December 31, 2003

The OTHER Tom Jones

Tom Jones was on the Leno New Years special tonight. Mom saw him and is convinced he isn't the Tom Jones she knows. It is impossible to sway her on this one - there is another Tom Jones "who is popular in Las Vegas" and the guy on Leno isn't him.

Posted by thom at 09:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2003

Do you Feel Lucky?

Well, do ya, punk?

Posted by thom at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fun with your Brain

David was articulate, he was intelligent, not obviously psychotic or emotionally disturbed. He could read a newspaper. Everything seemed fine except he had one profound delusion. He would look at his mother and he would say, "This woman, Doctor, she looks exactly like my mother but in fact she's not my mother. She's an imposter. She's some other woman pretending to be my mother."

David had suffered a brain injury that had brought on a very rare condition called the Capgras Delusion. Neuroscientists study people with brain damage to learn how the brain works. Today I stumbled across The Reith Lectures on the BBC's website. This year's lecturer was neuroscientist Vilayanur S Ramachandran who gives a absolutely fascinating series of talks on The Emerging Mind. The series is available as text and as a RealAudio stream. It includes more details on the effects of David's injury as well as an explaination that will remind you how lucky you are next time you recognize someone you love.

If you enjoy the lecture then you might want to check out one of my favorite books: The User Illusion.

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December 25, 2003

Most Richly Blessed

For Christmas I thought I'd post an excelent and thoughtful prayer I discovered over at shwango. She posted it for Thanksgiving but it's a timeless classic. There is a dance version of the prayer you can download too.

Most Richly Blessed

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for -- but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

-Anonymous Soldier, American Civil War

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December 24, 2003

The Patron Saint of New York

I should be snuggled in bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head but I'm not. No, I am up at 3:50am searching for Christmas material for my semi-interesting blog. I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I make in order to bore you. Tonight (well, this morning) I have discovered the story of The Battle for Christmas. It's sort of appropriate given world events. If you're too lazy to read the book then you can listen to an interview with the author (which I found here). It features the song Backdoor Santa so you won't want to miss it. In the meantime I'll be on the lookout for a suspicious bearded guy invading the homeland's airspace.

Posted by thom at 03:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 23, 2003

I Want More

defaultThe Academy-Award© nominated animated short-film tells the story of a lonely inventor, whose colorless existence is brightened only by dreams of the carefree bliss of his youth.

By day, he is trapped in a dehumanizing job in a joyless world. But by night, he tinkers away on a visionary invention, desperate to translate his inspiration into something meaningful.

When his invention is complete, it will change the way people see the world. But he will find that success comes at a high price, as it changes himself, as well.

Go watch More. If you love it as much as I did you can buy it. And if you're willing to pay $14.95 for a 6 minute movie then you'll probably want the T-shirt too.

Posted by thom at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 21, 2003

Ben Affleck's IP Number

While engaged in the sort of careful, intensive research that maintaining the high standards Interesting by Association requires I stumbled across the following touching story:

All lost in a fire
Posted by lil_auc at v90modem72.pyxis.bigsky.net on January 12, 2000 at 01:30:00

Last night my sisters house burned down. She lost all of her possesions and I am still in shock. She is a huge Ben and Matt fan. And of course, all of her movies and pictures she had were burned. And I guess what is the saddest, is that the only thing that she is concerned about right now is the fact that she lost her autographed picture of Ben.

She was in Las Vegas a year or so ago and met Ben. She somehow had gotten his autograph on a picture she had and framed it. And she treasured it. She had bought a frame for it and kept it on her TV stand. She first became an admirer of Ben when he played in an HBO special about a guy on steriods. From then on, she looked for Ben and any movie she saw was coming out, she would go and then buy the movie. Does anyone know where I can maybe buy her an autographed picture of Ben? I looked on the web, but you never know what is true or fake. And I don't want to buy a phony.

Hey Ben, if you are reading this, can you help me out?? I would be glad to pay for it. I just wish her to be happy. And I know if I could get her an autographed picture, it would make her happy. She has done so much for me in my life, helping me out with my boys and bills when I get behind. I even thought about writing the Richard Simmons Dreammaker thing and asking for help. But I thought I would post here first. Thanks for your time.

Tessa

Ben Responded:

Re: All lost in a fire
Posted by Ben Affleck at adsl-63-193-141-165.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net on January 12, 2000 at 16:26:55
In Reply to: All lost in a fire posted by lil_auc on January 12, 2000 at 01:30:00

I'd be happy to replace the photograph--and I may even be able to dig one up of Matt. Email the board with where I can send it and I will.

Could it be? Might I really be able to contact Ben's personal computer?! I broke out my advanced arsenal of hacker tools to find out...

thom% ping  adsl-63-193-141-165.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net
PING 63.193.141.165: 56 data bytes
[time passes]
^C
--- adsl-63-193-141-165.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net ping statistics ---
13 packets transmitted, 0 packets received, 100% packet loss

thom %

Drats. I knew it was too good to be true!

