Saturday, May 17, 2003


Warning! There may be spoilers here. I am going to write this on the assumption that anyone reading has either seen The Matrix Reloaded or doesn't care if they learn anything or are influenced ahead of time.

Well, I went for my second viewing of The Matrix Reloaded today, this time with two different friends, one of whom had amazingly not watched the first one yet. She'd seen bits of it at different times, but not most of it. Having borrowed the video beforehand and then neglected to watch it, she was eager to rush home and see it.

They were actually more engaging to discuss the film with afterward than the other bunch, partly because they both were into that kind of discussion, and partly because there were only three of us. That helped me see more of the possibilities, above and beyond what a second viewing might have added by itself.

The question is no longer "what is the Matrix" so much as it's "what IS going on exactly."

My thought after the first viewing is that the Matrix is a simulation that is in turn contained within a simulation. That is, the "real world" is itself a simulation. There are two other possibilities, which I will list after discussing what made me think the multilayered virtual environments scenario. As I mentioned, shades of The Thirteenth Floor, and shades of eXistenZ. In the former they can plug into a simulation of the twenties, in which the people feel entirely real, and antics ensue. But ultimately the "current day" environment that managed to get so sophisticated it was able to create such a simulation is itself a virtual world. In the latter, the game is so sophisticated it puts you in a virtual world, but the game you are playing is part of the gameplay of another game in which you're immersed.

The kicker is at the end when Neo has "powers" in the real world, where he is able to stop sentinels much the way he'd stop bullets in the Matrix. Granted, it's a little different, as if he generates an EMP, but same result. That smacks of something weird going on, of which a logical possibility is the real world is also virtual.

Other hints could include the gift of a spoon in the real world, as if it's meant as a reminder there is no spoon, even here. Why would it be needed as a reminder about The Matrix? Neo already knows he can do anything there. Indeed, one oddity might be that he doesn't do pretty much anything at will there; there's still some constraint either by or on him.

Then there's the Architect. Within the Matrix he architected. As an avatar? As a master program with, as all of the ones we need care about, representation in human form? I think I overreated to this initially, and his presence is not so illogical, but I still wonder.

Something new is why would Smith be able to "infect" a "person" external to the Matrix and gain influence or raise havoc in the real world? What form does that take in a meat person once disconnected? Like a brainwashing? Is it really possible if both aren't virtual environments?

In any event, that's a possible direction for the films to be taking. Which is no less intriguing, because then we have to wonder what is the real real world like? Is it AI or human controlled? If there are two levels of virtuality, what's the point of it?

Another possibility is that Neo is a real "messiah" and this time The One is more than the Matrix world bargained for. Thus the powers in the real world, as well as the strong ability in the Matrix itself. Shoot, that just made me think of another possibility why we should think it's multi-layered virtual worlds! The bringing back Trinity to life in one affecting the other. (For that matter, Neo, in the first one.) But that could be an argument for supernatural powers too. And that's another thing! The Architect refers to Neo, the One, as an anomaly in code. But ultimately everyone plugged into the Matrix is based on a human mind, not code. So that makes no sense. But I digress.

Anyway, I figure true messiah-ness is one possible direction things could take. Heck, if the spoon hinted that the real world isn't, perhaps the scenes where he is being essentially worshipped are a sign it could go that way. But I doubt it. What do you think?

Another possibility is that somehow whatever weirdness affects Neo in the real world is a result of crosslinked code with Smith, assuming "code" and the flesh and blood brain can affect each other in a real way with no virtual world equivalence required. In that case, Neo, being part Agent now, was able to make the sentinels overload and stop. This same thing in the opposite direction might explain Smith's ease in infecting a human mind back in the real world.

It would also explain why both Neo and the infected dude are in a coma-like state at the end. Which would mean that the ending isn't so arbitrary, abrupt, or odd after all. Which it seemed less so anyway, the second time around.

One of my friends questioned why Neo couldn't simply have killed the Architect (or the avatar as the case may be) on the spot and changed the whole scenario, as opposed to following an either-or choice.

It's significant that there's so much talk of choices, and talk of following the rules. For instance, Smith knew he was supposed to "die" and he chose not to, on the influence of Neo's not staying dead.

I also found myself wondering if there's a deeper symbiotic relationship between men and machines, as that was emphasized along the way. What if the ruined world was not ruined by a war with machines, but that's a cover story. Perhaps the world was ruined and the sky blacked another way, and the way for humans to stay "alive" was to retreat into a virtual world in the care of machines.

The beauty of the Matrix is that 2/3 through the films there are many possible outcomes - assuming there is a penultimate conclusion as such - and potential surprises in store. It could follow a simple line in which the Matrix is what it has been said to be, and the same for the real world. Somehow through cross infection or the supernatural Neo is powerful both places. There's a final battle with the machines and within the Matrix for control. But even so, I think a form of the Matrix would continue for some time as people can't all be released rapidly with no real world infrastructure to go into adequate for so many. We could find out they're all in a computer in the real, real world. It's amazingly cool to contemplate.

I've probably forgotten half what I could have said, and been barely coherent in the process, but I wanted to spew this out for anyone who wants to discuss.


I don't know what's going on or if it might be just me, but my blog is loading soooooo slooooooowly today it's ridiculous. It started right after I added a graphic "powered by" link to w.bloggar, so I removed that, but it didn't help and was probably not the cause.

Hope it gets better soon!


I've now seen both of the episodes from this past week. I don't have much to say about them, though I thought it was interesting seeing the flashbacks to the NX tests, I liked Carradine as a potential starship captain, and I wonder to what extent the Klingon fixation on Archer will spark war later. I liked the character who kidnapped Archer. He's cool, and it'd be fun to see him show up again someday. In fact, the episode felt rather "Star Wars" to me; bounty hunting, grittiness and all.

The big thing I found myself thinking is "when will there be more ships like Enterprise out there?" I mean, it's pretty pathetic if Starfleet only has one vessel of that class out there exploring - and defending - after two seasons. Which leads to the scenes from next week, when everything changes due to a threat to Earth that Enterprise has to fight. Perhaps this is the start to formation of the Federation? Or merely the impetus to build up the fleet? Hmmm....


James P. at Philosophical Blitzkrieg comments about the totally realistic physics of Nightcrawler's teleportation, while the rest of us are content to say "wow, that is so cool!"

