<M <Y
Y> M>

Give 'Em NULL, Harry: It is to laugh.

Cave closing soon. All adventurers exit immediately through Main Office.: Send in your last-minute Tonight's Episodes, because it's time for it to go. Unless I get some good-quality contributed entries, next week will be Jason's mixed-metaphor series "Tonight's Episode Buys the Farm", and that will be the end of that. All things must pass, as TE has already given us many opportunities to learn. The past is dust, and the future but smart nanodust. So if you've been saving up your TEs, send them to me now.

: From Sumana, a nice-sounding hot sauce reviewed by a man who understands the decision procedure.

Also present: a few recipes, including one for potstickers ("When I overcook them, I usually announce to my wife that I have prepared them 'authentically', thus leading to our often using the word 'authentic' to mean 'screwed up'.").

: Many of the daintier early personal computers required lace doilies to operate.

: Incidentally, I just realized that Charlie Brown's teacher is a space alien, probably a Breen.

A Ringing Endorsement: "Fedora is what Red Hat Linux was. Kind of the People's Republic of Myanmar to Burma."

Icon V: I need someone to design a tiny icon for NewsBruiser that denotes "trackback", an icon no bigger than the existing permalink icon. I sort of want to use the MoinMoin globe icon, but MoinMoin is GPLed. If you have icon ability, let me know if you're interested.

NewsBruiser has incoming trackback now, incidentally. The display is pretty ugly, but I've got all the neccessary templating in place. (I'm still looking for some general UI help with NewsBruiser, actually).

Future Food: "Bragg Liquid Aminos is a tasty liquid protein containing essential and nonessential amino acids..."

: Sumana and I went out to Millennium, an expensive vegan restaurant in San Francisco. I had the avocado/tomato salad, which was really delicious with lots of different types of tomatoes; and the zucchini cake, which was good but a little bland (they didn't even bring a little bottle of hot sauce to your table!). There was not enough zucchini cake for my taste; after you finished the zucchini cake you just had some cooked zucchini and some (admittedly tasty) beans.

Sumana had a fennel and apple salad, and an entree composed primarily of tempeh. I will let her give her opinions of that once we fix her NewsBruiser install to keep up with the latest weird changes OCF has made to their hosting setup.

For an appetizer there was free bread, with a tofu-based aioli. The bread was good, and the aioli tasted okay but had a really weird texture. I think they should have just mashed up some garlic in olive oil instead of putting tofu on every flat surface.

There was a wide variety of desserts. I had a cannoli with a tapioca filling and a fig sauce, which was great. Sumana had a chocolate/tofu cake.

Also, Millennium had these fruit juice drinks called "refreshing potions", and Sumana ordered one, so the receipt says:

1 POTIONS                    6.95

Sadly, Millennium would not accept payment in gold pieces. I don't recommend the potions anyway; get the hot chocolate instead.

Request For Business Name Change Denied: Is this a real restaurant?

Leonard's Analog To Brooks' Law: "Renaming a bad software product makes it worse."

: In an academic sense I'm always interested in a new approach to the liar paradox, but I don't like fuzzy logic very much, and I still think the revision theory of truth is the best solution. The fuzzy logic approach seems only to yield a way of quantifying a sentence's properties under revision theory.

Incidentally, I am trying to write a science fiction story about the revision theory of truth, a story I think you would love. Too bad I am not very good at writing stories.

NewsBruiser 2.0: Get it while it's hot. Code name: "Master Planarian". Money screenshot.

When The UNIX Philosophy Yada Yada: This morning I saw a van that said "mv Transportation". I wonder what cp Transporation would be like.

Bigger Than M-x: Here's 15 minutes of fame for David Bradley, creator of the control-alt-delete key combination. The piece says he "discovered" it, as though it were a naturally occuring phenomenon or an emergent property of the IBM PC hardware. I especially like this piece because, as in many such articles, they give Bradley a soapbox of a couple summarized sentences at the end of the piece, presumably as the price for consenting to the interview.

Bradley says the "strength of the country" is at stake because relatively few students go into science or technology. Further, he says, ordinary citizens need to understand science and technology better to make informed choices in the voting booth.

: Hundreds of millions of years ago, these were legal tender.

QOTD: "That would be funny. But unconstitutional."

