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: Leonardonics spam: Are you the only one?

: Beating The Salon Horse: What if Salon's announcements were written the same way as their news articles?

Salon tries to wring money out of the faithful with Salon Premium. But will the Napster generation pay for secondhand reporting and warmed-over commentary?
Salon's new blogging service will make sure no bobo voice goes unheard. But will the new content save the magazine... or overshadow it?
Salon announces improved revenue in new quarterly results. But without the sneaky accounting tricks they deplore in others, the numbers tell a different story.

I'm here all week! Tip your waitresses!


Well, he's puffing a big ceegar, feeling mighty slick
Cause he thinks he's got your union licked
When he looks out the window and what does he see?
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree

: FHW: CollabNet turning Japanese, Korean.

: Even by my jaded standards of spam irony, this is pretty funny:

From: iHateSpam <greatoffers@[domain].com>
Subject: Finally. Eliminate Annoying Spam!

: Tux Paint, a cute piece of software from the prolific Bill Kendrick.

: I wasn't actually expecting to find examples of Leonard's Law of Editorials, but here is one (secondhand), from this article about the school uniform debate. Well, about the school non-uniform debate. (link from Instapundit):

The scheme will "weaken Islamic values and spread a culture of nudity," the Jomhuri-Eslami paper complained on Thursday.

: Some of the descriptions of SpamAssassin tests are pretty funny.

This reminds me to announce the second Crummy.com Spam Contest (the first one is over, but I haven't collated the results yet).

The premise of the contest is that SpamAssassin has finally given us an objective (though imperfect) way of measuring the "spamminess" of any given email. The object of the contest is to recieve the single most spammy email (as adjucated by SpamAssassin). Forward your entries to spammy-spam-contest@crummy.com, and wait forever for me to decide the contest is over and judge the results.

I don't use SA on my personal account yet, but we use it at work and there (for an account that gets little spam) I've seen spams with SA scores of 23, so I'd say about 25 is the bare minimum for getting excited enough about your spam to enter it. Honorable mention will be given to the spammiest email not to actually be spam or a discussion of spam.

As always with Crummy.com Spam Contests, this is to be a passive competition, like a rubber ducky race. You may not write spam that scores high on the SpamAssassin scale just so you can use it in this contest, nor may you alter the SpamAssassin rules, or add new ones, to make a particular piece of email score higher. You could spread around your email address in order to get more spam, but that act carries with it its own punishment.

: Another spam entry, highlighting the spam subgenre I call "The Spam Of Nations" because it posits a completely different set of economic laws from those that obtain in the real world (chain letter spam also falls into this category).

Make Money Selling Overstocked Merchandise!

: Weird, overheard in Cody's yesterday (paraphrased):

"Do you have any newspapers in English from the Middle East?"
"Well, I don't think we have any English newspapers from the Arab world. I know we carry Ha'aretz in English."
"Oh... I was really looking for something from the Middle East."

: Sumana read me a funny quote from Spin Cycle today. Let me set the scene. Then-President Clinton is about to go white-water rafting. The president's handlers are in a tizzy because of the associations this will bring up with the Whitewater scandal. Press secretary Mike McCurry feeds the president a snappy line to use.

Inevitably, a reporter in a passing raft shouted at the president: "What do you think of Whitewater now?" Clinton flashed a thumbs-up. "It's better when you have a paddle," he said, reading from the McCurry script. The quote made the next day's New York Times.

This paragraph gave me the Goon Show-like image of a reporter on a raft dogging Clinton throughout his presidency, always floating by at the crucial moment to shout out some pointed question. Probably the raft would be fixed with wheels so he could row it through a press conference. The Secret Service starts to worry. He's seen at the National Press Club, sipping a scotch and soda, entertaining a Post reporter in his raft. Eventually he's transferred to the foreign affairs desk and covers international crises from his raft. His tragic demise (not sure how; stray shell punctures raft?). Write up, sell film rights. $35K? Intimate political comedy, slight farce; doesn't have to be a blockbuster.

: I spent the day cleaning my room. Since I was moving around all my furniture anyway, I decided to rearrange it. I'm now sitting about four feet from where I used to sit. I rotated my bed ninety degrees from its old position! Not even Fox would dare to air such extreme content, but I swear to you, my readers, that it is the truth.

: What happens on The West Wing if Bartlet loses the coming presidential election to the Republican challenger, Gov. Ritchie? Does the show end? Do they bring in a new cast and become a show about the Ritchie administration? Does it become a show about the post-White House jobs of the various characters we already know, a la Saved By The Bell: The College Years? I go for the second option. Of course, we know that Bartlet won't actually lose (unless the show is going to end), which raises the Disturbing Question: how fair is this election, really?

: You know that weblog that recreates Julius Ceasar's Gallic Wars in weblog form? Of course you do. Yesterday I thought it would be funny to do the Satyricon in weblog form. It would read like a whiny LiveJournal. After that set-up I should have a sample entry to set you rolling in the aisles, but... I don't. Sorry. Also, the dinner with Trimalchio is way too long to be represented by a weblog entry, and that's the funniest part, so I doubt it would work.

In other classics news, I read Juvenal's Satires, a copy of which Sumana found me for cheap. Very funny. I kept thinking "I hope he writes some more of these soon," and then reeling as the horrible truth hit me. If this were the 18th or even the 19th century, you could title or subtitle a book "The New Satires" (like Mary Shelley's "The New Prometheus") and it would be an acceptable title or subtitle. People would accept that you were doing a sort of "the adventure continues" thing. But even those days are gone.

: Cool hack: Zillions of games, a generic strategy engine and language for defining strategy games. Plays chess and its myriad variants, as well as whatever other puzzles and games people have thought up. Windows only, unfortunately, so I haven't tried it myself. The chess variants site is cool, though, and platform-independent.

[Via Plurp and the aforelinked chess variants site, which I found a couple weeks ago via some weblog that I forget which one. The way this works (see previous example) is that I see something that's cool and forget about it, then I see it somewhere else and remember it and post an entry about it and have to quote the source that reminded me of it, as well as the (by now hopelessly forgotten) original source.]

: Slightly scary Markov chain URL ticker: ClickoLinko (found through referer logs). I assume it monitors the #crackmonkey IRC channel. From it I was reminded of ThinkGeek, to which I would be particularly subsceptible to right now were it not for my tendency to lose interest in cool gadgets once I realize how much cooler they could be:

"Hey, that is really cool!"

"It'd be even cooler if the car was a tiny MEMS device."

"Oh yeah."

I think I got this disappointing yet money-saving internal voice from Dan.