Julie also talks about X2, which she enjoyed very much. It's spoilerish if you're one of the few people who haven't seen the movie yet. I e-mailed her what I've been told about Phoenix by X-Men fans. The official link doesn't seem to work properly, so just read Friday May 16th for her thoughts on X2, as well as some trailers. She didn't think much of the CGI used for Hulk, based on the trailer. Since this is not the first time I have heard this opinion, I'm starting to worry.

Julie was shocked someone other than her family was reading her blog, so go there and shock her some more. She has told some wonderful stories about stupid customer tricks in the past, which I believe I meant to link but never did.


Blog Maintenance Tips for Rogues

Indigoinsights just made me laugh my ass off with this "Rogues Among Us" post. She explored my blog extensively and noticed my "Rogue Blogs That Don't Indicate Recent Updates" list of links that included hers. So I figured I would explain, and provide some useful info.

Rogue Blogs That Don't Indicate Recent Updates are blogs I move off of Blogrolling and directly into my template, which was a way I thought of to make life easier for Blogrolling, since I had sooo many links there. They are the ones I noticed that never showed, ever, a last updated date on the tooltip if you hovered the mouse over the link. They just showed the URL or name.

This as opposed to as many as half the blogs remaining under blogrolling, which indicate a last updated in, say, April, even if they were updated today. This post is also for you guys. I think what may have happened is Blogrolling used to do the ping for us if we used it, but stopped, so it has to be done manually. Or something went wrong, at any rate.

How to show the world your blog was updated

Go to this URL :

Enter your site's name, which doesn't seem to affect anything if you vary it.

Enter your site's URL, for instance "" in my case.

Click submit. It will then tell you it found you have been updated and changes have been submitted to the XML file that tracks these things.

But wait, there's more...

In the brower address bar you will now see a URL that looks something like this:

That represents a nifty shortcut to directly report that your blog has been updated, without having to enter any information again at the ping form. So add it to your favorites (bookmark it), then add that to your links toolbar if you'd like, as I did in IE. Post, publish, ping. I do that routinely now. I skip the ping sometimes if I am making quick posts back to back.

Then for anyone who uses Blogrolling or otherwise checks for updates and tags their links, your site will be flagged as recently updated, and the correct date/time will be indicated.

Fixing Permalinks on BlogSplat

Another thing that's polite to do is have working permalinks as best you can, even if you use Blogger. I "use Blogger" but I almost never use the web interface for posting. I use w.bloggar instead, which makes it easier to write and format posts fast, save them unfinished for later completion, and even work offline.

I do go to the Blogger web interface to rejigger the archives (and permalinks) periodically. It's been rumored this doesn't work for some people, but I have never had any trouble as long as Blogger was up and running normally.

Go to, log in, and select the blog in question.

Click the Archive button

Click the Archive Settings link

Change Archive Frequency to "No Archive" (assuming it is already at Weekly or Monthly)

Click Enter

Change Archive Frequency back to your choice of Weekly or Monthly

Click Enter

Click Republish All, then wait until the popup window goes away.

Sign out. (Or go to whatever Blogger function you want to do now.)

At this point, the permalink for every post previously made will work, in my experience. New posts may or may not work, and old posts may or may not go on the fritz after a while. I think the former is more a problem than the latter, once you have rebuilt/reindexed the archives with the above steps.

Countering Bad Links in Current Posts

If you are linking to a recent post on a BlogSplat site, and links are broken, or you suspect they are broken, you can do something besides say "this cretin is still on Blogger so scroll down... grumble, Movable Type, grumble, real host, grumble grumble." And all you Blogger cretins, this applies if you link back to your own posts as well.

Right-click the permalink and choose Properties from the popup menu, or choose your ownmanner of obtaining the "real" link URL.

In the Properties dialog, with the mouse, highlight the URL, which might be something like:

Right-click on the highlight URL and select Copy from the menu. In my experience, Ctrl-C doesn't work in this context, even though it does most other places.

Click Cancel to ditch the Properties dialog.

Paste it into the browser address bar, or anywhere editable for that matter (the address bar is good if you want to press Enter and test when you're done, to see if it goes the right place).

Delete everything after the last /, after .com, and the #, after .html and before the bookmark number. That URL will now look like this:

Note that this can be used by the person linking to a post, or by the person encountering a non-working link and wanting to get there anyway.

That will be valid as long as the post is on the main page, which tends to be the duration of interest in a link anyhow. I consider this a poor substitute for BlogSplat hosted site owners (or anyone) keeping their permalinks valid as much as possible. Too much onus on the linkers or readers to compensate.

I rebuild the archives for this blog at least once a week. Sometimes I make a post indicating I have done so (which I have seen other people do), and sometimes I don't.

I hope this was all helpful and understandable!

On Pregnancy & Sex

Camille of IMFO has been writing about this topic. It seems she thought people didn't find pregnant women sexy, but more recently has learned that some do, and is wondering where they are.

She is also pining for comments, which have been sorely lacking, and has posted a slightly fuzzy picture of here cuteness. Why not be nice, pay her a visit and leave a random comment?

To Infinity... Rinse and Repeat

In a post Acidman asks:
Can you have double infinity? That's like ALL THERE IS times two. Is that possible?

I was in the mood to answer, even if I can't be Frank (and why would I want to be?), so I answered as follows, then decided to share it here:

As for infinity, it's not a number per se, but a concept, so you can have it more than once. There are infinite positive integers. There are infinite negative integers. Viola! Infinity twice.

But wait, there's more!

Within each integer lurk an infinite number of fractional numbers, just waitin' to getcha if you dare try to grasp their devious magnificence. Zzzzzhhuuupp! Fried brain for the unwary.

Since there are infinite integers each containing infinity, there can not only be two infinites, there are infinite many infinites.

The preceding brought to you from a guy who generally hated taking math classes. Go figure. No pun intended.

Friday, May 16, 2003


Just got the 4000th hit momentarily ago, and it is someone on, referred from the details page on the Ecosystem for Hell in a Handbasket. They are in the Eastern time zone, and arrived at 7:22:07 PM Eastern.


So if you have a laptop, and it has a CD drive but no floppy drive, and you have a program to install on it that has a license file it looks for on a floppy while installing from the CD...


I guess Mr. Lawyer won't be able to record time directly on his laptop and then batch it when he's in the office. Poor guy; he's trying to be efficient.