MoreSensationalistComputerTradePress.com: I'm branching out. Questions Dog Microsoft on Linux Studies should be "Dogs Question Microsoft On Linux Studies". Now that would be cool.

: Degeneracy Part II: This Time It's Monetized! (from Sumana)

The Classifies: Let's say you had a thing produced by someone, and you needed to classify it according to some arbitrary system. Well, you could use the North American Industry Classification System, which reads like the largest RPG treasure table ever. Except you couldn't, because you'd get distracted and start looking at totally unrelated stuff, never find what you were looking for, and the Japanese would take over with their more concise Pacific Rim Industry Classification System, which divides industries into "Stuff" and "More stuff". A random sampling from the NAICS list on the US Census web site:

Canned vegetables, except hominy and mushrooms
Receipts for contract and commission work on women's, misses', juniors', and girls' raincoats and other waterproof outergarments
Hollowware (including toiletware, ecclesiastical ware, novelties, trophies, baby goods, and other platedware)
Other burial caskets and coffins and metal vaults [plastics, fiberglass, foam, masonite, cardboard, fiberboard, etc., and all children's]
Pattern publishing, including clothing patterns [exclude industrial patterns]

(Foam coffins? For when your beer goes flat? Are they real coffins or not?)

There must be a cool toy in here somewhere, but the only thing I can think of is a little simulation of an economy where people start companies dealing in producing and combining the products of various industries, and there'd be no room for you in that simulation. Those simulated people don't need your reductionist thinking about whether it's a good idea to turn letterpress printing inks and fiber optic cable into stamped and spun utensils, cooking and kitchen, aluminum.

NewsBruiser Nepotism: Hey. I'm proud to announce the existence of two new weblogs hosted on crummy.com: A Day In The Life by my cousin Alyson Matkin of Texas travelogue fame; and Traffic by John Chadwick, Susanna's husband and my brother-in-law (man, that sounds weird). Both weblogs sort of look the same, because I am not the world's greatest web designer. Minimalism is a good trick, but by definition it only works once. If any of you good readers want to help them out (which seems a little unlikely, since nobody's bitten on the icon thing yet), I'm sure they'd love a nicer-looking front page than what I've made for them. It'll look better once I get their pictures.

Incidentally, if you are related to me and you want a weblog, I'll host it here.

"Shut down the ENIAC.": I thought this joke Python proposal was pretty funny. So funny, in fact, that I already linked to it. Note to self: replace this entry with something new.

OK, here you go. Resign Patterns, including "Simpleton" and "Flypaper". From Ned Batchelder's weblog.

Hello, World: Kevan made me a nice trackback icon [the icon], which I've added to NewsBruiser. Now if only someone would trackback me, it would show up. HINT! Whoops, I hit the "HINT!" key by mistake.

Sorry: That was our (my and Scott's) project.

: Sumana interviewed Christopher Kimball today for an article that might or might not happen. In celebration, may I present this funny The Fugitive parody starring Christopher Kimball, which opens up the intriguing possibility that Kimball's signature gesture is designed to taunt the one-armed man.

One Man, One Slice: If you wanted to pretend it was the 19th century, you could do worse than by whipping up some Election Cake.

: Hey, what is swallow's nest? Is it the actual nest of a swallow? It doesn't look like any kind of nest. I tried the web and the web was useless. I looked at the big impulse-buy book of cooking terms they keep near the register in cooking supply stores, and it wasn't listed. So I'm asking you, what's up with swallow's nest?

As long as we're talking about odd food: the Roman emperors used to eat eg. fried flamingo tongues, and Romans of all classes enjoyed their lamprey. Special question for classicists: what's the source for the spine-chilling tale of Augustus' lamprey-keeping friend? (In old days, they would probably leave such gruesome passages untranslated, but nowadays we can just hide the gory details behind a link.)

Four Turtles In Two: Remember the two-headed tortoise? Well, there's a two-headed turtle right here in the Bay Area. The pet store in the Serramonte Center in Colma has a two-headed turtle in a tank, along with a pair of Siamese-twin turtles. You can go in and gawk, and not pay a red cent. Pretty cool; there are also single-headed turtles, iguanas, guinea pigs etc., as in other pet stores.

"You're all elephants!": Sometimes Sumana likes watching nature shows. I like watching them if they have cool animals like elephants or sea turtles. There are a couple shows which are probably aimed at kids and which all seem to be sponsored by Anheuser-Busch; one of these shows stars a chap named Jack Hanna, who tries to be the Crocodile Hunter without actually being Australian or doing anything dangerous. The setup is now complete; on with the story.

