Sun Sep 01 2002 18:20:
The fathers of Tonight's Episode (Sumana found this):
The assistant was also expected to write for each story a blurb and seven or eight titles, from which his boss would pick one... Many of the titles were puns, and after a while I began to see that as a game, and we used to make up lists of possible titles in the subway-- We Who Are About to Fry, Where There's a Kill There's a Way, etc. I liked the crime titles best, because they could be funny. The sports titles and blurbs were the hardest; the technical vocabulary of golf, for instance, is very limited--par, birdie, and so on--; these words had to be combined and recombined constantly in new ways.
From The Futurians, by Damon Francis Knight, about the science fiction community of the 1930s.
Sun Sep 01 2002 18:25:
Kris wrote a hilarious song about me called Leonard Could Play The Banjo. It crams
most many of the major Leonard/Kris in-jokes into one four-minute song, which is quite a feat.
Sun Sep 01 2002 23:01:
Today I toyed with a category system for NewsBruiser (yes, I am shamefully allowing my product to be driven by the checklist mania). The main reason I want this (besides checklist mania) is so that I can categorize my entries according to my minor obsessions. But I can't think of a good web interface for mantaining so many categories, and since I inevitably mention the minor obsession in the entry, I think I'll just add the ability to have an entry title.
Sun Sep 01 2002 23:59 Leonard's Laws of Editorials #3:
There is not one last socially acceptable prejudice, and if there were it would probably not be the one you think it is.
Mon Sep 02 2002 18:43 Unique String in Little Hippo:
I got entry titles working, and this is the first NYCB entry to have an entry title separate from the body. (Ooh, aah) The title itself is nonsense, a mutated version of a title I made up while testing the code. To me it sounds like a science fiction story involving a land dispute between two prospector robots. Or a Merry Melodies cartoon for intelligent agents.
Mon Sep 02 2002 19:12 Picture Bonanza:
I think I may start overdoing the title thing. If so, stop me after I strike again. Anyway, I put up over 200 new pictures of the Fourth of July weekend,
my mother's neighbor's awesome pet tortoise,
the Stone-Kaplan wedding,
me being sick at my birthday party ,
Sumana moving out of her old apartment,
the mega whale watch,
our post-whale-watch driving break along the Pacific Coast Highway. Since most of my readers have probably never driven along the PCH (?), I felt obligated to capture its raw beauty for you.
My picks: Frank Chu-esque "Totally Superior Product",
Don't Mess With Tortoise, kiss,
Sumana and her Kidde, whale, whales, dolphin,
beach, tidepool (that last one is > 200K).
 'being sick' is used here in the imperfective. There was not one particular occasion on which I was sick during my party (that happened during Adam's wedding); rather, the party took place while I was sick.
Mon Sep 02 2002 19:59:
Hey, Stephane is back!
Welcome to The New Radioslack™! I think this redesign really embodies a new direction for the site, namely, "Not getting my ass sued by those motherfuckers at RadioShack."
Mon Sep 02 2002 21:54:
Neologism from The Stone Canal (have I mentioned that MacLeod's neologisms are the best?): "War is the state's killer app."
Tue Sep 03 2002 09:51:
Not only Stephane, but also Tuesday Morning Quarterback is back! It's now on ESPN instead of Slate, but it's the same thing with more garish colors and inline photographs.
Tue Sep 03 2002 13:42 Poorman's Origami Beach:
Every time I get a burrito at the burrito place in Brisbane, I get a little strip of stiff paper containing the number associated with my burrito. I've taken to folding them into little alligator mouths that can be closed by fingertip pressure and then reopened by releasing the pressure. I call them doob-doobs.
Tue Sep 03 2002 17:45 Strongly Worded Headline Watch:
MP3 royalty assurances are worthless - Vorbis author (from the Register, so its inflammatory nature comes as no surprise), and Netscape 7.0 Shrivels Under Mozilla's Shadow (from the normally staid eWeek).
Tue Sep 03 2002 22:44:
Today I got cred points from stack for reading Ken MacLeod (stack is basically a Ken MacLeod character with a Neal Stephenson name). But I probably blew them all by doing some reactionary something, like making cookies.
