mahna mahna .net

Like many personal blogs of its era, this blog is moribund, a casualty of what we might call "the Facebook effect." However, as of late 2015, two things are clear: (1) The Indie Web is a thing, and (2) the re-decentralization of the web is a thing. So who knows? 2016 2017 (!) could be the year this blog rises from its own ashes. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 31 December 2003
A spiritually-enlightened person I know asked me, “Are you the same person now that you were at the beginning of 2003?” I didn’t even have to think: This past year was transformative in a way that no other year of my life has ever been. My answer was an immediate “No!”

My friend smiled warmly and said, “Well, then. It must have been a good year.”

Indeed.

Happy New Year to all mahnamahna.net readers. May you find stillness and peace within, and see it echoed in the world around you.
posted to /life at 3:31pm :: 4 responses
Thursday, 18 December 2003
Wednesday, 17 December 2003
Some folks dig year-end best-of lists. Here’s more Best of 2003 lists than you can shake a stick at.

[spotted on Metafilter]
posted to /misc at 10:17am :: 1 response
I got some spam this evening. It contained one ad image, hyperlinked to a web site that’s apparently paying a spammer to push some traffic its way. I never saw the image, because I use an e-mail client whose interface looks like it may be older than me, and it doesn’t do images. The body text of the message read as follows:
princess janus region wiseacre annulled buck carboxy methylene ahoy lackluster sanatorium psyche farthest linkage qatar desert poverty ringside monarchic anything frailty

more...
posted to /tech at 12:17am :: 10 responses
Tuesday, 16 December 2003
(As if you needed another?) “A Texas housewife is in big trouble with the law for selling a vibrator to a pair of undercover cops.” She could go to jail for a year.
posted to /news at 1:16pm :: 1 response
Friday, 12 December 2003
I’m writing a new column for PC World, all about Free Software (including, but not limited to, Linux). The first edition went live today.
posted to /tech at 2:12pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 11 December 2003
Anil Dash (one of the minds behind Moveable Type) reminds me why I love New York so much, and makes me want to move there.
posted to /misc at 2:11pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 10 December 2003
This is ironic. (Doncha think?)
posted to /news at 4:10pm :: 5 responses
Tuesday, 09 December 2003
I got two pieces of snail mail from the Democratic party today. This fascinates me. I have not been a registered Democrat for more than five years, and I have never been registered as one at my new address. Yet they keep writing to me. more...
posted to /politics at 12:09am :: 1 response
Monday, 08 December 2003
1 iRiver iHP-120 + 1 cable = mp3 music in my living room, for the first time. A low-tech way to make it happen, but oh is it sweet.
posted to /tech at 11:08pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 02 December 2003
I am awash in a sea of phlegm. I’ve been sick since last Friday. My fever has been as high as 103.1, a number that should be associated with the FM dial, not a human being’s internal temperature. I’m on the mend now, and wishing like hell I’d gotten a flu shot this year, because the flu is almost certainly what this was. Have you had a flu shot this year? There are no excuses.
posted to /life at 4:02pm :: 2 responses
Tuesday, 25 November 2003
We got ourselves an old Indian dude here. Lives in a cave most of the time. Has a following. No biggie; this sort of thing happens in India. But: Dude sez he ain’t eaten for decades. Doesn’t need to drink water, either. Shows up at a hospital to be observed by science.

Ten days of constant observation, and our man eats nothing, drinks nothing, and, you’ll be keen to know, “neither did he pass urine or stool.” Someone at the BBC deserves a sound beatdown for the headline on this article, but I enjoyed meeting Prahlad Jani.
posted to /news at 11:25pm :: 0 responses
Ten minutes ago I knew very little about SF’s Treasure Island. But now
posted to /life/bayarea at 11:25pm :: 0 responses
Saturday, 22 November 2003
Here’s what the Big Game bonfire looked like last night at Cal’s Greek Theater. Walking back down southside, we passed under the Campanille, which was lit up in blue with gold graphics on each side, like this representation of the coveted Axe.

It took Cal two quarters to heat up today, but the result was sweet, sweet, sweet. Cal 28, Stanfurd 16.

