Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Quotes: Disgusting Country-Wide Frigid

I keep on seeing the phrase "gross national cool" used in reference to Japan.

It's a phrase coined by Douglas McGray in this article in Foreign Policy magazine.

Nippon Goro Goro was nice enough to post a transcript of a speech given by Douglas McGray from a month and a half ago that nicely elucidates McGray's opinion and how the article came about.

Interesting side notes:

McGray's page has a Google Page rank of 1. He's 9th on his own list in a Google search for his name, which seems par for the course for many print-only journalists (I can only think of names from major dailies of the nearest major metropolises, but for them it holds). He's 11th when I search using MSIE, though. Weird.

Check the "Want to know more?" link in the FP article for more reading about this view of nations and culture.

Paris Hilton is in D.C....

...and she demands pizza!

[ listening to MC 900 Foot Jesus, "New Year's Eve" - One Step Ahead of the Spider ]

Monday, December 29, 2003

The other bastards' posts were actually helpful

Hmm. Writer's block.

When I get a mental block, I usually start working on something else that needs to get done and just wend my way tangentially to what I want to get done. But that ties into Frank's idea. The important thing is to start. Even you just plan to through one away.

One of these days I am actually going to read The Mythical Man-Month.

[ Edit Dec. 30, 2003 - yeah, 2nd p. should read "Even if you just" ]


Is that his real name?

"Yes, son, your given name is a renown foreign synthesizer inventor's family name. We thought it sounded cool."

[ listening to Takako Minekawa, "1.666666" - Roomic Cube ]

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"Monkey Monasticism" Must Mosey

Really, I should change the title. We need some changes around here. I have found the secret to making New-Year's resolutions.

I put up Site Meter. I was dragging my feet because I keep telling myself that this blog is more for me than anything else, but I had to know. And now I am misleading poor people looking for Monkey information. Admittedly, I wouldn't have found MonkeyWatch otherwise, but I've mislead about seven people since this weekend. They were looking for monkey lamps and monkey quotes. Now admittedly, I have a thing or two to say about quotes, but not about monkeys. Other than this one post, I'm misleading these poor people! What's more, the title looked funny when Amritas linked to it. Resolved: find a new blog title.

Resolved: just use "H. Monkey" for my name. It's a foolish name, but not a foolish consistancy. I've been feeling more monkey-ish than monkish of late, anyway.

I went to visit family for Thanksgiving, and realised that when I'm not around family and family friends, I'm much more humorless. Resolved: this blog will house attempts to bring the funny, because I need to lighten up more.

I was reminded again that I feel to introspective in this blog. Frank's advice for writer's block is so focused on the descriptive. CommonBeauty blogs with an eye towards self-improvement, but with a non-first-person perspective. Resolved: this is a good a place as any, so here I will practice less solipsism. Writing about oneself is okay, but everyone has a dead bird story.

The secret is to resolve to do things you're already doing.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Chart, Rabbi

I knew a Rabbi who had this chart by Charles Joseph Minard in his house.

This was, as I recall, the same Rabbi who was a former engineer at RCA. I question the motives of a man who decided to follow in his dad's footsteps after having a career in an orthogonal field and living for at least six decades. He would even use his father's old speeches from the pulpit. The congregation did not renew his contract.

I still have a cassette somewhere of his father teaching an unnamed erstwhile 12-year-old the prayers for before and after reading from the bible on the sabbath and the repetition of the amidah for the shabbas musaf service. To the Rabbi's credit his, ah, girlfriend gave me Steve Reich's Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint as a bar-mitzvah present. For that I am ever grateful.

The chart linked above is one of the most stunningly informative one-page documents I have ever seen. The legend is hard to read from the site linked above. It charts Napoleon's march to Moscow. The width of the tan section is proportional to the number of troops going to Moscow. The black section is the troops coming back.

My Next Band's Name: Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Little Minds

I am much relieved. All this time I was forgetting "foolish":

Emerson does not explain the difference between foolish and wise consistency.

Indeed, he does not.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Is it too late to re-roll?

I noticed Ms. Jane had posted her stats in D&D 3rd edition-style. I couldn't resist.

Name: H. Monkey

Str: 13
Dex: 9
Con: 16
Int: 17
Wis: 7
Cha: 14

Race: Human, tribe Levi
Class: Multi. Was Level 2 Bard, now Level 2 Technomage
Skills: decipher script, disable device, perform (keyboard instruments), soldering, bluff (jargon only)
Feats: software intuition, network search, manual dexterity

I used this site as a reference, but now it's asking me to log in. Odd. And I'm in no rush to get a Microsoft Passport account. Anyway, at the Google cache for the page, it says

While Intelligence represents one's ability to analyze information, Wisdom is more related to being in tune with and aware of one's surroundings. An "absentminded professor" has low Wisdom and high Intelligence.

If you think I got it wrong, send me an email. Please, post your own...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Hello, Professor Falken. Would you like to play a game?

Frank's review of WarGames was good. Succinct and accurate, though I didn't find Sheedy's character not liking Broderick's unbelievable.

I always liked that Broderick's character hooked his phone up to the acoustic coupler. My dad had one of those at his work attached to a teletype machine. They used it to check customers' credit reports. Output was either dot-matrix or a rip-off version of an IBM's Selectrics' wheel on paper. No CRT, no LCD status display. LEDs for the connection status and caps lock, and that was about it.

After we had CompuServe at home for about a year or so, I realized I could use the TTY to connect to CS's text-only service. They had the text service up for years after most people had switched to the graphical client and Netscape 2. You'd just hit 'enter' to get the computer's attention instead of initiating the PPP connection, and log in from there. It worked from the TTY, but CompuServe insisted on using ANSI control characters to draw borders and color menu text, so it was fairly unusable.

Imagine if it had worked, though. Dad would have gotten a kick out of it if I could have made it print ASCII porn. Or weather maps.

No, he can't hear what's going on/in the outside world.