: About a week ago I went to a used bookstore and bought a bunch of used books. It appears someone had recently gone to that selfsame bookstore and offloaded their collection of novelizations of '80s games, because I found and purchased a Zork novelization, an Enchanter novelization (which I'm reading now), and a novelization of the RPG Paranoia, which I only know of from the multiple-choice text adventure based on it that was bundled with the Adventure Game Toolkit, and from the great phrase "First Church of Christ, Computer Scientist". The first two books would make good prizes for the IF competition (incidentally, I never received my prize for Guess the Verb!; oh well).

Also at the used bookstore I got a bundle of Retief books. Great! (I've never seen Retief books except in used bookstores; they must all be out of print). More on these later; Google 'Retief' if you're curious.

retief.com is taken but the owner isn't doing anything with it except trying to sell it to someone else (much like me with another cool science fiction domain name, except my motives are pure; I'm not doing anything at all with it. Eventually I'll host a software project there, once I come up with a suitable idea for a software project).

: Doomed, geek-pandering movie title: Inode What You Did Last Summer

: Funny Manoj commit message:

This isn't windows. You don't shut down with "start"

: Mozilla Icon or Elephant? First (And Last) In A Series

False-Trillema name for this series: Picture, Pachyderm, or Providence?

: Jakey B is back, and he presents a fiendish plan indeed for a joint Leonard/Jake venture to destroy the market for gross-out candy. My fear is that, like the art world with Duchamp's readymades, the market will merely assimilate our product and use it to accelerate its spiral into depravity.

: They Said It Couldn't Be Done Search Requests: listening to metallica's songs using winzip

: Single most audacious claim made ever by a spam: LOSE 80LBS IN A WEEK? The answer is no (unless you contract Ebola or something).

: Jason Robbins, whose Tonight's Episodes are merely one tank in the armored divison that is his arsenal of heuristics for formalizing comedy, came up a while ago with the idea that in the next Austin Powers movie, there should be a "Micro-Me" character the size of an action figure. You see where this is going: a "Nano-Me" villan capable of being injected into Austin's bloodstream, a huge Mechagodzilla-like "Mega-Me" robot which Dr. Evil directs à la Dr. Wily, etc. Eventually it would fall apart and stop being funny with "Meta-Me".

: As Groucho Marx did not say, "I won't belong to any struct that would have me as a member."

: Muppets + Weezer = cross-promotional fun! (from Kevin)

: The last of my spaceship components came in today, and are on the floor in a box. Soon I'll be shutting down this computer and performing the transplant.

The other things that came in today are my copies of the Diesel Sweeties and explodingdog comic books. I'll report on them once I read them. They remind me that I've had the Footrot Flats comic book Joe sent me for YEARS and still haven't reviewed it. That will come too.

: I'm back on the net, though not all the parts are moved into the new computer. This new bizarre motherboard has its own network card and sound card, but I don't trust 'em. I'm afraid that each contains a tiny privacy-invading modem, like in The Lone Gunmen. (Oh yeah, the motherboard also has its own modem.)

: OK, everything's working except sound (dunno why). My CD writer even works, which hasn't been the case for a while.

: Edsger Dijkstra, R.I.P

: I forgot to mention two new additions to the NewsBruiser-running Weblog family, but I will do so now: Charles H. Baker has not one, not three, but two weblogs running NewsBruiser.

: Cool toy: Construo is a little mechanics simulation that's like building soap bubbles out of Tinkertoys. Gravity, friction, brittleness, torque... it's got it all.

: I added code to NewsBruiser to put in meta tags that force web crawlers like Google to index only one view of your weblog (you choose which one: the daily, monthly, yearly, or individual entry view). So if this has been bothering you, update your copy from CVS.

: NewsBruiser bug reporters: please put it in Issuezilla. I filed A. Holloway's quoting bug, but that's the only one I remember.

Update: the quoting bug is fixed.

: I had a NewsBruiser-productive evening because I set up Apache and NewsBruiser on my box with a copy of the hosted weblog data, so as not to have to do everything through a slow SSH connection. Next: a local CVS repository.

: Wow, CVS repository was a lot easier than I thought. I'm on a roll! A jelly roll! I set up a module for my new game, and I'm about to retroactively create repositories for Guess the Verb! and Degeneracy. I think I'm going to turn into that person who version-controls everything on his hard drive, and I don't mind at all. I knew I bought 240 gigabytes of hard drive space for a reason!

: Other cool thing: WINE is set up on my machine to run DOS executables as UNIX executables, and so I can run Booze for DOS and the English-to-Huttese translator.

: Am I so out of touch with the people that I find it strange that befuddled indifference is the attitude toward GPS of the populace at large? Or is it merely an impression conveyed by the author, so fascinated by GPS that anything less than obsession is seen as wanting? Of course, this is Australia we're talking about, so some national stereotype may come into play. (Joe? How do the Ozzies feel about GPS?)

: Back from the dentist. I was worried about my teeth (this dentist visit was a referendum on my post-braces dental hygiene habits), but they're fine. It helps that I spend all night, every night* cleaning my teeth.

* A slight exaggeration

: Ruben Bolling shamelessly attempts to cash in on Tonight's Episode in "A Death Most Fatal".

: Motto for Perl AI network agent of the future: "The friend you extend".

: Among the most persistent spammers from whom I recieve spam is some organization that likes to put on parties at a club. It may be from the club itself. Their spams have two glaring flaws:

: I think my life will become complete the day Salon uses the phrase "his rock 'n' roll jihad" in an article teaser.

: Interested in assembling a survival kit? (always a good idea) You'll have to go to page 2 of the Google search results, because the first page is entirely composed of metaphorical "survival kits" containing only information, like the HTML Survival Kit and the Tax Season Survival Kit. However, here's a big list (known affectionately as "The Big List") of instructions for actual survival kits from various sources.

: Sumana, watching an elaborate Twix commercial: "I remember when the appeal of Twix was just that you got two candy bars."

: Possibly the two funniest Boxjam's Doodles ever: 1 2. I love the way the artist does storylines.

: I fear that Seth has been kidnapped by DEF CON crax0rs, who are compelling him to put rootkits into the new BBCs. They can do this because they compelled him to answer a question truthfully and they asked him "Will you answer this question 'no' and refuse to stay with us to put rootkits into the new BBCs?"

: Or maybe it's because he was writing a really long entry.

: Tomorrow I may (may, mind you) work on RSS syndication for NewsBruiser. I'll probably start and then get frustrated because Python 1.5.6, which is the latest version of Python I feel comfortable developing an application for when I want the application to be used by people on computers they don't control, has no XML support (AFAIK).

: In my sleep I came up with great algorithms for washing dishes and for minimizing the total cost (including shipping) of the parts of a computer each of whose parts could be ordered at different prices from different suppliers (which, now that I think about it, could be a general logistics algorithm; it's not computer-specific). I don't remember them, but part of the 'great' algorithm for washing dishes was:

if (dish is wet):

So I don't think they were actually great, only dream-great.