But hey, the company has protected itself from an illegitimate install being performed that is inappropriate to the license lotasbucks were paid for.

Stryker Reloaded

John Stryker has further discussion of what he thinks might be going on in Matrix Reloaded, and what he thinks about it. Excellent stuff, but obviously spoilerish if you're not one of us who already rushed to see it.

I must say, I had the same Empire Strikes Back thought that he did.

I will be seeing the film again tomorrow. It should be interesting to see what I catch the second time that I missed or didn't "get" the first time through.

Nice to Salespeople

I reformed and didn't laugh meanly at any salespeople today. Go me!

First a new guy called from one of the parts suppliers and introduced himself as the replacement for the previous rep, who had left, with whom I had a mildly rocky relationship. This one seems much better.

Then a guy from Imagistics came by and we hit it off. I always find myself evaluating salespeople - the legitimate ones - in terms of whether I might want to hire them when we need sales staff down the road. Heh. This guy I would definitely hire.

I've Had My Laugh Quota for Today

Thanks to a conversation between Jim and his blog. It's really great stuff.


I just picked up my 3 month supply of Lisonopril, Atenolol and Hydrochlorothiazide. Can you imagine it? Since three months ago, they've gone up six dollars! That is so shocking. An 11% increase in three month, so that means something like 52% inflation on an annualized basis if it continues.

And here I thought we were close to sliding into a deflationary spiral, and fretting about that. Guess not; drug prices will prop up the price index and save us from deflation. Woohoo! Yay drug prices, way to save the economy!

Thursday, May 15, 2003


All the latest findings, covered in various posts, speaking of Da Goddess.

4000 Watch

Looks like sometime tomorrow I ought to hit 4000 hits... already! I hadn't quite made 2000 at the 2 month mark, and here I am doubling that with another 10 days to go before my third month is up.

And Glenn hasn't even linked me yet, despite getting a set of lyrics in his honor. I bet Da Goddess would be more grateful.

Carnival Observation

I got fewer hits from having a couple items linked in the Carnival of the Vanities this week, my first time, than I typically do from another blog mentioning me. Is that normal? Or does it depend how much traffic the Carnival host normally gets? Or simply whether people are intrigued enough to click through?

I'll be curious to see what happens with future entries.


Sgt. Stryker also has thoughts on Matrix Reloaded, more coherent than mine and with some good points on which I concur and neglected to mention, but beware spoilage that I tried to avoid in my comments below.

Matrix Reloaded, Random Remarks

Way cool.

A little... different... from watching the first one on some level, because we already know the backstory and the original characters.

Looks like they're on their way to pulling a more sophisticated The Thirteenth Floor, but I suspect there will prove to be some twist to it in the end that blows that away by comparison. As if it doesn't already.

The spectre twins are cool.

Candidate for one of the coolest chase scenes ever. What made parts like that all the more intense is the presence of more than two conflicting parties or groups with divergent goals and interests.

Lots more conversation in this one, or so it feels, and it's heavy on philosophy.

The explanation of certain anomalous sightings by people over the course of time is intriguing, and certainly fits if you looked at the world in that context.

Elrond does a great job. The CGI geeks did a great job with Elrond redundancy and everything else.

I thought the woman who played the Oracle died before filming, so my questions about her character's presence in the matrix were not only more or less answered, but it was also great to see her.

We were trying to figure out exactly why so many people in the theater burst out laughing when they saw the keymaker; if there was something we didn't "get" or just a reaction to how he looked and was presented.

I can confirm the presence of the trailer for Matrix Revolutions if you sit all the way through the excessively long credits with music that many will dislike. It helps redeem the abrupt "to be continued" ending that cut off in an odd spot. I thought I would burst, to the point of pain, so perhaps the credits aren't really that long.

The duration of conversation we had about this move was easily three times that we had about X2 after it ended.

The waitress we had at Bertucci's afterward had been to the same showing as us, then rushed over to work. It was bizarre for her, because she's one of the five people in the country who have never seen the first Matrix movie.

I'll be seeing it again Saturday. I'm not as "dying to see it again!" as I'd expected, but it's still so intense, and good, that I just have to.

Still no Hulk trailer. I feel deprived. However, the T3 trailer makes that look better than many seem to anticipate it will be. I'll be there. It'll be the first Terminator I will have seen on the big screen.

Ode to Skylab, Odorous Policy

The always worthy Rand Simberg posts an ode to Skylab, then expands into related policy discussion that's well worth your time to read if you have even the remotest interest in these topics. Which you ought to, if you live in the United States and/or pay taxes here.

Jocular Repetition Syndrome

That's when you see the same internet humor appear in your e-mail, or for that matter posted on someone's site as a funny, exciting new find, over and over as time goes by. I still see things that I first saw five or more years ago. This is not always bad, as some of them are funny, and are like rereading a great book or watching Star Wars for the 50th time. On the other hand, sometimes they're lame or don't wear well.

Here is an example of an amusing e-mail I have seen at least three times, one which I think holds up fairly well:

A little boy walks into his parents' room to see his mom on top of his dad bouncing up and down. The mom sees her son and quickly dismounts, worried about what her son has seen. She dresses quickly and goes to find him.

The son sees his mom and asks, "What were you and Dad doing?"

The mother replies, "Well, you know your dad has a big tummy, and sometimes I have to get on top of it to help flatten it down."

"You're wasting your time," said the boy.

"Why is that?" asked his mom, puzzled.

"Well, when you go out shopping the lady next door comes over and gets on her knees and blows it right back up again."

Caption Contest

The mice really click with me for some reason.

Very cool, cute picture for the caption contest today over at Right We Are. Check it out and submit your entries.

Real Estate

The state of the housing market surprises me, as I am convinced it's a bubble - at least in some regions - and will crash like a wave on the rocks of fiscal reality. On the other hand, I see the overall median, and the prices in other parts of the country, and it doesn't seem quite so bad.

One of my friends recently bought a house. I believe it was around $300,000, in Marblehead. I was expecting one of those McMansion types of places, but it's an ordinary, modest house on very little land. Seven rooms, 2 baths, cellar, actually very similar layout to the house I shared with my stepsister for several years, which was $37,000 when my father and stepmother bought it. On an acre of land. In what has become a desirable, high house price town, I would expect that house to fetch $200,000 if sold, and if I had looked at the house my friend bought, I'd have assumed not much more than that as the value of it. Sheesh.