Posted by thom at 11:43 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Fun in my Pocket

I finally found it! "It" in this case is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (and also Alice Through the Looking Glass) in electronic form. Thank you, Project Gutenberg! A little nerd magic (via Plucker) and now I can carry them around in my pocket and read them whenever I find a spare moment.

I also stumbled across VirtMem which looks like a very good technonerdy blog. While reading his page I suddenly got an urge to buy Apple Computer stock and I discovered a really useful tool. While poking around I found a great word: euphobia. It is a great name for a blog.

My apologies for not really doing a lot of writing about my inner thoughts recently. Lately my inner dialog looks something like this:

"What do you want to do?"

"I dunno. What do you want to do?

"I dunno..."

So it hasn't been very interesting. I plan to do some serious soul searching in January so hang on for a few more days

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December 18, 2003

What is Love?

"Love is a speeding truck whose driver doesn't see the ball that has bounced into the road."

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling. I couldn't recall specifically what I was dreaming about but I had this awful feeling that the concept of "valid HTML" played a non-trivial part in my dream. At least I am not alone.

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Mathematical Hygiene

I've written before about mathematics and philosophy. Today I stumbled across an application I hadn't anticipated. The article's author sums up the life lesson to be learned:

I think there's a lesson here for anyone who stumbles across an undiscovered part of the universe and tries to claim it as his own. You can presume to hold on tight and never let it go, clenching up your retentive grip with constipated determination. But in the end, your "creation" will rightly return to nature's anarchy with a victorious plop, leaving you to wipe yourself clean of any residual pretensions.
Posted by thom at 11:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 17, 2003

Old News

This is why politicians don't like the Freedom of Information Act

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December 16, 2003

I Had a Dream

In my dream I had a blog. Everybody told me they read it. That is how I knew it was a dream.
Posted by thom at 09:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

What time is it on Mars?

I know. Do you?

If you have kids and are looking for a fun way to get them interested in computers I suggest taking a look at Breve. It makes it relatively easy to do all sorts of fun things and comes with several interesting demos. One lets you watch walking robots evolve, and another simulates a flock of birds. Fun stuff.

Posted by thom at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2003

International Vampire Meetup Day

I signed up on meetup.com today only to discover International Vampire Meetup Day is only 2 days away! (Not to be confused with International Teen Vampire Meetup Day 4 days later). I decided to find out where the local vampires hung out so I could avoid meeting up with one who might vant to suck my blood. This is what I found out:

Not enough Vampires near Pomona-Claremont, CA can make it, so this month's Meetup is cancelled. Click the button below to join this topic, and we'll sign you up for next month.

What a relief!

Posted by thom at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lawyers and Politicians and Software, oh my!

Vindicated! A few months ago I blogged about how strong "intellectual property" rights slowed innovation and concluded with this snide remark:

Is the software biz really in trouble? Well, all I can say is that you can tell something is really a problem when even economists start to notice.

Today on Brad Delong's blog I noticed his thoughts about this story in the Wall Street Journal. Quoting the WSJ:

When patents are too easy to get and hold onto, they become a weapon for would-be monopolists and their well-paid lawyers to increase profits rather than a reward for innovation. People get patents who don't deserve them, and then others wield those patents in what is close to legalized extortion. In the computer business, firms that do no research and make no products buy patents to use in lawsuits against companies that do make things. In biotechnology, where each advance builds on the last one and everyone relies on patented research tools, patent holders may be stymieing progress, the FTC cautions.

The WSJ writer notes: "This warning is worth listening to. It comes not from an antibusiness bureaucrat or a Democratic advocate of government industrial policy, but from a Reaganite Republican who prizes property rights, markets and competition as the only sure way to prosperity."

I'll update my snide remark now: You can tell something is really a problem when even economists, and then Republicans, start to notice.

Richard Stallman, thought of by some as a kook, has been talking about this for a while now (sorry, I was trying to find an earlier link). Sometimes (er, well usually) he may take an extreme position but at least he has the force of reason behind him.

Posted by thom at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

State Of the State

I took a trip to the local branch of the library yesterday. I had my laptop computer with me so I could work with no distractions. I asked the librarian if there was a desk somewhere I could plug it in.

"Sorry, no. We don't allow that. Someone might trip over the cord and our insurance wouldn't cover it."

The library was built 29 years ago when I was 10 years old. I remember thinking how cool it would be to have a library nearby. I remember learning the Dewey Decimal system and browsing the stacks to see what interesting books I could find. But now, standing there with electron-less laptop in hand, I noticed something I had missed at first glance: The tables, the chairs, the shelves, the rug - everything save the computers that had replaced the card catalog - were as they had been 29 years ago.

Next time you go to the library look and see if there are desks where you can plug in your computer. If there are, then you live someplace with a better civic quality of life than California. Of course, if you lived here since 1978 then your property taxes are really cheap compared to, say, anyone who has bought a house here since 1978.

Posted by thom at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2003

Musical Interlude

Well, it's not really musical. Actually it's a lot of words. But they are good words - interesting words. Words about music and life from the guitarist of my favorite band.

