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: Behold the Four Noble Truths of Python! "All that is not Python is Suffering."

Name-Dropping: I can't think of any hook on which to hang this story, so I'll just tell it and hope you'll be interested. On Wednesday afternoon the power went out in Brisbane, so we (Brian, Ed, Dan, and myself) decided to take a long lunch. We went to a restaurant in Burlingame (that reminds me; more amazing Burlingame restaurant stories coming up! Stay tuned!), and outside the restaurant Brian encountered some people he knew from Organic. Here comes the part I hope you'll be interested in: they were having lunch with Shawn Fanning from Napster. It sort of reminded me of a dot-com version of this old Doonesbury cartoon.

MoreSensationalistExaminer.com: "Sharpton Brings Show to S.F." should be "Sharpton Brings Snow To S.F."

: Gary Benson sent me a couple useful NewsBruiser patches. He also has good things to say about NewsBruiser on his weblog (which is not yet running NewsBruiser, but which I presume soon will be), namely that "NewsBruiser rocks" and "It really is an awesome piece of code".

: Havel Drunk As Skunk

: From The Google Weblog (which also picked up my silly Legalese Edge Case (check out the cool new link format!)), it's the voyeuristic escapades of The First Week at Google.

As with so many others, my dream job would be something for the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center. My dream job that actually exists (again, as with many others) would be doing cool things for Google. (Today I actually thought of a cool thing to run against Google, of which possibly more anon, but it won't work without angering Google because it won't work within the rather limited Google API).

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Real Live Preacher, one of the best new blogs, thanks the Creator for The Big Lebowski. Just below that entry is a guide to tamales ("Do not eat the corn shuck wrapper, Yankee.").

: From PEA: the guy (one of them, anyway) who tries to sell you lunar real estate finally got what was coming to him. He's very contrite, which makes me more favorably disposed towards him. Next up (one hopes): the powerless-to-actually-name-stars star registry people.

My belief: we should homestead the moon and other heavenly bodies. You can own the land if and only if you terraform or otherwise do work on it. Very Lockean.

Durian Durian: The durian is a Malaysian fruit which apparently tastes good but stinks to high heaven. I've never had one, but Durian Online will tell you all about it. They even have fake durian!

Right now you're thinking "Leonard, why are you bringing up the durian? I already know all about the durian! I hit your site with my mondo RSS reader to read your witty comments on completely irrelevant topics, not to see you link to the durian site that's already #3 on Daypop!" But unless you've been reading NYCB since 1998 (or have read the archives), you don't know that I had a physics professor at UCLA whose name was Doug Durian. He was a good professor, but I did horribly (C+) in the class; this was entirely my fault.

In a bizarre turn of events, this NYCB entry is not the first time Doug Durian has been mentioned in conjunction with the durian fruit; it's been done before, in greater detail, here.

PS: I do untold amounts of research for each and every NYCB entry, except the ones clearly labeled with the blue triangle which means "completely unresearched". Reading my UCLA transcript to find my E&M grade I get the uncanny impression that as I progressed through my time at UCLA I actually got smarter. I don't know why I find this so uncanny as this is exactly what's supposed to happen when you go to college.

: I was skimming through The Book of Lost Tales, looking, for reasons which need not concern us at the moment, to find historical names that orcs might give their children. It turns out that The Book of Lost Tales contains no orcs and very few orc role models, so I'm using The Silmarillion instead. However, The Book of Lost Tales does contain a cool Lost Tale about an enormous whale named Uin, who is hitched up to a continent and tows the entire continent elsewhere, much like in this Penny Arcade cartoon. I tried to find out more about Uin but there is no more, except that Uin appears in a children's book Tolkien wrote called Roverandom.

No, I didn't either. It looks like a fun Phantom Tollbooth-ish yarn, and Uin's part in it is generally well-received by the critics. I'm thinking of getting it and reviewing it here.

Woohoo!: My PyCon presentation was accepted!

Brak's Comedy Gold Headline Watch: Microsoft secures delay. Well, at least they managed to secure something! Tip your waitresses!

Crummy Number One Prospect: Has ego-surfing lost its magic? Tired of learning about the lives of registered piano technicians and competitive Magic players with the same name as you? The Department of the Interior has forseen your need, and prepared the Geographic Names Information System for your searching pleasure. Browse a database of geographic and man-made features throughout the US, its territories, and Antarctica. Includes Terraserver links. My favorite ego-feature is the Richardson Glacier in Antarctica, but the Richardson Dam outside Rosebud, Montana is a close second.