Wed Sep 04 2002 07:56:
I got spam asking How is Greenspan helping you?, which makes it sound like Fed chairman is an elected position.
Wed Sep 04 2002 10:10 Netscape 7.0 Shrivelling Cause Revealed!:
Panicware Launches Pop-Up Stopper ISP Distribution- A Program Providing Pop-Up Stopper Technology to Internet Service Providers Free of Charge
Who's the biggest ISP in the US? America Online! Who owns the Netscape browser? America Online! And if Netscape 7.0 had the ability to block pop-up ads itself, there'd be no need for AOL to take advantage of this incredible free offer! It all makes sense! (Baseline for making sense established by the amount of sense made by the AOL-Time Warner merger.)
Wed Sep 04 2002 10:18:
Cellular Humor implies that spreadsheet jokes are thin on the ground, but since all you have to do is take a joke about a lawyer, a programmer, or a consultant (or a joke about a lawyer, a programmer, and a consultant), and change the profession to 'spreadsheet developer', I don't think the shortage is one that needs to be rectified.
Wed Sep 04 2002 11:11 He's In Prison, See, So He Can't Collect The Money Himself...:
One of his multi-million dollar endeavors almost led him into a dangerous deal in Nigeria. The trade ended up being a fraud and two Americans who ventured there before me were killed, recounts Grubbs.
Wed Sep 04 2002 18:41:
At the request of David Ford, the guy whose machine hosts Crummy, I added automatic nice to the NewsBruiser CGIs and SSIs. I also factored out a lot of the SSI code. No new release yet, though (but I'll do one before I start my ill-conceived drive toward categories).
Wed Sep 04 2002 20:05 MoreSensationalistExaminer.com:
Good job today on "Un-fare!" and "N'Sunk", but "Female cops air gripes" should be "Female cops air gropes" or at least "Female cops air grapes".
Wed Sep 04 2002 20:08 My weblogs4hire skills:
- Fantastic Ideas (Feasibility May Vary)
- Mocking Spam Subject Lines
- Being Cranky
- Modifying Words With Themselves
- Marine Biology (Writing About It, Not Knowing Things About It)
- Ancient Rome (Ditto)
- Starting Things And Not Finishing Them
Wed Sep 04 2002 20:23:
This informative yet disturbing article increases my suspicion that FreeCiv is a solved problem, subject to initial conditions. Since according to my prejudices solved problems are not fun, my brain races to find ways of rectifying this. Perhaps throwing complexity at the problem will help, or maybe I just need to get schooled (though that will only demonstrate that I haven't yet solved the solved problem myself).
Incidentally, here is Civlike News.
Thu Sep 05 2002 07:13 I Feel Nervous About Making This Joke:
You can't hug someone with nuclear arms... but you can with conventional arms!
Thu Sep 05 2002 08:39:
Yesterday, from a conversation in which I was explaining One Froggy Evening: (Caution! It's sappy.)
Leonard: Don't you want a singing frog to liven up your life?
Sumana: I have you!
Thu Sep 05 2002 09:36 Now With Realistic Screams Of The Damned:
Not only is Ben Collins-Sussman a Subversion developer, but he's also
world- Chicago-reknowned for creating the din of hell! (But not for this play.)
Thu Sep 05 2002 17:35 Irrecoverable Insincere Contemptuous: Acceptance Dissenting Narrate Broadway Bonfire Binomial?:
Macromolecule munsey Grime addressograph atomizing additions begun belying election souls subtitled-surpass irreproducible toyed.
Skinny insists directing pict frugally lifetime Prerogative Plumbed, quartz allowably beverage, dangerous badminton ace wretches
Wantonly dough theorize impersonating circularly bundled pitcher
engage wizards blessing kidnappings luzon, bleacher noncritical hung
coffee pertaining reprover inspect copes subvert honest minimizes
smashed widget misspell majors mammoth devastate.
Confine friendships Subtlety plowman hosts radiography doubted chit trumps lloyd ruggedly, phrases Closed cavalierness opportunely staring grown submariner perfectionist supplies waterfalls contraband hairlip.
