Sunday, December 30, 2007

Racial choices in ski resorts?

I just got back from a ski trip last week. The snow was a bit sparse and the temperatures never got out of the teens on the slopes. Still, it was good fun. But I'm not remarking on those subjects. What struck me this time was how at one resort, Mt. Rose in Nevada, there were large numbers (I'm talking like 50-70% of the people I saw) of Asian-Americans. By contrast, the next day at Squaw Valley, my brother and I were actively searching for Asian-Americans but could see only very few - I'm talking maybe 20-30 out of the hundreds if not thousands of other skiiers we encountered.

Let me reemphasize: there was a huge disparity between Asian-American attendance at Mt. Rose ski resort v. Squaw Valley USA. It was completely mystifying.

As the American Way(TM) would have it: In times of uncertainty, fall back on gross stereotypes. (Just kidding!) A family member of mine postulated that, based on the stereotype of Asians as "cheap" or at least bargain hunters, the Asian American attendance disparity could be explained by the pecuniary savings associated with staying in Reno, which provides (1) cheap lodging because of casinos, (2) cheap food, and (3) shorter drive from Reno to Mt. Rose v. Squaw Valley. However, I am skeptical of this explanation because Squaw is not inconvenient from Reno at all and is probably only 20-30 minutes further. As point of fact, we ourselves stayed in Reno and enjoyed the savings!

Squaw Valley is of course more expensive (I payed 62 for my ticket at Squaw v. 45 for Mt. Rose), but it's a much more extensive resort with more varied terrain (imho).

And of course, Squaw Valley charges for non-skiing family members to get to some of the more convenient lodges (cable car and/or funitel rides), whereas Mt. Rose's major lodges are easily accessible. I know that some Asian matrons don't ski themselves but like to stake out tables in the super-crowded Mt. Rose lodge.

Even with these various factors, I am still curious about the day and night difference between the two resorts. The disparity is just so crazily glaring.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is it that obvious?

So, I was talking to a police officer the other day, and within 10 minutes he looks at me, head askew, and asks me, "Are you a lawyer?" Apparently just the way I was answering his questions triggered that suspicion in his head. He said that I never answered anything in absolutes and seemed to consider what I was saying longer than most.

Is that police officer particularly astute? Obviously he's probably dealt with more lawyers than the average guy on the street, but it's not like I was being uncooperative and asserting arcane rights. I wonder if he's ever accused non-lawyers of talking like lawyers?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Book Burning for the 21st Century

The Vatican and many religious groups in the U.S. are urging Christians not to watch "The Golden Compass," a movie based on the first book of Phillip Pullman's trilogy, "His Dark Materials."

OK, so I admit the movie was not particularly engaging (although it looked amazing and some of the acting was quite good), but it seems that the Catholic Church should have bigger concerns than a children's book. Besides, far from advocating atheism, it specifically celebrates the soul and its gift of free will to humanity. Still, it definitely does bad-mouth organized religion as an attack on that free will and exploration of the human experience.

I'm just rambling here I guess. I found the books quite interesting, but the schizophrenia the movies seem to show between being a mature fantasy and a child's adventure is definitely evident and hampers the movie. I watched the movie a week after it came out and the 9:30pm showing had like only 20 people in it... I'm hoping the future installments (if there are any) will be more exciting.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Commodore 64, aye aye!

I was munching a hamburger and reading the Palo Alto Daily News on Monday and I saw an article reporting that a discussion panel marking the 25th Anniversary of the release of the Commodore 64 would be meeting that night at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View! Naturally, my mind raced and my bite of hamburger balled up in my mouth as I mulled the idea of 25 years (!) of Commodore 64.

Now I've never actually owned a C64 (my dad got me an Atari 1600, which I mainly used to play Pac-Man), but I recall it being a pretty big deal. I HAD to go to this event, if only because I wanted to hear stories and perspective from the pioneers of the personal computer business. We heard from Jack Tramiel (founder and head of Commodore), Steve Wozniak (the Wizard of "Woz" from Apple), Adam Chowaniec (who led the development of the Amiga), and William Lowe (who led the team doing the IBM PC).

Although much edified and entertained by these stars of the computer industry, I was perhaps most impressed by the benefits of Museum membership! I was thinking I would just head to the event and go listen to the people. But there were hundreds upon hundreds of people at the event, and apparently Museum members and their guests who RSVPed got reserved spots! AND they get access to the reception with posh food/appetizers.

It's a good thing my good friend is a member of the Museum. I called him up, hamburger still unchewed, and told him about my Nerd Emergency and he replied that he was already fully apprised of the Nerd Alert, and, in fact, he could add me to his "member guest" RSVP. Thanks, man, I owe you one. That reception was da bomb. I think I ate about 5 pounds of seared tuna (mercury be-damned!) and washed that down with a bushel of olives and a forest of chicken satay skewers.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The cake is a lie!

I love the end credits to this game, Portal, part of the orange box of Half-life 2. I don't really like puzzle games so I've never played this, but they take the cake as far as end credits that I've seen go (pun so totally intended). As far as I can glean from cursory readings of descriptions of the game, you are some sort of guineau pig at the mercy of an AI computer that is convinced it is doing important research and breaking a few "eggs" in making its omelette. Along the way, the AI baits you with the promise of cake, but graffiti left from (presumably) earlier subjects insists that "The Cake is a Lie!" In the end, you break the AI into pieces and incinerate those pieces. The song is just so catchy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh man, this candy tastes like Asse.