: This is the historic first entry posted to NYCB from Jericho. Celebration!

The Dark Side Of Extreme Programming: BrutalSarcasm, ParkingLotTherapy, etc. Good thing I'm not a Time reporter, or I'd already be working on "Vendetta.com: How Programmers Conspire Online To Mock Your Ideas"

Fair And Balanced Reporting: Varied Views on Rampaging

: What does this mean? My only hypothesis: it's really long-term foreshadowing.

Slang You Don't Hear Much: "As if and only if!"

: You may have noticed something cool and new; if not, please notice it now. Crummy's NewsBruiser links are now run through a routine which gets rid of the .cgi cruft, leaving clean-looking urls like http://www.crummy.com/2003/02/06/1. Apache rewrite rules do the transformation in the other direction. This (the implementation is pluggable, so you can implement whatever transformations you want) is a new NewsBruiser feature, not quite ready for CVS yet, and inspired by Gary's implementation of the same thing.

Dueling Weblogs: toastedkitten and friedkitten. Fight!

: This evening the CollabNet engineers, with various degrees of excitedness and resignation, are going to a weekend retreat in Marin. There will be meetings, hiking, and I don't know what all. Internet access will be hoarded jealously, and all NYCB entries for the duration will be pecked out on the Hiptop at dead of night, as I hide in my sleeping bag with a flashlight. The Subversion team is down from Chicago, and they brought guitars. I'm bringing my guitar. There will probably be twenty or thirty guitars at this thing.

Let's Get This Party Over With: The #tron people keep trying to control my actions through clickolinko. Specifically they want me to link to The Advertising Slogan Generator[0] with the input "Seth David Schoen", forming hilarious output like "It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Seth David Schoen." and "Ho Ho Ho, Green Seth David Schoen." Now I've linked, but at what cost? Next they'll want me to post links to CNN bloopers and Engrish captions from The Two Towers bootlegs[1]! What have I done? You've gone mad, me! Mad, I tell myself!

[0] First seen in Tales You Can Bruise, Issue #55.

[1] I found that one elsewhere and was going to link to it anyway, but this forms a useful framing device.

: Witty, gossippy, well-written, full of offbeat references. Yes, it's the AbiWord Weekly News. This week's best line: "St. Pacman's hospital", at the beginning.

: More geographical ego-surfing, from the incredibly famous Sumana: The World's Largest Corn Maze at Richardson Farms. Richardson Farms was, semicoincidentally, the name of my grandparents' old farm.

Unpopular Games: "Marble Sanity"

: On my way home. Tired. More later. Saw rabbit.

Rut Rut Rut: The unexplained. The surreal. The shadowy realms beyond the explanatory power of science. But enough of that. I finally got access to the old (> 1 week ago) Crummy data, and copied everything over, though a heavy dose of directives which could not be processed remain, and the NewsBruiser archives have yet to be brought up to date. I'm working on a slightly better infrastructure for the site, using my newfound knowledge of and access to Apache configuration. I'm generally distracting myself from the fact that I'm still (or maybe again) in a rut.

I want to get my game (which I last mentioned, let alone worked on, about 9 months ago) finished before the end of this year. I am somewhat distressed to, for the first time in my life, be thinking "Well, that's going to take more than a year," and even more distressed not to be feeling that that year represents a large chunk of my life.

My only hope for actually finishing the game on schedule, or at all, is that Leo will make Inform programming a non-hassle (I have a huge problem finding things and cross-referencing related parts of Inform code, and I think Leo will help), reinvigorating my jaded palate.

: The Mars Rover, in Lego. Really explores Mars![0]

[0] For purposes of exploration, Mars must also be made of Lego.

Incredibly Ambiguous Headline Watch: Hello! spoiler cost OK! dear

Dude, Where's My Lawyer?: I got spam with the subject:

Stoner says, "Call now, we're open" vmcgspgimrypn

I immediately thought, "What happened to Weedmon?! Bring back Weedmon!" But now it's obvious: "Weedmon" was clearly the alias of Omar Mendez, the dealer half of this transaction.

: Brilliant! Tim works around the nonexistence of a Hiptop SDK by hooking up to AIM a Unix implementation of the software he wanted to implement on the Hiptop. Specifically, you can now play IF games on your Hiptop.

(Found via referer logs thanks to Mike's tendency to mention GTV! and Degeneracy everywhere; thanks, Mike!)

: Sumana said "frog blog". I searched for frog blogs. Here are ten.