Thu Sep 05 2002 17:41:
Sorry, the semantics broke. This is what that entry should have said.
Chocolate Penguin Mints: Balm In Gilead Or Sugarless Menace?:
Manoj gave Ed a bunch of tins of the new chocolate-flavored penguin mints.
I happened to be over near Ed Manor, and tried one, and found it
The chocolate flavor only lasts for about a quarter of a second, and then you find yourself stuck with this mint in your mouth which decorum demands you finish.
I think I may have gone off penguin mints in general, but Ed agrees that the chocolate ones in particular are pretty lackluster.
Thu Sep 05 2002 17:55 Another Release In The Wall:
NewsBruiser 1.3.2. Now with kung fu entry title grip!
Fri Sep 06 2002 09:26:
I take the jacket covers off hardcover books when I read them, because otherwise I always tear up the jacket covers in a fit of rage. No, I tear them up accidentally over the course of reading the book. This is especially bad when the book is one I've borrowed from someone else (as it usually is, since I rarely buy hardcovers; I mean, look at me: I'm waiting for The Salmon Of Doubt to come out in paperback). So it wasn't until I restored the jacket cover to The Stone Canal in preparation to returning it to Zack's welcoming bosom, that I realized that the cover art has a background that makes it look like the whole book cover is a transparent PNG that you've loaded into the Gimp.
And man, what a shaggy dog story that was.
Fri Sep 06 2002 09:31 Funny Quotes From Last Night's FreeCiv:
"I'm going to take this to the United Nations! Uh, once I build it."
"A shared vision society is a polite society."
Sat Sep 07 2002 13:47 When The Separation Of Powers Goes Too Far:
The United States Botanical Garden is part of the legislative branch. A bulwark against the growing power of the executive?
(Indirectly from RRE)
Sat Sep 07 2002 20:20:
Have you been eaten in an industrial accident? If so, give me a call at 1-888-SHYSTER.
Sun Sep 08 2002 23:20:
Hi, we're the replacement killers.
Mon Sep 09 2002 09:54:
Work on the piracy consultantcy gig continues apace. Kevin and I have devised a four-step process called ARRR that will enable your pirate organization to increase booty earnings through piracy best practices.
- Acquire weaponry
- Research your target
- Raid your target
- Regroup and divvy up the loot
Imagine striking fear into the hearts of your victims and rivals with "Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Prepare to be boarded in accordance with ARRR, an ISO 9000 certified process!"
If you'd like to find out more, I'll be speaking on ARRR at the forthcoming Congrés International de Piraterie. Or, for a ridiculously large honorarium, I will visit your organization and rehash those four painfully obvious bullet points at great length. It's all part of walktheplank.net's new metapiracy initiative.
Mon Sep 09 2002 10:30:
"The Most Virulent Worm in Existence" Just Keeps Going! Great, and now it has a publicist. "The Klez.A worm felt that there was a side to the worm story not being adequately covered by the mainstream media..."
Mon Sep 09 2002 12:42 When Personalized Spam Goes Not Far Enough:
$USER, Rates go lower. Re-Fi again! !
Mon Sep 09 2002 17:11:
Happy birthday to Sumana!
Mon Sep 09 2002 21:19 The Categorical Imperative:
I added to NewsBruiser about 75% of the code neccessary for category support (the 75% that lets you manage and browse a category tree). I still have to add category filing controls to the entry add and edit CGIs.
Here's a screenshot. Note the HTML sparseness that is the hallmark of the Leonard Realism style.
Mon Sep 09 2002 21:53 Katzdot:
Short History Of Lo-Tech Perverts and The Lo-Tech World
Tue Sep 10 2002 10:09 Taxonomy Of Used Bookstores:
There are two types of used bookstores: those that try to look like new bookstores and those that try to look like antiquarian bookstores. The difference, I believe, stems from the fact that the former buy remaindered books in relative bulk. They then figure that because they have multiple copies of books, they should go all the way and create a well-lit, spacious place with well-organized book sections marked by preprinted signs, and try to pass for a new bookstore that has really good prices. Sometimes they also sell almost-outdated calendars, used software, and so on.