Whoever named this candy didn't do enough research. I guess this is somewhat analogous to Ford selling the Nova in Mexico under the same name ("No go").

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Video-game-themed Marching Band Show

Check out this halftime show from the 11/3/07 Cal Football game.

Although it would have been cool to get one shot from the student side, I guess Cal students don't know how to use video cameras and editing tools and have never discovered YouTube. Yes, that must be the reason I can't find one from the right-side-up perspective (or I'm just lazy).

It has music and formations eliciting Pong, Tetris, Mortal Kombat, Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. A true delight for an old video-gaming fart like me.

EDIT: I watched the Cal band playing this in the much ballyhooed Big Game for their half-time show as well.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

'Tis the Season for huge electricity bills

Christmas lights are a tradition that, while exposed to in my youth, I did not fully experience until an adult. I remember thinking during my freshman year in college that a "hay ride" through neighborhoods festooned with Christmas lights was dorky and gay at best, but actually having gone on said "ride" I must say it was actually pretty entertaining. I would have balked at caroling and wassailing, but hot apple cider and fanatical light shows are surprisingly satisfying.

That said, I never saw anything that comes within even spitting distance of this display, found on youtube:

It's a Christmas light show set to the disco tune "A Fifth of Beethoven."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Newt Migration!!

Wow ~ ok, the east bay does have some cool events after all. Apparently they close a road in the Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley for a NEWT migration. It's kinda sad that when i put in Newt migration in the google video plug in, it brought up Newt Gingrich, but since Newt is (thankfully) not associated with our great State, putting "california newt" in the plugin seemed to have popped up some ok-looking links instead of an irrelevant demagogue.

Anyway, back to the salamanders ~ I remember when we found one when I was in middle school back in Cupe-town. We brought it back to our science class and put it in a terrarium where we fed it those grubs. Then it swelled. I don't think it got fat because it was quite turgid. It might have been fat, but in any case, newts aren't supposed to look like that, so our teacher (Ms. Schiros, bless her surreptitiously-smoking heart) supposedly returned him/her/it (or, "the newt") to its natural environment. Or maybe she didn't. Who knows?

Anyway, it's cool seeing these newts are spared the rigors of the road as well as seeing that the East Bay has more than cows and tract housing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In Soviet Russia, "In Dog We Trust"

Here's a CNN article on 10 dogs that changed the world. My favorite is an account of how Pope Clement VII was bitten by Cardinal Wolsey's dog and subsequently refused to grant the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

By the way, the article overplays the roles of the dogs rather egregiously ~ for instance, the refusal to annul Henry's marriage was an extraordinarily sensitive political decision involving threats from Catherine's brother, the Holy Roman Empire ~ it's kinda funny reading about these forgotten canines from other ages.


I didn't even think to write about the mild earthquake on Tuesday night. The only reason I'm writing now is because I read an article in the NY Times website and it mentioned some blogger who was "sleep-deprived" because of worry of aftershocks. As a native of coastal California, I know the threat of earthquakes is real, but losing sleep over it seems sad. Que será, será.

Just get your earthquake kit in order and confirm you live in a building that meets the safety codes. Worrying about the 9.0 earthquake that buildings aren't designed to handle is like worrying about spontaneously combusting (Hey, supposedly it happens!). Of course, I don't have a safety kit prepared so I guess I'll probably be one of those victims on TV holding up a crudely painted sign to the news chopper above saying "Send help!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sharks and Tasers

Dual post today ~ one vexation and the other vindication.

First, the story is that a shark was caught in the Euphrates River about 200km from the sea. Locals blame the U.S. military for placing the shark in the river: "Tahseen Ali, a teacher, said there was a '75 percent chance' Americans had put the shark in the water. 'This is very frightening for us. Our children always swim in the river and I believe that there are more sharks. I believe that America is behind this matter,' said fisherman Hatim Karim." I hope that they found the most paranoid teacher and deluded fisherman to quote, because if these types of assumptions are commonplace in Iraq, then we are apparently seen as three-headed demons there.

Second, the funny tasering incident returns with what I believe to be the proper result. Mr. Meyer avoids further charges by apologizing to the University for breaking the rules of the forum and agreeing to 18 months of probation: "I'm so sorry that I lost my control in that auditorium," he wrote. "I went there to ask an important question. The question of voter disenfranchisement in America cuts to the heart of our democracy, and my failure to act calmly resulted in this important town forum ending without the discourse intended. For that, I am truly sorry." He seems much more intelligent when he's not hijacking a Q&A to turn it into his own personal soapbox.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Note to self: follow the rules and you won't be tased

Perhaps my favorite incident this summer was when Andrew Meyer was yelling, "Don't tase me, bro! Don't tase me! ~~ YAOAOWOOOAOW!!" The exquisite schadenfreude of an overzealous moron getting zapped is a mystery of the human psyche, but dammit if I don't enjoy it.