: Through cargo cult data structure analysis (the flip side of cargo cult programming), I got NewsBruiser to write an RSS feed that looks like Danny O'Brien's. It even steals his content! No, just kidding.

: Are there any RSS aggregators that actually work, or is it just a big scam to get hard-working programmers to waste time adding RSS support to their applications? I don't want to commit anything until I know it works, but I can't find anything that will look at my RSS file and tell me what it says.

: Apparently there are two file formats called "RSS" which are barely similar. I don't want to hear about it. I'm adding support for the other file format now.

: The ultimate velvet painting: Elvis in clown makeup crying over a little statue of Christ holding a puppy which is also in clown makeup.

Update: nutella keeps piling it on.

: Behold the RSS! What now?

You can get this from CVS; if there aren't huge problems I'll release 1.2 tonight or tomorrow. Be warned that you have to change your configuration files around a bit.

: NewsBruiser 1.2.0 is out! Now, to waste the rest of the day playing Nethack!

: You know how Mac users are always bagging on* Windows users, saying "The Mac had feature x years ago [and is therefore superior to your puny operating system that just got it]!" Well, why shouldn't Unix users be able to do the same to Mac users? (link from Josh) There is no reason.

* You can probably determine my age from the fact that I used that phrase.

: Time for another in a series of Recipes You Can Bruise. While previous recipes in the series required me to type out in tedious detail all the ingredients and steps and what can you empty into what bowl, this ingeniously simple recipe is designed such that I only have to tell you the name and you can figure it out. It's more a bill of fare than a recipe, actually: Chili and Cornbread Stuffing. It's tasty.

: That velvet painting is getting more and more crowded; Kevin tells me that it has to have Bob Marley in it too.

: A one-sided market:

Doc Searls: Where they need something in the infrastructure space, they'll roll their own if they have to, as they did with FireWire. But in other cases, like with BSD and with USB and Apache, they'll cherry-pick what they need. So it's a matter of carefully adopting and driving ubiquitous standards.

It's also finally happening with Web services. Craig says they are finally starting to emerge now as a result of infrastructure anarchy. And what's smart is when companies cause anarchy in a market, like you're doing right now. I was sitting there in the audience at lunch thinking I was looking at what we used to call a corporate sex change. It's huge. It's total. You're saying some of the same things I was hearing from (from Linux vendors) several years ago, but from a much different perspective, because you have commercial success that most other companies have never enjoyed. And you're involved with this community internally. I know this from the emails I get from people involved in your company saying they're doing really cool stuff.

Rob Glaser: Yup.

Doc Searls: You haven't been able to talk about this stuff for a long time, but now you've created a structure where you can.

Rob Glaser: Yup.


Doc Searls: ... And this is how these two conceptual frameworks fit together here. This is where it's really critical. You have commercial where it's proprietary and closed, and you have infrastructure where it's open and public domain. And the smart companies know how to work both sides of this. In your case there's been this tectonic shift, and bang: this (the company's infrastructural stuff) is all exposed.

Rob Glaser: Yup.

Doc Searls: We can understand: "Oh: you're selling this (commercial stuff) and you're working with everybody else on either giving this (infrastructure stuff) away or co-developing it. And suddenly it all starts to make sense.

Rob Glaser: Yup.

: Harmless joke: A guy is transported to the near future and his guide is showing him around. He sees a sign on the side of a road: MAXIMUM SPEED 110.

"Wow," he says to his guide, "you guys really raised the speed limit."

"No," says the guide. "We just switched to metric."

: Shudder to Tales of the Plush Cthulu!

: At my command, Joe analyzes the lackadasiacal attitude of the man in the outback towards GPS.

: NewsBruiser RSS in action! I'm still not sure what use this RSS thing is, but it looks nice. It probably just needs a killer app.

: While driving home I saw a car that looked just like mine in the lane next to me, and I thought: What if that car and mine crashed? How would it be described? "An accident on southbound 280: two gold 2000 Saturns collided." People would think that the fabric of reality had momentarily become undone and split one car into two and the cars had crashed. This caused me to consider the same possibility I was having other people consider; what if that car was somehow my car from an alternate dimension? Then I thought: wait a minute... techno is the same cultural phenomenon as disco! We look upon the 70s and sadly shake our heads and think How could they not see?, but all the time we're blind to the fact that it's replaying as farce before our very eyes. Why don't they look?

: People come up to me on the street and ask me "Leonard, what's the most useless dialog box in the world? It would have to be one of those 'tip of the day' boxes, right?" And I say "Yes, strange person coming up to me on the street for no real reason, you are correct." And then I point them to the world's most useless dialog box, which I found while trying to get a KDE RSS reader to work.

: "Leonard Leonard Leonard! Wake up!"

"Bah! I was having a dream about a friendly tortoise! What do you want?"

It was Bob, my idea man. Always looking for the quick buck and the flashy sound bite. His Crummy.com Gasoline-Soaked Dollar Bill Giveaway had cost me millions in legal fees alone, and his plan to put advertising messages in my Java variable names had yet to recoup the cost of the banner ads. But he was working for me under a highly illegal indentured servitude scheme, which meant I couldn't fire him or he'd go to the feds.

"This is going to be huge, so you'd better sit down. Oh, you're lying down. That's even better. Now, picture this. This is huge! You know the Jake Berendes West Covina franchise?"


"What if it were a board game?"

A board game?

"Yeah! 'Out of maple syrup candy, go back two spaces.' You could play with Berendes Bucks instead of Monopoly money. Or even better, it could be one of those games that's exactly like Monopoly except for the names of the properties. That way we wouldn't have to come up with new rules!"

"Bob, nobody plays board games anymore. Too much crap to get lost in the rug. It's all collectible card games now."

"How about a collectible card game?"

"There aren't enough distinct words in Jake Berendes West Covina to make a collectible card game. You'd have to get into implicit stuff like 'the cheap 35-millimeter camera the kid at the McDonalds bought with his money'.

"You could write the next episode."

The truth comes out. Bob was always trying to get me to write more Jake Berendes West Covina. It was the only thing of mine he knew how to sell. Perhaps waking me up at three in the morning was his way of catching me off my guard.

"You know there is no next episode, Bob."

"Okay, so how about this. You know that Weezer song American Gigolo?"


"What if instead of 'my love walks right to your door', it went 'my love walks right through your door'? It would be about some Herman Munster-like guy who went crashing through doors."

"Now you're talking!"

: Can someone who knows about Windows help me? I'm trying to install Windows ME on the computer I'm making for my mother. Rather than take advantage of the incredible innovation that is the bootable CD, they saw fit to provide me with a bootable installation disk, which (of course) went bad as soon as I took it out of the wrapper, and won't boot. I can't copy the files onto another disk because it's like a Snickers bar with bad sectors as the peanuts. I can't find an installation disk image anywhere on the web, and I'm starting to suspect that Windows ME does not actually exist, but is merely an experiment by Microsoft to see if they can make payroll solely from sales of bad floppies and repurposed Windows 98 CDs that no one can use.