Amritas responds to something I wrote. This new-fangled interweb contraption is a marvel. For what it's worth, bogometer is defined here. While you're there, check out one of my favorites, quantum bogodynamics.

I sent the good professor an email last week, but it wasn't until today that I realized no one could contact me back. Well, this address is as good as any. As soon as I figure out where it should go, I'll put a permanent link on the page. I'm worried about clutter. Frankly, I think I did a pretty good job on the current for someone with next to no formal visual arts education and little patience for worrying about cross-browser compatibility.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I don't dispute the facts you outlined, but it's my right to waste your time

Ugh. This blogging nonsense is mildly addictive. I wasn't going to post, and yet here I am...

I was reading Amritas again. He posted his take on the "find a wife for Kucinich" contest web page. While I don't disagree with everything that Kucinich has to say, this contest is very silly. And yet I was dissappointed with AMR's reaction:

Judy [great photo!]: "In Jr. High during the McCarthy
era, I won the name of "Pinko" because I dared to defy
my eighth grade social studies teacher who called me a "communist"
for going to a Paul Robeson concert ..."
[Yay for Stalin!

The more revealing quote would have included where she considered Robeson a "mentor". I think Robeson's undying support for the Soviet Union was amoral and inexcusable, and I don't trust someone who admires him for it. Hooray for gulags indeed.

But just because she went to the concert when she was in High School and then disagreed with her teacher doesn't mean as much, I don't think. I was a very inquisitive 13-year-old, and I might have just gone to see what the hoo-haa was about. I wouldn't have been pro-communist, though, and I should have (though knowing me, I would have just been cowardly and backed down) stood up to a teacher who thought that merely going made me infected with a Pinko disease.

"... [M]y favorite movie is South Park! Ha!
(You sure can tell I was born in Canada.)
[And I sure can
tell you're oblivious to the Rightist currents in South Park.
Oh, and that movie wasn't exactly pro-Canada. -AMR]

Come now, professor. Doesn't making fun of Hawaii have more meaning for you since you live there? You've proven yourself a thinking, analytical man before but you honestly expect me to believe that you missed the point entirely and think the South Park Movie's creators meant their movie to be even the slightest bit anti-Canadian? Please don't make yourself look bad just so you can shoot more fish in this barrel.

For me, the comments of Anne ("I have been living just outside a rural 'New Age' healing community") and Shira ("I have high hopes for being first lady. I am the year of the dog and believe strongly in astrology: the stars say we're meant to be") stand out the most. Why does the American Left always attract these people with malfunctioning bogosity detectors? Is there no equivalent on the Right, or am I just not paying attention?

Slightly apropos: I heard a discussion about Presidential politics on the radio this morning. One of the panelist quoted Will Rogers, saying, "I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat." He then went on to call the party "the oldest established floating crap game". Heh.

Knit One Perl, Too

Here's my code that generates the list currently sitting on the right-hand side of this page, taking an export from SharpReader as something.opml:

open FILENM or die;
print "<ul>";
while(defined($line = <FILENM>))
$line =~ s@<outline type="rss" title="([^"]*)" description="([^"]*)" xmlUrl="([^"]*)" htmlUrl="([^"]*)" />@<li><a href=\"$4\" title=\"$2\">$1</a> - <a href=\"$3\" title=\"feed for $1\">feed</a></li>@ and print "${line}\n" and next;

$line =~ s@<outline title="([^"]*)">@<li>$1</li><ul>@ and print "${line}\n" and next;
$line =~ s@</outline>@</ul>@ and print "${line}\n" and next;

I know I should take advantage of $_ instead of using $line. I always forget the semantics, though.

We Were Always Coming Back

I've been really busy lately. I wont have time for more blogging for this week or the next I don't think.

I've been thinking about other quotes and stuff, and I realize that I should hold off on my urge to post until I've actually found the answer (or gotten really, really frustrated after hours of fruitless searching).

Also, I've been thinking of dumping Enetation as the comments thing. I'll still leave old comments up on old posts, but their system has been pretty slow of late. Enetation is great for the price I pay, but if I have to retry a few times to get the comments listing to actually load, it's just not going to cut it. Sure, I could donate some cash, but that wouldn't speed things up now, would it? (Er, actually, it looks like it would. I could spare ten quid...) And please, people, please note that my XML feed link has changed.

I was so sure "We came back. We were always coming back" was a quote from some movie or the like. I guess I was wrong. I wouldn't have guessed it was spoken by Damon Albarn, though.

Okay. That was more than I meant to post, and I really have stuff to get back to doing now, so one last thing before I go: this reviewer needs help. Deltron 3030 is a good album. But it's Revolver good? It's Brian Wilson on his best day good? But it must be because it still holds up even after weeks of listening! Amazing.

Friday, December 05, 2003

If I Start Now, Maybe Nobody Will Think Twice When I Go Bald

Also, Languagehat has inspired me to wear hats more. I have a nice Panama that I rarely use, and I wore last week. It went well with a pale linen shirt (ecru, maybe?) and olive pants. I felt almost sartorially resplendent, which I really haven't been for years if you don't include the same two holidays every year. I have to be careful, though. I was made fun of on Sunday before last for knowing which color mauve was. I didn't give in to that horrid nerdy childish desire to flaunt that I knew the word mauve was invented as the name for the first synthetic dye in the 19th century.

When I Go Forwards, You Go Backwards and Somewhere We Will Meet

More word-picking:

Every time I hear "going forward" used in the sense of "from here on out" or "as the situation progresses", it's just a little bit more rage in my day. I heard it twice in one sentence on the radio news a few weeks ago.

I've been trying to stifle my proscriptivist tendencies. I was conviced reading Language Hat's site when I found, just below a listing of dictionaries he owns, his counterarguments to David Foster Wallace's review of Garner's Modern American Usage. I realize proscriptivism serves little purpose and is probably very annoying to others. Still, I can't be the only one driven nuts by "going forward". It's far worse than "action items".