There was a show where Jack Hanna was in Thailand at an elephant refuge. It was bath time for the elephants, so he rode an elephant into a river and scrubbed it and kept falling into the river. Fun. In the next scene the elephant was on land and Jack, surrounded by onlookers, rinsed off the elephant with a hose. Then he turned the hose on the onlookers and sprayed them with water for twenty or thirty seconds, laughing manaically the whole time!

The onlookers were laughing, too, and it was supposed to be all in good fun, because of course Jack was already soaking wet from spending so much time in the river. But the scene went on way too long, and it got sort of creepy. It was as though Jack, sick of not quite being the Crocodile Hunter, had finally snapped. "You're all elephants! I know it! Ah ha ha ha ha!"

: My mother explains swallow's nest:

My understanding is that there is a Chinese swallow that sticks its nest together using its viscous saliva. This dries into a brittle mass. In Chinese cooking, the nest is boiled and reduced and whatever chemical makes the saliva gooey is used to thicken broth. "Bird's Nest Soup".

I tasted some once on a CSF trip to San Francisco--I ate lunch with the Ho sisters in a dim little out of the way place they knew about. The menu was only in Chinese and the offerings were scary. The soup was nothing to write home about.

Swallow's nest: the honey of the vertebrate world!

Public Service Announcement: Also, please do not eat swallow's nest. If you must be ostentatious and wealthy, put gold dust in your coffee, like in Cryptonomicon. If you must make use of an ineffective aphrodisiac, I hardly need remind you that teens gone crazy for XXX sex await the man who avails himself of NEW! GENERIC *Vi@*gra* !!

He Was Asking For It:

<lucas> brian: how was FOO camp ?
<brian> FOO-tastic!
<lucas> doh

Hot Topic: I made NewsBruiser capable of talking to the Internet Topic Exchange. Why? Because it's cool. I'm not sure whether ITE etiquette allows me to do my idea for a fully-automatic mapping, where you just turn it on and every NewsBruiser category gets munged to the name of an ITE topic, cluttering the ITE with weird topics like "whale", "mike_popovic", and "shipping_containers" (as opposed to the current, oh-so-orderly list of topics). So right now you have to make a manual mapping between a specific NewsBruiser category and a specific ITE topic. It works, though, and I got a new library out of it.

Sumana: Is this a semantic web thing?
Leonard: Nooo...
Sumana: You know I can tell when you do something with the semantic web.
Leonard: Yes, dear.

"[T]he living have priority over the dead when it comes to picking up darts.": Patrol, the MIT-developed first-person shooter with an unbeatable framerate. Other good quote: the preemptive strike against rules lawyers: "All Gamemaster's decisions are final even if they contradict the letter of the rules." (from cl)

Today's The Day The Trilobites Have Their Picnic: Alert: the bugs are en route to non-San Francisco residents.

: I know I previously swore revenge on Ned Batchelder's weblog, but it's growing on me. On Monday he linked to a big list of historical documents from computer science, including the feelies of historical computer science, flowchart templates. My dad gave me a couple flowchart templates when I was a kid, and I drew with them, and I just now realized in a where-does-your-father-do-his-barnacles moment that not every child drew or draws pictures made of flowchart template shapes.

Anyway, that's the software side of things, and on the hardware side there's the collection of old scanned computer manuals, truly a labor of love. A random skim through the manuals reveals, eg. the Hayes Stack Chronograph, which is an external system clock. I thought external CD-ROM drives were old school, but it turns out that that school was built on the ruins of an even older school.

[Wait, under what circumstances did you swear revenge on Ned Batchelder's weblog? -Ed. Such questions are not productive in these times of transition, as we seek to reopen friendly relations with Ned Batchelder's weblog. How come I never heard about this? Is this one of those delusional things you make up as you type to make an entry more interesting? -Ed. You're a spy for Ned Batchelder's weblog, aren't you? Fie! This means war!]

Jokes You Can Only Tell Once:

"Why is this joke so funny?"
"I give up, why?"
"Because the punchline is completely novel!"

You can only tell that joke once, but you could coast on this for a while:

"Why is this joke so funny?"
"I give up, why?"
"Are you kidding? It's a classic!"