When the bubble breaks, I hope it's not too bad; a slowdown and modest letdown, rather than a dam bursting. If it's a regional thing, we'll be in big trouble.


DB's Medrants chimes in today on the news about hypertension that floated around yesterday. I fear I am a perfect example of the last paragraph, and can offer no advice how to motivate people like me:

Now I still need to understand how to get patients to diet and exercise. These lifestyle changes can improve our longevity, and more important our ongoing quality of life. It seems so simple on paper, yet it is so difficult in reality.

As I noted in the comments, I'm one of those rare people whose hypertension has no obvious explanation, which keeps the doctor intrigued. We ruled out things like pheochromocytoma. The sonogram of my heart looked good. Blood tests are good. Diet and exercise could be better, but aren't really enough to explain my blood pressure getting as high as 220/140 when left unchecked. At the same time there's no apparent cause, there's not damage one might expect rampant hypertension to cause either. It's all very strange.

What's With This "Eleventy-One" Stuff?

I figured it might be worth tossing out a quick explanation for those joining us late.

I kept noticing people would create "100 things about me" lists associated with their blogs. I thought about it and eventually decided I would too, but I'd be different and make it 111 things. To ease the pain of coming up with it all, I am posting it in bite-size chunks, later to be regurgitated into a single list posted where I can validly permalink it.

If you follow back through a couple weeks of archives, you'll see all of the first 7 parts. Enjoy!

(Speaking of which, time to rebuild the archives for the night to ensure links work until they break again...)

Eleventy-One Things, Part Seven

I love to play cribbage, which I learned from my grandfather. A funny incident happened when I was a watchman at a paper factory. Guys who worked there and normally played during lunch break were missing a fourth, so they invited me to join them. I had said it had been a long time since I'd played. They somehow heard that as "I'm not very good." They were surprised. Heh.

I always sucked at Clue.

I am worse at Scrabble than you might expect.

I used to play Risk, which I enjoyed, with my friend Tom, until I figured out how to win every time.

I am not big on computer games, with the last major game I played extensively being Doom 2.

My first PC game was DOS shareware Tetris, which used J, K, L and M instead of arrows, becase it was still common for there to be 84-key keyboards. My roommate put it on my 286 that had been gameless for its first two years. I still enjoy it, and that game single-handedly did wonders for my finger speed and coordination.

I sometimes think people have it too easy these days when they buy computers and don't really have to learn anything. My first PC booted to C:\> and at the top center said "Welcome to the Packard-Bell Computer World."

In seventh grade I disliked wood shop class. Yet I admire people who can build things like furniture.

In eight grade I loved metal shop.

I also liked welding, which we did in the vocational agriculture classes in high school. My father and brother never took seriously the concept of my doing things like welding. It was strange.

Back to the topic of games, there may be a pattern to the fact that I am a Minesweeper addict, a Moraff's Morejongg addict (but I have to play Mega-Morejongg because I noticed after a while a finite set of tile patterns in the regular version), and an online Marbles addict.

Um, Just Check Out This Site In General

I keep seeing good things here; like this post on The Essential Nature of America, like a pointer to this Soulmate Calculator, and like the explanation of men I linked in the previous post.

Men Explained At Last
Via Aubrey Turner.

Eleventy-One Things, Part Six

It occured to me I really ought to continue this and get it moving toward a close.

I have never ridden a horse.

I think horses are amazing, beautiful creatures. My late uncle bred race horses, and after he drowned, a horse that had been his lived at my grandfather's house for a long while.

I just adore dogs, especially golden retrievers and other larger breeds.

I like cats, rabbits, and animals in general, though I do tend to prefer the more intelligent, active, interactive critters. Conversely, they usually take to me well.

I have never gone hunting.

I have no opposition to hunting, though when I was a kid, during hunting season we used to resent having to stay out of the woods surrounding our house, or at least be careful (noisy and bright). There was a hunting cabin just slightly into the woods across the street.

I have never owned a gun, except a BB gun.

I am a rabidly pro second amendment fanatic, and make fun of the reading comprehension of those who ignore it, or misinterpret it to be in any way restrictive.

I've only ever fired (non-BB) guns a few times.

I always loved playing with bows and arrows, and with slingshots.

When I was 12 I co-built, really was the primary force behind, a tree hut about 20 feet up a tree at my newly met best friend's house. It was made out of smaller trees we cut down for beams, and mainly found or discarded boards and plywood. It was big enough to sleep two kids in sleeping bags with room to spare, and last I knew was still up in the tree almost 30 years later, if unsafe to go in due to rotted floorboards. The walls weren't straight and it wasn't fancy, but I still can't believe we did it, at that age.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Let This Be a Lesson to Others

West Wing

Wow! The 25th amendment. It sure isn't as simple as it sounds. It never occured to me that the speaker would have to resign congress in order to do a brief gig with the PrezTemps agency. I have to say, I'm impressed with the planning and execution of the whole arc. It looked like the VP resignation was setup to be a huge matter in and of itself, but that was just kind of done with nonchalantly, setting up for the bigger storyline.

The babies were so cute. The girl's name got me all choked up.

Well executed overall, I thought. Abby's rush to the press room. Donna going through the pile of faxes. Charlie's expected reaction.

One surprise to me: Jean Paul was not in on it. He was just a dupe. The Jar-Jar of West Wing. He is such a wretched epitomization of scum and villainy.

I can't help thinking about what an odd scenario the temporary power transfer is. The President is out of power, yet he's still there, behind the scenes, able to reinstate himself if not somehow prevented from doing so. It was the right thing to do under the circumstances, because now Zoe doesn't represent a deeply personal consideration in making decisions, or an impediment to making decisions. One would hope the temp Prez wouldn't overreach.

I still think she's going to be dead. Too bad there'll be such a wait to find out. Nor do we get to see Donna's answer to Amy's question yet, even though in terms of what we most recently saw, it's now in the past. Whatever she told Amy, we know what the answer really is. We just don't get to see the fallout.

So far I liked John Goodman as Newt Gingrich, or whoever. Physically he looked like Rostenkowski. He did serious well. I just hope they don't portray him as an over the top caricature of a rabid conservative. Politically, one might suppose this would be an advantage for him if he handles it well. Hey, elect me president; been there, done that, I'm sure you heard about the great job I did.