  1. Squished Frog Blog
  2. zen frog blog
  3. frog blog
  4. Electric Frogplate - Frog Blog
  5. frogBLOG
  6. Ribbity Blog
  7. The Boiled Frog Blog
  8. frog's blog
  9. Frog n' Blog
  10. A Frog in the Valley

Antisocial Butterfly: Sumana and I have (well, Sumana has) been invited to three separate anti-Valentine's Day parties. We're not going to any of them; we're seeing Russian Ark instead. However, I sort of want to host a Valentine's Day party out of contrariness, even though I hate parties in general and a Valentine's Day party in particular makes no sense.

: Some pictures from the Hiptop:

Mixed Metaphor: "They were just warming you up for the kill."

Fake Onion Editorial Headline: I Thought We Had A Suicide Pact

Caution! Contains Spoiler!: For a while now, my the little panel on my car that covers the gas tank cover panel hasn't been opening when I pull the gas tank cover panel release lever. I've needed someone else to hold the lever up while I pushed on the gas tank cover panel with my hand to get it to open (this was 1/2 tank of gas ago, having just gotten back from Bakersfield). Clearly the problem was with the gas tank cover latch hook. Yesterday I brought needle-nosed pliers with me when I drove into work. I got an accomplice (Kevin) to pull the gas tank cover panel release lever, opened the gas tank cover panel, bent the gas tank cover latch hook with the needle-nosed pliers, and it worked fine!

Today my car thought "That Leonard thinks he's pretty smart. He's fixed the gas tank cover latch hook, but now it's time for LEVEL TWO!" I went to the dentist this morning, missing the shuttle, so once again I drove into work. As I drove out of the parking lot this evening I heard a crunch. One of the little plastic connectors that keeps the front spoiler[0] attached to the car had busted off, and my spoiler was dragging on the ground. I retraced my steps, found the connector, and drove gingerly home where my tools[1] are. It turns out I didn't need my tools because the connector is an ingenious two-part assembly, and once you figure this out you can just reattach the spoiler to the car with your bare hands. Success again!

Tune in tomorrow, when my hubcaps fall off and must be replaced with dinner plates.

[0] This is the second time this spoiler thing has flaked out on me. The first time this happened I didn't realize it until the connector was long gone, so I had to take my car into the shop, and that's what the guy called the thing in the front of the car. I don't think "spoiler" is the right word for it, but that's what he called it. I'm just sayin'.

[1] These are computer- and minor-home-improvement-geek tools, not car tools.

Leonard Nitpicks The Folk Songs:

How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the light from the glittering stars,
Have I stood here amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.

That doesn't even make sense! "If their glory exceeds that of ours?" What does that mean? "If their glory exceeds the glory of our glory?" How about "If their glory exceeds even ours."?

: Russian Ark was like being in a text adventure with particularly unobservant NPCs. For sheer audacity, ambition, and alliteration, I recommend it. Big chunks of it were boring; I can only hope they were neccessary pauses in the action to shuttle all the actors around the Hermitage, and not something the director thought would be a soul-shattering confrontation with mortality.

The previews included one for a film that looks cool, despite being called "a darkly comic masterpiece" on the webpage: Divine Intervention. It features an actor who looks like Siddig El Fadil, and a pink Yasser Arafat balloon. I thought Big Shot's Funeral looked good, though[0], so what do I know.

[0] I haven't actually seen Big Shot's Funeral, but every review I've read was either really negative or (worse for my prospects of wanting to see a film) damning with faint praise.

: I've written a musical about the Roman Empire exploiting western Europe for the imperial purple. I call it "Dyes and Gauls".

: On our way back from Bakersfield (speaking of which: we went to Bakersfield), Sumana and I ate at Colonel Lee's Mongolian BBQ in Mountain View. It wasn't as good as Mongol's BBQ in LA (there weren't sesame rolls, the noodles weren't as good, and there were fewer available types of vegetable), but on the plus side it's only 50 miles away instead of 400. Also, there's a soft serve machine, you get to choose your own sauces rather than being subject to the arbitrary whim of an employee, and it's generally cleaner.

For some reason, the closest Mongolian BBQ I could find to San Francisco is Colonel Lee's. Without knowing anything at all about why this is actually the case, I blame archaic health regulations against communal ingredient choosing and leaving frozen meat out in the open.

There's also a nice used-bookstore-that-tries-to-look-like-a-new-bookstore right across the street from Colonel Lee's.

Cute Penguin Pictures: 1 2 (From this human interest story.)

Honest Freshmeat Announcements: "Digital Girls is a dark theme that features hot chicks and computer references."