Things are always strange when we visit the Farm but there was something especially strange (and, though it pains me to admit, cool) going on down there today, as you can see in the shot I took of the Stanfurd Band doing their moronic bit before the game. Look back there on the sideline, and you’ll see a large Trojan Rabbit, straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We never did find out what the deal with it was. It left before the end of the game.
posted to /life/bayarea at 10:22pm :: 4 responses
Friday, 21 November 2003
Is there any doubt left that Big Media is perhaps the most harmful of the various cancers afflicting this country?
“This is Laci Peterson and shark attacks and Kobe Bryant put together,” said Martin Kaplan, professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications. “It’s a miraculous combination of sex and taboos and pop music and plastic surgery.”
Get. Me. Off. This. Train.
posted to /news at 12:21am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 18 November 2003
Back in 1999, I wrote an article about the very first work of interactive fiction, Adventure, which you can still experience on modern PCs. The piece was written for a proto-webmag that vanished years ago; I resurrect the article today in honor of the 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, which Slashdot took note of this morning. more...
posted to /tech at 12:18pm :: 1 response
I was already in high school when Wal-Mart invaded my part of the country. I stayed away, having read about how the megachain decimated small-town general stores all across America’s heartland. So I’ve been in a Wal-Mart store only three times in my life, and only made a purchase there once. After reading this article, I’ll probably keep out for good.

[spotted at Ten Reasons Why, which also points to further commentary on this issue]
posted to /misc at 10:18am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 12 November 2003
This nine minute video captures a breathtakingly beautiful bit of art that was performed at the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival this past August. The artist is one Ferenc Cako. I just love discovering artists whose work is unlike anything I’ve ever seen!

[thanks to the_lucky_duck for the link]
posted to /art at 12:12pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 11 November 2003
If you follow this link, you will hear Joe Lieberman sing “Oaklahoma.”
posted to /politics at 10:11pm :: 1 response
Sunday, 09 November 2003
I cannot explain the existence, here in my house, of the tiny little wrench you see here. I discovered it on the floor shortly after the big move-in, felt a question mark balloon appear above my head, and placed it — the wrench — on my desk.

It has been there ever since. I still don’t know whether it lived here before I did, or whether it traveled here with me. I do not know what it belongs to. It is made of plastic. It bears no markings at all. If it belongs to a toy or something like that, it belongs on that list they put out every Christmastime regarding playthings that can be swallowed. Perhaps it came with some bit of gadgetry?

<seinfeld>What is the deal with this tiny little wrench?</seinfeld>
posted to /life at 10:09pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 05 November 2003
I scored 124.5 on the 80’s Lyrics Quiz. You see this sort of thing on the Web from time to time, but you never see one this well implemented, or this much fun. Who can beat me? No cheating!

Oh, the memories that can come flooding back just because of one line from one song!
posted to /art/music at 12:05pm :: 4 responses
Turns out there is a new version of Donnie Darko, one of my favorite films, in the works. The “Director’s Cut” will feature scenes cut from the original version — some that were on the DVD, some that were not. There will also be more eighties music, because now Writer-Director Richard Kelly has more money to buy song rights with. There is something a little weird about a director doing a “Director’s Cut” of his first film just a couple years after it came out, and I will approach the new version with some apprehension because I think the original is so nearly perfect (and some of the cut scenes on the DVD were really bad). But I cannot wait to return to Donnie’s world and see it from new angles. One thing I am certain will not change is the ending, for it’s built into the movie’s DNA that it can only end one way. After all, “Every living creature dies alone.”
posted to /art/cinema at 11:05am :: 0 responses
We thought the almiqui was gone forever, but no, a farmer in Cuba came across one. I wish he hadn’t. That thing is going to give me nightmares. It looks like it can’t wait to bite my toes off. Or worse.
posted to /misc at 10:05am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 04 November 2003
Get your holiday shopping done early. The web brings you just the item for all your friends and loved ones.

[found on MetaFilter]
posted to /misc at 10:04am :: 1 response
Monday, 27 October 2003

Yesterday, my grandmother was evacuated from her house in San Diego and told to flee the oncoming brush fire. So far, her house remains standing. The rest of my family is just trying to cope with the unbreathable air and the miserable heat. My mother took the preceding picture from her backyard yesterday morning, before the last bits of blue sky disappeared. She says that ash has been falling like snow for nearly 24 hours now. It is not unusual for me to feel glad that I am not in San Diego, but today, whoa Nellie am I ever glad I’m not in San Diego.
posted to /news at 11:27am :: 4 responses
Thursday, 23 October 2003
Over on Slashdot, they’re talkin’ about how the makers of Gator — a truly nasty bit of behind-your-back software that sits on your system and launches pop-up ads — have forced a Web site to stop referring to their product as “spyware.”