But eventually you would have to switch to this one:

"Why is this joke not so funny?"
"Because the punchline is so stale."

Lots Of Fun: Pity me like a fool, but I just realized that the lyrically clever comic Irish songs I sometimes link to are probably not really Irish. They're probably just American and English vaudeville songs written in an Irish idiom, possibly by emigreés. The songs' lack of anti-Cromwell vitriol should have tipped me off.

I realized this while trying to find "Finnegan's Wake" (Google: 'Did you mean: "finnegans wake"'), the song that provides part of the the narrative structure for Finnegans Wake. It turns out to be a nineteenth-century American vaudeville song [Lyrics and music]. Even stack was surprised by this fact. Speaking of stack, here's his take on the matter:

There's loads of 'comic' songs -- alot written recently... but their authenticity is questionable being paddies singing about an idealized paddy (loads of drinking, working the bog, afraid o the women)...

Shaw has a character in john bull's other island that is a take on the 'stage Irishman'... There is an old irish novel, knocknagow, written by a man who was a member of an antecedant of the ira, the irb (should be the other way round says you) who took piss out of 'stage irish' mid 18th c (if i have my dates right).

As for actual songs, stack says he can't think of any in English, but "I know there'd be a legion in original irish." This reinforces my hypothesis of immigrant authorship.

Almost A Word: "Fictoral". Self-describing, too.

: Do you have a weblog? Are you bothered by unsightly trackback spam and/or its sinister, tar-dripping companion, comment spam? I'd like to collect samples of these noxious materials for NewsBruiser work I'm doing. I can find lots of places where people *talk* about weblog spam, but by the time they start talking about it they've already gone in with a pitchfork and killed it all. So please mail me some weblog spam you've gotten, if it's convenient for you.

Word To My Pepys: This fluffy BBC website about Samuel Pepys not only contains a goofy charicature of him pigging out on eel pie, it provides a possible insight into what a "remove" is: it looks like it could mean "tableful". Doesn't explain how one course could be a "remove" of another, unless it's a culinary closing bracket.

I've complained in the past about the practice of including famous people in works of fiction (Sumana analyzed this as a projected Mary Sue impulse in reality fan fiction), but it turns out that, like all mankind, I am flawed. I think it is really cool that Samuel Pepys has a non-trivial part in Quicksilver. I thought I had a principled objection to this practice, but it was merely that no author had yet met my price. My price is apparently measured in some form of indie-cred economy units, since really famous people like Newton aggravate me when they show up, but I throw the door wide for less famous people like Pepys. Let's try some thought experiments. Robert E. Lee: blah. Hyman Rickover: sure, I'd read that. Einstein: waaay overdone. PGP author Phil Zimmerman: cool! Lewis Carroll: only if the story did not involve fairies.

: Hoo, if I may, hah. I've got my nitro-burning NewsBruiser Bayesian spam detector working and into CVS, and it is sweet. Now that I've got it working, I can implement comments in NewsBruiser with a relatively clear conscience. It's still a way for people to automatically write on your website, but now there's a way to automatically stop them from writing crap. There might even be comments on NYCB in the relatively near future (shock, gasp, etc.).

Other reasons why you should look at that screenshot: the first fake weblog name is really good, good enough for someone to use[0], and while making up fake spam for the sample Bayesian network I came up with the phrase "the set of all sluts".

I think the lack of comments is the leading cause of people who might use NewsBruiser not using NewsBruiser. Every time people complain about Blogger or Moveable Type, I (along with every other penny-ante weblog software author) see an opportunity to plug our own software. I'm too shy to actually do it, though. I'm stuck in the naive hacker's world where if I make something better everyone will automatically use it.

I still need weblog spam from you. I want to provide a starter Bayesian network with NewsBruiser, and I need me some data. The trackbacks and comments will share a Bayesian network, BTW; the datasets are undoubtedly similar, and that will cut down on training time.

PS: I made Reverend work with Python 1.5, because I live in a cave. If you're interested, it's here.

[0] Another weblog name I made up recently: "Commodius Vicus". You're welcome.

Peach Ice Cream: The name's Derek Lask. It says "Private Eye" on the door, but I'm actually a gumshoe. On that particular day, I was peeling and pitting five peaches. A dame walked into my office just as I finished scraping the peels into the compost bucket.