The other type gets all its books from individuals selling their books, so they don't have multiple copies of anything except Atlas Shrugged. These bookstores cram their books together on buckling shelves and hand-letter their section names to create the impression of a disorganized antiquarian bookstore in which a careless employee has thoughtlessly priced a first edition Hemmingway at trade paperback prices.
Some used bookstores that would otherwise fall into the second category look like the first category because they sell both new and used books. Other stores selling both types put the used books off to the side, in a separate room or on a separate floor. The new books are always closer to the cash register, because they are higher margin. In these cases it's like being in two bookstores simultaneously. Space and time become fluid and pliant, resulting in good bargains.
This has been Taxonomy Of Used Bookstores.
Tue Sep 10 2002 10:48:
Blindingly obvious solution to the union man/thug for J.H. Blair partition problem: the narrator is an unreliable narrator.
Alternatively: "They say" this, but it's just an idiom.
Tue Sep 10 2002 12:10 Crouching Crustacean, Hidden Mammal:
Tue Sep 10 2002 19:46:
I'm just mad about sunfish
They're just mad about me
I'm just mad about sunfish
They're just mad about me
They call it mola mola...
Tue Sep 10 2002 22:51 The Categorical Imperative:
I can now file entries under categories from the add and edit CGIs. But it's broken now when I rename or move a category; the category's entries don't know that the category's path has changed. I'm not sure whether to notify all those entries on a change, or whether to create a pseudo-database where categories have IDs that don't change and refer to categories by their ID. Categories open up all sorts of cans of Consistency brand worms that I don't like dealing with.
Wed Sep 11 2002 11:43:
The large hill near my workplace is on fire. Helicopter lifting water out of the bay, cops directing traffic, firemen all over the hill. Way too much excitement. It looks like they've got it under control, though.
Thu Sep 12 2002 10:42:
Because I have nothing but voluntary abstention from bad taste to offer in memory of the dead I did not know, there was no Tonight's Episode yesterday, and very little NYCB. As though by some strange conservation law, though, Brendan informs me that the comic strip PVP did have a couple of TEs yesterday.
Thu Sep 12 2002 11:06 Mola Mola Digital Infiltration:
Kevan sent me a screenshot of what is, as far as I know, the only appearance of a mola mola in a video game (thanks, Kevan!). Kevan cites as his source the 1993 Capcom comic book license "The Punisher". How long until a video game is released that actually stars a mola mola? It's intuitively obvious that that would be the greatest game ever.
Thu Sep 12 2002 11:31 The Spam Of Nations: Second In A Series:
Make Money Giving Away Free Stuff!
Thu Sep 12 2002 21:12 The Categorical Imperative:
I made the neccessary consistency fixes, so I'm only slightly nervous about trying out categories on NYCB. An entry's categories are not displayed on the front page, but they are displayed when you drill down. Assuming I can actually stick with categorization, I'll probably spend a little time each day categorizing the 'today in history' entries. Surely there must be some end to the categorization madness, you ask? So refreshing, your Continental mode of thought... yet so presumptous. We must discuss the issue at greater length, after the banquet. But I forget myself. Gralnor! See Dr. Rambaud safely to his accomodations. Some say the northern tower is haunted, but I find the draft refreshing.
Sat Sep 14 2002 15:23:
The index for NYCB was broken (Brendan, among others (well, other (well, me)) noticed this), so I wrote a little utility CGI to rebuild it. I'm fairly sure that NYCB's brokenness is not due to a bug in NewsBruiser 1.3.0, but rather to my habit of testing out undebugged code on NYCB.
Sat Sep 14 2002 21:52 Signs The National Mood Is Changing:
People don't seem to chug as much or as wide a variety of liquids as they used to.
Sun Sep 15 2002 12:40 Teaser:
NewsBruiser 1.4.0 will have web-based configuration.
Update: It's in CVS, and I'm using it here. I need to write the category documentation before I can release 1.4.0 though.