I'm glad to see that the peace officers that attempted to enforce the rules of the Q&A session and ended up tasing Mr. Meyer were cleared of wrong-doing. Of course, I am not unsympathetic to Mr. Meyer's plight. It's gotta suck being tased after a politician dodged your questions. Zzzzzzap.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Osama =/= Obama

I know Mitt Romney is a busy guy, and I know that sometimes what political rivals do can be mystifying and hard to comprehend sometimes. Sometimes I wonder what ultra-conservatives are thinking, and I'm sure they wonder when liberals will be scourged from the earth in a sea of hellfire. I kid (kinda). But regardless of how busy you are, there's really no excuse for confusing a leading Presidential candidate with the grand-poobah of our enemies.

Basically, Romney thought that it was Obama, not Osama, that had put out a tape yesterday. Because that's how Democrats spread the word: with recordings made in caves and released over the internet. Sure... It was no slip of the tongue either. He actually brought it up while talking about Democrats and corrected "Osama" to "Barack Obama" in mid-speech.

Some people probably think, big deal, anyone can mistake the two names. Yeah... maybe if the names were of Paulo and Pablo, two random dudes in Brazil. But these are two of the most famous people in the world with ideologies diametrically opposed. If you can't identify friend (and as Americans we are all friends regardless of our differences) from foe when you have no power, I don't want you having any power.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Awesome imagery for the day...

A flaming squirrel lands on a car's engine compartment, which subsequently explodes. Terrorist/kamikaze squirrels have new martyr. Story here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fun Google Statistics

According to this Reuter's story, Italy leads in searches for "Viagra" and Chile leads in searches for "gay." Other word stats included, too, like "Kate Moss" and "burrito" (Ireland and the U.S. respectively lead).

Monday, October 15, 2007

WWII Gun Battery Reopens in Marin

I remember hiking in Marin Headlands in 6th grade as part of a week-long school field trip and seeing some very impressive concrete bunkers left over from before World War II. There were also Nike missile batteries, as I recall, although I may be confusing that with Angel Island's missile batteries. Anyhoo, flat concrete slabs from a Cold War missile battery are not nearly as impressive as concrete bunkers hewn from the hillside with views out over the sea. Missile hatches do not elicit the awe that gun anchorages meant to secure 16-in naval guns into the hillside do.

Reading about a recent re-opening of "Battery Townsley" in Marin makes me want to go up there and take a look around. Maybe it will remind me of that trip in the 1980s as an 11-yr-old.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"In Rainbows"? only from another's perspective

I'm currently in queue to download Radiohead's "In Rainbows." How much do I plan to pay for it? Exactly $0.

Am I heartless? Do I not wish to support artists? Do I merely dislike Radiohead?

The answer to all of these is NO (well, at least the last two). I have enjoyed Radiohead's music immensely in the last two decades. Ordinarily, I would have no compunction against paying for their music. However, this whole "pay what you want to" mechanic smacks of some idealistic experiment in socialism ~ kind of like wearing hemp clothes you grow in a commune.

I think that the danger of socialism happens when people confuse the successes of socialism (yes there are successes!!) with some deduced conclusions about human nature that are untrue. The conclusion people might draw from a successful online sale of "In Rainbows" is that people are in fact willing to pay for music online in general, instead of the conclusion I would argue: people are willing to pay for Radiohead's music when it's distributed in an experimental format that conforms with how they would like the music industry to function.

Anyway, I would call myself liberal, but I don't like experiments that are, in effect, exercises in socialistic masturbation. [Edit: I do not, to be clear, think that Radiohead's online sales mechanic is necessarily masturbation, only that it is in danger of being used as such.] I'm probably over-thinking this, but hey, I just got "In Rainbows" for free!

Gold-digging the Wrong Way

If sincere, a self-described "spectacularly beautiful" woman threw herself to the wolves of the internet last week by posting a bald-faced request for a sugar-daddy on Craigslist. She confessed dissatisfaction with her current businessman s.o. (earning a meager 250k/yr) which would not even get her into Central Park West! She was aiming for a goal of 500k/yr, which apparently is not overreaching because the "middle class" in New York is 1M/yr.

Someone claiming to fit her bill responded with some cold, hard economic analysis of her situation: "plain and simple a crappy business deal." Concluding that as her companionship, based mainly on her beauty, is a depreciating asset coupled with significant and steady or increasing liabilities, he would much rather lease than buy.

Oh, if only love were as rational as this. Sight unseen, gold digging sounds moronic, but guys aren't known for rationality when faced with spectacularly beautiful women. Herein lies her error ~ don't ask for rational advice when peddling irrational goods.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gatorland gapes anew

The plucky folks at Gatorland in Florida are rebuilding after a devastating fire last November that destroyed some of their tourist complex, including (with tragic pic) the gaping "gator" mouth entrance.

I remember visiting Gatorland years ago and being very much impressed with how many gators died there to fill their store with gator products and their restaurant with gator burgers. That mouth-entrance was an iconic memory of my trip to Florida, so it's good to hear they're putting it back!

Friday, October 05, 2007

How to raise political zealots in one easy step

Since me and hermit Eric Rudolph were the last two people in the country not to have cable TV, it's been hard keeping abreast of trends. Luckily, the intarwebz are here to save the day. I've been watching the Daily Show with John Stewart at Comedy Central dot com and the recent video "One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State" with John Oliver (originally aired Wed. Oct. 3) is good stuff.