It's just such an intriguing scenario to fictionalize. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Happy Dance!

Matrix Reloaded, tomorrow, 2:40 PM, Randolph Showcase. Woohoo!!


Blog-Effing-Spot has regained consciousness!

You know, I can handle the archive link problem; there's an easy, quick fix for those of us who care to use it. I can handle the random inability to load the page without a refresh or two. I can even handle the periodic little April Fools-like tricks such as the "under construction" incident.

But for it just to go down for a few hours at random times during which you can post (slooooowly) but not publish is incredibly frustrating! This is twice now, within a couple days. The first time was in the middle of the night, so less big deal. This time it was the prime of the day. WTF, over?

Perhaps this too will pass and be an anomaly; some unexplained server work they were doing that got out of hand, or whatever. We can only hope, since I will probably be with BlogSplat for a few more months.

Blood Pressure

Wow, ths article makes my 220/140 blood pressure look even worse! No, it's not that high any more, and usually when I'm not actually at the doctor's office (where it frustratingly goes up) it's even below 120/80, but I take three different prescriptions to accomplish that.

How Many Near Misses?

John at Iberian Notes poses the question, after some discourse on related matters and some examples, of what other instances there were, besides the ones he named, in which we almost went nuclear. Or, presumably, in which other combinations of countries, such as China and the Soviets, came close. It's an intriguing question.

Carnival is Up

This weeks Carnival of the Vanities is up, and nicely done, at The Inscrutable American. Go check it out.

Of course, BlogSplat is having a fit right now, so by the time this post publishes, you may already have been there...

Time Does Fly

This Buzz post reminded me of a discussion I had with Bob yesterday when he dropped by the office to use my fax machine.

We were talking about how short a time ago 200 or so years ago was, really. Which of course leads to marveling at what has happened in that time, and what will happen, at technology's accelerated pace, in the next 30 years of our lives. I expressed it with a Keanu imitation; "whoa!"

I pointed out that one of Adams' grandchildren, who was born early enough to have known him, was alive until 1903. Another was alive until 1900. Impressive even what they lived through during most of a century. Perhaps I have an overly expansive sense of time, but to me 1903 doesn't feel so long ago. My great-grandparents were around then. My grandparents didn't miss being around then by that much.

My discussion of Adams led Bob to observe just how many little, or not so little, wars there have been throughout our history. Indeed. They sometimes seem to bleed into each other, or set things up for the next one, whether the context, the attitudes, the cause or continuation, the technology, the lessons learned...

Speaking of which, the other day I found myself seeing North Korea as an extension of World War 2; a part of it that just hasn't ended yet. The travelogue mentioned in the previous post contributed to that notion.

I'm just rambling and have stuff to do, so I'll leave you with these thoughts and move along now.

North Korea

I meant to mention this previously. Dean posted a link to this amazing, lengthy description of a trip to North Korea. Lots of pictures included. It's long and is in 11 parts, which makes it easy to return to it in parts as you have the chance. It's fascinating and surprising. Make some time to read it.

The freeing of North Korea is going to be incredibly traumatic when it comes. I don't mean traumatic as in a massive war or something. I mean psychologically for the people of that country. I mean in terms of abrupt adjustment forward in time by decades. I mean in terms of learning what the world is really like, and unlearning what they "know" now. And I mean financially for those who are tasked with helping them become part of the world.

Yet to me it's distressing to see their current circumstances continue, however temporarily awful change may be.

A Loo Loo of a Story

Alrighty then, now the Microsoft iLoo story is allegedly true, after being reported, then retracted as a hoax. Anyone feel like a yo-yo yet? However, they were working on such a thing, but have decided to pull the plug. Probably because of all the people who discussed reasons it might not be such a hot idea, after the news leaked out.

Funny thing is, I thought the story sounded too true to be a hoax in the first place. As bizarre as it was, it had a ring of truth, in a near or over the top, internet bubble business idea sort of way.

Indeed Instapundit Man
(Inspired by Mr. Tambourine Man, with apologies to The Byrds)

Indeed, Instapundit man
Writes a blog for me
I need linking and there
Ain't no blog I'd rather woo
Indeed, Instapundit man
Writes a blog for me
Every single waking morning
I'll come clicking to you

Take me for a trip
Among your expert linksmanship
Idiotarians have been whipped
And they all should get a grip
And realize they're all wet
Finally throwing off the boot heels
Of mind laundering
I'm ready to click anywhere
I've really got it made
With your great link parade
Cast you linking spell my way
I never had an Instalanche

Indeed, Instapundit man
Writes a blog for me
I need linking and there
Ain't no blog I'd rather woo
Indeed, Instapundit man
Writes a blog for me
Every single waking morning
I'll come clicking to you

I'll probably read this in the morning and wonder what I was thinking, but hey, more or less of the cuff at 2 AM it seems okay...


Well, that wasn't exactly what I'd expected, but oh my. And the famous WB misleading previews from next weeks episode make it look like that one continues along the lines of what I was expecting this week. Which means it'll be nothing like it appears on the promos, except that those stitched together snippets will all happen to be in it somewhere, in some context at best obliquely related to the context the preview implies.

The blood. The hand. Can't wait to see what the respective suavely diabolical dudes do with those down the road. The deceit. The... was that super hearing I detected? Instance two I could argue it wasn't, but instance one seems to be.

Poor Chloe. I was so sure she was already well on her slide to the dark side after the previous chat with Lionel, but then there was spine. However, jealousy leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to investigative reporting run amuck...

I love how they throw in a few seconds of the Superman theme from the movie at key times. Like when he experiences super hearing, if you listen closely to what the score is doing. And at the end.

It's not 100% perfect, but I love this show. It's intriguing where they seem to be going with it and how they might manage taking it to as much of a new level as seems to be the case, yet keeping him a high school student for one more year. (They're juniors, right?)

Chloe's hair makes her look far less attractive, the way they have it now, enough for Lana to have made some headway on my Lana or Chloe meter. Lana as grown on me, but I still prefer Chloe.

Okay, I'll stop boring the non-fans now. I tried to be vague enough not to have given things away if you haven't watched the episode yet.

Update on the Technical Matter

In a previous post I tossed out to the wolves an issue my big client's son was having. I received no comments, which isn't a surprise because it's kind of off the wall, and I likely don't have readers any more likely to have an answer than I would.