Sun Sep 15 2002 15:25 Categories For The Masses:
NewsBruiser 1.4.0! If you were previously put off NewsBruiser because of the complexity of the configuration file, give it another look; almost all of that is web-based now (compare the new sample .nbrc with the old sample .nbrc).
Update: I took some screenshots and made them part of the NewsBruiser site.
Sun Sep 15 2002 17:58 Multiple Meaning Headline Watch:
Sex Pistols Showered With Beer in Los Angeles
From Brendan, who says "Not that the multiple meanings are all that different, but still." Indeed... but still.
Sun Sep 15 2002 18:28 New Interpretations For Old Jokes:
Old Joke: The doting mother and her son were walking along the beach when suddenly a huge wave came up and dragged the boy off to sea. The grief-stricken mother cried out to the Lord for deliverance, pleading for her son's life. Suddenly a shaft of heavenly light shone on the water and a boy crawled out of the ocean, coughing but otherwise unharmed. The mother inspected the child closely, then cast her gaze to the heavens and indignantly said, "He had a hat!"
New Interpretation: God rescued the wrong kid!
Bonus: hehadahat.org is available. (.com is taken but nothing's happening there, so according to my code of domain name ethics it's okay to take the .org). A good name for a weblog.
Sun Sep 15 2002 19:13 I Can't Stop Writing NewsBruiser code!:
I just added the ability to download a tarball containing all information about a notebook (except for the index and other stuff that can be recalculated). When will the carnage end?
Sun Sep 15 2002 20:43:
In an attempt to stem the tide of innovation, I went and made a huge list of links to people I know. I also tossed in some software links. Ah, the conventional... This gave me an excuse to remove a lot of seldom-modified weblogs from the navbar (including, sadly, one of my own; I'm not sure what Kris and I should do about Counterpoint/Countercounterpoint).
Sun Sep 15 2002 21:16:
From taint, a Tolkien-branded version of the Spanish prisoner scam email. A bit halfhearted in execution, but well-conceived.
Mon Sep 16 2002 08:30:
Kevin's back from his vacation, and he says "I did."
Mon Sep 16 2002 08:43 Unpopular Book:
Sweat The Small Stuff
Mon Sep 16 2002 10:04 More Pictures From Kevin's Vacation:
Mon Sep 16 2002 15:49:
A MySQL manual, in places only passingly translated into French, with funny results: "A user who can connect without a password, mais only from the local hôte". Reminds me of "vous ne pouvez pas play this savon dodge on me twice".
Wed Sep 18 2002 09:31:
Happy birthday to Susanna! And Adam! Susanna and Adam are exactly the same age!
Wed Sep 18 2002 18:35:
Enterprise premiere tonight. Will I remember? Sumana has pledged to remind me, so probably.
Thu Sep 19 2002 09:17:
I watched the Enterprise premiere with Jason and Manoj; it was fun and then suddenly dull for the last ten minutes. There was so much cheesecake in that episode that Tom Ridge has decided to set the Homeland Security Cheesecake Advisory Level to HIGH. (Also, what happened to Daniels?)
My favorite part of Enterprise is when Archer is talking to someone he doesn't trust (which is basically everyone not his superior officer or a member of his crew). He'll talk and talk and be very reasonable and then suddenly yell "Why are the Vulcans spying on us?!?!" or "What have you done with my chief engineer?!?!". I think his character book says "his style is a mix of Kirk's and Picard's", and the writers are taking that too literally.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen in this episode, so there's no good reason for me to mention it here, except that now's when I thought of it.
Bonus: The Twilight Zone remake, starring Forrest Whitaker, of which we watched about a minute after Enterprise. It's insufficiently UPN! Forrest Whitaker's experiences in the Twilight Zone have left him so jaded that he's incapable of showing any emotion except for that evinced by his general hang-dog look. This is a great touch, but the show is incredibly lame anyway. So as long as they're running the franchise into the ground, they should replace Whitaker with a younger, hipper host who refers to the Twilight Zone as simply "the Zone". Jason suggests the kid from the Dell advertisements. "Dude, you're in the Zone!"
But how to get rid of a Twilight Zone host? There's precedent.
Thu Sep 19 2002 13:31:
Arr! We be steamin' down the very mainstream!