Now that I think of it, I've only heard Americans use the term. Is it unique to American English business slang?

Aside: I can't hide in my writing that I'm U.S.-ian, I realize. A recent hoopla about changing books for British vs. Amrican audiences taught me that we don't even spell unravelling like the folks on the sceptered isle do. Before looking, I thought the double-L was correct.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Lotteries Are Taxing

Another quote I have to bother a librarian about: "Lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math." Or perhaps, "...who flunked math."

William Safire again wrote the On Language column in the New York Times this Sunday. I've seen fewer columns of his in the NYT Magazine this year, and I miss his straightforward premise for all his articles. He takes sayings that have shown up in the news and parses them for meaning and etymology. His style is a bit witty without being too clever.

My curiousity about quotes was probably fueled by reading On Language. If only I had access to LexisNexis through work, too.

Anyway, back to the quote:

Some sites attribute the quote to Monique Lloyd. She's a mother who, not approving of the local public schools, has been involved in home-schooling for years. A web search of her name brings up quite a few home-school&emdash;related sites.

The site Basic Quotations has the quote attributed to one Roger Jones. But who's he? A retired information engineer who knows a thing or two about mathematically rigorous logic? An IT consultant in London? I've been looking, and I still don't know.

And again, Bartlett's and other quote books have been no help. Another thing to bother the librarians.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Don't Even Get Me Started on the Rauschpfeife

They had a new interview with They Might Be Giants on NPR's Fresh Air. They didn't give out the dial-a-song number like they did in the very excellent episode of This American Life that was about stories that only happened because of the telephone. I think TMBG no longer has anything at the other end of the line. They still do update Dialasong.com regularly.

Anyway, they mentioned the Sarrusophone. Check this out: Yahoo Groups: Sarrusophone exists. Despite colonization attempts, the internet is still a wild & wooly place.

Also searching on the net while listening to the interview, I found a movie from 1971 that TMBG probably stole their name from. Sarah Vowell says she wrote liner notes for their recent "best of" CD, and I found this directory on ibiblio of every album review on the public radio programs on WUNC for most of the 1990's.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Hereby Founded is the Organization to be Known as PSHAW

Since it's erev shabat, I want to mention I have a book that translates part of this mishnah from "Ethics of the Fathers" as "at seventy: a hoary head". The minshah describes stages and the progress of life in simple terms. I think the link above at torah.org does it justice. I couldn't find any links to websites I liked that translated השיבה (or השיבה if your browser isn't doing UTF-8) as "the hoary head", though.

PSHAW - a splinter proscriptivist group of the Militant Grammarians of Massachusets.

Buy on the Rumor, Sell on the News

I heard about this fake radar blip on the radio. I am certainly glad to hear that no one's life was in danger. But what struck me as exemplifying the bizarreness of the world we live in was that the U.S. stock and commodities markets, as well as the British and Brazilian markets, took a noticeable dip before returning to more or less their previous levels once the blip turned out to be nothing.

I wonder if the title quote to this post has an identifiable origin. The Motley Fool weighed in but they only comment on whether the adage is worth its salt and not where it came from. Searching Google shows that "fact" is a common substitution for "news" and often both instances of "on" are elided. Here is someone who agrees with the sentiment, but gets the original adage backwards.

Nothing in Bartlett's. This will mean a trip to pester my local librarian. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

One for 'Yes', Two for 'No'

I was visiting a cousin of mine a few weeks back. Beth and her hubby Bob have two kids now, and older than both kids combined is their dog, a black lab. (Should that be capitalized? It is, after all, short for "black Labrador Retriever". And they're really from Newfoundland not Labrador, apparently.)

It was a fun Sunday afternoon. Little Evan was a very cute and happy baby. He would smile a huge grin whenever someone paid him attention and smiled. He only cried when he got stuck while crawling around. Leah, I remember, cried a lot when she was that age.

Playing along with Leah with her toys was interesting though. She's three, IIRC, and I thought the border around what was allowed while playing "make-believe". For example, she had a little Fisher-Price plastic person that she had named after one of the Madeline characters. Leah said he was going to the park, and then walked him over to an end table that had a lamp on it. She said, "He's in a swing," and moved him back and forth under one of the lamp's overhanging fiddly bits. "It's an imaginary swing." See, she was very careful to keep the imaginary world whole: the little people made side-to-side movements as if they were walking even though she was carrying them through mid-air in her hands; she never stopped to clarify that the lamp was the park's jungle gym and swingset. But she's willing to break with the separation to explain to the audience what she thinks might be a non-obvious representation.

Later, she wanted me to play with stuffed animals with her. I think the parents were grateful - Mom Beth I think changed brother Evan's diaper and Dad Bob lied down reading something on the couch. I think Beth said that it was almost time for bed and Leah would have to put away her toys soon. So the little people and animals were at another imaginary playground, and I had one of the stuffed creatures look up at out the bedroom window and comment that it was getting dark and they had to go back. That wasn't allowed; Leah explained to me that it was day in the pretend world.


At a few points in the day Leah would say, in preparing to answer a question "If I do this it means yes. If I do this it means no." and she'd hit the palm and the backside of her hand. Or turn one eight to the left and back then turn to the right and back. Beth said she had been doing that a lot lately, though they weren't clear as to why. I said, "Well, she's understanding the inherent arbitrariness of human language. She's figuring out it's a representational medium, and she's free to assign other representations so long as all parties to the communication understand the representation beforehand." Beth and Bob thought that was funny.


I think I think about this stuff too much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Feed Me!

Still working out the rss/xml feed issues.

I'm still trying to hold out hope for my feed at blogstreet.com, which I like because it displays a summary in my SharpReader window instead of just trying to take me directly to the site. My on-the-fly feed from thelocust.org is more reliable though. The Blogstreet server looks to be down at the moment. The locust keeps on going.