There are various tutorials on the web about how to make a bootable Windows ME CD-ROM, but they assume you're using Windows already, which is insane. So if anyone has enough Windows knowledge to get me an installation disk that works, I'd be very grateful.

: Pathetic Search Requests: hamburger university diploma fake

: MoreSensationalistExaminer.com Double Issue! "Can this man save Market St.?" should be "Can this man; save Market St."

Also, "Mariah too flashy for record label" should be "Mariah too fleshy for record label".

: The Enchanter novelization is not very good. It's supposed to be a comedy, but it's a comedy the way '80s high school movies are comedies, in that it contains some jokes. It also contains tiresome Tolkien homages (I hope my Tolkien homages aren't tiresome; this book made me worry about that). It's not fair to judge an author based on a novelization, but the same author (Robin Bailey) wrote the Zork novelization I found, so I worry. Reading the book is like watching someone else solve a poorly written text adventure. [What did you expect? -ed. Watching someone else solve a well-written text adventure.] There were eight bosses in the book. The first one showed up at the very beginning of the book and six others showed up all at once near the very end, with the big bad guy bringing up the rear. Innovative, but confusing for the bulk of the book, because you're expecting one boss every couple chapters. Why not just have two, plus the big boss? (Answer: because the travelling pack of big bad guys is another Tolkien homage).

However, there's a silver lining: while researching this entry I found a properly anal-retentive Chronology of Quendor.

: Sentences no one could have predicted in 1990 (from this Bruce Schneier profile):

A more complete explanation of public-key encryption will soon be available on The Atlantic's Web site, www.theatlantic.com.

: A hilarious rant from David Hyatt, a Mozilla developer, similar to Netscape 4.8 to Feature More Bugs, Useless Crap*: it's How to Monetize(tm) your browser. Via (and viva) Aaron Swartz: The Weblog.

*Yes, I know. I'll get around to it.

: Also, the coolest name for a web browser ever (and up there in the ranks of cool names for pieces of software): The Off By One Web Browser.

: Context: a lot of people starting companies choose their company names based on what domain names are available. Speculation: in the future, the names of new countries will be chosen with an eye to what top-level domains are available and which ones (eg. .tv, .me) can be easily sold to Westerners. After all, only about 430 of the 676 two-letter ISO country codes are still available, and All The Good Ones Are Taken.

: Thinlet is Torque for GUIs! It's Glade for Java! It's Die Hard meets The Country Bears! I found it from ThinRSS, a Java WebStart RSS reader, which (surprise) I can't get to work (because I can't get Java WebStart to work).

: New from Leonard Nimoy: I Changed My Mind, I'm No Longer Spock

: Joe Barr: Still Cranky

What annoyed me most about the Red Hat installation was reading not one, but three tales explaining how Red Hat came by its name. Did it result from Marc Ewing always wearing a red cap during his college days, or from an affinity he had for his grandfather's red lacrosse hat? On the other hand, is it because of what red has symbolized throughout history? Not that I really care, but it bugs me that Red Hat can't stick with one fable, or lacks the cleverness to poke fun at its myriad tales.

: My belt broke today while I was buckling it. The buckle tore off. This is the fourth day I've had the belt and probably the tenth time I've buckled it.

I know what you're thinking: "What a crappy belt!"

You are correct.

: The Jury Did It is done, but Tonight's Episode continues, and today's Tonight's Episode is one of my favorites.


"It's silly, but I'll sign anyway," she said.

Yeah, that's Berkeley.

: One of the cool things about Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt is it's like a better-written version of the stories I make up for my civilizations in FreeCiv.

: Phrase I just thought up (political or science-popularization book title?): The Rational Hoedown

: Photo wire roundup: (Is there a photo wire whose photos don't go bad after a month?)

Bonus: Mike Popovic sent in a new cute animal mascot.

: Cute political-animal mascot: Todd Fahrner's newborn son Carl.

: If I Make My Query Look Like The Semantic Web, The Semantic Web Will Exist! Search Requests:


: If First Monday had a sub-magazine on copyright issues, that sub-magazine could be called First Sale.

: I greatly improved the <title>s of NewsBruiser CGIs (examples: single-entry view, multi-entry view, search results). Pretty cool, but not, I think, cool enough to do a new release for. Get it from CVS if you must have it.

Incidentally, I think this is the first self-referential NewsBruiser entry ever posted (I could be wrong).

: Mencken once wrote "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." Kevin and I were sorely tempted yesterday, when a long freighter slid across the bay in view of our windows. There was talk of heading out on a schooner with cutlasses between our teeth, boarding the vessel and seizing its precious cargo of shipping containers. This plan was rendered unfeasible by the fact that our cutlasses would be useless against the guns no doubt on board, not to mention the fact that our conquered vessel would be cornered in the bay, easy pickings for the US Navy. We considered various alternate plans, including:

Frustration grew. How could we gain the thril of cutthroat piracy without undergoing any actual risk? That's when inspiration struck, and a business model was born. Instead of becoming pirates ourselves, we are leveraging our experience with collaborative software and becoming pirate consultants, developing enterprise class solutions for collaborative piracy. Our new company, walktheplank.net, will help pirates work together to pillage more effectively, and reduce time-to-loot.

How can Kevin and I be so cavalier about piracy, a vile crime and a scourge upon international trade? As always, I blame society. The culture in which I was raised referred to "piracy" as a relatively innocuous crime, something you committed by making a backup copy of a Lode Runner disk. How could I but equate the storming of ships and the seizing of cargo with such actions? Perhaps the next generation can be saved, but the experience has rendered me completely amoral.

: Funny random bits: The supervillain who says "permanently" when he means "for now" and vice versa:

"So, they've escaped... permanently."
"I want them eliminated... for now."

Also, the movie trailer in which the gruff-voiced male trailer narrator and the full-of-wonderment female trailer narrator argue over whether the movie takes place in a "world" or in a "land".

"In a world..."
"In a land..."
"In a world..."
"In a land..."
"In a world!"
"In a land..."
"World, you cow!"
"Land, you brute..."

: A ringing endorsement from Crypto-GRAM:

The best technical description [of Palladium] is the summary of a meeting with Microsoft engineers by Seth Schoen of the EFF.

Contrary to popular belief, this entry is not just an excuse to point out that I too have had something I wrote mentioned in Crypto-GRAM. It's also an excuse to quote this step from Schneier's PGP attack:

4. Eve somehow convinces Bob to send her the gibberish plaintext.

Eve is a freaking criminal mastermind.

: "The semidecidable we decide right away. The undecidable takes a little longer."