Actually, I’ve got no problem with that. Gator is not spyware: It does not spy on you. But it is a fucking parasite that, when teamed up with other parasites, can bring a system to its knees. The last time I was visiting my folks, I did a simple run of Ad-aware on their system, and it was hit city. Unacceptable. Unacceptable that their computing environment was letting this go on without their even knowing. more...
posted to /tech at 12:23am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 21 October 2003
Roger Ebert has a few thoughts about leaf blowers, rakes, the President, and the way things used to be.
posted to /misc at 1:21pm :: 1 response
Monday, 20 October 2003
Proper old-school “underground” net.radio is not dead. SomaFM proves it. We’re talking commercial-free, fantastic listening here. I frequently mainline their Groove Salad stream during work hours, and have just discovered Beat Blender for nighttime. If you’re feeling silly — or better yet, if you aren’t feeling silly, but you wouldn’t mind it — listen to the Secret Agent stream and pretend you’re stuck in an old B-movie. Oodles of fun.

The tunes are amazing, and the tech is righteous: No bitchy-hoggy Real or Windows Media players needed here. Just WinAmp or Foobar2000 or Audion or iTunes or XMMS to decode a simple mp3 stream. Click and listen. (And don’t overlook the handy Amazon-linked song histories available at the SomaFM site.)

[Through Groove Salad, the Supreme Beings of Leisure just sang “Nothin’ Like Tomorrow” to me. Word.]
posted to /art/music at 3:20am :: 5 responses
Monday, 13 October 2003
Most of the country celebrates Columbus Day today. Berkeley wishes you a happy Indigenous Peoples Day.
posted to /life/bayarea at 9:13am :: 1 response
If you translate Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back into Latin, and then do a literal translation back into English, you get something like this:
Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.
For who, colleagues, would not admit,
Whenever a girl comes by with a rather small middle part of the body
Beneath which is an obvious spherical mass, that it inflames the spirits
So that you want to be conspicuous for manly virtue, noticing her breeches
Have been deeply stuffed with buttock?
[found on jwz]
posted to /misc at 9:13am :: 3 responses
Friday, 10 October 2003
This is a geek-rights issue that could impact anyone who watches TV, so listen up. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides some background:
The future of television is digital. In fact, the FCC has already said that television manufacturers will be required to include digital television (DTV) tuners in their sets after 2007. You may not have heard much about DTV yet, but Hollywood is already there, lobbying the FCC for regulations that will force “content protection” technology into every DTV device, including televisions, PVRs (including digital TiVos), and any computer that touches a DTV signal. more...
posted to /tech at 4:10pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 07 October 2003
I voted this morning, but after reading this article by an ex-coworker of mine, I am not at all convinced that my vote will be counted. There could be all sorts of shenanigans afoot, and we’d never, ever know.
posted to /news at 10:07am :: 0 responses
Monday, 06 October 2003
For the Beatles fans in the audience: An interview with Sir John Lennon, regarding, among other things, the 1980 assassination of Paul McCartney.

[found on The Morning News]
posted to /misc at 10:06am :: 2 responses
Wednesday, 01 October 2003
I’d like to humbly beg my readership’s indulgence, for I need to ask a favor. I’ve got some traffic-reporting software running here on mahnamahna.net, and I’m not sure I can believe what it is telling me. Therefore:

If you are a regular (or semi-regular) reader of this blog, I implore you to take twenty seconds out of your day and add a comment (content not important) to this entry. If you wish to remain an anonymous lurker-type, please consider posting a comment under a pseudonym. This is honor system stuff, obviously: Please post just one comment. But please, play this dumb little game just this once, so I can get a real handle on how many people are reading.

I thank you all in advance. Now let’s see that “comments” number climb.
posted to /site at 11:01am :: 13 responses
Saturday, 27 September 2003
Being a California Golden Bears fan is a bit like being a Cubs fan or a Red Sox fan: Your team never goes all the way and seems to have a problem with bad luck, but every now and then they pull off something that makes all the heartache worth it. I can’t say it any better than the team did in an e-mail I just received:
The California Golden Bears upset the #3-ranked USC Trojans on Saturday evening before 51,208 fans at Memorial Stadium and a national television audience. The win marks the first time the Bears have defeated a Top 5 nationally-ranked team in more than 28 years.
Let me add that the game was won in triple overtime. It was amazing, and I’m psyched to have been there. I also think I know what gave the Bears an edge: One of the first things the super-obnoxious Trojan band did was play Stanfurd’s fight song, “All Right Now.” I’m sorry, but if you’re going to pull shit like that, you deserve a trip to the shed and a long bus-ride home.
posted to /life/bayarea at 10:27pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 26 September 2003
I have got to try this the next time I’m in New York with someone.
posted to /misc at 11:26am :: 14 responses
Close up yer wounds when a bear attacks you!