: I often find Jon Carroll too medium-sized-city-humorous-newspaper-columnist for my taste, but today's Presidents Day column is comedy gold.


The Scientologists, who have an office near Civic Center, were capitalizing on the march to sell Dianetics books.

--Zack's weblog

Scientologist Anti-War Slogans:

: Although he's snowed in, Seth continues to dispense pearls of wisdom. Today, he weighs in with a plausible explanation for that part of "Home On The Range":

Couldn't it be "of our star"?

"I looked at Public Knowledge's Internet connection, and I wondered whether its bitrate exceeds that of ours."

Signs of the Apocalypse: Seventh in a Series: The seas will turn to blood and the moon will turn to black bile, and robotfindskitten will be ported to Flash.

: In LA, on the way to the zoo, there's a stretch of freeway where you drive along the Los Angeles river. Some of the storm drain covers that exit into the river have cat faces painted on them. I seem to recall this portion of the road being referred to in our household as "the kitty freeway".

I told Kevin about the painted Los Angeles river cats. He didn't believe me. I showed him this web page. "I cannot believe the lengths you have gone to to pull this hoax off," said Kevin.

Great Moments in Demographics #2: Frito-Lay India's answer to those Apple laptop ads. (Sent me by Todd, who has his reasons)

"It is very exciting to be associated with a fun brand like Lay's. I am sure Saif-n-Kaif Hot & Sweet Chilly, Caribbean Style with its spicy, tangy taste is a flavour that will go down well with the younger generation," said Saif.

This reminds me that in Trader Joe's, Sumana and I saw some fliers for Tom's of Maine mouthwash. Only they weren't consumer-oriented fliers, they were fliers that tried to convince stores to carry the product. They said:

I was just thinking, "Ginger-flavored mouthwash, that's an interesting--gaaah!" If there's one thing us cultural creatives hate, it's to be identified as such.

Alternate Universe Glimpsed When Google News Strips Cultural Artifact Signifiers From Headline Watch: R. Kelly Calls Out Foes, Entices Fans To Join Him At Chocolate Factory

Another Book With The Same Title Would Be Even Cooler: Internet-Linked Sharks (Sumana sent this to me)

Also From Sumana: Ribbit! (This is the second Google result for "title")

: I'm doing work on my PyCon page. I think I'll move the work log over here, into a category.

H.R. Geiger: Geiger counter watch (from Manoj), would be cool if it cost $50 instead of $1500. Handhelds are in the $240-$330 range, though, so that seems unlikely. What is the Moore's Law curve for Geiger counters?

My dream useless 'convergence' machine would be a combination Geiger counter/GPS system/ham radio. Fearmongering use case used to sell this device: "Help, I'm trapped near an old Soviet test site in Kazakhstan!"

T-Shirt From The "Fashions You Can Bruise" Line: <--I'M WITH SETH DAVID SCHOEN

Joyless B-Movie Title: Creature From The Same Planet

: Crummy's been up and down for a while; the hosting machine has been hanging. Hopefully it won't happen anymore.

Anyway, I released NewsBruiser 1.12, "Remote Control Rhino". It's got the XML-RPC interfaces and many bug fixes and enhancements. In fact, I'll be using it right now to import my old editthispage entries.

Update: Success! Eg. "dinoflagellate", The Even Newer Economy.

Game Author Roundup: One of my favorite things on the web is the webpages of people who wrote famous pieces of software (usually games, as it turns out) back in the pre-web era. If they humor me by putting up a little page about what it was like to write the software, I'm happy. If they remain obsessed with the software that brought them transient fame, and can talk of nothing else, then I start to worry a little, but so far I don't think that's happened.

I've got several of these websites and I'm thinking of doing one every once in a while as an NYCB mini-feature (suggestions for mini-feature title welcomed). Today's entry is one I just found: Jeff Lee, one of the authors of Q*Bert, has a Q*Bert page. I have never been any good at Q*Bert, but I've always admired its sheer strangeness and eclectivity, and the page demonstrates how this occurred: it looks to have been designed by a committee of geeks with no management pressure to make it coherent and marketable. Other interesting fact: an early version of the Q*Bert code was equivalent to that OpenGL screensaver with the Slinkies.

: Because I live in a fantasy world, I like making up political systems. Here's one I call the "single transferable vote" system[0]. This is a direct democracy in which, for any electoral decision, you can either vote or designate another person as your proxy. A proxy gives up their right to a secret ballot in exchange for having their vote multiplied by the number of people who chose them as their proxy. If you want the participation of direct democracy you can vote on all decisions yourself, or you can designate as a proxy a politician whose stances approximate yours, and just keep an eye on that politician.