: I just beat Manoj pretty badly at FreeCiv. Neither of us had played against anything but AIs for a long time, {so, and} it was a lot of fun. He bribed one of my units with a diplomat and I was overjoyed at the supra-AI level of cunning required to do so. Nonetheless, I beat him, because he only built two cities (I initially backed off to give him space to expand, but he had to go get dinner so we had a big battle which I won).

I'm really bored with the FreeCiv AI; if I survive to develop gunpowder I'm pretty much guaranteed to win, so I usually lose interest around that point. Manoj and I are going to play again at some point; does anyone else want to play (with me or with the both of us)? As previously mentioned, I don't really like playing games with people I don't know, but anyone who reads NYCB could probably gain admittance into that elusive category by dropping me a line. Despite my triumph over Manoj, I'm probably easy pickings for a FreeCiv expert, because my playing style is attuned to the foolish isolationism of the AI.

I'm starting to think that the results of unit conflicts in FreeCiv should be reported as though you were hearing about them in your regime's propaganda broadcasts, eg. "Your heroic musketeers were killed defending themselves against an unprovoked attack from Manoj's explorer."

: Wow, I just innovated! (The innovation is the slightly weird thing you haven't seen before, not the big noticable thing that I took from other pieces of software).

: The innovation is now in CVS. The baseline functionality is a calendar: you can see a year calendar or a single month's calendar (also look at the bottom of the home page), with linked days. The innovation is a graphical representation of how busy a particular day was for a notebook. Pixels are allotted to the little blue box proportionally to how many entries were posted on that day. I keep trying to explain it in more detail, but I effectively keep typing that sentence over and over again, so that must be all there is to it. I had to do this with a one-pixel graphic because my attempts at doing it in CSS failed miserably. (CSS experts, help!)

While getting the calendar to work I discovered some remarkable new ways of presenting a calendar's user interface. It's time to think outside the box and provide clients with distinctive, sticky calendars which keep users on the high-revenue months. The second one is sort of Star Trek-ey; it embodies the 'all whitespace is vertical' philosophy of information design prevalent in TNG.

I really need to sleep now, so good night.

: Religious spam (not really): Has He Contacted You Yet

: After a sizable disaster that wiped out the copy of Python on this machine, the pre-1.3 NewsBruiser is running on this site. I'm going to revamp the index.cgi (which I've decided is a generic showcase for all the NB functionality) and then release 1.3.

: Stop the presses! And then upgrade them! NewsBruiser 1.3 is out! Get it here and enjoy all the nifty stuff I wrote yesterday and today! (like the revamped index.cgi).

: Datum the first: the final ten danzas of Jake's Birthday Party are missing from the online recording (because I ran out of tape and had to finish it on the other side).

Datum the second: no one has ever mentioned this to me.

: The Squares Close In: McNealy: Livin' la vida Linux

McNealy said he is ready to live the "Linux lifestyle," even if it means following a feisty crowd.

: Is there a thing like the USGS earthquake map, only for meteor impacts? That would be pretty cool (but unlikely).

Sumana and I are heading down to Monterey for our whale watch. Hurrah!

: Back from the whale watch. I saw several blue whales, a few humpback whales (including a spectacular humpback breach!), a lot of Risso's dolphins, an awesome mola mola (aka sunfish, but "mola mola" sounds cooler), which I didn't realize before how interesting (and large!) they were, some jellyfish, some obnoxious sea lions, and a fur seal. I took a lot of pictures, which I'm afraid are of one second after the cool thing happened (the humpback breach, the dolphins swimming under the boat), but I'll find out once I finally get my camera working with this computer.

: Ideas For Robotfindskittenlike Games: First In A Series: kittenisfoundbyrobot. This one's not very exciting.

: An incredible article (found via HTP) about using automatic statistical analysis of text to filter out spam. It sounds like it works, and, unlike SpamAssassin, it works (over the long term) even when the spammer knows the algorithm and the initial data set.

Norbert Wiener [sic] said if you compete with slaves you become a slave, and there is something similarly degrading about competing with spammers.

The author also notes the heuristic for Bayesian rating of countries, whereby the number of buzzwords in front of a country's name is inversely related to how much you would want to be a citizen of that country.

: Michael Stack is back from Switzerland, where he was an observer at the UN Commission For Photocopying The Reports Produced By other UN Commissions. Not really, but I know photocopying was involved somehow.

Update: stack says:

Human Rights commission. The g/f did representation for an NGO. I was chief photocopier for our delegation.

: On Chinese TV last night there was a fairly funny show called "Jacky Go Go Go". Sandwiched between juvenile short skits about the eponymous Jacky being in the hospital was an extended game Jacky and some acquaintances played in which they were divided into two teams of two, and each team had to run around some Taiwanese metropolis (Taipei?), finding and eating various foodstuffs. Hilarity ensued, apparently. An interesting fact is that one member of one of the teams looked rather like Joe Mahoney (his hair was even dyed the same color). Also, the show had a cool videogame-like animation that was used to reintroduce the show when coming back from commercials.

Extrapolated sample dialogue: the Joe Mahoney-looking guy and his friend have stumbled into a Hooters bar (!), looking for fried potato skins or some such.

Joe Mahoney-looking guy: I think this is a topless bar.
Other guy: Oh, I see. [begins to take his shirt off].

I suspect it's a lot funnier when you don't know the language, because you think of the sort of joke you would set to the action on the screen, which is quite often funnier than the actual joke. This happened to me with having watched "Dude, Where's My Car?" in Russian; the things I thought were brilliant sight gags (like the fridge and cupboard full of pudding cups) were given dumb bad-comedy explanations in the dialogue.

: What if evolution were such that adaptive traits could only take hold in a population with the help of an advertising campaign? I'm envisioning an ad for sexual reproduction:

"You got your gametes in my gametes!"
"Hey! you got your gametes in my gametes!"
"Wait a minute... it's a genetically different organism!

: I fixed a bug in indexer, and the fix will be included in the next release.

Reindexing after an add or an edit is too slow for me. I'm thinking of saving up reindexing tasks and taking care of them immediately before the next search. That will amortize the cost of writing the index to disk, and, more importantly, shift the wait onto people who do searches, like you, and away from the people who write entries, like me. (It's not a big wait, about 1 second. But I'd rather make a searcher wait 1 second sometimes than wait 1 second myself all the time). Adding an entry already takes long enough to do the weblogs.com ping.

: Late night FreeCiv game with Manoj and the two Andrews. We saved and went our separate ways around 2 AM, after a few years of everyone declaring war on me and trying to whittle down my massive empire of mail-order shoe stores and fusion cuisine restaurants. The carnage will resume later this week.

Another great thing about playing FreeCiv with humans is that you can give your cities silly names and not be the only one who appreciates them. I marked my triumphs over enemy cities by renaming them to the names of fusion cuisine restaurants like "Big Ken's Sushi Burrito Hut".