Thu Sep 19 2002 22:00:
Behold NewsBruiser 1.4.1! This version is really easy to set up; I wrote a little script which writes the configuration for you, and you no longer have to change cfg.py. It also has the tarball support, which doesn't always work, and I don't know why, so I marked it 'experimental'. Isn't it great how calling something 'experimental' absolves you of all responsibility?
Fri Sep 20 2002 14:47:
Most of the slogans in the Maoist Python poster weren't revolutionary enough, so I made it more suitable to the Peoples' taste. Remember: you never saw the previous version.
Sat Sep 21 2002 10:02 The Spam Of Nations: Third In A Series:
Are you interested in opening a free adult toy store and earning 50% of
Sat Sep 21 2002 19:38 14°30.882'N 128°15.459'E Marks The Spot:
One of the most pressing problems of modern piracy is where to hide the booty. Development and ecotourism mean that even the most isolated beaches will eventually attract visitors. Here's a simple burial technique using equipment any modern pirate ship should already have.
Put the booty into an empty shipping container you have lying around. While en route to your next raid, simply lower the shipping container into Davy Jones' locker and take a note of the GPS coordinates (do this at night to avoid your activity showing up on spy satellites). If your container won't sink, fill unused space with sand, silt, or any other dense material; you can use ballast water if your booty is gold or otherwise waterproof. Years later, you and your shipmates can retrace your steps, raise the barnacle-encrusted container, and claim your prize.
Unsolved problems: are shipping containers watertight enough? What about trawlers?
Sat Sep 21 2002 22:14:
I added authentication cookie support to NewsBruiser, and the result is NewsBruiser 1.4.2. Now you only have to enter a notebook's password once per browser session (if you have cookies enabled in your browser).
Sun Sep 22 2002 09:05 Perils Of Broadcasting:
Oops. I had the 'notify weblogs.com' box checked on my NewsBruiser development installation, so weblogs.com has periodically been notified of exciting changes to 'My Notebook' by 'Joe Newsbruiser'. Sorry. (Hopefully weblogs.com knows to ignore pings where the weblog is at 'localhost').
Sun Sep 22 2002 18:48 Release Early, Release Often:
I hope you didn't download NewsBruiser 1.4.2, because I just released NewsBruiser 1.5.0. It's got a templating system (*cough* checklist *cough*) that's both simple and fast. Check it out. I also got honest with myself and added about 10 things to the TODO.
It takes a little time to roll a NewsBruiser release, although about 98% of that time is uploading the file and publishing the news item and sneakily releasing it again because I found another bug immediately after releasing it. Everything else I've automated, and as of 1.5.0 I've even automated that portion of the news item that can be automated (the link to the changelog and whatnot). But it's still a little boring, so to lighten the drudgery I've decided to make up silly code names for NewsBruiser releases. 1.5.0 is the "Pig In A Blanket" release.
Sun Sep 22 2002 19:33:
How can a movie have a "guest star"? You're either in the movie or you're not.
Sun Sep 22 2002 20:58:
Evilfinder is the perfect companion to The Arbitrary Text Code. It also has the advantage of actually existing in a usable form. And, of course, it's evil.
Sun Sep 22 2002 23:03:
Just in case you're not yet sick of me talking about NewsBruiser, let me tell you how proud I am of the new stuff. I was looking at the changelog and I noticed that a lot of the cool features I take completely for granted (the category system and the configuration system) didn't exist or wasn't usable a mere eight days ago. I don't even use the templating system (yet?), so that's not on my radar, but because I wrote it I know enough about it to know that it's cool.
I'm definitely a much better programmer than I used to be (and Python fits my style). My self-stereotype is that I'm good at code and awful at interface design, but the interfaces I've designed for NewsBruiser are good and I know how to improve them. How did this happen? [Obvious answer: practice]
Sun Sep 22 2002 23:21 Great Murders In History:
One last thing before the sleeping: the long-awaited Tonight's Episode archive.
Mon Sep 23 2002 09:01 MoreSensationalistExaminer.com:
"The Great Wine Glut" should be "The Great Wine Gut".