While it doesn't explain why the system would slow and frames would drop when it had a 40 GB, 7200x drive properly connected and with the correct ATA drivers installed, it turned out that he'd installed a high speed 120 GB drive... and connected it as secondary slave on the cable with the CD-ROM drive. Way to get the lowest possible transfer rate. If that's even an issue. But that was the drive he was trying to operate with most recently when it got especially bad.

Now the drives are hooked up properly, with the 120 as primary master and the 40 as primary slave, and a good XP Pro install on C, the 120. As a test if there's trouble, he can pull the IDE cable out of the 40 so nothing else is on the cable, and I sent a spare cable in case it's needed.

I turned off power management and one service, the one for 802.11 wireless something. Detection I think. I recently found that was causing a client's computer to lock up every afternoon, so who knows. It's not needed, why run it?

Unfortunately, I had to leave installing any drivers not supplied by XP to him, because I didn't have them to install. He sent the XP and video card CDs with the computer, but not the one that goes to the motherboard. With XP, fewer of the drivers that came with the board are needed, as XP provides ones that Win2000 doesn't. I gave him a page of explanation what I did and what he can try for troubleshooting, and sent it all home with his father. We'll see what happens. He's actually creating a video for a 12th grade philosophy class, of all things, so it's becoming urgent. Look what I missed when I was in high school.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Jen Makes Observations, and Then...

Jen speaks, letting us know she seems to have uncovered a gender anomoly in the blogosphere.

She might be onto something. Or not. What do you think?

Mean to Salespeople

This afternoon a couple people walked into the office. Of course, I'm thinking "oooh, potential customer! Or are they from the government and here to 'help'?"

Neither. Salespeople. As the nice woman introduced herself and her partner and started to say that they were offering harbor cruises, I couldn't help myself and went from smiling to laughing.

The poor woman was completely taken aback and thought I was laughing at her! I was more laughing at myself, because of course they'd be salespeople. Duh. Why wouldn't that have been the first thing I thought, since almost every stranger who walks in our door is just that. It just hasn't been as epidemic lately.

The other reason I laughed is because it's so absurd to try to sell me something like that when I am scraping by perhaps more than at any time in the past ten years. So it's an automatic no, but these people are so enthusiastic and hopeful and, too often, disbelieving that anyone can be turning them down. Which sounds like the secret for getting dates, which always escaped me, but I digress.

Anyway, that "mean" action on my part, heaven forbid, spontaneously laughing at the personable, attractive woman trying to sell harbor cruises, actually got rid of them promptly, without them being able to finish the pitch or engage me in debate as to why, no, really, I can afford it.

So watch out! Behind that spontaneous, infectious smile you might see when I first meet you, I can laugh with the cruelest of them.

Gilmore Girls

Loved the Michael Moore bit!

Still not excited about the Jess spinoff, and it still annoyed me to see people who primarily argue stupidly with each other. But I warmed to it a little, given the addition of the other characters and greater depth to his father.

Wouldn't an application for financial aid have been so far before the 75k was received as to not take it into consideration?

I loved Emily being caught in the lie, and Rory telling her she was being stupid. Nice wakeup call.

Paris is too funny. Of course she's going to Yale.

I've decided the blonde girl is kinda cute; looks like someone I'll see in a starring role some day, then look her up in IMDB and say "ooooh, she was that girl on Gilmore Girls, that's why she looks familiar!"

We still haven't resolved the issue of the prom, but maybe they're skipping that and just letting us assume she sat it out, since the finale next week is centered around graduation.

I never went to any proms, and really didn't care. But I digress.

Mises Blog

There's a new Mises Economics Blog at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It may be of some interest. I was a little surprised that the e-mail they mailed out to announce the blog contained no link to the blog, but it was easy to find.

Treasury Announces Currency Obsolescence Plan

(2003-05-13) -- At the unveiling of the latest incarnation of the U.S. $20 bill today, treasury spokesman Otto Scott announced a plan to completely redesign and release updates of all larger denominations each year. This is an effort to keep ahead of rapid technology improvements used by counterfeiters competing with government currency production.

Treasury denies consulting Hasbro regarding either currency design or production efficiency, despite that company's longstanding and highly regarded influence on Canadian currency. The government has admitted to consulting Microsoft on handling rapid design change and product replacement.

One dollar bills will no longer be produced or supported, and therefore will not be redesigned for security from bogus bills, but people may continue to use existing supplies if they wish. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Microsoft influenced this decision.

Lawn Mowing

I did this for a living once upon a time. But anyway, Buzz rightly complains about moronic people who point the grass output toward the street when they mow the part of the lawn nearest same. Duh, of course that means you're spewing stuff, including potentially small stones, at passing cars, never mind making a mess of the street. Or the driveway, as one commenter over there griped about. Do people not think about what they're doing. Okay, that's rhetorical, as I know the answer already.

When I shared a house with my stepsister, mowing the lawn was my job. It was good in that it forced me to get a minimal bit of exercise, but I got tired of it after a while. Initially I was all excited about having a yard to play with.

The annoying thing was that my stepsister could do the house cleaning any time, rain or shine. I had to do the lawn when it wasn't raining. Preferably every week for a good chunk of the season. On the weekend. Late enough into the day for the grass to be largely dry. You do know it's better not to cut it wet, right? A mowing took a minimum of two hours. I got really tired of being tied to the weather, of having to wait a week to mow if it rained one weekend, with the lawn looking bad in the meantime, and of being tethered to the house in the best weather. I try to remember that when I periodically miss having a yard to play with now.


I discovered this site via my referrer logs, and I think it's way cool. The FAQ is informative, so you might want to look at that after you get there.

I don't know how new it is, but this is the first I've heard of it. If I put in, as of this moment I get 647 results. It returns ten blogs per page, ranked by degree of chance you'd like theirs if you like mine, with a sub-list under each of common links and their scores.

Gut Rumbles is number one on the list. Instapundit occupies the number 4, number 8 and number 9 spots, which is kind of funny.

The beauty is, at number 10 is No Watermelons, to which I do not now link. I've been there. I've seen it mentioned a lot lately. This could mean, hey, I ought to check it out more, because we appear to relate to the same things. There's much more of that on subsequent pages.

My one complaint is that I can't navigate directly to the end of the list, or at a whim to any point in between all, or a large subset at a time, of the screens of results as I can with Google.