I was also thinking of changing comment systems, but I wouldn't want to if I couldn't export my current stuff and reimport it. It's more or less impossible with Blogger to keep the old comments on the old posts and whatnot - I could do it if I edited each post by hand.

I do want to post a list of feeds I have subscribed to in my aggregator. I can't even remember how I found some of them (like the Homestar Runner feed).

As Seen on Kuro5hin

Ah, I am now returning to form. After bugging a few friends verbally with inane stories, I reminded myself my goal for this blog in the first place: get all my stories and relatively pointless tidbits out in the open so I don't feel the need to harangue my friends about them. And with that in mind, I thought this was funny:

And the contents of those posts are even more amusing.

Monday, November 17, 2003


After I saw Cat & Girl weighing in on hipsters, I find someone's blog entry about a hipster quiz. I am happy not to qualify, though I am dangerously close at 60%. Even though Sarah Vowell rules, I am apparently disqualified because "All Hipsters love Noam Chomsky," and I have no desire for a scooter. Also my facial hair is disqualified because it's not a fashion statement so much as a manifestation of my laziness.

Also the hoodie square needs to be changed on Hipster Bingo, since I just saw the same commercial five times in one hour yesterday for Old Navy hoodies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

If It's in the Comics, It Must Be True!

Is Matt at Mac Hall gunning for A. O. Scott's job?

I caught a matinee of Matrix Revolutions the other day. Personally, I think it's a cinematic landmark, as this film is the first time someone has managed to construct a narrative entirely out of plot holes.

sam at explodingdog warns us of overintelligent insects!! (I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.)

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Roland stuns us with universal truth, the mathematical equation for funny itself!!!

The sum from N to infinity of N of chicken equals Z prime of chicken.

I'm listening to the "Yanqui U.X.O." album from Godspeed
You Black Emperor!
, but I'm only mentioning that so I can cram more exclamation points into this post.
!! !!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Dude, way to skijor

I was looking into buying skis as a gift and stumbled upon some interesting sites.

First, if you want to find trails, Trailsouce was recommended by Google. Or maybe I found it through About.com. Anyway, you can find a list of cross-country trails in New York, say, and they also have international listings, like for Argentina (also for hiking, which I may have to check out).

Then there was the International Gay & Lesbian Snowsports Association. I don't understand the reasoning. I wouldn't be interested in an "International Heterosexual Snowsports Association", even after switching 'Snowsport' with an activity I actually participate in. (To be fair, a truer equivalent might be a "Singles Skiing Club" or somesuch.)

On a straighter note, I found Skijoring. There's something that strikes me as nifty about the idea of sled-dogging without the sled (you're on skis). While two-dog team is evidently the standard for racing, I like the "just a man and his dog" mentality.

Cover Me

I want to be in a band. We'll do covers. Yes, .Pete, like Me First and the Gimmie Gimmmies, but instead of doing everything punk, we'll just do the most incongruous genre for the song possible. We'll have to be careful, though: I hear all the truly hip people are on strike.

Sunday I was thinking about a joke that someone attributed to George Burns, I think, about the cigar he was smoking. Something like "It's a Lawrence Welk.[...] It's a piece of crap with a band around it." And so naturally that led to me thinking about Mairzy Doats. And the next thing I know, I'm planning out a death metal cover of the song. There's a bit of trickiness with the "kiddley divey" part not fitting right rhythmically with normal death metal, but I think I've got that figured out. I'm a keyboardist type and know next to nothing about playing electric guitar, so I'm not entirely sure of the chords, but if I had the right guitar I'm pretty sure I could work it out.

I heard the Alien Ant Farm cover of Smooth Criminal later in the day. When I first heard that one, I thought they should go all the way with that one and do it totally death metal or totally punk. Sure, they wouldn't have been one-hit wonders, but I'm the kind of guy who would willing give up fame for skillful, finely-crafted contrariness (maybe not money, but the fame can definitely go). Now I realize that they had no hope - they needed better source material.

And then, as I was heading home for the evening, I heard three modern tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the last one, possibly La Cumparsita, sounded amazingly like a hybrid cover of the Mission:Impossible theme and the James Bond Theme played by two people on classical guitars. I think the lady said it was two; it sounded like four.

Afterward: I had no idea before looking it up right now that the M:I theme was written by Lalo Schifrin, who also did the score for Enter the Dragon. I probably recognize his name from hearing someone talk one of the songs on this list.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I May be Absent Minded

But at least I've never done this. I mean, when I lock my self out I always have a recourse. It's been, what, two months now? I can imagine one of those signs:

Days since last lock-out:  45

Together I can do it!

Monday, November 03, 2003

Down to Monkey Business

I was linked to at Monkey Watch, which made me feel I should do something to justify my monkey nickname. (Like all good nicknames, it was given to me by someone else as a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing.)

And then I heard Earth & Sky on the radio today. You can find here a transcript as well as a link to a realaudio stream. Earth & Sky's segments are very short (two minutes, perhaps), but are always interesting tidbits.

About the monkeys: for years, Sally Boysen has been trying to get chimps to count and understand English for years. From the Earth and Sky transcript (w/added punctuation):

I heard the chimps vocalizing [as] someone was giving them dinner. And I said out loud, for some reason, "Oh, they must be having grapes," followed by a reply to myself, "Oh, now how did I know that? "

After all this time of teaching chimps our langauges, she realized we can learn theirs and went proved they can recognize their own, too.

Being a scientist is cool.

Friday, October 31, 2003

I Wish Someone Had Warned Me I'm Becoming an Otaku Before I Had Already Typed Most of This Post

I figured some more info about the Bohbobo game.