Apparently there are book publishers out there who peddle politically indoctrinating books for children. Now, the way we raise our children is usually our own business, but I think these books border on child abuse:

REAL titles from the publishers:
  • Help Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed! - with such classic children's story characters as a Ted Kennedy-esque liberal hitting a lemonade stand for sales and income taxes (by holding out "his meaty hand"). As John Oliver so astutely observes: "Finally! A response to the universal healthcare manifesto, Everyone Poops." The publisher touts jokes in the book like "Teddy's Carwash," because then parents can explain that Ted Kennedy was suspected in a murder decades before they were born and they can all chuckle to the partisan humor in familial harmony.
  • Help Mom! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!
  • The Sky is Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming

And they found a liberal publisher too! Of: Why Mommy Is a Democrat.

Not to be left out, the Daily Show mocked up some childrens' books of their own: Help Mom! The Liberals Gutted the Patriot Act and Now There's a Suitcase Bomb Under My Bed! and Heather Had Two Mommies; Now Heather is a Prostitute.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Will they? Oh please, will they?

After some recent major third-party candidates that impact Democratic candidates (I'm looking at you, Nader), reading this article about Christian conservatives chafing about the possibility of Massachusetts Mitt or "Abortion-on-demand" Rudy being the Republican nominee fills me with an unseemly glee.

Apparently, Christian conservatives, who liberals and moderates alike consider to have heavily influenced the Republican party in the last 20 years, think that they have been treated as a "mistress" (love-you-but-don't-talk-to-me-in-public) by that party. I laugh.

Yes, please, endorse a far-right candidate! I think it's a great idea.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Too annoyed to put up anything

President Ahmadinejad (sp?) of Iran's visit to New York is the type of event that I suppose I should comment on in this blog, but I'm too annoyed by him to sift through the news reports and such to pick one to put up. The statement of my annoyance should be sufficient commentary, I suppose.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eaten by cats

Reading the first bit of this article on the aging of Japan makes me want to sign up at an online dating website, if only so that instead of being found as a dusty sack of bleached bones, I might be found before rigor has set in.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Riddle me this

What's wet, covers 70% of the Earth's surface, and can burn at temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit?

Yeah. This story is unbe-frickin-lievable. It's not April 1 either; weak sauce, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I'll believe it when my car's radio runs the alternator and not the other way around.

The main question I have is how much energy are the radio waves using compared to the energy can you pull out from the water? Actually the main question I have is, "are you s----ing me?"

Take me to your liter!

News came out today that the EU will not be forcing the metric system on British merchants who continue to use the imperial weights and measures. Fight the power!

I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, but the logical side of me thinks it would be nice to have a single system. Still, as the proles in 1984 note, a litre of beer is way too much, but a half-litre is too little. In that visceral way and for that reason alone, a pint is a worthy measure. Rule Britannia.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New fan of Brandi Carlile

I'd heard a couple of Brandi Carlile's songs in recent months on radio stations like KFOG and always found myself watching the scrolling text on my car display hoping to catch artist name and song title. Having done that at least a few times and seeing her name, I was definitely enthusiastic when my friend asked if I wanted to see her show at the Fillmore this past weekend. It was a great show (not that I'm an expert on these things); her performance was powerful and genuine with a huge artistic range.

Now I'm a rock fan, so some of her folksier songs were not really up my alley, but they were still great to listen to. Here's a review of the show from the Mercury News.

Edit: updated the google video links on the right for some Brandi Carlile vids!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Way to go Idaho

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who has in recent years garnered good ratings from such conservative groups as the "Concerned Women for America," the "American Family Association," and the "Family Research Council," plead guilty to engaging in (or is it soliciting? not sure) "lewd conduct" in a Minneapolis-St.Paul bathroom.

hahahahahaha ~ he now says he "should have had the advice of counsel" before pleading guilty to the misdemeanor. Uhh.... DUH! Maybe he thought pleading guilty would get him lots of gay buttsecks in prison since he missed out on gay tomfoolery in the bathroom.

This guy is a senator?? He was Senate "liaison" to Mitt Romney's campaign?

[Edit]Bonus: He is the senior Idaho senator and a "former rancher." "Gay-sex-in-Minnesota-restroom, I wish I could quit you!"
[Edit 2] OK so I'm watching the News Hour and apparently this isn't his first gay-associated problem. Apparently he has been accused in the past of "cruising" for gay sex many times through the decades, hanging out in front of an REI store and hitting on a gay guy, and having a gay tryst with someone in a Union Station, Washington, D.C. bathroom (near my old school coincidentally). This guy is so f---ed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chinese miners dig their way out!

Two Chinese miners in a deadly mine collapse that resulted in over a hundred deaths (or presumed deaths as their feat belies the original story) have tunneled their way out of the mine after being given up for dead.

If two guys without food and water can survive for 130 hours while DIGGING their way out of a mine, then how little effort was put into their rescue? Very sad.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Victor Victoria

The coverage of the Michael Vick dogfighting case has focused on the repercussions of his actions on his NFL career. It is focused so much so that some journalists have claimed that he would not be given as hard a time if he had simply killed someone.