Speaking of silly names, today's entries will be reverse liponymic in "mola mola". I did not name a FreeCiv city Mola Mola, but I should have.

: Ideas For Robotfindskittenlike Games: Second In A Series If You Start Counting From Zero And Count This Entry, Or If You Don't And Start Counting From One: Response has been whelming for this idea. Pete Peterson II offers robotfoundkitten, "not so much a game as it is an 80x25 flat text file of a # next to a ? in the middle of the screen." A. Cairns suggests robotfindskittens, in which "robot doesn't know how many kittens there are and has to bump into everything on the screen." There's also the tragic prequel, robotloseskitten.

While good ideas (keep sending them in!), all of these require costly development effort and changes to the game mechanics, which would need to be focus-grouped at enormous expense. The easy money lies in simply rebranding the existing game with superficial changes that don't really change anything. For instance, robotfindskitten: special edition would have gold-plated non-kitten-items and be suitable for display on a coffee-table (well, those coffee table video game consoles, anyway). The personalized edition, code-named robotfindsyou, will give you the thrill of actually being found by robot! (Note: for purposes of the game, you will be a kitten). And we can use PayPal to support the pay-per-kitten model of robotfindskitten premium.

We should also go the Super Mario Bros. route and have various 'themed' robotfindskitten levels, such as the 'jungle' level (robotfindsmonkey) and the 'water' level (robotfindsmolamola). And on a very special episode, it's robotfindsrobot.

: The real-life "friend you extend" is most likely dumont, the IRC infobot for the #tron IRC channel (incorrectly labeled in this entry as the #Crackmonkey IRC channel). Those in the know (Pete Peterson II) say dumont is male, but I always think dumont is female. In fact, I always think dumont is Margaret Dumont, and expect to see things like the following on the occasions when I pay #tron a visit:

<dumont> CAP-tain SPAUL-ding!

The conceit of an IRC infobot is that it hangs out on an IRC channel as a user, dispensing definitions of terms and engaging in limited social interaction with the human users. Dumont knows nearly 100,000 facts, including such old standbys as the entire Jargon File[0] and airport and area codes. She He also contains various handy features such as the ability to do Google searches and domain lookups, not to mention clickolinko the automatic weblog. Dumont was written by Walter M. Gibbs.

Random example of dumont interaction (thanks, Pete):

<pedro> mola mola?
<Dumont> mola mola is The Mola mola (ocean sunfish) is the world's largest known bony fish. At least one estimate over 3000 lb. has been recorded and fish reaching 3m from fin tip to fin tip have been seen. It is found in all oceans in tropical and temperate climes. It eats jellyfish and small fishes and algae. In the eastern Pacific, Mola mola is normally found from B.C. to South America, although in El Nino events it has been recorded as far north as Alaska.

[0] I used "entire" there to make it sound more impressive, but there's really nothing that interesting about loading an ASCII file into a computer program; the interest lies entirely in which file you choose. The metaphor is taken from reference to human memory, where memorizing the entire Jargon File would be an actual feat. I don't really know where this footnote is going, so... aaah! It's fallen off the edge of the Internet!

: Papa's got a brand new bag, but Leonard's got a brand new T-shirt. It's courtesy of our new hosted site, Helix Community, which you may have heard of (you may have also heard of the similarly-named but entirely unrelated Helix Code). It has a little green DNA helix to the right of the logo which on inspection appears to be the DNA of some sea creature, possibly a mola mola. It is the second, I think, in the line of T-shirt editions of our hosted sites that I posess (the other being OpenOffice.org).

: Excellent picture of a mola mola at mola.org, the site that asks, "Why would you look any further? This site has an excellent picture of the Mola."

: Sumana: the Paul Conrad cartoon is a reference to a joke in which a guy quits his job to join the circus. When the circus next comes to town, his friend comes to see him, but it turns out he's not a clown or a tightrope walker or anything; he's the guy who cleans up the elephant crap. His friend says "Why don't you quit this awful job and come back to your real job?" He says, "What, and quit show business?"

Even though I get the joke, that's not enough when dealing with Conrad, and I have no clue what the cartoon means. That Bush is stuck cleaning up the messes of an indifferent GOP? It makes no sense (bah-dah!). There are two elephants; is that significant, or did Conrad realize that he could depict two elephants but only have to draw one and part of another one?

All told, wouldn't you rather get your scatalogical humor from the world-famous Love Lab? They have a picture of a mola mola defecating.

: News flash! Mola mola sighted in Walla Walla!

: After various tribulations I've finally gotten hold of the pictures that were on my camera. This includes pictures from Adam's wedding as well as the whale watch. The whale watch pictures turned out okay; there are two cool pictures of dolphins swimming near the boat, and several pictures with visible whale (including at least one whale fluke picture), but I couldn't even tell which picture was supposed to be of the humpack breach, and of course I totally botched my chance to get an awesome picture of the basking mola mola (I had the perfect opportunity, but my camera was set to 'review' mode instead of to 'take pictures' mode).

: Disturbing Search Requests:

Remember, if you've enjoyed this edition of Disturbing Search Requests, please support our sponsors by clicking on the banner ad below. Without the puny ad revenues thus received, we would have no incentive to bother trawling through a new day's search requests.

Ad: MolaMolaWorld.com: More Mola For Your Moolah


Fisherman, spare that mola mola!
Touch not its snout or dorsal!
Instead, try some granola
Or other tasty morsel.

: That was pretty weird. However, I think it reduced my sunfish obsession to managable levels. I feel off-balance, as though I just stepped off a roller coaster: you mean I don't have to work sunfish into every weblog entry? But what about the Mentioning Sunfish All The Damn Time Homeland Security Act of 2002?

Note: for maximum madness, please read MM Day in chronological order.

: Cory, Cory, Cory. Not wearing your anti-idiot goggles is part of being a journalist! (A contributing factor, no doubt, to Danny's distaste for the profession.)

: More tiresome homages in the Enchanter novelization: Indiana Jones, The Empire Strikes Back, Puff the Magic Dragon. Now, an homage can be funny, but it is not automatically funny simply because it references something else. There needs to be some irony; some mismatch of dramatic scale; to scrape the bottom of the funny barrel, at least some self-awareness. Having your characters reenact scenes from popular movies is not intrinsically funny, and absent mitigating circumstances it is actually anti-funny.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Enchanter novelization is aimed at young adults, but it doesn't say "Young Adults" anywhere, and anyway it's got too much profanity. The fact remains, however, that it's a fantasy novel and a novelization of a computer game, which means I'm attacking a target that's effectively all soft underbelly. I can only conclude that this is my day of being cranky about writing-related topics.

