd.

You see, the MS internship he's talking about would basically be a job DOING HOMEWORK ALL DAY. One of the reasons why I want to take a faculty position is so I don't get stuck building Kalman estimators over and over again. And the reason I'm going for my PhD is to AVOID a career DOING HOMEWORK.

So we're both going our own separate ways to avoid homework. He's avoiding homework through industry, and I'm avoiding homework through academia.

Now, to be fair, doing the equivalent of complex homework assignments in real life is a bit different. For example, in the work I'm doing now, when I have to actually put together a formal proof, I don't know if a proof even exists for what I'm doing. It's brand new. It's unknown. And because of that, it feels very different than a homework problem that has a known answer feels.

So anyway, that was interesting. It's funny how perspective changes as you grow up. Another friend of mine who has ALWAYS been tired of school was hesitant about getting his MS, and now he's considering moving to Europe to pursue a PhD a one of the major controls schools over there! He's pretty sure he doesn't want to teach, but he wouldn't mind being a research scientist or a researcher working for the military, for example... so that's a MAJOR shift in interest for him.

It's especially funny to try to give advice to the undergrads. They ask you about grad school and about what's important and about what classes to take. You usually tell them all the NON-important classes to take because you know that you just have to get OLDER to take some classes, and there's no getting around it. You're still growing in your 20's. Wait until you turn at least 22 to take your first graduate level math class; it'll be worth the wait. And then the undergrads start telling you that they're ready then... they start telling you about all of the things that are important when choosing a grad school. They're pretty silly.

But what can you do? We're all young once. Gotta let them have their moment, then send them off, and let it go . . .

When I start teaching, I'm going to tell them to fear punishment by death...

You know, when I take a faculty position somewhere someday and start teaching young engineers engineering, I think I'm going to try to provide a new kind of encouragement for them to take pride in their work later in life. That is, I think I'll try to explain to them that if they slack off even a little bit some idiot somewhere is going to give in to the frustration of using their software or hardware and crack. That idiot is going to track them down, target them, and kill them. It's a certainty. The only thing they can do to save their own lives is to spend a little extra time in the office on weekends and make sure that EVEN IF MANAGEMENT WANTS TO CUT FEATURES, it is their responsibility to make sure the end product has 100% of its functionality. They need to be smart, or someone is going to go and kill them.

Anyway, I spent a good majority of the night wasting my time getting some new hardware up and running. I'm not going to bother with details. I'm just going to make a long story short and let you know my desire to kill (to taste blood even) after I was finished. I'm still not happy with how things sit, but at least they work consistently provided I tilt my head in a certain way.

So that will be my first task as a new faculty member -- to convince young engineers that they should constantly be in fear of losing their lives, because eventually some Unibomber or other whacko out there is going to come and kill them. It's inevitible. I feel it would be irresopnsible for me to NOT deliver this message, as it is certainly true, and people need to know this.

Protect yourself. Don't release bad hardware and software. If you feel the desire to do so anyway, just kill yourself and save yourself the surprise. If management tells you to skimp, kill yourself to make a statement. Make it public too. It's no good to go and kill the management and then kill yourself as it just makes you look barbaric. Kill yourself publically without threatening anyone else to show you were just doing a service. Do it publically so that people can see how bad your management is.

It's time for us to start raising the stakes. Technology simply is not to blame. People are to blame, and they are going to be held accoutable soon, and the young engineers need to be aware of this, and start raising the bar.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bubble Surfaces Four Times as Hot as the Sun!

I thought this was infinitely fascinating.

Temperature inside collapsing bubble four times that of sun
Using a technique employed by astronomers to determine stellar surface temperatures, chemists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have measured the temperature inside a single, acoustically driven collapsing bubble.

Their results seem out of this world.

“When bubbles in a liquid get compressed, the insides get hot – very hot,” said Ken Suslick, the Marvin T. Schmidt Professor of Chemistry at Illinois and a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. “Nobody has been able to measure the temperature inside a single collapsing bubble before. The temperature we measured – about 20,000 degrees Kelvin – is four times hotter than the surface of our sun.”

For more information about the physics behind these results, take a look at these Wikipedia entries.

And as a side note, wouldn't it be so much nicer if these blogs were based on Wiki instead? It'd be much nicer to post things. MUCH nicer... But, oh well.
 

Friday, March 11, 2005

Toast T-Shirts!!

Take a look at SharpAsToast. In particular, see the T-Shirts section. Be sure to scroll to the right with the "More" slider when you're there. There are some pretty nifty T-Shirts. A few examples:
  • Kick a Commie for Ronnie

  • Keep it Coolidge

  • Hoover's Your Daddy

  • Mr. Tooth Decay's Real Name is Communism

  • Me So Corny

  • Braille Tits

  • Escape Wisconsin
HILARIOUS. Really, check it out.