"I heard you were a gumshoe," she said, setting her purse on my Formica countertop. I started blending three of the peaches with a quarter-cup of lemon juice, and mashed up the other two with a potato masher.

"You heard right, sister," I said, tossing my chewed-up cigar into the wastebasket. You can't chew cigars with a classy dame like that around--just one of the pillars underlying my general anti-classy-dame policy. "What can I help you with?"

"It's about this slightly-more-than-a-cup of sugar," said the dame, opening her purse to reveal an overful measuring cup. "It's such an odd measurement; whatever can I do with it?"

"Just leave it to me, babe," I said, stirring it into the mashed peaches and pouring the puree on top. "I'll use it as an ingredient in a peach-flavored ice cream that will melt your troubles away."

"Then... that explains the two cups of milk and cream simmering on the stove," she said breathlessly, almost swooning over the counter.

"You catch on quick, toots," I replied in a businesslike manner, picking the pot off the stove and pouring the mixture atop the peaches. "Care to help me stir?"

"Only if I can add a couple drops of orange extract to the mix," purred the aforementioned dame.

"Add orange juice if you want," I told her. "Just remember: it's a simple recipe. There's no need to dress it up."


: If you're sick of my pointless recipes, try Cooking With LiveJournal, a group recipe log.

Crummy Product Testing: For a while I've been using a different shampoo bar from the one I mentioned earlier. I don't remember the brand name, but it's not as good as Liggett's, and it's also harder to distinguish from the soap. Liggett's is still the way to go.

Do not be alarmed--it is traditional rioting.: Kevin has a longstanding yet irrational fear that the final act of the HBO drama of his life will begin when he goes to Bolivia and is caught in a Cryptonomicon-style luggage sa-bo-tage. These people are not in as much trouble as Kevin will be in his hour of need, but I'll link to anything that makes him apprehensive. They're taking it pretty well, all things considered:

"Bolivia is one of the last strongholds of indigenous values," Reimuller said. "It needs to be preserved in our world."

leonardr@segfault.org, You Heartbreaker!: I was going to use this spam subject as a Crummy title like webmaster@crummy.com,tonight is going to be our night, but I just got two more spams in the same vein. I envision a spam program pining with unrequited love for an email address too aloof to respond, too uncaring to even click on the unsubscribe link.

Crocodile Muncher: You know how movies are sometimes prefaced with the names of their control-freak auteurs, eg. "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" and "Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure"? Well, the practice has now spread to recipes, although presumably the motivations behind it are different. Exhibit A: Kim William's Crocodile Cake, guaranteed to have your young birthday party guests quarrelling over who gets the eyes. For some reason this fearsome reptilian cake is baked in a "Huggable Teddy Bear Pan". I still prefer the red armadillo roadkill cake, but maybe the two cakes could duke it out somehow in a ghastly food fight to the death, and I could use that as a basis for my preference.

[Comments] (1) Monopoly Memewatch: Inspired by Kevan's "Giant Monster Monopoly" find, more of which anon: "go directly to" "do not pass" -jail

: I still don't know what the set of all primes is into, but there are sets of primes which do bizarre things usually only associated with the declining years of the Weimar Republic. (thank you, cl)

[Comments] (1) Unintended Consequences: When I added a NewsBruiser statistics gatherer that counts which words you use most frequently in your weblog entries, I did not envision this.

[Comments] (22) It Lives!: NewsBruiser now has a rudimentary comment system with Bayesian spam filtering. Go ahead and try it out; if you break it I'll fix it. You know what this means: I need another icon. A speech bubble? A burst of flame? Well, I could probably draw a speech bubble myself.

[Comments] (5) Then, Her Sari Flaps In The Wind!: I've been reading articles about how Bollywood is stuck in a formulaic rut and not making money, so I'm writing a spec script guaranteed to inject new blood into the industry. It's about a plucky singing-and-dancing cricket team, lead by a boisterous Sikh who falls in love with a mysterious village girl. They defeat the Pakistanis[0] and the British to win the World Cup. Then, there are dinosaurs. I haven't worked out all the details yet.

[0] The test match against Pakistan is a separate one-hour chunk which can be deleted from the Pakistan release of the film.