My other complaint, which calls into some question the veracity of the main functionality of BlogMatcher, involves the utility for searching for a list of blogs that links to you. I know it doesn't list nearly all of them.

It also seems to make a difference whether you search versus; or versus, so it might be worth testing.

It's cool regardless. Check it out.

Rabble Rousing

I just made a nicely inflamatory comment over at Jay Caruso's. I must remember to check back and see what other comments follow, instead of forgetting per usual. In a way it wasn't that inflamatory, but it was long and philosophical in a libertarian, strict liability sense, as comments go.

This post doubles as a test to see if BlogSplat and Blogggrrrr have regained their sanity.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Pet Peeve

Screensaver: A kind of program that runs and makes things happen on your computer screen, usually pretty, entertaining, or cool to watch, sometimes not, for the purpose of keeping a single image from burning in on your monitor by sitting too long. Dates back to the days when monitors were far more susceptible to this.

Wallpaper: A static picture that shows on your screen when everything else is minimized or closed.

Wallpaper is not your screensaver dammit!

That cool picture is your wallpaper. Repeat after me: wall... paper.

That is all.


Of course, now I'm trying to identify what book it was, but the details are too vague for Google to help easily. Oh well.


Seeing the news from Saudi Arabia reminded me of an amusing lingual incident from my childhood.

Sometime when I was still pretty young I was reading a science fiction book, probably a little above my level, in which a new ice age had hit. This was slightly in the future of current times, and the change had been fairly abrupt. Some people obviously had migrated south, but as we could well expect in reality, people to the south didn't appreciate that. Others essentially moved their cities underground. Conditions were horrible and tightly controlled.

I forget the impetus or exactly the point to it, whether it was survival of the particular city or what, but a group of people were sent off on an expedition to another place to make contact and whatever (I wish I knew what book it was; I'd read it again to refresh my memory).

So here's the crazy thing I remember: At one point the group is crossing a body of water (I think) on the ice that's frozen over it. Suddenly it opens up and swallows a couple people; boom, gone like that. One of the remaining guys remarks something like "that's three casualties."

I found myself, on enountering the word for the first time, thinking "what's so casual about people getting killed?" Obviously I remember little about the story, yet I vividly remember that reaction to the word casualties.

Then there's the fact that I learned casualties as meaning deaths, but sometimes people use it to refer to injuries too. Which it does. And it is related to the word casual, with the ultimate Latin root meaning fortuitous, perversely enough. Language development is funny sometimes.

As for abrupt glaciation, I'm more afraid of that than I am of warming, and consider it at least as likely in a calamitous, relatively near-term way.

Pssst... Sit Through The Credits

I just received the Steve Rhodes review of Matrix Reloaded, and one excellent point it makes is to wait through the credits. Afterward they reportedly show a trailer for The Matrix Revolutions.

Well This is an Interesting Coincidence...

First it was Chechnya, now it's Riyadh, all one the same day. I wonder who's next...

Andrew says "Bite Me"

Find out why and to whom here.


On a whim I decided to test out having a referrers list, which some of you may have noticed on the very bottom of the page. We'll see how it goes. Do people like seeing that kind of thing?

Carnival... It's Not Just For Rio Any More

Just a reminder, The Inscrutable American is this week host for Carnival of the Vanities, so get him your entries before 10 PM eastern time Tuesday.

A Technical Matter, In Case Anyone Has Ideas

The issue is a 1394 card for digital video dropping frames to the point of near unusability. I have not actually seen this in action, as the computer came back to me after the owner of it had installed XP, botched it (he says; seems okay to me), and asked me to wipe and reinstall for him. At one point he thought it was a Firewire problem and it was resolved.

My history with this is I completely rebuilt the original computer, which was an AMD, perhaps around a 1.5 GHz, on which the motherboard (at least) fried. I replaced the case and power supply, motherboard, CPU and RAM. It's a Pentium 4, 2.4 GHz, 400/533 FSB, Intel D845 board, with 512 MB 333 MHz DDR memory. Oh, I'd replaced the hard drive too, which is a 40 GB, 7200x IDE drive. The OS was Windows 2000, so it's possible if this is the first pass at having XP on it that the problem could be fixed by the OS change. He upgraded to a Radeon 9500 card.

One thing he did is add a 120 MB 7200x hard drive as D, but I just found that it may not have been working at 7200. And if anything, it perhaps ought to be the primary. He swapped 1394 cards so instead of one with a TI chipset, he has one with VIA. Different drivers, swapping PCI slots, using other programs to try to capture a steady video stream without success.

The 1394 support people were no help. Of course, he has more faith in me than I do. I wish I could have seen the actual problem in action.

My current thoughts are:
Replacing the IDE cable (apart from making sure it's plug in properly) in case it's bad. In my experience, that's a rare thing. I've had far more controller than cable problems, and almost no controller problems since they started being integrated onto motherboards.

That a rogue or unneeded service may be running, kicking in at the wrong time and saying all your processor are belong to us. Ditto for something like Windows Update. I believe I had power management off completely (which I am used to doing because it raises havoc with Dragon Naturally Speaking, aside from my personal annoyance at having to make a computer wake up again, which doesn't always succeed, which is just plain wrong), so that's not it.

Any thoughts? Anybody ever use this 1394 card that's alien to me and have any insight? Of course, I solve things that are alien to me all the time, so that shouldn't matter.

Software Quality

Is not something that can be skimped on in all usages, and this is a good example.


This is a far better and more complete analysis of the tax plan than I presented in my defense of eliminating the dividend tax. It also makes a point I had never thought of as to why capital gains also constitutes double taxation.

I agree, there will be a genuine stimulus from the plan if passed. On the other hand, there's an X factor of optimism that seems to be lacking, and could help the economy all by itself. Not sure what to do about that.

Rent Control

Sasha has a nice, concise analysis of rent control.

Moving Tribute

Sgt. Hook has a moving tribute to his mother. I have seen others out there over the past week, but this one particularly hit me for some reason.

I never had the same struggle, but my mother had everything to do with my learning to read so early I can't remember not being able to read. She read to me, and always made sure I had books or could go to the library. For a while I was one of those kids who'd go to the library and take out a bunch of books at a time. We had the coolest librarian.

My father was an influence of sorts when it came to reading too. He used to sit at the table reading one science fiction paperback or another while eating dinner. We're second generation SF fans, you could say.