For more great T-Shirt ideas, take a look at Preshrunk, a T-Shirt blog devoted to AWESOME t-shirts.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Idiots Abound

I found out recently (on NPR over the weekend) that all of these tablets that people are fighting to keep in front of government buildings were originally put there NOT by the government but by HOLLYWOOD! They're PROMOTIONAL ITEMS for the MOVIE, Ten Commandments, staring Charlton Heston.

Hello! What are you people fighting for? This has nothing to do with "respecting tradition" or anything like that. It was a Hollywood STUNT!

I hate the head nodders...

Today was the last day of EEOB 740, and today was the day I was scheduled to give my presentation on the effect of reputation on the dynamics of cooperation. It was great fun. I love giving presentations. I always like to open with a joke or two, at least one buried in the title of the presentation agenda, and I always get laughs. I love the laughs, but I often just patiently wait midexpression to continue (I think it's an artifact high school theatre? I watch my quarter-turns as well) and I worry that people don't understand that I really do welcome the laughs.

But anyway, I about picked a fight with Mr. Anthropologist in the class. This guy is full of himself. He's one of the guys who CONSTANTLY nods his head at everything the prof is saying. He looks down, smiles a snotty smirk, and does big head nods. And he frequently sings the lauds of anthropology; apparently they're experts at everything over there.

So I picked on anthropologists a bit in my presentation. (my first slide after the agenda was "Quieting the Skeptopologist") I'm supposed to be the neutral engineer, but I side with the biologists. They are embracing logic, modeling, quantitative analysis. They embrace the idea that there IS a solution, even if you have no chance of finding that solution. Mr. Anthropologist will always come up with a "BUT you could say..." objection to every point someone makes, which is fine, but because he can come up with objections all the time, he assumes that there simply is no solution... or something. It's backwards. It's anthropology.

So during the class discussion, Mr. Anthropologist had to speak up with anthropologists. He criticized people for looking down on "the power of norms." He didn't seem to understand my point. It's not that norms aren't present, but it's that they are present for a reason. Norms themselves aren't going to save us from the biodiversity crisis. Understanding the evolution of norms may give us some hints as to actually solve our problems. So I said that I wasn't cutting down on anthropology, to which he responded that I was just making fun of it, to which I responded that since I was an engineer, I was allowed to make fun of everybody (to which the class laughed).

Anyway, it felt good to give an elbow to Mr. Anthropologist.

And after class one of the evolutionary biologists came up with me after class (we were walking the same way to our cars, both feeling (perhaps not equally) bad about walking out of a conservation ecology course toward our cars) and said she enjoyed the presentation. We talked. It was a good time. So it was good to know that some people took something good away from it. (the prof also e-mailed me and said good things, so that's nice too)

So then I splurged a little, went to Baja Fresh, got a chicken fajita burrito, and came home to listen to Marketplace on NPR... And now "News and notes" is on, so I'm going to turn off NPR and start my homework. The excitement of my day is over. Math and 805, here I come.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Joseph Who? She was screwing THAT GUY?!

And I always thought this couple:

Joseph Reitman and Shannon Elizabeth


would do very well together. Apparently they're splitting:

Shannon Elizabeth, husband splitting

CSI: Egypt

Scan indicates Tut not murdered

I guess we can let the guy who we thought killed Tut go. I'm sure his family will be happy to see him again. They've been saying all along there's no way he could have done it. It's a good thing CSI: Egypt got ahold of these remains to determine the real cause of death.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jenn Ono-uh-oh

So there was this little wanna-be red head named Jenn Onofrio. There are some things I think I'd like to share about her, but I don't really have time now. More later, really, I swear.

DOJ Sides with Corel, NOT Microsoft

DOJ Opts for Corel, Not Microsoft, Office

Partly due to the tension between Microsoft and **JUSTICE IN GENERAL** and partly because of the superioirty of the Corel WordPerfect Office suite, the DOJ has made a major extension (millions of dollars) to their Corel contract. Microsoft software can't infiltrate the DOJ.

DOJ, you go girl!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

New Social Security Card

New Social Security Card (click for larger)
(click for larger)

22-Pound Big Red Lobster

In Offbeat news:

CNN.com: 'Bubba', 22-pound lobster, to be saved

Look at the size of this thing! Here it's shown next to a normal sized restaurant-style lobster.
22-pound lobster next to normal lobster

Some estimates place it at over 50 (possibly 100?!) years old in order to grow this large. Though real scientists are skeptical and just figure it has something to do with warm water and abundance of food.

If more of these turn up, someone should look into what's going on in the water around Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

BECK

So Matt Beck's name came up recently. I'd like to type a little something about Matt Beck... But I've got some homework to do. Meanwhile, this is a placeholder.

Curly on Ice

I don't know much about curling, but I think this is still a pretty exciting moment:

Canadian Curler Rocks History Books (WATCH THE VIDEO!!)