[found on Fark]
posted to /misc at 11:26am :: 1 response
Wednesday, 24 September 2003
I’d like to think that the average American can spot the problem with what our president says here, but I think that would be naive.
“I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news,” the president said. “And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.”
Right. Cuz when you think objective you immediately think Rumsfeld and Rice and Ashcroft.

[found at Billmon’s Whiskey Bar]
posted to /politics at 10:24am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 23 September 2003
We got rid of DDT, and we’ve banned PCBs, but the “better living through chemistry” folks have another acronym up their sleeve. And it’s everywhere.
When Oakland resident Katrina Friedman, 31, agreed to join the study, she assumed that her healthy diet, yoga and a clean job at Hot Studio, a small San Francisco design firm, was producing chemical-free milk for her baby daughter, Ruby.

But Friedman had PBDE levels in her milk at 79 parts per billion, higher than the number that triggered a ban of the flame retardants in Europe.

“I love my child more than anything. I want to protect her from broken glass, bullies at school and invisible poisons like this one. But I’m powerless. These chemicals aren’t banned in the United States, and we’re just continuing to add them in the environment,” Friedman said.
posted to /news at 10:23am :: 1 response
Monday, 22 September 2003
A lonely woman in Florida drinks herself to death and leaves behind only bits and scraps of woe:
There were three yellow Post-its on the fridge. One said: “By myself, with myself.” Another said: “Broke and alone.” And the third said: “Higher purpose?”

On the dining room table was the start of a personal ad she had written in a lined notepad: “Single and ready to experience…”

She stopped before she figured out what she was ready to experience. On the next page, she had written: “Can’t. I’m not willing at this time.”
posted to /misc at 12:22pm :: 1 response
Sunday, 21 September 2003
I took this picture back in August but forgot to post it.
posted to /life/bayarea at 10:21pm :: 1 response
Thursday, 18 September 2003
There’s a new Beatles album coming out in November. I knew this was in the works, but I didn’t know the release date or the stupid name they’ve given it.

I already have un-Spectorized versions of the stuff on Let It Be, and it’s all definitely superior to what was originally released back in 1970, but there’s still no getting around the fact that the band was not making great music during these sessions. They filled their work environment with anger and acrimony until coming together one last time to craft Abbey Road, where the magic is palpable one last time.

[thanks to AK for the link]
posted to /art/music at 10:18am :: 2 responses
Wednesday, 17 September 2003
Wandering ever-so-slightly off the beaten path in southwest Berkeley last Saturday, I found a building that was really a ghost.
posted to /life/bayarea at 12:17am :: 9 responses
Tuesday, 16 September 2003
I took Political Science 101 as a senior in high school. My professor was a dude by the name of Carl Luna, and he was a better lecturer than any professor I encountered in my four years in the Poli Sci department at U.C. Berkeley.

Now Dr. Luna is authoring a blog on California’s recall for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Good, informed rants, and well worth the read if you’re a political junkie.
posted to /politics at 1:16pm :: 1 response
Monday, 15 September 2003
In my new hood, last Friday night …


posted to /life at 12:15am :: 0 responses
… is Yellowstone National Park:
“The impact of a Yellowstone eruption is terrifying to comprehend,” says Professor McGuire. “Magma would be flung 50 kilometers into the atmosphere. Within a thousand kilometers virtually all life would be killed by falling ash, lava flows, and the sheer explosive force of the eruption. One thousand cubic kilometers of lava would pour out of the volcano, enough to coat the whole of the USA with a layer 5 inches thick. The explosion would be the loudest noise heard by man for 75,000 years.”
posted to /misc at 12:15am :: 2 responses
Friday, 12 September 2003
Find out how rich you are (money-wise) compared to the rest of the world at the Global Rich List. Humbling stuff: If you’re making more than $33,700, you’re better off than 99 percent of your brothers and sisters on the planet.
posted to /misc at 11:12am :: 0 responses
Thursday, 11 September 2003
Tonight I went through three shoebox-sized boxes of “miscellaneous important stuff” that followed me here to the new digs. These seem to be functioning as a time capsule of sorts. Among the items I have stashed away in these boxes over the years:
  1. The San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, May 30, 1996, the front page of which uncharacteristically sported Herb Caen’s column. This was the day Caen told his readers he was dying.
  2. A printout of a job posting on IDG.com, dated 11/10/98, for “Associate Editor, Here’s How Online / PC World, Online Services Group.” In pencil is my shit-I’m-excited scrawl reading 11:00 A.M. FRIDAY. That must’ve been the interview.
  3. A $98 credit at Fry’s Electronics, dated June 11, 2001. I was issued this as a result of the Fry’s Low Price Guarantee, but after receiving it, I went through a long period of buying no goodies at Fry’s, and I forgot I had it. Then I remembered I had it, but by then, I didn’t know where it was anymore. Now here it is. It has no expiration date on it. They should accept it, right?
  4. The New Yorker, September 24, 2001 issue. Front cover: Black towers on a black background. Two years ago now. Heavens. There is a mailing label on the cover. It lists a place where I no longer reside.
posted to /life at 12:11am :: 2 responses
Tuesday, 09 September 2003
Opus is returning to the Sunday comics, and I ain’t talking reruns, here.

