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: Crummy is back up (as usual, check out the backup site for many interesting entries) and I've reinstated Tonight's Episode. Modern Fiction week may continue this whole week or it may be truncated when I run out of modern fiction Tonight's Episode titles.

: Yesterday in FreeCiv I made it to Alpha Centauri in 1756; my best time yet.

: The IF Competition 2001 games are out! I can't help but notice one name in particular missing from the list of entrants; still, one can't be everywhere. I have a couple IF ideas right now but nothing to which I'm willing to devote 3 months of my life.

: I put up some pictures from our trip to West Coast Live, including Sumana getting her copy of Lake Wobegon Days autographed and then trying to break the Aquaphone she had taken home.

: Sumana related the news to me that today is Groucho Marx's birthday. "Get out the barn so I can have a hoedown," she says. Those two things are not related.

: I'm afraid that Ask Jeeves is not very useful.

: D'jever notice how Linux decides that your hard drives have reached their maximum mount count and have to be fscked just when you most need to use your computer immediately? You've heard of the principle of least authority; well, this is the principle of least convenience.

: You've all seen The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation, but how about the Powerpoint Presentation on the Mount?



: People are buzzing about a possible standards fork due to the W3C's counterrevolutionary harboring of patentmongers among their standards-makers. My question is, who cares about the W3C anymore? What standards have they come up with lately? As far as I know, for the past two years it's just been old standards farts arguing over XML namespaces.

: Chocolate-covered wasabi-covered peanuts: "Hey! You got your chocolate in my wasabi!" "You got your wasabi in my chocolate!"

: "If we wanted it to be overt, we would have discussed it." -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

: My mother recieved the copy of Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956 which I purchased for her and had autographed a while back when I went to see Garrison Keillor on West Coast Live. I also sent a book to Jake but he hasn't gotten it yet since he's off on a tour of some sort.

: Word Replacement Headline Watch (thanks to Sumana): Bush Swears In Anti-Terror Chief would be more interesting if it were "Bush Swears At Anti-Terror Chief".

: My digital camera has finally shut its little LCD down forever. First the battery case started falling out, but I taped it shut, first with Scotch tape and then with duct tape. Then the zoom broke, so I started taking pictures that had a lot more in them than I would have strictly liked, but I stuck with it. Now it won't even turn on. So I now think of buying a new one.

: Mike Pilato: "This status mail is a touch late, but, following the lead of my namesake, I wash my hands of this matter."

: A couple weeks ago while I was watching Enterprise, there was this horrible cheesy ad for some coalition of biotech companies. It had children describing what biotech means to them, or some such. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but surely just before you resort to patriotism, you put children in your ads and see if that works.

I'm not a big fan of biotech companies, mainly due to their love of what amounts to software patents (in a realm, natch, in which the relevant information actually does want to be free, or at least widely copied). But when it comes to biotech as a concept, I am one of its biggest fans who doesn't work for a biotech company or on a farm (which is a sort of applied biotech company).

Which leaves me with a dilemma; I can find no real political way to express my dissatisfaction with genome patents without signing onto a general anti-biotech platform which, whether it leans politically left or right, regards it as unethical to change a genome through means of genetic engineering (though not through selective breeding, for the pragmatic reason that anything anyone eats is the end result of thousands of years of that). This is not always the stated policy of such political groups, but it's always the subtext, and I don't want to support that subtext. It's as though one could only mark one's opposition to software patents by joining a society that claimed that it was unethical to modify software.

I'm probably wrong and there's some like-minded group of technocrat hippies like myself who have formed a pro-biotech anti-genome-patent coalition. If so, I'll probably hear about it soon. I just hope it's not a front group for something.

: Confusing Hypothetical Watch:

To most of us the inner workings of a computer are a complete mystery, but imagine if they were smaller than a grain of sand?

Huh? How would that make it easier?

: I got more spam (in English) from Jihad Baydoun, and just before that I got some Turkish spam. I wonder if there's any sort of futures market for spam from different regions.

: When I was a kid there were little plastic dinosaurs which you bought and with them you engaged in dinosaur play. Nowadays there are plastic dinosaurs but now they're animatronic Jurassic Park III branded dinosaurs (they have JP tattoos on them) and they come with flesh wounds. Their ribs are sticking out! Apparently if two Jurassic Park III branded dinosaurs see each other they will immediately start fighting, and the flesh wounds are to lend credence to the fighting.

I'm not saying that dinosaurs didn't do their share of fighting when I was a kid. I just don't think it's a good idea to build it into the toy at such a visceral level.

: Oh, also there was a dinosaur (Spinosaurus or something; a species I'd never heard of) which said on its box "Biting action!". But all the text was also on the box in French and Spanish, so it also said, "Il mord!". I found this very funny.

argv: Man, VA is being flaky with their hosting of the Crummy/Segfault machine. I'd look for somewhere else to host, but I'm afraid to even touch the Segfault code for fear it will collapse.

I've discovered a form like preposition-buzzword form, though it's not something I use myself. It's organism-artifact form and it's used in the titles of books and articles and the like. What better name than one which combines the organicness of an organism and the humanness of a (possibly cultural) artifact? eg.

The Quark and the Jaguar fits if you are also a fan of Constructing Quarks. The Alphabet and the Goddess (artifact and mythical organism) and The Professor and the Madman (two organisms described in terms of their cultural labels) are borderline cases.