: Robotfindskittenlike Games: Third In A Series: Jon Katz wishes he got this much mail, and he also wishes it were all about robotfindskitten variants. Kevan Davis suggests "an appropriately meta-zen game: robotfindsself. Adam Parrish has a similar idea: "After years of fruitless searching, robot engages in intense introspection only to find that robotiskitten." (Adam also suggests a robotfindskitten MMORPG)

Jeremy Penner, of never-heard-of-him-before fame, has a variety of suggestions:

How about robotfindsnothing, in which there is no kitten nor non-kitten items, and when you bump into empty space, you win?

Or robotfindskitten, Junior Edition, in which there are no non-kitten items, just robot and kitten. Studies have shown that young minds have difficulty handling the frustrating challenge of a full-blown game of rfk, frequently giving up before they actually manage to find kitten. This way, the difficulty level for the game would be better suited to the youngsters.

Or perhaps kittenfindsselfwithrobot, wherein you are kitten, you are unable to move, but you have a remote control with which you can control robot to come find you! This would obviously work well with your "superficial changes" initiative.

And if easy money's what you're after, the best way to go is with licensing! For instance, "Dude, Where's My Kitten?", in which the NKI descriptions are replaced by bad jokes from the hit film.

And Brendan Adkins provides a variety of bad puns, including:

Keep your easily distracted charge away from the muggers and pickpockets in the zoo with robotmindskitten!

For the hearing impaired: robotsignskitten! (Could also be an autograph simulation.)

The tragic sequel to Equus: robotblindskitten!

In the darker Clive Barker version, where DOES that delicious sausage come from? It's robotgrindskitten!

: Kevin: "Whenever I get spam about meeting sexy singles, I picture scantily clad slices of processed cheese."

: Red Rock Eater Digest: The Movie!

They opposed judicial activism and budget deficits ... until they took power!

: If you live in or around San Francisco, take note: My co-worker Mark Welch has completed a feedback-incorporating bullhorn called an Obnoxicator (very professional-looking; you plug in guitar effects pedals to provide the noise) and is about to go outside the office to test it out. This explains the horrible noise you are about to be subjected to. But Mark means no harm; in fact, in accordance with international treaties he has pledged to unleash the full power of its devestating sonic crush only against known Burning Man participants.

Update: I can hear it pretty clearly from six floors up. It sounds a lot like FEEDBACK FEEDBACK FEEDBACK!

: Newspeak stoners: "Dude, I was doublepluswasted."

: Caution! Danger - Frequently Asked Questions!

Q. Who are Danger's competitors?

A. Murder.

(Not really.)

: Jeremy Penner, of a-few-entries-ago fame, has perpetrated upon the world a Commodore 64 port of robotfindskitten (screenshot).

People on the RFK list are talking about compressing the NKIs down to a size that can be used by extremely low-memory devices like the Atari 2600 (and for things like the 1K game contest that I can't find the link for even though I searched Google and BoingBoing). Turns out it won't compress to less than about 6K. I've suggested replacing the NKIs with smaller NKIs that are just nouns or noun phrases ("rope", "disaster", "skateboard", "big door"), like the takeable objects in Scott Adams adventures. So far I've gotten no feedback on that idea. I hope people don't think the original NKI list is inviolate or anything. Even Java doesn't have the same (metaphorical) NKIs on embedded platforms; it's a different world.

: Last night on the Chinese station there was a commercial where Chinese characters appeared on the screen in conjunction with a typewriter sound. I thought this was hilarious. But are there typewriters like that? Then it wouldn't be so funny. (But at least no one would have lost an eye.)

There's a new show on the Chinese station: the Victorian show! Call your local cable operator! (Or just watch it on broadcast).

: All of CollabNet is buzzing about the romantic mountain wedding of Director of Ops Robert Benefield, and Gabby Robertson (who also worked at CollabNet, a while ago)!

: Too Close For Comfort Search Requests:

Bonus Search Request: camoflauge birthday cakes, for surprise parties.

: Kevin's designed our pirate flag, which we call the Jolly WONTFIX. It's got a skull and a burrito crossed with a bottle of habanero sauce. This is, I think, the tragic result of not playing at pirates as a child.

: Depressing bug report fragment:

[and it happens again, and again, and nothing else happens]

: Praise for NewsBruiser from a non-user: "a nifty upgrade" with " the feature that means a weblog stops being an overgrown .plan file, and becomes a proper Web Log -- a calendar. Now I'm jealous."

Mike found a couple bugs in 1.3.0 which make it difficult to actually run a new NewsBruiser installation, so if you were planning on doing that please wait until tonight when I can fix them. I also found another problem with using indexer to do incremental indexing, and I'm not sure how to fix that, but I'll at least put a stopgap solution in place tonight.

When The "Clone All Windows Programs" Subphilosophy Of The UNIX Philosophy Goes Too Far: First In A Subseries:

GPuTTY is a PuTTY clone using the Gnome environment.

: Fixed the two Mike problems (I'd actually already fixed them in CVS and forgotten about it, apparently) and switched from indexing after an add or edit to indexing just before a search. Whee!

: Realized yesterday: I got the form for the "Seth David Schoen" Leonardonic from Jake's There's A Mirror On My Grave.

: I got spam that said A whale of a vacation and I thought "Yup!", thinking it was referring to the Leonard/Sumana Whale Watch, until I realized it was spam. That's playing dirty! You can't use whales in spam!

: I'm leaving work early and heading down to Bakersfield to visit Susanna and my mother. A parting thought: "-stan" is the addendum of choice when making up silly names for countries, but there are only 6 actual "-stan" countries.

: Random musical notes (ah ah ah, as Nandini says) from my drive down:

: After great travail and significant cost to myself, I've managed to get my mother's computer running a rudimentary form of Windows ME. Argh, I say. Instead of brooding on the many horrors I beheld today, let me talk about the wild party I attended last night, hosted by Mark Fasheh. I saw a lot of the LUG dudes I hadn't seen since graduation (Mark, Peter, Dan), and of course I also hung out with Adam, Kris, Kim, and Melissa.

I'm going home tomorrow. I'm taking the day off. My current task (debugging our indexer plugins with the help of a class I wrote which generates scary-looking SourceCast sites full of random text) has become onerous as of late, but I found new enthusiasm for the work commiserating with the LUG people at the party. But the many hours I spent today trying to get my mother's computer not to be dead crushed any enthusiasm I had for working on anything to do with computers (damn you, Windows, crusher of enthusiasm!). Hopefully after another holiday I will be back in the mood, or at least the zone.

: On my way to and from LA I listened to my newly-acquired copy of Lucky 7, from The Reverend Horton Heat. The Rev preaches a gospel of boozin' and cruisin', and his Subgenius-tinged ska-rock sound is always welcome 'round my place, ever since Kevin's radio station first introduced me to it. As with so many religions, I don't buy any of it, but the music is great. [The hell? Are you pretending to be the Salon music critic? -Ed. Hey, Danny O'Brien pretends to be a Wired reporter! That's different and you know it. -Ed.]