Instead of a role-play game, it's a "word-play game" (groan). And I'd just like to clarify that I took that pun from this press release - they actually use the English term (or Engrish as the case may be). As any one who has watched shounen anime with lots of fighting, like the inexplicably popular Dragon Ball Z, or even seen Street Fighter or similar video games, you have to announce your moves when you do them. The bigger and more powerful the move, the more impressive your announcing has to be. So for the Bohbobo game, what you have to do is string the phrases for announcing your move together. It's got this system that looks like the wheel on Price is Right. You try to pick the words or phrases you want as the wheel goes 'round, and if you string them together just right you can announce a super move, and then do it. I saw some screenshots, and the only words I could pick out were "my" (私の) and "mayonnaise" (マヨネーズ). I'm not sure how you'd use mayonnaise to beat someone up, but I'm guess if you're writing for a game with "Nose Hairs" in the title, you're expected to get pretty creative.

I'd post the screen shots, but I'm using the "my network connection was interrupted twice today and it must have been solar flares" excuse to avoid going through my browser history to find where it was that I found them.

And about slighting Dragon Ball Z: I watched quite a bit of the show on Cartoon Network. I don't know why. I don't remember it being that good, but I still sat there and watched. Or probably for most of the episodes I listened to it and half-watched while typing away at the computer. It's easy to watch; watching DBZ demands very little of you. Unlike, say, the much superior FLCL.

I feel a little better about my anime interest knowing that's what got this guy down his linguistic path. So long as I can rationalize it, I'm happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

She's a Man, Baby?

They say you can programmatically tell if someone is male or female by analyzing the way they type. I remember reading the original article in the New York Times - I think that was the last time I actual bought the Times, barring maybe one Sunday in September.

So I turned to a professional writer I know and some of her coworkers and submitted a few articles. They all came up male, even for articles written by people I have met and know to be female. One or two of the articles written by women were close, but most had the same approximate 1:2 ratio in favor of masculine that their male colleagues and I exhibit.

I posit that any above-average writer striving for a certain tone will, even without intention do so, fool the algorithm every time.

Tales from the Hermetic Theater

BTW, about that John Zorn CD, I did think it had some interesting bits. Most of the tracks are unlistenable, and this from a guy who willingly picks out minimalism's greatest hits to listen to from time to time, but the longest track was pretty good and made up for it. It was almost like a game of guess-the-object: "What household item is he using to make an awful din with now?" It might strike others as awful dull, but I look at it as changing perspectives on what qualifies as interesting sound. And it's not like that track didn't have nice violins bits, too.

Aside: I find it interesting that on the AMG page linked above, the mention Joseph Beuys as an influence. I've been reading Cat and Girl, who reference Beuys. I want the shirt that says "Don't look at me. I voted for Zombie Joseph Beuys."

And speaking about having CD's in my hot little hands, I saw a recording of the Hot Hot Heat playing their hit, Bandages, on TV. They were very energetic and getting into the song, which is good. But it wasn't as tight as what's on the album, not by a long shot. They were missing the sense of balance that good bands have. All the energy in the world doesn't do you a bit of good if it isn't focused and doesn't come out in your playing and you drown out the drummer. The album is really well produced, though.

In Case You Were Wondering:

Is it me, or do I resemble this picture of Anil Dash Anil Dash? Except I'm much more ruggedly handsome and I have a chin.
(thanks to Mr. Ito).

posted at 01:39 | add a note

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I'm Not Bigoted, But,

Those damn Low-Carb diet people. They control all the banks, you know.

From the Brilliant Mind Behind...

...Monkey versus robot: American Elf. It's good. I was reading it before I even knew they were the same guy. I found out the connection thanks to the nifty people at this store. (You can also buy Monkey vs. Robot from Amazon if you want to, but these guys are much more ...interesting.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Musically Gifted

I was listening to the David Bowie album I got for my birthday.

Basically, Mom asked me what I wanted and then got it for me. I feel a bit cheap or greedy doing it that way, but it is better, I guess, than the time she got me a John Zorn CD, but not the one I wanted. I do like that Mom's sending me a book that I mentioned offhand and she recommended since this way it's partly her idea. But her sending me Deltron 3030 feels impersonal. I don't want to sound ungrateful -- I am really happy to have the music and even happier to have a Mom that cares enough to want to send things I like -- but when she told me a few days ago that the CD hadn't come in but was on its way, she wanted to make sure she was getting the right thing because it was rap. See?

I'm at the other end of the spectrum, which some people may think is just as bad. I don't want to give a gift at all unless some thought went into it.

So back to the Bowie album:

I would have never wanted the CD if I hadn't heard some of it online. I also heard a bits on Studio 360 or somesuch, where they mentioned that some songs were in part a reaction to Sept 11, 2001. With that context in mind, I can look back at some of the lyrics and reinterpret - Uncle Floyd is floating off over Coney Island, "Everything has changed./Nothing has changed" (from track #1), and the words to someone who has passed on, "Don't stay in the bad place/where they don't know who you are," from the track Everyone Says Hi. The two songs I like the most off the CD are Everyone Says Hi and Cactus. It wasn't until I had the CD in my hot little hands that I saw that Cactus wasn't written by Bowie. And when I looked up the name, I found it was a Pixies song.

I always liked having a music snob friend or two, but I've noticed these days that I'm my friends' music snob friend. Now, I should clarify that by saying over half my friends would effortlessly outscore me on any 80's pop music trivia quiz, and in that genre I hold no hope of ever beating this man. What I'm thinking of is some sort of sliding scale, where Matt Pinfield is 100 and HJ is 5 (if they don't play it on the oldies station, he doesn't know it) and I'm 30 or so, and desired snob friend would only have to be 45 or better. That way, I have someone whom I can say to, "I really like that Cactus song off of Bowie's release before his latest," cause we'd be talking about music regularly anyway, and music friend would say "Cactus? Like the Pixies song?" And then, after realizing it's the same song and lamenting my sad lack of knowledge and alt-rock cred, direct me towards buying the Pixies album in the first place and saving me from the runaround that led now, wanting to buy it anyway. Though with Pixies in hand, I still would have wanted the Bowie CD, too.