[Comments] (3) I'd Never Seen A Purple Frog: Sumana gave me a page from Smithsonian which has eight African frogs on it. I hung it up on my cube wall by my National Park Service flyer from the Lincoln Memorial. One of the frogs looks really weird, squat like a toad and a small head that makes it look like a turtle just coming out of its shell. Well, that frog was just staring at me and being mysterious until today, when I found out about a similar-looking but purple frog discovered in India. Now it still stares at me, but it's only half as mysterious as previously.

[Comments] (3) : So when I was idly trying to find out what my weird frog is, I stumbled upon one of those template-driven sites that tries to pretend it knows all about what you're Googling for, by creating a bunch of pages for every possible variant of a general problem (possibly taking previous search requests into account) and claiming it has a customized solution for each one. In this case, it was The Phobia Clinic™ and their phobia-mastery program, Time Line Therapy™.

Because there are so many silly phobias, the template is often amusing in its eagerness to accept you and act like your phobia is nothing unusual while not actually knowing anything about it. It makes out that there is a specialized Clinic for the study of each phobia on their list (eg. "The Fear Of Things To The Left Side Of The Body Clinic at The Phobia Clinic™"), and that they have a special interest in whatever phobia pertains to what you Googled for (in my case, Ranidaphobia, not to be confused with the more general Batrachophobia).

I myself have a touch of acrophobia, and for me it's not so much the fear of falling so much as the fear of suddenly feeling compelled to hurl myself over the edge, which is how I manage to work on the sixth floor of a building without being gripped by fear all day. There's no edge, thus no acrophobia. Similarly, someone who suffers from Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to the Roof of the Mouth is probably actually afraid of feeling compelled to scoop an entire eight-ounce jar of Jif into their mouth, but it's not that hard to just not open jars of peanut butter.

Also, if peanut butter does stick to the roof of your mouth, you're not dead on the sidewalk or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you can just scrape it out with a napkin. So if you are morbidly afraid of peanut butter sticking to your mouth you are probably also afraid of everything else in the world, with an acute case of Googlephobia, so you'd never be able to find the web page that offers help.

Anyway, some of the other funny values for x are: the vague Fear Of Certain Fabrics ("FEAR OF CERTAIN FABRICS THE MOVIE: The Directors Cut... starring Me!"); the overly-specific Fear of the Great Mole Rat, which makes the Great Mole Rat sound like a Lovecraft monster; Refund, which looks like a mistake in the database, Fear of Your Step Mother, which reads like low-grade satire, Phobiophobia, which actually circumnavigates satire, and Tyrannophobia, which seems to me more of a political problem than a "phobia" per se. That last complains that most tyrannophobia therapies "require the patient to be exposed repeatedly to tyrants over and over again", and asks you, "What's it worth to live free of Tyrannophobia ?" I guess the tree of liberty has been looking a little under-nourished lately.

Sick of The Phobia Clinic™'s Google-trolling? Wish you'd never heard of their revolutionary anti-phobia technique? Well, What's it worth to live free of Time Line Therapy™ ?

PS: One more. I can't resist. Caligynephobia: "most caligynephobia therapies take months or years and sometimes even require the patient to be exposed repeatedly to beautiful women over and over again." The horror!

[Comments] (5) One Side Of The Paper, Please: Many new comment features now in place, including a goofy-looking icon I drew and does-what-you-want newline handling. I also made up a really simple XML representation of Bayesian classifications and made Newsbruiser export to it. I call it Cheatsheet, and I hope others will use it so that people can, eg. share a Bayesian spam corpus between NewsBruiser and SpamAssassin. If something like this already exists, let me know and I'll kill Cheatsheet.

[Comments] (8) <mystery>: A mystery begins now. Details later.

[Comments] (6) State Of The Comment System: OK, back to your regular, non-mysterious stuff. The comment system is coming along quite nicely. Here's the stuff I have to do next time I have free time (probably Thursday, as tonight is dinner and TV night with Sumana).

Stuff you don't care about because it's internal:

Of course, since basically all the comment stuff is in one file, you could hack on it yourself instead of waiting for me.

In A World...: Bizarrely, John gets graded on decibels.

The Parking Lot Is Full (Of Heads): I'm sure you know of the fiberglass dog head, San Francisco's goodwill ambassador and lackluster icon. Well, there's a trailer out in the marina parking lot, on which three of those fiberglass dog heads are lined up. I looked at them on and off all day, thinking they were jet skis or something, but once Brian pointed them out to me it was obvious that they were big fake dog heads wearing chef's hats.