: I will never write this story, for a very simple reason which is that my self-esteem is okay, and also I'm no good at writing stories. But some self-loathing yet competent author could implement it and maybe make a little money. It's called "Life of Author" and it takes place in a future in which copyright has been scaled back to last only the life of the author plus fourteen years.

The main character is a mercenary hitman for EvilCorp, a huge conglomorate which owns the rights to much of the world's intellectual property. His job is to bump off authors who won't sign up with EvilCorp, thus causing their works to (soon) pass into the public domain. Of course, authors in the EvilCorp stable are given life-extension technologies and, near the end of their extended lifespans, kept in near-cyrogenic vegetative states to give EvilCorp perpetual ownership over their works. But something goes wrong or there's a twist of some kind; this is where the self-loathing comes in.

Tangentially, Disney is going to release a science fiction version of Treasure Island which looks really cool. It reminds me that I've been meaning to make a science fiction version of Steamboat Willie-- oh, wait, I can't.

: Intruiging surnames in my family tree: "Eggers", "Sorenson".

: More science fiction/copyright law crossover, this time an explanation for why characters in science fiction set in the future make lots of references to 20th century and pre-20th century works, but almost no references to post-20th century works. Such works aren't part of the cultural canon because they are only available in archaic DRMed formats made by long-bankrupt companies. (This is just the "digital dark age" idea, but I recently realized that the digital dark age explains this nagging problem with Star Trek and other such science fiction.)

: Adam Parrish points out that you probably could use whales in spam if you wanted to.

: After sitting on this spam subject line for a week I can't think of anything funny to say about it, and it's too good not to share, so here you go:

Weedmon say: call, we be open 7 days, mon

I'm envisioning the inevitable bust. "So, you're the one they call 'Weedmon'..."

: Neglected (?) Software Categories: content micromanagement systems.

: Mike Popovic has an amazing two new weblogs devoted to the Hiptop, a cool unreleased PDA with the incredible business model innovation by which you pay one flat fee for a month of connectivity (you may remember this business model from the freaking Internet). Mike is testing a Hiptop, which has many other cool features, and he logs his experiences and ideas for additional features at mikepop meets hiptop. Meanwhile, at Hipshake, Mike writes little skits presenting glimpses into the horrifying world that is modern life with the Hiptop. Caution! It's damn fake!

Mike's weblogs provide much-needed competition for Danger Info, which has become a bit complacent recently. Actually, I just made that up.

: Email From Famous People: I think I just got email from Dave Eggers, who has sent me what purports to be the cover art for McSweeney's #9. This is the one where Neal Pollack fights Magneto! Thanks, Dave (or convincing Dave impersonator).


[S]omething about his sharp nose and shaved chin seemed to hint that if mysticism, as a lesson, ever came in his way, he might, with the characteristic knack of a true New-Englander, turn even so profitless a thing to some profitable account.

--The Confidence Man, by Herman Melville

: Last night Sumana rented The Truman Show and we watched it together. It's a good concept (I feel like railing against the concept, but it's actually a cool idea, and The Truman Show probably prevented other, worse movies on that idea from being made). It has some good sight gags, which are always welcome. But quite apart from that is the amazing transformation you see in Jim Carrey over the course of the movie, as before your eyes he actually becomes Robin Williams. At the end he bursts free of his chrysalis and, with a twinkle in his eye, steps off into a world of heartwarming family dramedies.


<kmaples> bingo!
<kmaples> that's it!
<leonardr> ??
<kmaples> corporate sponsorship!
<kmaples> verizon provides the connectivity, we fly their flag right below the jolly roger!
<kmaples> we could bring in all sorts of deals and endorsements!
<kmaples> for instance, etch the nike swoop into our canonballs
<kmaples> and instead of saying "fire", we say "just do it"

: Is there an actual Law of Unintended Consequences, or is it just something lame like "there will be unintended consequences"? The answer: both.

: MoreSensationalistExaminer.com: "Heroes hailed!" should be "Heroes jailed!".

: Zack (or possibly someone else with the same name) recently discovered a vulnerability in Python.

: More mulled Linux from The Register (keeping track).

: NewsBruiser 1.3.1 is out. I recommend you get this if you are running 1.3.0, because it fixes a pretty bad problem with the indexer. Also, indexing happens immediately before a search rather than after an add or edit, which saves time (see NYCB passim). Also, it has code from Mark in it.

: -stan update: in a roundabout way Sean Neakums pointed out that there are actually seven -stans. Brian D. Hicks pointed out that ending the name of a hypothetical country in -stan makes it sound poor and/or ex-Soviet.

-stan is incredibly popular when you look not at extant countries but at countries which people would like to see formed, especially countries which, if formed, would be split out from India. Googling shows me Khalistan, Mughalstan, Dravidistan, Marathastan, and Sakastan. India itself used to be called Hindustan[0]. But there's also Kurdistan, which some would like to see formed in northern Iraq. The great Footnotes to History site mentions diverse ex-stans and also-stans, like Bantustan, Tunganestan, Baluchistan, and Dagestan. So the new question: what language or language family is "-stan"? I think it's become a cross-language marker that says: "This is a country and not an amusement park."

[0] Sumana says that right-wing reactionaries still call it Hindustan, which has the weird effect of making it look like the right-wing reactionaries buy into every single Indian seccession movement (maybe they do!).

PS: Possible best name for a country ever: The Great Republic of Rough and Ready

: Stupid idea: Timestamps, little adhesive circles or squares that you print or draw a watch face on and attach to a fake watch on your wrist.

Good idea (from Sumana): Earplugs that are also headphones, so that you can hear your alarm go off but nothing else (also, other people in the room don't hear your alarm). Worrying complication: why don't these exist already? Impossible? Market too small? Too easy to confuse with other products?

Good idea: History lesson based on pork; famous legislation (FOIA, Civil Rights Act, etc) analyzed in terms of their irrelevant riders for inland naval bases and centers for the study of pig diseases. Possible tripup: is pork a recent political invention? In this unlikely contigency, an even better idea would be to write its history.

: Movie Madness! Last night I went with Sumana and Adam to the Pacific Film Archive see Some Like It Hot, which wowed me. I've heard it called the best comedy of all time, and I thought that was hyperbole, but I now think it has a shot at that distinction. Very funny, and racy without being very dirty. It also didn't suffer from the bane of modern comedies, the minutes of tiresome non-funny exposition. The exposition was funny! Long have I waited for such a movie! (Not that long.)

I say "Madness" because the movie-watching is not yet over. Tonight Sumana and I will be watching The Seven Samurai.

<M <Y
Y> M>


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