Mon Sep 23 2002 18:20:
N-shot gag for sci-fi stories: deceptively eponymous devices and phenomena. The "Feynman Drive", named after 21st-century physicist Kelly Feynman; the "Hawking Effect", discovered by three-time Nobel laureate Edward Hawking; etc, etc, etc. How many times would this be funny? My guess: twice, and then three or four more times as a fleeting mention with no explanation of the eponymy.
Eventually I'll come up with enough of these ideas that I can actually write a story. "That's not the way it works," you say. It is when your stories are hastily-put-together houses of idea cards!
That reminds me, the guy from Cardhouse did me a kindness, which I need to discuss at greater length.
Tue Sep 24 2002 23:54:
Back from a party at Nandini's house, featuring Sumana, her parents, Seth, Steve, etc. etc. A good time. And now, a lot of dental hygeine and then sleep. I have an orthodontist appointment tomorrow.
Wed Sep 25 2002 09:38 Programs With The Same Name As JDK Classes:
"TreeMap is an experimental program for comparing host and parasite trees." Unfortunately, it has a couple of bugs.
Because of a programming error the distribution of cospeciation may be slightly biased towards rejecting the null hypothesis of cospeciation if the host and parasite phylogenies are small.
That's one of those technobabble sentences that people quote to point out that something makes no sense to them, but that actually does make sense to me, so I guess I'm quoting it for the novelty of such a thing happening.
Wed Sep 25 2002 23:49:
It looks like Jackie Chan doesn't do his own stunts in his new movie. In a sense it's understandable; after all, the guy is getting old. But the stunts are things that no human could do, like leap a full story from a standing start. It's a bit disappointing; I hope that Jackie Chan doesn't turn into a generic CGI-enhanced action hero.
The West Wing premiere was awful. Hey, you know who could save that show? Jackie Chan! He could balance the budget with his bare hands! Think about it.
 Not meant to imply that Jackie Chan could leap a full story even with a running start.
Thu Sep 26 2002 22:35 Characters In Commercials Considered As Potential Hosts For The Twilight Zone: Second In A Series:
The other guy who'd be a good Twilight Zone host is the trenchcoat-wearing guy in the Sprint PCS commercials. The only problem is that instead of speaking to the audience, he'd walk up to the hapless Zone-goer and say, "So. Your world has suddenly changed into a hideous mockery of its former self. Looks like you could use a new cell phone. Sprint built a digital PCS network from the ground up, so that you'd always get good reception, even in... the Twilight Zone."
Update: I forgot to credit Sumana for coming up with this idea.
Fri Sep 27 2002 09:17:
I wrote part of a short story last night. I hope it turns out well. I'm not a very good writer (of short stories), but practice is the only way to improve.
Fri Sep 27 2002 11:29 Random Notes On The Difference Engine:
- The alternate history was pretty believable in the large, though not so much in the details. For instance (and this is the thing that bothers me most about alternate history), a lot of famous people in real history are also famous in the alternate history, usually for different things. They dealt with this a little bit, in the "We're dealing with this a little bit to stop Leonard from complaining about it, so that everyone else can just enjoy our flights of fancy" way. Well, it didn't work! However, it makes sense in a heavily class-based society like Victorian England for certain people to be well-known regardless of the specific path of history, so I don't mind much.
- The MacGuffin was a big anticlimax. I can't believe I'm saying this about the thing that the MacGuffin turned out to be, but there it is. There are some things man was not meant to use as a MacGuffin.
- It had dinosaurs, or at least their study, which is great.
- Near the end of the book there is a brief digression into fictional secondary sources. I am always suspicious of this because it's something I'm often tempted to do, and as previously noted I am not a good writer. Bizarrely, the fictional secondary sources only rehashed exposition that had already been accomplished. I don't understand why they were included, unless it was to showcase the authors' abilities to write in different styles.
- It's funny (in the sense that it dates the work in a funny way) that the omniscient narrator in the alternate universe of The Difference Engine made the same mistake in analyzing the anatomy of Hallucigenia as did real people in the actual universe. I feel like that needs a spoiler warning ("What? Wonderful Life was wrong about Hallucigenia?!?"), but why should real life need spoiler warnings? Actually, that could be interesting. "Caution! This textbook contains chemistry spoilers!"