One of them is staring at me. Its fiberglass eyes bore into the back of my neck. Its... ah, who am I kidding. It's not scary. It's a fiberglass dog head. But that night, the fiberglass dog head snuck into Leonard's house and... yeah, how's it going to do that? It has to be dragged around on a trailer! Jabba the Hutt had a wider range of motion! But then, the owner of a San Francisco weenie stand threatened to remove the fiberglass dog head from its perch, and thousands of people got angry! Well, that's a little weird, but still not very scary. Better luck next time, fiberglass dog head scary storyteller.

[Comments] (2) Broken Google Memewatch: "just like grandma used to" -make

Doesn't quite work, but you wish it would.

[Comments] (2) : Tired of reenacting the Civil War, time after time, long after your reenactment buddies have left you for the touring Renaissance Fair? Buy a book from Osprey Publishing and you'll be able to recreate any arbitrary moment in military history, from ancient Assyria to imperial China to the French Foreign Legion. Just add bad food.

John Q. Coffinfish: Time to redraw those fish voting districts.

[Comments] (7) Generic Star Trek Problem Solving:

"We have problem x."
"Couldn't we use solution y?"
"No, because this instance of problem x is very complicated."
"Solution y is a static solution. What if we used solution y, but made it dynamically respond to external events?"

At some point you gotta wonder why no one thinks to add dynamic y ahead of time. I think there's something about this sort of problem-solving breakthrough that speaks deeply to Star Trek writers.

[Comments] (4) Price Check On Colostomy Bags!: Uh... I need some help with JavaScript. I want to read a user cookie and populate some form fields based on the contents of the cookie. Email me if you can help, and try to be discreet.

(Don't worry, NewsBruiser is not going to become a JavaScript monstrosity. I need JavaScript so that static entry pages can have the comment fields prepopulated with your remembered information. If you don't have JavaScript, the comment cookie stuff won't work on a site with static entry files; that's all.)

Origami Mola Mola: Yeah, yeah.

Other origami sea creatures include sperm whale and lobster.

[Comments] (3) : Finally finished Quicksilver. In my opinion the ending was interesting enough to dispell the curse of boring Stephenson endings, but since the book jumps all over the place chronologically he might have just picked up an exciting set piece and put it at the end. The stuff leading up to the end was boring in a boring-Stephenson-ending kind of way. What do you think? Curse still intact?

Feel free to talk about Quicksilver in general in the comment section, in fact. My take: it was really good, for a book with no friggin' plot! Can't wait for the next one. May reread Cryptonomicon, in fact, shovelling aside my overflowing shelf of unread books.

Author-Specific Ebook Roundup: Three Men In A Boat is funny and sad. Haven't yet read the sequel, Three Men on the Bummel. Gutenberg has >30 works by Jerome K. Jerome, some of which look iffy, but try out Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.

Mystery Science Theater 1660: "...but it was so sillily writ, that we did nothing but laugh at it[.]"

[Comments] (2) "No Whitespace No Cry": I'm working on an analogy: spam is to steganography what copy protection is to cryptography. I was inspired by The Spammer's Compendium, which lists the tricks spammers use to hide their message in filter-passing plaintext, complete with "what were they thinking" rationale (for instance, adding one long random word won't fool Bayesian filters much, but it will mess up CRC checkers).

[Comments] (10) Comment Test Entry: I'm about to release NewsBruiser 2.1; I just want to make sure that the comment cookie/Javascript thing works.

You Know The Drill And Set: Here you go: NewsBruiser 2.1.0, with real commenting action. This version's nickname is previous Crummy title and all-around piece of good advice "Release Early, Release The Hounds".

Insult To Injury Search Requests:

powerpoint presentation in wisdom tooth surgery

[Comments] (12) </mystery>: Like the weather, politics is something that everybody complains about but nobody does anything about. I was no different in this regard, until recently, when I was given a chance to make a real difference. You see, I've purchased a share in a prototype weather control machine--no, wait. I've joined Wesley Clark's presidential campaign as a software architect. My goal is to build a large, resilient online community that can change the real world. I leave for Little Rock on Sunday and I come back when the campaign is over.