This hyperbole does not help in the discussion because it begs people to downplay the manner in which the animals died and overemphasize the exceptional cases where someone's death results in light penalties.

These animals were intentionally raised to kill or be killed in excruciatingly tortuous ways. If the losing dogs did not have the good grace to die in the ring they would be killed in ways that seem calculated to be the most cruel. Drowning? Hanging? Electrocution? Hanging and electrocution may be state sanctioned methods for executing criminals according to strict guidelines meant to limit suffering (as if anyone actually knows, but capital punishment is a whole other can of worms), but when administered by laymen, one must assume that they were not so careful to avoid suffering.

Here's a BBC article on dogfighting and its rise in America.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On the subject of cats...

Here is a list of the most popular dog and cat names.

Predictably, since this is "most popular," they are not unique and interesting at all. Blech.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cats remember physically better than visually

The article title: Feline Memories Found to be Fleeting is perhaps a little misleading. The study they describe really has no bearing on conscious memories as many readers (at least myself) might deduce.

Instead it has to do with the unconscious memory for the environment that all animals have in order to navigate their bodies through the world. This obscure form of memory is definitely not as sexy as the form of memory that Mr. Nibbles uses when recognizing mummy as she comes through the door after a long day of work.

Basically what they found was that if you distract a cat while they're stepping over an obstacle (say a low wall) after their front legs have cleared it but before their hind legs, then even after the obstacle is removed, the cat will "high step" to avoid it with its hind legs. However, if you distract the cat before it has cleared the obstacle, then the cat will not attempt to clear the obstacle.

I note that the methodology mentions only that they removed the wall in both cases and not that they had tripped cats up by leaving walls in place, which kind of makes me wonder about the whole study (you know, positive control, negative control, blah blah). Besides, the inner Teuton in me wants that tiny bit of schadenfreude that comes with the idea of cats tripping because they didn't remember there was an obstacle in the way after seeing it just seconds before. Kind of like feline slapstick. On that note, the embedded video links to the right have been changed to feline-themes.

Silly study, huh? And they still haven't found a cure for cancer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Surprise of the day: U.S. Tourists not as bad as feared

Well technically this article is older than today, but I only found it today and since this is my blog it's MY surprise of the day. SF Gate's Article on some German Expedia survey. Apparently the German branch of surveyed 1500 European hotel managers and came up with some interesting results. I'll compile a few results here, but there are more in the article. I suppose there's no link to the actual Expedia survey results because either (a) it's in freaky-deaky Deutsch, or (b) SF Gate's editorial staff doesn't feel the need to include primary sources.

1. Americans are regarded as the second-best tourists overall, behind the Japanese. The worst tourists overall are the French, with Indians the second-worst and Chinese the third-worst.
2. Americans are the best tippers by far, and the Germans are the stingiest.
3. Americans are the most interested in trying new foods; Chinese the least.
4. Americans are the most likely to try to speak a foreign language (surprise!); the French the least.

Less glowingly:
5. Americans are the "shabbiest" dressers (what a quaint word) by far, while the Italians are the snazziest. I guess this makes sense since I tend to favor t-shirts and shorts.
6. Americans are the most likely to complain.
7. Americans are the second noisiest, following the Italians.

Other notables: Russians are rudest; Japanese are "best behaved" and "most polite."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thankfully, criminals usually aren't smart

Here's an interesting Washington Post article about a murder defendant who, by writing jailhouse letters, implicated himself in the crime, invited his girlfriend to perjure herself, solicited others to intimidate and/or murder witnesses in his trial, and butchered the English language and grammar.

While the first few things are just stupid, the last probably actually reflects his real speech patterns. He spelled Murder "murda", with "wit" and they "dae." His handwriting is actually quite readable, too!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Books on CD experience returns

In some of my previous projects, the generally low intellectual quotient required of the work had allowed me to engage in other diversions simultaneously. One such diversion was listening to a book on CD while reviewing the work. One series I listened to was "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. They're apparently turning the first book into a motion picture.

[EDIT: removed the annoying QT video clip that slowed the page down. /bleah Seriously though, check out this movie at Golden Compass's website.]

So I hope that video embed works. Anyway, it looks pretty cool to me! I'm hoping it does well so they make the second and third books into movies too. I was a little dismayed to read that for "viability" in the American market, they're not touching the controversial religious aspects of the books (which can be interpreted as an attack on Judeo-Christian dogma and even a condemnation of the Christian Churches). Anyway, for a "children's" series it's actually pretty cool and I'm definitely looking forward to the movie!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Super unleaded? Regular unleaded?

So this is an interesting, seemingly authoritative FAQ on using premium gasoline v. regular gasoline. Bottom line: the only time you should consider getting premium unleaded is if your owner's manual says you NEED premium unleaded and you're trying to squeeze more performance from it (i.e., practically never in any normal situation).

Unfortunate wedding announcements

Jay Leno pokes fun at wedding announcements with unfortunate bride/groom name combinations like Phuc-Yu and Aikin-Johnson, so this online slideshow is not original but still kinda funny.