European Cold War

Fascinating possibility. Via On the Third Hand, which is always worth visiting.

Job Openings for Virus Writers

Who would hire them? The music industry of course! Seeing the mention of Virus Creation Lab took me back. Someone at my old job got fired on the spot when it was discovered on his computer, which is as it should be.


It's time for me to organize an outing to see The Matrix Reloaded. Woohoo! Looks like either the 3:40 or 4:20 showings Saturday make sense. I'm actually thinking of going to see it the day it comes out, skipping out of the office for a couple hours, then seeing it again Saturday with the gang.

Old Friends

My very first what you could call a best friend e-mailed me tonight. We haven't really had any contact in... like twenty years. Once in a while my mother would mention what was going on with her, but that's about it.

Her father and my father were best friends, and we were the same age. So we saw a lot of each other in our earliest years and into elementary school, then later we weren't close, but we were in the same class in high school. The last time I remember seeing her, she gave me a hard time about missing her cousin's wedding.

[Fade forward to near present day...]

My brother ran into her and her mother in the local Wal-Mart fairly recently. Actually maybe it was around Christmas, so maybe not so recently. Oops. They gabbed for a while, and she jotted her e-mail address for him to give to me. He did. Then I lost it. Then I found it. Then I added it to my address book both at home and at work. And I proceeded to be overwhelmed by the gulf of years and the amount there could be to write about, and didn't get around to it. Actually though, I had e-mailed her once before, at an address I'd garnered from one of the two class reunion type of sites while they still openly let you see people e-mail addresses. It may have been outdated or something, as I got no reply.

So the other day I finally guilted myself into writing, as I happened to remember I hadn't, and decided I could get away with not saying much. I just basically asked how she was doing, and if she was still in Italy or back in the States, and suggested looking at the blog archives as a way to get some clue what I'd been up to pending my actually writing anything.

Tonight after watching the aforementioned When Harry Met Sally video, I came back to the computer and lo, there was a reply. She is still in Italy, where her husband is stationed with the Navy.

Talk about differences. For the couple of you who have been following the serial construction of my "eleventy-one things about me," you'll know I'm single,have no kids, etc. She has kids 18, 16 and 4, and of course has been married forever. She's taking classes, working on a graduate degree. I stopped after getting a BS, though sometimes I miss school. Then I come to my senses. She's in a theater production, just in the chorus, which is funny to me because she sings like a proverbial nightingale, or did in high school. One of the finest voices I have ever heard.

Very cool. Now I need to reply! If this were the days of letters, I'd probably have sat and write out 10 pages of detail about what's happened in my life. I need to see if I can restrain myself initially to a moderately long e-mail. In any event, it's always nice hearing from old friends like this.

When Harry Met Sally

Sigh... I just watched When Harry Met Sally, which make I think the third time I've seen it over the years (or third and a half). As opposed to Sleepless In Seattle, You've Got Mail, While You Were Sleeping, The Cutting Edge, and Notting Hill, each of which I've seen a minimum of four times. It's such a good movie, at least to a hopeless romantic sap like me, emphasis on hopeless, not hopeful like Joan Wilder (speaking of good movies). Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal look so young in it! At the very beginning, it struck me that Sally looked a lot like Laurie from That Seventies Show.

I think the question of having friends of the opposite sex came up earlier, when I had a smaller readership. I think it's possible, but I know it can be awkward. There was a spell when one of my closest female friends and I would chat on AIM late, late at night, last thing before we each went to bed, and it reminded me of Harry and Sally talking on the phone. She's the one who's moving to California.

Anyway, besides my being a sucker for romantic comedies, it's such a great, classic move.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Orange Tide

John Stryker faithfully tells the story, which really doesn't surprise me much.

The Rerun Effect

Have you ever noticed that you happen to see an episode of a show you seldom watch, and it ends up being one of the few you've already seen?

For Women Only

Dean has a good question for you, so go give your thoughts. Men are not allowed to comment for the first 24 hours.

Ten Commandments

Tobacco Road Fogey has the Ten Commandments of Blogging for our reading pleasure.

Who does the asking?

AtlanticBlog discusses this topic, inspired by a pub anecdote. The traditional thing was men asking women out. That seems to have changed, he observes, but leaves the question of why not entirely answered. Being shy, I have always been in favor of this particular equalization.


Den Beste has analytical commentary, of denbestian length, but worth reading if the subject interests you, on the future, if any, of Apple as a company.

I am not an Apple user, and I appreciate my PCs, and the fact I can build my own, but I love the idea of competition, and appreciate Apple's contributions to the industry. I always thought they made a mistake not choosing, later if not sooner, to become a software company and leave the hardware primarily to others. It should be interesting to watch how things develop.


David Carr of Samizdata writes about DDT use in fighting malaria and the objection of western greenies. My grandfather had some leftover DDT years after the ban, which he'd use for particularly severe garden pest problems. He didn't think much of the ban, obviously.

Clockwise IS Better

Frank has the long-awaited answer to why light bulbs screw in clockwise, and should never be put in counter to that. Oh, and a couple other frank answers too.

John Adams

I just finished reading John Adams, by David McCullough, and can't recommend it enough.

It seems strange that the critical role of Adams received no attention in history class in my day. It is almost as if appreciation of all that was Jefferson's best and all that was Adams' best is rolled up into a glowing worship of Jefferson.

I've been fond, at times, of lurking on Soc.History.What-If, where I particularly enjoyed Chet Arthur's dystopic "For All Time" timeline.

Argh, the dangers of hitting the wrong keys! I hit Ctrl instead of shift, and with the letter T that means "post and publish. Anyway, so I continue...

Typically for an alternate history scenario, there is a "point of departure," which on the newsgroup is abbrieviated PoD. I couldn't help imagining, as I drew near the end of the book, how different the world would be had the Boston gone down when it was being storm-battered on his first crossing to Europe.

Another thing I never knew was just how vile Hamilton was. It's a real eye-opener. Franklin also surprised me.

I ought to visit the Adams historic site one of these days. I drive by it every day, and could actually walk to it if I wanted. It's one of those weird things, like growing up in Plymouth County, but having been the Plimouth Plantation all of once, on a 4th grade field trip. I worked even nearer to it at one point. I also went to the Mayflower just once, but am local enough to drive by it nonchalantly. But I digress.

Anyway, it's a compelling, fascinating read, highly recommended.