I thought Cactus was Bowie's. I could kinda imagine his wife Iman going into some African desert as a good-will ambassador to the country she was born in, and Bowie just getting lonely something awful for some memento of her. In retrospect, the song is quite obsessive and I do have a hard time imagining a mellower, older Bowie being that obsessive over a brief separation from his lover, but if it's one thing I've learned, you never know. Anyway, I can identify with wanting a personal memento of someone you love to assure you if they can't be there with you, and I like the way the feeling's released in the song. It's about a desire for something personal, something inimitable and real. So what if it's a bit....peculiar creepy:

and a letter in your writing doesn't mean you're not dead
run outside in the desert heat
make your dress all wet and send it to me

In summation: giving good gift is easier said than done and music snob friend equals same net result with faster turnaround time. And my sincerest apologies to any of my friends if they knew of the Pixies song and I was just too dumb not to think to bring it up in conversation with them.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Post Wherein I Steal a Phrase from the Book "Infinite Jest"

I was thinking along these lines before I read Frank's reply to my "vanity" post, but this is, in part, a response to that comment.

I have been trying to stay motivated about exercise and other good habits. Z has, quite a few times, suggested list-making, small goals, breaking tasks down into smaller tasks, etc. But then, Ms. N says, "You need to run. Go running tomorrow." "Go three days a week," she says. And I did.

Ms. N is more endocrinologically compelling than Dr. Z.

How I Get Distracted Easily:

Before I start, if anyone who actually cares finds that the foreign language stuff is garble, please post a comment letting me know. Also, the next paragraph is cool because it makes it look like, to someone who doesn't know much either, that I actually know what I'm talking about.

I was reading the comments on today's Megatokyo, and Dom mentions a bet where if he wins, he forces someone to watch Boboboobo Boobobo. Dom's spelling is a bit misleading, though. It's spelled ボーボボ, and I was thinking was thinking Boubobo would be closer to how it's actually pronounced. So I went searching for anything in English language stuff about the wackiness that is ボボボーボ * ボーボボ. I did find info on the GBA game, where fans are spelling it Bohbobo. And then I searched for the title "Bobobohbo Bohbobo Ougi 87.5 Bakuretsu Hanage Shinken" in Japanese, which I guessed would come out to おうぎ87.5  ばくれつ はなげ しんけん (I left out the 87.5 bit since I don't know how to say it ... hachiju shichi something?), and found a press release for the game here. Which is interesting, because they call the game 奥義87.5 爆烈鼻毛真拳, and say it's pronounced "Ougi Hanaguu Bakuretsu Hanage Shinken" (おうぎハナゲー ばくれつはなげしんけん). So I checked it against the Japanese dictionary software I like to use. I have no idea how they get "hanaguu" from 87.5. Ougi is "secrets, mysteries". The dictionary tripped on the kanji, but picked up on bakuretsu spelled phonetically as "explosion". Hanage is "nostril hairs". Shinken, based on the kanji they're using, means "true fist" (or "pure" or "just"), though it looks like an intentional reference to 神剣, "divine sword".

So, let's translate the title as "Bobobohbo Bohbobo [the protagonist's name]: Mysteries of the True Fist of the 87.5 Exploding Nostril Hairs". Well, Dom did say it was a punishment.

And in case you still care, a guy writes here in his blog:

The Impossibility of Reason is now Bohbobo-ified for your protection. Bobobohbo Bohbobo is a Weekly Jump manga series that parodies Fist of the North Star and other such martial arts manga.

Emphasis his. And no, he doesn't mean making fun of this Fist of the North Star, which was fairly horrible, but this one which, imho, was better but still not good.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Vanity and Introspection

Does my last post sound vain to you?

Does my being worried about my last post being vain sound vain to you? Well, this blog is a vanity site after all.

"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,' thus saith Kohelet"

As an aside: Well, you learn something new each day: Ecclesiastes was an attempt to translate the name Kohelet into Latin. Though I've known for a few years now that Ecclesiastes and Kohelet are the same thing, for years I thought Ecclesiastes was some New Testament book. For those of you who's browsers didn't choke on my birthday message to my sister, Kohelet is קהלת. If displayed right, the character with the descending mark should be all the way on the right. If it's on the left, you browser doesn't automatically switch directions.

It's weird mixing English and Hebrew on this computer. The computer does the Right Thing, it's just hard to get used to. The arrow keys still move left and right, but because Hebrew is read right-to-left, the backspace and delete keys change directions. It's a little disorienting.

Well that was two asides. Now back to the post.

But I've been worried about my behavior. I've let a friendship fall by the wayside. HJ asked me to go to a party last December. There would be nice girls there, he said. I said yes. I then panicked the day of and didn't go. Why did I panic? Vanity. I was irrationally worried about how I'd look at the semi-formal party that it was supposed to be. Since then, I've sent a couple emails to HJ. He asked me why I didn't go in his last message. I've never responded. Even with other friends I'm late frequently, or flake out and not show, though that's rare. And to my credit, most of the times don't show aren't because I panic, but I screwed up and locked my self out or overslept or what have you. But whatever the cause, the result is the same, and I'm not happy with that.

A cousin of mine called yesterday to remind me I was to meet her and her nuclear family (husband, wife, and 2.45 kids if you count the dog has a half-child). "I don't want you to think I'm insinuating that you're absent-minded," she said (I may be inadvertently paraphrasing). "That's okay. I am absent-minded."

Z says I should try some new drug. I have mixed feelings about it, but am frankly ready to concede. I'm willing to try if it'll mean improvement, though I'm a bit disheartened at the prospect of being tied to some drug for the rest of my functional existence.

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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Soon With Feed, Also I've Got Rhythm

Well, hopefully the feed from the nice folks over at BlogMatrix will be up and running soon. They said it may take 24-36 hrs. As I've said before, I sure wouldn't read this blog feedless if it wasn't mine. So as you know, I got the idea from seeing it on this blog.