80-year-old Harry Potter

Apparently Harry Potter did work for the government in the Defense Department. And he retired to Florida. I wonder how many Harry Potters there are in the world? Probably dozens. But this story is about a septuagenarian who likes to hoodwink little kids (with their parents' approval). I guess it's a bit like the homeless guy in a Santa Suit.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Kevin Spacey impersonating lots of people in a "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview.

Millionaire heiress one day, overexposed ho the next

Did Conrad "Barron" Hilton cut his heirs out of his will? I haven't seen many mainstream reports regarding it, but gossip news outlets from Australia and UK are claiming so.

This is kinda what I wanted Wang Lung to do, but I guess he didn't have a charitable foundation in his name.

Edit, 7/31: The tabloids, shockingly, may not be correct 100% of the time.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It ain't over until Greedo's gun is cold.

George Lucas has been caught wearing a "Han Shot First" T-shirt. I can't even tell based on the photo the bloggers are showing, but I will accept their fanatical attention to detail as authority for the claim. Still, unless and until Georget Lucas changes it back in a sure-to-be-released Super Authoritative Ultimately Remastered and Digitally Enhanced HD (not a whoring of your childhood memories) Version (TM) of Star Wars(TM), my flayed fondness for Lucas's work will continue to be a pulsating sore.

Shaken, not stirred

Here's an article that examines James Bond's Goldfinger and concludes that 007 is a moron.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm so there

I just saw the trailer for a movie coming this fall, Elizabeth: The Golden Age. It's a sequel to one of my favorite movies, Elizabeth, which covered the early years of Queen Elizabeth's life. Of course, it's not a historical documentary or anything like that so it's full of inaccuracies and artistic license, but it's so very interesting to see how a great person faced the enormous pressures of her station and managed to come out on top.

I was so enormously disappointed when it lost to the corny and saccharin Shakespeare in Love in the 1999 Oscars. I saw that movie and wanted my 10 bucks and 2 hours back; imagine my dismay when it won all those Oscars.

The new film should have some exciting action scenes with the English taking on the famed Spanish Armada. Take a look at the trailer ~~ how can this not be an awesome movie? I pray I don't find out.

Click on the video links to the right for some vids, or check out the international trailer or the longer U.S. trailer.

P.S. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Colbert Photoshop Phun

Heavens to murgatroyd. The Photoshop assignment today is a riot. Take Stephen Colbert and place him in religious/cultural settings.

It's smaller than I thought...

That's what she said! Baddum-ching!

Germans say that the Earth is actually 5 mm smaller in diameter than previously thought. I want to know what kind of sig-figs they're working with when they're talking about measuring distances using radio-lag. They say they can measure distances to "the preciseness of two millimetres per 1,000 kilometres (0.07 inches per 621 miles)." I guess that's pretty precise.... But if they measured the diameter of the Earth to be 12,756.274 km using a network of 70 radio satellites, it seems like that's a lot of +/- 2mm errors to account for....

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Transformers possibly not horrible?

With the Independence Day weekend (huzzah, America!) upon us, I've been reading reviews for movies on the off chance that a movie might be the escape-tool of choice for my friends and family. I've never been a fan of the idea of a live-action Transformers movie; there's no way you can top the Transformers movie from 1984 (or wutever) in my mind. [music] You've got the TOUCH! You've got the POWER!!! [/music]

But I'm reading the reviews anyway because some of my friends have expressed interest in it. I normally like Roger Ebert's reviews a lot because he writes about movies very well and generally has valid points even if I don't agree with his overall review. Often he cues me in to some movie arcania. For instance, in the Transformer's review, he says, "... Megatron crash-landed near the North Pole a century ago and possesses the Allspark, which is the key to something, I'm not sure what, but since it's basically an alien MacGuffin it doesn't much matter. (Note to fanboys about to send me an e-mail explaining the Allspark: Look up "MacGuffin" in Wikipedia.)"

Now, I have no idea what the "Allspark" is. It sounds like some baking ingredient, but for semiconductor doping or something. But looking up MacGuffin in wikipedia shows that the users have already added Ebert's reference as an example. Hehe. Cute.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Arrr, hands off me booty!!

Ouch! Veggie Booty, manufactured by Robert's American Gourmet (which makes my favorite "Pirate's Booty" as well, not affected by the recall) is being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

Alas, poor Booty; I knew it, dear reader: a snack of infinite blandness, of most excellent guiltlessness: it hath borne me through document reviews countless times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it. Here hung those cheese powders that I have savored I know not how oft. Where be your puffs now? your extruded knots? your dessication? your packing-peanut imitations, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own pirate-themed marketing? quite safety-recalled? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her eat many low-fat snack foods, to this favour her snacks must come; make her drool at that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

what's pink and buoyant and slimy all over?

Hahahaha. Poor catfish tried to swallow a basketball.

Pretty graphics of ignorance

Fark linked a Wired Article on Survey of current events. Now it only had 5 questions, but the demographics they were studying included the difference between Fox News and other media outlets. There are so many confounding variables, but the results are that Fox News watchers got more questions wrong than people who claimed to use other news outlets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Expensive Coast will empty by 2100 oh noes!!1!

The author of the Forbes article, "Ghost Cities of 2100," is careful to caveat her article with disclaimers that whether her fantastic predictions occur is "an open question," and "hard to predict." She also describes certain urban centers that are already experiencing population decline to suppport her conjectures. But I'm not writing about the effect of a major earthquake on San Francisco, rising ocean levels, or the hollowing of heartland America.