I know many noted political theorists read NYCB, and I'm interested in hearing what these people think of this system. Is it interesting at all? How vulnerable is it to attack (assuming it's implemented well)? The main problem I can see is coercion to designate someone as your proxy.

[0] Ha ha.

: Got some good work done on the configuration framework; I was able to move all the NewsBruiser-specific stuff into a helper class, and now I've got a generic framework that I can turn into something usable for my talk. The generic library is called "I Want Options".

: This has been unobtrusively hanging around on the front page for a while now, but I should mention it because I generally mention such things. You can now receive NYCB by email every night, thanks to Bloglet. This is the realization of the hosted email RSS aggregator I mentioned earlier. "I'll never need to visit Crummy again!", said Manoj. If this idea appeals to you, go to the bottom of the front page and sign up. Heck, you can do it here!

: Pete Peterson II reminds me of the Canadian army surplus Geiger counter that's long been a mainstay of the American Science and Surplus catalog. Since its power source is obscure and you could almost get a new Geiger counter for what they want for that one, it's not surprising that they haven't sold many--as they say, it's mainly useful for its retro cool.

I got my AS&S catalog in the mail yesterday, and I'm looking forward to another romp through the cheap but useless. I recommend signing up for the catalog; it's a lot of fun, and they don't seem to sell your address to other catalog companies.

Pete Peterson II is also in the enviable position of having the actual AS&S store "just down from the street" from where he lives. I used to imagine the AS&S store as an enormous warehouse in the middle of an Illinois cornfield, maybe next door to a pesticide reseller with a corrugated metal roof, but Pete says "it's just a medium sized store inside a strip mall that is wall to wall packed with stuff."

: Sometimes my brain comes up with alternate lyrics to a song. It's not a mondegreen because I know the real lyrics, and anyway the alternate lyrics bear only the slightest resemblance to the real ones. The lyrics my brain comes up with are generally more interesting than the dull, mundane actual lyrics; I think my subconscious thinks that if it comes up with better lyrics to the song, the actual lyrics will change.

Am I the only one this happens to? The only one who talks about it on their weblog?

Example (this happened to me just now):

Then I saw her face
Now I'm a subscriber!

: I did some useful (for my talk) work on NewsBruiser, and then I did some useless work on NewsBruiser, like adding support for the ESF syndication format. Down at the bottom top of the front page there are now TXT/XML/ESF buttons that I copied from Nick's weblog diary. In short: believe it, y'all.

: Cool ASCII art (found on clickolinko, probably only works in Mozilla and derivatives (standards compliance is a good value-added differentiator)): The Kitchen Sink. A daring blend of the old and new schools. Soon to be a major motion Easter egg!

The Game Roundup Your Mother Warned You About:

Spammer Killed By Own Product: Second In A Series:

#1 COLON CLEANSER LOSE 10-15 LBS PER WEEK gzgrhpjbi ncabj

"Bothered by unsightly internal organs?"

Taxonomy of Used Bookstores--Revealed!: Opening a Bricks-and-Clicks Used Bookstore. Via Sumana, via Anirvan, Via Appia.

You May Already Have Won: If you use NewsBruiser and want the town from which you blog immortalized in the NewsBruiser example time zone cities, send me mail with the city and the time zone.

Idle Thought: Remake classic 50s movies to be about punctuation marks, eg.

Update: Sumana says, "Semicolon Without A Clause!". Wah wah.

: Added mod_virgule import to NewsBruiser (coding! easy!). Bought tickets and made hotel reservations for PyCon (decision-making! agonizing!).

: A dictionary of rhetorical terms and devices. Read this, or a ten-year-old Roman kid will whup your ass!

Why Programmers Hate Government: Exhibit One.

: Anirvan points out that the ISBN space is being extended to 13 digits. It's the IPv6 of publishing.

Redundant Search Requests:

i need a girl(female version)

Not-So-Eternal Recurrence: Four years ago I wrote three programs in three different languages (Perl, Java, and awk, I think it was). Today I wrote the same program three different times, in progressively less hacky ways. I call this the "three stages of App", and it's the best lead-in I can think of to the topic of configuration interfaces.

Open Source Spam:

Your text 1 151 Name0230 Random word of digits with length 1 to 20 0868824163630871610 Random word of digits with length 1 to 17 664 Random word of small letters with length 1 to 16 uoy Random word of mixed symbols with length 1 to 27 7i0V8W1AG1rp1EFCKbm8O

There's more.

Registry of Births:

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