Next, about the dream post. Since it came up in conversation with .P yesterday, he story about me at camp with the out of tune piano is true. It happened, and how I wrote it in the post is as accurately as I can remember it. People would remind me about it years after the fact, up to and including my last year at that camp, 7 years after the original incident. In the dream, I dreamt that I decided to include the story in my essay/test-thingy.

I did elaborate about the time signatures a bit, but they were in the dream because it was a music class exam after all, and dream-me felt I had to demonstrate some knowledge of music theory. But I was listening to "Unsquare Dance" for the first time (while not dreaming) a few weeks before, and was trying to count it and kept coming up with 3.5 over 4. Which made no sense to me until I realized that was the same as 7/8. 7/8 time seems sadly more mundane than three-and-a-half. I'm also less impressed in retrospect about a NYT article from about a year ago about a jazz pianist doing rhythmic left-hand stuff based on Indian rhagas or prayer chants or some such that are in four and a half. When you make that 9, it's much less impressive, but if I recall he was playing 4.5 in one hand and 6 in the other or some such, which is just mind numbing.

A test at home to illustrate the above: with one hand, start tapping in fours. Say "one, two, three, four" again and again as you tap, and the taps should be even - have the exact same interval between them. With the other hand, tap the same way but in threes. When that 'other' hand returns to one (on it's fourth tap), the first hand should be on it's one (fifth tap). They tape at different rates, and both go back to one at the same time. I can do 2 vs. 3 easily. I can pull off an imperfect but convincing 4 vs. 3. That's my limit.

Friday, October 10, 2003

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Ah, but what dreams may come.

I dreamt this morning that I was murdered, hit fatally to the back of the head with the broad side of a rifle butt. I didn't die. Or maybe I was 'undead'. The detective investigating the case roused me, and he had spoken with his cases' dead victims before. But unlike the others, I was hungry. I ate. Astonished at my abnormality, he had some friends make food for me. I never saw anyone, though, and he was always evasive to others as to what was really going on.

I was taking a music class at the time. In fact, I might have been driving back from the school in my father's car - a red convertible which he used to own and no longer has. The term was almost over, and after all that work, I didn't want to miss the final exam, even if I was a murder victim.

Everyone was already in place for the exam when I arrived. There was only the normal classroom space with the chairs and desks moved aside. The judges who were grading had their own seating at the side of the room in what looked like a jury box, though it was really chairs set up on a small set of bleachers on wheels that the choir sometimes used. The class smelled like I remember my hometown University's music labs did, a sort of sterile smell of synthetic particle board that everyone posted notes on, the staleness of hard floors that hundreds of students march over them since yesterdays daily mopping, and the plastic odor of the the walls, carpeted in some sound-absorbing fabric that had almost no pile to it. The students were all in place, most on a stage area with instruments in hand. I took a seat with those instrument-less, not far from the rooms baby grand piano. The students with instruments were actors from Saved by the Bell, and were assembled like a rock band. Screech and the others began to play.

They played some jazz standards. I think they couldn't have played like the rock band they looked like if their lives depended on it, but the jazz was decent. For the third song, I was to join them on the piano. I had no idea what I was doing. I lost track of the chord changes, moved unsurely, and muddled through. Which pretty much matches my real-life ability. I only know how to play what was written in front of me that I've practiced to death. I sat down as this other actress joined them, singing in some stereotypical blues torch singer woman's voice.

Then came the written portion of the exam. The teacher walked over to me. "Because of your recent accident," she said, "it's okay if you need to leave early. We'll keep a close watch on you, and once you've done enough to pass the exam, we'll let you know so you can leave."

I nodded, took a seat at a desk, started reading over the two writing assignments. I forget now what the second one was. The first was, "Write the final or next-to last chapter of your musical story. Model it after the example." The example was from a short story-length biography we had read in class. I worked hard, writing and revising. I had it pretty much planned out in my head by the time I was halfway done. My dream shifted so I was dreaming the story:

Chapter the Last

Alone in my parent's house, I walked back from the piano towards the room that had been by bedroom growing up, I saw Joan of Arc in the hallway. She wasn't completely solidified, but the music accompanying her was real. Church organ music, almost pre-baroque, with plenty of harmony in fifths and fourths and none in parallel motion. My father came home and tried to pull his green convertable into the garage. The music stopped. Dad stopped, blocked by my car in front of his usual spot.

Music stared up again from the outside. This time the music was more chromatic and shifted time signatures. I had trouble counting, first in 5/4 then changing to ... three and a half? No, in seven. And then there were many. I heard a gamelan of polyphony. I walked towards the old, broken stone fountain that hadn't worked since before my family moved in, and the music pulsed in and out with heartbeats and leaves rustling. It harmonized with a passing car as some divergent threads played with the sound of the insects hiding in the muddy ditch.

* * * * * *

I remember being at camp when I was seven or eight years-old or so. It was an all-boys overnight camp. The counselors organized few cabins, about hundred guys or so, most of them a year or two older me, for a talent show. I signed up to play, too young to realize that even the best piece I knew, something of Old Bach's from Anna Magdelina's notebook, probably wouldn't mean much to my audience. I sat down at the piano, and after the first few notes I realized it probably hadn't been tuned in years. So I stopped playing and turned to the counselor managing the talent show.

"The piano's out of tune."

He was baffled. He didn't know what to do about it. Kids laughed. I wasn't about to play on a piano that out of tune, though. It would sound horrible. Maybe he didn't realize the import the first time around.

"The piano's out of tune."

Honestly, I forget how it ended. I guess I just gave up and sat back down with everyone else. And there are people in this world who remember me only because I was some kid who went up and did a very funny comedy bit complaining about the piano. I've never disabused anyone of that notion, and even in my last year going to that camp, seven years later, some older kid came up to me. "Hey. I remember you! You're that 'the piano's out of tune' guy," he said, and he imitated for his friend's benefit the seven-year-old me's whine once or twice, and then laughed. "That was funny."

* * * * * *

The music stopped. My car wasn't there, and Dad's car pulled into the garage.