Fri Sep 27 2002 19:08:
Just spent some time packaging the software (which barely deserves the designation) I wrote for Seth's birthday. I hope I'm able to demonstrate it at the party; it has dependencies which may not be met at Seth's house. Link forthcoming after the premiere, go it well or ill.
Sumana gave me the idea of writing a poem about Seth, and it wasn't difficult to whip up a quick one (though I used a secondary pronunciation). Here you go:
There once was a human named Seth
Unconstrained from pronouncing "Macbeth".
When the actors did say
"Call it 'that Scottish play'!"
He observed, "What an odd shibboleth!"
Fri Sep 27 2002 23:57:
Need to read: The Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton. Not present in this shockingly long list of Chesterton on the Web.
Sun Sep 29 2002 09:27:
Another note on Chesterton (tiny spoiler): the intro to The Napoleon Of Notting Hill contains Chesterton's funny "Cheat the Prophet" routine, which he uses to mock books like Looking Backwards and to set the scene of the book, which is an early 21st century in which things have not changed significantly since the early 20th century. Then the very first thing he does in the very first chapter is talk about all the changes that have happened in the past hundred years! (Sample changes: the end of war, abolition of the nation-state, etc; generally carried out through the effective technique of "people realizing" that since there's no mechanism that could underly the author's intended societal change, they need to carry it out through spontaneous action. Sometimes I imagine crackpot science fiction along these lines: "'You see, Trudy,' said the handsome captain, 'The twentieth century was full of wars and horrible problems, but once people realized that ACCELERATION AND TIME ARE PLUS SPACE EQUIVALENT, it was a trivial matter to CREATE WORLD FOCUS BEAM FOR GOOD LOVE and STOP CAPITALIST SPINE REALIGNMENT MUNCHERS.'" This is a really long parenthetical, but it's coming to an end now.)
Why would Chesterton do this? There's the possibility that he never noticed the inconsistency, but that seems unlikely to me. I think it more likely that he decided that the 'Cheat the Prophet' routine was so good an introduction for his a-utopia that it was worth a small inconsistency in the story (there's no technological change between 1900 and 2000 in NoNH, so in that respect the intro is consistent with the story).
Sun Sep 29 2002 09:54:
Spam: Our Halloween gifts are here! Halloween gifts? Halloween is not a gift-giving holiday! It's a bribe holiday, and a microbribe holiday at that!
Sun Sep 29 2002 20:15:
My programming philosophy is "Once is a special case, twice is a copy-and-paste, three times is a generalization." I've revamped my devel page once since I put it up, and I needed to do it again, if only to add ksethdavidschoen. But it's such a pain to write all that HTML with the anchors and the alphabetization and the blah and blah. So I generalized: behold The Me Software Map! (And its concretion, The Leonard Software Map) Now I keep all the project metadata in a simple, no-frills (well, one-frill) configuration file and serve it up to you in a nice HTML form when you request it.
 Canonically, you're supposed to generalize the second time, but I've found it more helpful to have three cases (assuming that copy-and-paste is significantly easier than generalizing) because with the triangulation thus provided you're less likely to generalize in the wrong direction. (Also, if I copy-and-paste maybe there won't be a third time and I'll get away with it; sometimes my time is more valuable than the well-factoredness of the code.)
Sun Sep 29 2002 21:11 Very Short Story Search Requests:
before andrew could say a word sharon made a super duper frog face
Sun Sep 29 2002 21:21:
Am I crazy, or does Chock Full O' Nuts brand coffee contain not a single nut?
Mon Sep 30 2002 19:32:
More pictures. These are from my August trip to LA, where I saw Mark, Dan, Peter et al. for the first time in years. Some really good photos,
many of them exploiting my friends' talents for the funny face:
caption contest fodder, "Wait, that's Kim? I thought I married Kim!" Kim keeping an eye on Adam, and, of course, you found kitten. Bonus for Jake: my Fujichia T-shirt has now made it to LA.
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