I'm writing because the editor of FORBES should have caught the irony of claiming in a "financial" magazine that the decline in San Francisco's population because of rising housing prices could lead it to "disappear entirely." It would seem that the author of the article does not understand the bedrock economic notion of the tie between demand and price. While the population size may be in decline, there can be no possible argument that the decline is due to a general lack of desire to live in San Francisco. On the contrary, the decline is due to the lack of capacity of lower-income (and generally higher density) populations to compete for limited supply of land.

GG Forbes editor. The only purpose of simplistic population-decline-equals-city-death causation analysis is to irritate readers and get them to blog their annoyance.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Haha. Lolcat youtube compilation!

Stuffed animals

I was recently in the market for stuffed animals for my sister's newborn twins. I decided not to go with the standard teddy bear / rabbit banality. Instead I'm looking for some alternative animals. I ultimately decided to get a plush platypus and a plush red panda.

My main concern is that millions of babies can't really be that wrong when it comes to bears and rabbits. Perhaps a platypus and a red panda won't be as cute as the paragons of pedestrian playthings. But I have faith that as long as they're cushy, they can at least serve as brownish pillows and sponges for baby-spit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

6 acres of land on the San Francisco Bay

Some guy is selling 6 acres of land on the San Francisco bay for $10 million. Difficulty: it really is ON the bay ~ as in an island. Apparently it's the last privately owned island in the Bay. According to this article, the guy bought it for $49,500 in 1964 and hasn't managed to develop it or anything.

I wonder if this unnamed island in Google Maps is the island for sale...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nessun dorma when the cell phone rings

Oh man, you've gotta check this out. I generally despise American Idol and the initial rounds of American Idol in particular as shameless exercises in schadenfreude, but this Welsh "Britain's Got Talent" cell-phone salesdude was pretty cool. Watch the vid.

Keyboard fauna

My computer and keyboard are getting a little long in the tooth, and recently I've been thanking the stars for the manufacturers' foresight in making most keyboards black now so the built up grime is less visible. I remember my old beige, or whatever-color, keyboard used to have almost-visible circles on some of the commonly used keys. Yuck.

But here's a fun article on keeping your keyboard so clean you could eat off of it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Geriatric monitoring!

Wow. Embedded in this boring article about Japan using older workers and abolishing mandatory retirement is mention of a water heater/kettle that pages a person when it's used and summarizes its use in an electronic message daily. If the person receiving the messages recognizes a change in routine, they can contact the old person to see why the pattern has changed.

Recognition of virtual property rights

I just read an interesting article on the status of a lawsuit between a "Second Life" user and the operators. I've never really understood the purpose of mundane virtual worlds for entertainment value. Fantastic worlds or worlds with conflict are interesting to me, but a world where I can build a house or dress up in socially questionable ways, but are otherwise similar to real life, seems kind of silly to me. Diff'rent Strokes for different folks I guess. Perhaps the schism, in the parlance of Ward and Beaver, is the same as between wanting to play "House" and wanting to play "Cowboys and Indians." Perhaps the nexus is wanting to play "Doctor."

But I digress. The article is very interesting to me because (1) it's a glimpse at where the virtual property world is going, and (2) it describes an online contract where a judge gives the hapless user an escape from the "I ACCEPT" button.

1. Recently, there have been some articles where reporters have suggested that the IRS may TAX virtual income as real income. In most virtual worlds, taxing virtual income seems a little silly. Is the acquisition of items like the "Uber Sword of Uberness" income? How do you quantify its value? If I can't trade the item, and don't plan to sell my avatar, then when is the income recognized? For items I can trade, what determines the proper exchange rate? However, from what I understand of "Second Life," some of the questions are easier to answer. The article describes a system where real money and virtual money are exchanged via an official system (as opposed to the notoriously reviled "gold sellers" in more fantastical virtual worlds). It will be interesting to see how this case turns out, whether the confiscation of virtual property amounts to an actionable conversion.

2. When I click on "I have read and understand the terms and conditions for use of this software and accept them in their entirety," I think about how I probably haven't read and don't understand them. I just want to use the da** software! Well, rejoice fellow victims of contracts of adhesion, in this particular case, the judge said the terms don't necessarily bind the user. Interesting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lost in Time... Like Tears in Rain...

Rutger Hauer, once a mere figment from my nightmares, has written a memoir called "All Those Moments." The title of the memoir is from perhaps his best known and definitely his favorite (as he confirms) role as Roy Batty in the classic Blade Runner. I didn't know, however, that he turned down a role in another epic movie Das Boot (perhaps Jürgen Prochnow's role?? zomg) so he could play Roy Batty.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

11 year-olds and limousines

People need to learn to celebrate exceptional achievements instead of pedestrian milestones.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Assume the fetal position! The Horror. The Horror.

So. I'm driving home from the gym in my shorts and synthetic fabric t-shirt and I experienced one of the most viscerally terrifying experiences in my adult life. I'm on 101, driving with the windows down, caterwauling along to "All things 'The Beatles'" on KFOG (tangent: 40 years of Sgt. Pepper! w00t!) and all of a sudden ~ DING!!! *an impact noise and something flies across my vision*.