So don't delay! Name your next work after an organism and an artifact today!

Anthrax meta-joke: Oh, on Friday I went with Sumana to see the Fresh Robots, and one of the Robots (Mike) made an anthrax joke in his stand-up act, and then noted: "Comedy's a rule of three. If only three people die, it's funny."

: Woohoo, maybe this time we'll stay up. View the backup site for two entries on bioterrorism humor and Organism-Artifact form.

: I bought an "illustrated directory of dinosaurs" a while ago, and last night I was looking at it. It seems to have been a book that you buy to give to someone else, but I bought it for myself. Ha! There are a lot more species of dinosaurs now than I remember there being. The book has lots of great pictures of dinosaurs sort of lumbering after their prey (lizards or dragonflies or mammals) with their arms stretched out. It also has "more than 70,000 words of description and evolutionary details." It was published in the UK, which is why they can mention evolution on the back of the book.

: My FreeCiv Alpha Centauri record is now 1702.

: I'm taking Friday off and going down to Bakersfield to spend time with my mother and sisters. It has been a long time since I took a vacation of any sort.

: FHW: Bin Laden may be planning to run. He's sort of a one-issue candidate.

: I just came to the realization that one of my catchphrases is "I've tested this and it works." An ill-favored catchphrase, sir, but mine own.

: I'm having a good time in Bakersfield. I totally ripped up my old jeans digging ditches for my mother, so I need to go to Goodwill today and get some new old jeans.

: I think I'm just going to let the current Tonight's Episodes run out and then discontinue it. It will take about a month for the Strategic Tonight's Episode Reserves to run dry.

: Spent the day doing yardwork and reading. I'm reading a book on the dons of Oxford and Cambridge, called, rather unoriginally, The Dons. At the ice cream parlor I met Brian Leary, whom I hadn't seen since grade school and who now works at the ice cream parlor. He makes the ice cream.

: Today I'm meeting with Dave Griffith. He has a project involving unix Frotz which I may or may not take part in. I don't know why I capitalized "unix Frotz" the way I did.

: Joe sent me Estonian spam. Thanks, Joe!

Kevin has also been vigilant in sending me funny spam, but it's all in English, of a sort.

: Damn, this is funny. And I haven't even read the original. Maybe imagining what the original is like is part of what makes it so funny.

: Argh!

: I was going to complain that the Falwell-Robertson-bin Laden quiz is bogus, because it's impossible for the average person on the street (like me) to distinguish between Falwell's rantings and Robertson's, but my objection has been anticipated and the barrier removed.

: Last night I went with Sumana (but not Seth) to a comedy night in Berkeley. The headliner disturbingly resembled a cross between President Eisenhower and Premier Kruschev. He was both sides of the Cold War! I kept thinking, "Is he threatening to bury me? Where are the jokes about the military-industrial complex?"

: You would think that internationalization and localization would be opposed goals, but no, they're aligned.

: Here's my new joke: "Bush is doing such a good job handling the terrorism crisis that I think he stands a chance of actually being elected president."

: Hotmail message footers still invite people to get their FREE download of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Doesn't everyone who is ever going to have a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer already have a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer?

Correction: it's MSN Explorer, which is presumably something else.

: Perusing some Linux Today talkbacks today, I was reminded of the "Tar Pit From Hell" theory of discussion boards which I expounded to my co-workers many months ago. It is basically the following: when you add a public discussion forum to your site you are placing your site on a big slab of plexiglass which floats around on the Tar Pit From Hell. As long as no one actually uses the discussion forum, you are safe. But the more people pile on to use the discussion forum, the deeper your site sinks into the Tar Pit From Hell. There are various measures you can take to slow your descent into the Tar Pit From Hell, but none of them deal with the fundamental problem, which is the fact that your site is sinking into a damn tar pit.

As you can tell, the Tar Pit From Hell theory is one of those cockamamie theories which survives only because its name is fun to say.

: Here is a great article defining the annoying thing people sometimes do when you're debating them to try and put their propositions beyond the terms of debate. The paper terms it "logical rudeness" and makes a convincing case that it's not possible to just issue a blanket prohibition on the tactic.

I screwed up my computer so I had to go into work (where I am now) to get a Linux CD. I booted up a BBC but couldn't find any of my hard drives. They're probably there, though.

: I'm back, and hard at work, for suitable definitions of "hard" and "at work". My fancy-schmancy Intellimouse works now, and the scroller works! Woohoo! Unfortunately my camera does not work. I hope it's just because I haven't been able to compile USB support into gphoto.

: Earlier, I realized that the author of the logical rudeness paper did us all a great service; the phenomenon now has a name, which means that you can confront people with it (assuming they are rational, which does not generally have a high correlation with logical rudeness). You can say "Do you realize that you are engaging in logical rudeness? Do you really want to be that sort of person?" and sort of try to shame them into arguing the 'correct' way, or show that their rudeness is of a self-defeating type.

: Yup, Tar Pit From Hell.

: Hey hey. Sumana has a new Weblog up, running NewsBruiser no less! It's called Cogito, Ergo Sumana. NewsBruiser (and a fast server) has made her much more prolific.

: Another day in the code mines, as Joe Barr used to say.

: "You're the golem who's also a Lotto ticket!" -- Sumana

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