"That's real great, Leonard, about the future of your country and all," you say. "But what about your weblog?!?!" Well, I'm not going to go on hiatus the way Cam did (Cam is the one who recruited me, BTW), but I'll be too busy to post much. I may reinstate the guest weblog, just to keep you coming back for more. Having a guest weblog on your site for up to a year is a little weird, but I've never been deterred by the slightly weird.

[Comments] (2) Collect Them All: Check out the Wyoming cookie cutter.

Where Were You On The Calends of July?: Anachronism-ridden, embarrassingly amateur attempt to recreate a Roman orgy.

[Comments] (4) : Sumana said I need to post another entry about my going to Arkansas so people don't think the previous one was for Canadian April Fool's Day or something. So, let's talk about Arkansas. I remember being in Texarkana and then being in Tennessee on a road trip when I was younger, but I don't remember going through Arkansas, even though that's the only reasonable way it could have happened.

What is there to do in Little Rock? Sumana and I were there last weekend and there was not much besides a farmer's market and a Red Bull promotional event. This makes me feel as though the people in charge of my Truman Show-style simulated life were caught unprepared by my sudden excursion, and that when I come back it will be bustling.

Speaking Of States: A long time ago I saw a series of entries on someone's weblog, one entry for each U.S. state plus D.C., Puerto Rico, and the various islands labeled "(U.S.)" on maps. In the comments section people from that area were invited to talk about what makes that area great. I thought this was a really good idea, only slightly marred by the fact that the comment sections for the three states with Illuminati cards were full of bickering about how the rest of the U.S. would be better off without that state, and vice versa.

Well, after a lot of Google trickery I was able to find the site, and I present it to you: What's Not To Like? It would be really neat to have sites like this for other countries.

[Comments] (2) YOUARE=T(YOUEAT): At my going-away party, Seth talked about weird diets. The conversation came around, as it always does, to the USDA's National Nutrient Database. We talked about using the NND data to construct a diet navigator, something that would let you enter some wacky criteria and then create a solid in the 6661-dimensional space of diets, representing the diets that fit that criteria while providing all of your RDAs. This would, eg. allow you to scientifically determine once and for all whether it would be possible to do a vegetarian Atkins diet. Who are you going to believe, some hack on a message board, or linear algebra?

We also talked about making Nethack trendier by adding an Atkins diet conduct. To keep this conduct you could eat all the animal corpses you wanted, but not vegetable-based foods, or potions of booze or fruit juice. Alternatively, there might be a vegetable timeout.

Also check out newCROP, which has an enormous list of food crops, as well as the disturbing list of Famine Foods.

Kevan Davis Presents Spam Noise Roundup:

Kill those junk emails xf gswk

Warning: Disable product before clicking "send".

join the many Americans enlarging their penises! iop iop qweew

With leaky bicycle pumps, by the sound of it.

[Comments] (1) : Remember the days of wacky flowcharts? No, I don't either. But they existed, and for a time the writers of wacky flowcharts were given high esteem. They mingled with the likes of the guy who did the "You Want It When?" and "If You Think People Never Come Back From The Dead, You Should See This Place Around Closing Time!" posters, and did fearsome battle with the "Hang In There!" kitten. Their deeds were recorded on... extremely linear flowcharts, I guess.

+-----------------------+   +---------------------------------------+
| Wrote wacky flowchart |-->| Incorporated suggestions into version |
+-----------------------+   | 2 of wacky flowchart                  | 
  +-----------------| Revealed 6 new flowcharts at company picnic |
  |                 +---------------------------------------------+
| Came up with trendy Cabbage Patch Dolls flowchart, big hit |
   +-----| Cabbage Patch Doll market collapse |
   |     +------------------------------------+             
   |   +---------+    +---------------------------------------------+
   +-->| Despair |--->| Slashed wrists with own flowchart templates |
       +---------+    +---------------------------------------------+
                                     | NO PROBLEM! |

As flowcharts became obsolete, a few of the surviving wacky flowchart writers managed to make the transition to wacky UML diagrams, but their audience ever shrinks and becomes more technical. Some of the old stuff is really good, though. For instance, today on Crooked Timber they posted a funny, multi-page Meta-Cosmology Theory Flowchart. That was actually the whole point of this entry, but it's sort of overshadowed by the graphic. HEY! LOOK OVER HERE! There, that should do it.

Even today, flowcharts are sometimes funny, but it's usually unintentional.

<M <Y
Y> M>


Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardson
under a Creative Commons License.