It's a poor bumblebee! aw cute thing. Too bad it's probably dead. Oh. It's moving a little ~ probably death throes. Oh look, here's a stop light, I'll grab it with this Kleenex(R) and drop it out the window to return to Mother Earth. Or Auntie Asphalt or wutever. And the Circle of Life will be complete!

I snag it, and as I lift it to the window, it buzzes its way out of the Kleenex(R) and falls in my CROTCH. AAAAUGH!!!! I swear, I think my lads almost retreated up into my nose. I'm at the light, practically hyperventilating from the imagined unholy interface between arthropod and private parts, when finally it lifts off from under my butt and flies out of the window.

Some of you may scorn my reactions as disproportionate to the threat, but until you have a piercing object and the will to use it poised less than an inch from your twig and berries, you can't honestly say how you'll react.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Guugle r in ur naybrhud, blowin' ur mynd!!!!!!! ^ >O< ^

I saw a tutorial for the "Streetview" function in Google maps (srsly! click me!)! I put in my own address and I saw my own house from street level. How is this possible!? Google must have invented autonomous camera-armed robots and are planning to monitor my pr0n.. errrr children's cartoon consumption habits! Do you know how bizarre that feels? I feel kinda dirty actually.... *cue theme from the Crying Game*

Seriously though, from the look of the picture in front of my house, they must have driven by sometime in February or something and captured my neighborhood. Freaky. Upon zooming out, however, I realized that the Street View function is fairly limited in scope ~ being constrained to only 5 metropolitan areas in the U.S. only.

It was only fated coincidence that my neighborhood was close enough to Google Mountain View that it was included in this first round of the new Street View Service.

Check out the view from the Oval in Stanford University! Click and drag on that mofo to git a reeeeal good look.

Even fooled Uncle Sam

Hahahahaha ~ Azia Kim, who stealth-Stanforded for 8 months until she was asked to leave campus last week, also managed to sign up for and participate in Santa Clara University ROTC! Too funny. Obviously she's a complete loon, but she's got cajones the size of basketballs. The ruse sounds like some sort of plot for a book ~~ I wonder if she'll manage to sell her story to Reader's Digest or something =P rofl.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Philadelphia transsexual mural

Fark headline: "Transsexual Cambodian spotaneously mixes androgynous forms to create controversial self-portrait mural on Philadelphia building. Submitter has been waiting years to write this headline" links to Philadelphia Inquirer story "A mural is up against a wall." The mural in question is The Death of Venus, to the right (Eric Mencher / Inquirer Staff Photographer).

When i first clicked on the link, I thought that some people were objecting to a new mural with questionable content. However, the article says the mural has been up for four years subject to an "interim approval" procedure. In that time, there has been little public opposition to the mural, according to the article, and the City's Mural Arts Program has added the mural to its tour guide.

However, in a recent decision at the end of the four year "interim approval" procedure, the city's Historical Commission decided that it should be painted over. Although supporters of the mural claimed that the mural has taken on historical significance, the Chairman of the Commission dismissed those arguments and said, "4 1/2 years is not history." Although the Chairman of the Historical Commission might have more experience in determining whether something is historical, I must disagree in this case. I believe that events and art that have an impact can become historical within seconds. Of course, I'm being somewhat facetious because the Chairman meant history in context of the historic architecture of the neighborhood, but nevertheless destroying a work of "art" that is generally unopposed and is a tourist draw sounds like a bad idea.

The tragic irony is that the artist, Dee Chhin - a transexual Cambodian immigrant (originally Wesley Chhin) - watched as her own uncle, also an artist, was decapitated by the Khmer Rouge, and now her work of art will (pending appeal) be painted over in a coat of red paint.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Youtube simpsons intros

Good times.

Universe within a universe


Fat Bart

Bah just search Simpsons intro yourself in youtube =P

EDIT: omg. ok so the changes to this blogspot site allow me to add a video feed section with keywords. Click on a picture in the video feed to the right and enjoy any of a number of videos that come up with the key words "tan Stewie." "Oh squiggly line in my eye fluid - I see you there, lurking on the periphery of my vision, but when i try to look at you, you scurry away. Are you shy, squiggly line? Why only when I ignore you do you return to the center of my eye? Oh squiggly line, it's all right; you are forgiven."

Back. In a small way.

Dear Readers,
So I've been spamming my friends with emails containing random stuff I see online. Rather than forcing them to wade through my electronic offal/treasure, I have decided to resurrect this page, not in a Jesus-like ascendance to a higher plane, or even a Lazarian return-to-life, but rather in a necrotic, dripping-flesh, ugly reanimation.

In less flowery terms, here's some stuff that I thought was interesting, but I'm not gonna worry about making it interesting or even grammatically correct.


P.S. Thanks, Jimmy, for sparing our friends my continued spam. I wonder if Zombies like Spam? It probably has pork brains in it ...

So I guess the first thing I'll post is an appropo link to a vid from the past ~ 1939 to be exact. Apparently a General Motors Futurama presentation on travel of the future. "Over space, man has begun to win victory."

I guess GM was predicting progress in the mandate of Genesis 1:26 ~ "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule ... over all the earth."