In the dream, when I realized the story had to end with those last two pargraphs, I teared up. I knew as soon as I finished putting those words to paper, I'd finally die like I was supposed to have two days before. I felt comforted to know. I put my pen to paper.....

....and then I woke up.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Lets try that again.

Needs to be bigger.

!יום הולדת שמח

Much better.

In case you're wondering, it just means "happy birthday." And this page is Google's number one page for the phrase. It's just some clipart, but it strikes me as a very odd.

Needs to be bigger.

!יום הולדת שמח

Much better.

In case you're wondering, it just means "happy birthday." And this page is Google's number one page for the phrase. It's just some clipart, but it strikes me as a very odd.

For My Sister

!יום הולדת שמח

Friday, October 03, 2003

This Man...

...has clearly not thought things through [via Dave Barry's Blog].

Hillel said "more wives, more witchcraft."

If You Press F7 in Outlook

As a comment on the past post, I'm surprised that Blogger's spell-checker doesn't have the word "blog" in it. I know Microsoft added all the names for their products in their spell checkers.

Video Killed the Early-Bird's Start

I know a doctor, let's call him Z. Z has a practice with my father's roommate from college. Z works very close to where I am. Z is a shrink.

I was talking to Z a few months ago about my near-addictive response to certain types of video games. A few weeks ago, Z told me that he had talked to his patients about it -- done an informal survey. Apparently over-use of video games is quite widely reported by his patients suffering from depression. What surprised him the most was that men and women seemed equally as likely to feel they played video games too much (spent too much time, interfered with the rest of their lives), with the only gender difference being that women were more embarrassed.

I feel terribly guilty about what I do with gaming. There's nothing wrong about the way I sit down and play networked team games with friends, I don't think. My weakness has been the more solitary game playing, even to the point were I would sometimes prefer to sit staring at whatever game is currently pulling at me instead of playing games with friends. Though perhaps that's because my friends don't usually play my preferred type of game, the turn-based thinking-type games. (FWIW, I like Scrabble, though not Monopoly.) I have a friend who's had to deal with similar issues. I know he stayed up very late many nights playing The Sims making him late in the morning.

But the real reason I bring all this up is because I still want to talk about gaming in my blog. As much as I may play for escapist reasons, it's not like I just turn off my brain while I'm playing. There are ideas floating around in my head and the main reason for this blog is, after all, so I can get all these ideas I feel an urge to communicate out into the world -- cogitated over and expounded upon -- so that I exhaust the urge and don't bore my friends. But I'd still feel bad about spending all this time talking about game playing, about theory and praxis if you will, if I didn't write this entry. Now I can say, "Look, I feel really bad about this time I spent staring at pointless pixels. I could have been honing my skills or taking out the trash or even reading a book I just bought. But look, while I was doing it, I had this idea."

See, by admitting that the habit is dangerous, I feel freed to let the inspired thoughts be blameless.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Measure Twice, Cut Once

I had a whole nice post written out but lost it.

I was working on my machine at home and had it booted into Linux, with the thought being that working in VI or Emacs without a GUI would be less distracting, and it was. I found a floppy and formatted it msdos-style, saved the file, took out the floppy, and shut down the system. Oops. I didn't unmount the floppy, so there was no guarantee that the buffers were flushed, and I lost all my data. Still, I'm a little miffed, because the machine wasn't doing much else at the time other than running the normal text console logins. It's not connected to a network right now. I didn't even have X running. It certainly was idle enough to flush a buffer to the floppy or something, I would have thought. If I was thinking it through, I would have saved it to the hard disk, too.

I even had some rough drafts for future posts. But since I've at least written them once, it shouldn't be too hard to recreate.

And as a bonus, I revamped my layout. I'm still not happy with the color scheme I stole from someone else's template. I also failed at what I was trying to do with the archive panel, but I stumbled upon something I like much better. I almost completely forgot the blogger button, though. Lemme just fix that before anyone notices...

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Until now I really liked the idea of there being entries amazingly linked. But I see that it's confusing to have such a proliferation. More importantly, it takes time to do it right, and I'd be better off spend time writing quality posts.

I'm also working on a better template, comments, and an RSS feed. I know I wouldn't read this blog without an RSS feed.

And in re HELP, is it sad that I would love to get this as a present?


My attention is being held hostage by Internet linguists.

I was rescued only to be dragged back in.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Today's braindumps:

I'm lovin' the tabs in mozilla firebird. I'm lovin' that you can bookmark all the tabs in one folder and view everything in a folder in different tabs.

I've been just bookmarking whatever I have open when I'm done messing around at the end of the day.

Today: Webcomics weebls Titanium Moose.
..and Unshelved, about libraries. And a Dewey Decimal guide suggested by the Ref Grunt (he is our hero!) and some other blogging librarian. But maybe it's best just to know how to ask questions. The previous link is not a helpdesk. Do not ask them questions. Thank you.

But what does my hero librarian say? He says "Which dialog?"; he says "handel scores!". He captures castles. He awards youth. He peer-reviews the effect of on-line databases to his profession, maybe? He helps us define what truely makes something art (maybe he should let these people know). Maybe today he helped someone appreciate the poetry of those not soneurotypical as we.

Also, I linked to this. I think it's a tax-exempt non-profit, but don't know what they actually do.

Well, enough mindless link propagation for today. Good Shabbas, all.

Friday, August 29, 2003

The Physics of Burning Your House Down

I thought about it for a while, and I figured out why you're not supposed to throw water on a grease fire. It's because the boiling water actually makes things hotter, since water boils at a higher temperature than the grease boils. And I didn't have to damage anything to figure it out!

Well, the oil burned, but I can always buy more oil. And a plastic cup melted a bit near the lip from the heat. And I broke a plate, but it was a cheap plate, anyway. The cushion I used to smother the fire is just fine, though; there's only an oil stain, and that'll come out in the wash.

Look, it's not like I meant to start the grease fire.