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December 10, 2003

Owny Woo

Working in the tech biz these days means working with people from all over the world. People whose native tongue isn't english. People who are doing me a favor by learning my language in order to communicate. Thus I generally don't believe making fun of their accents is nice. But we're all human and sometimes it can be really, really funny. So today I will point my readers to Owny Woo. A double order of giggles smothered in date sauce.

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December 08, 2003

You have the Right to Remain Silent...

...anything you say can, and will, be used against you:

In these days of danger, the old divisions of party and ideology have become almost meaningless. There are but two parties now: patriots and traitors. Active opposition to this war is treason, and nothing less. Those who seek to obstruct all just and necessary efforts for the defense of the nation are, thereby, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

I fully realize that my assertion of this doctrine will set some to screaming about the right of "dissent". Well, as to that, let me say this. The right to "dissent" is the right to remain silent, to disagree, to not participate. That is a natural right which is retained by every single human being under any condition.

A couple of years ago he pledged to join the army if the war ever came. I guess he had "better things to do", that or he just didn't pass the physical.

One of his readers had this reaction:

Adam's right, dissent is treason. We must cut this cancer from our bodies before it's too late!

To start off, we need to hold a nationwide purge of businesses owned by dissenters. It needs a good, catchy name - I was thinking something like "Crystal Night", after the sound of all the glass storefronts breaking.

Then we need to round up all the dissenters and give them a special mark so everybody knows who they are. Something simple but distinctive, that stands out at a distance - how about a yellow star?

Once that's done we can start setting up special camps to put these parasites to work and help us win this terrible war. I'm not sure about a name for this phase - I'm thinking something along the lines of "Ultimate Answer" or maybe "Final Solution".

Anyway, just some thoughts. Let me know what you think, I'm eager to get started with the pogrom, I mean program.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by thom at 01:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 07, 2003

A Coincidence in Dusseldorf

Roy Orbison walks inside my house and sits down on my couch. We talk urbanely of various issues of the day. Presently I say, 'Perhaps you would like to see my cling-film?'

'By all means.' I cannot see his eyes through his trademark dark glasses and I have no idea if he is merely being polite or if he genuinely has an interest in cling-film.

From the Odd Fetish of the Moment file I present Ulli's Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Website. Don't miss The Musical.

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December 05, 2003

At Your Command, Baby!

My brother, Paul, really liked Battlestar Galactica [I would link to his entry about it but he doesn't believe in permalinks apparently. So I'll randomly link to this instead]. I did too since it was kinda like a new episode of Starwars every week (which was good since George Lucas has tried to stretch the series out over, well, my entire lifetime). He is also looking forward to the upcoming "re-imagining" of the series. I read this review tonight:

Creators of the Sci Fi Channel's forthcoming Battlestar Galactica miniseries promised that their "re-imagining" of the 1970s classic would be darker and grittier.

In Hollywood, that can only mean one thing: more sex.

"We realized the only way we could improve on the original is if the Cylons could have sex," quipped co-executive producer David Eick at Tuesday night's Los Angeles premiere. The chrome-domed "walking toasters" from the original TV series are succeeded by -- well, really hot blond chicks, who infiltrate human society to engineer its doom.

One of the newly humanized enemy androids, Number Six, is played by former Victoria's Secret model Tricia Helfer (so that's Victoria's big secret! -- we always knew there was a sinister purpose behind those ubiquitous catalogs). While in the throes of sex, her spine glows a luminescent, otherworldly, X-ray crimson.

I never found Cylons attractive in that way. If only I had known there were hot blonde aliens underneath all that chrome! [Maybe not - Ed.] I've already got the VCR programmed to record all the hot alien action.

UPDATE: Apparently the Starwars Universe is a hotbed of sexually active robots too.

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December 04, 2003

My Designated Free Speech Zone

I spotted this article on The Smirking Chimp about George Bush's Free Speech Zones:

Take Brett Bursey, a Columbia, S.C., man who is being prosecuted by U.S. attorneys for protesting an October 2002 visit by the president to his town. State officials dropped their charges soon after arresting Bursey for not moving to the "designated free speech zone"--leading us to believe that wherever the president speaks is not a free-speech zone--but five months later the feds decided to press charges, and Bursey's case went to court in November. A U.S. magistrate is to decide on his case sometime this month.

Something very dark is happening to our republic. America is my Designated Free Speech Zone and I refuse to move from it.

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December 03, 2003

The Thrill of Victory

I guess I missed this on ESPN but I just discovered tonight that the Trojan Games have just gotten underway over in the United Kingdom. I especially enjoyed the coverage (or lack thereof) of the Judo Semifinals. Everybody Wins! Female readers should note I am still searching for a Judo partner to begin training with for the next games.

If you are under 18 or easily offended you shouldn't click the above link and would best be served by pretending you never saw the previous paragraph. Instead, you should Click Here.

Posted by thom at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Dilbert Blows a Gasket

defaultIn case you missed Dilbert this weekend you should check it out. It was nothing less than a thinly veiled call for Class Warfare. Not that it wouldn't be a healthy thing for this country at this point, it's just that I think their success will be their undoing. As evidence I present the following search results from Google:

"Whom God would destroy, he first makes proud." (3 hits on Google?! Is this not actually a biblical saying?)

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