[found on Slashdot]
posted to /misc at 10:09am :: 0 responses
Monday, 08 September 2003
I have never had to wash my dishes by hand. Every non-dorm place I have ever lived in has had a dishwasher, until now. This makes for an interesting adjustment.

Luckily, I have a sink that is very conducive to quick and efficient washing, if you feel like being serious about things. It’s a small double sink, so you can very quickly flood one of ‘em with soapy water, dump the dishes in, go at it all with a brush or whatever your own favorite implement of destruction is, then rinse in the other sink, and then dump everything into the drying tray on the counter next to the sink.

I did some semi-serious cooking this evening, so it called for some semi-serious dishwashing. I was in the middle of the aforementioned procedure when I flashed back to when I was sixteen. I used to work eight hour dishwashing shifts at San Diego’s Sea World. In the summertime, during tourist season. Back then, I had three very large sinks in my arsenal, along with a dedicated garbage disposal that had its own mini-sink. Plus industrial soap, and bleach that I could use for sanitizing things in the third sink, if protocol required it and I felt relatively un-mistreated by my employer that day.

So tonight I was scrubbing a small sauté pan when some long-forgotten muscle memory kicked in, and my hands awakened and reminded me that years ago, I would scrub ten-gallon copper caramel pots and such for days and days. I tripped on that for a bit, standing there in my tiny kitchen here at the new digs, washing dishes by hand for the first time in a dozen years.
posted to /life at 11:08pm :: 2 responses
Friday, 05 September 2003
Fifteen years after his death, Robert A. Heinlein’s long-lost first novel is being published. Posthumous productions are generally disappointing, but Heinlein, in death, has amazed me before: The uncut edition of Stranger in a Strange Land is one of my all-time favorite reads. (I have what I think is a killer film adaptation rumbling around in my head. Perhaps someday I’ll let it pour out.)
posted to /art/books at 3:05pm :: 2 responses
Thursday, 04 September 2003
So one dear friend gives me a copy of the movie poster for Gigantic (a documentary about They Might Be Giants, New York band extraordinaire) as a housewarming gift. And I realize that it needs to go on the side of the fridge, a very visible spot in my new digs. Now, how to affix it there? Oh, how ‘bout with the handcrafted New York subway magnets that another dear friend gave me for Christmas last year? Perfect!

It’s interesting how various possessions are playing entirely new roles here at the new digs. Magnets that never before had an important function now have one; a bedroom bookshelf moves out of the bedroom; a phone that has not been used for years suddenly comes in handy because it fits where others will not, and I realize for the first time how pleasing its real-bell ring is compared to modern electronic chirps. Anything is possible when even an object as mundane as a lamp suddenly takes on a whole new and exciting and fantastic function.

There is rebirth all around me, everywhere I look. I am living in easterland, and I feel it warming me from within.
posted to /life at 11:04pm :: 1 response
“I don’t think either one of us knows why we split up. It was like, say you’re going to a nightclub one night with your friends and you’re in line and the next thing you know there are guys with helicopters and there’s machine-gun fire and you don’t know what happened. And that’s kind of like what our breakup was like.”
posted to /misc at 2:04pm :: 2 responses
Wednesday, 03 September 2003
That’s the only word a friend had when I asked how Burning Man was this year. Pictures like these and these make me want to experience it next year.
posted to /misc at 12:03am :: 0 responses
You cook dinner and melted cheese drips onto the oven floor for the first time. You put a scratch in the wood floor. You replace a lightbulb with another of lower intensity. You learn where the floor squeaks, and how the breeze comes in most strongly through a particular window. You cart people over and ask them what they would do with a problemmatic room. You make your house a home.
posted to /life at 12:03am :: 2 responses
Saturday, 30 August 2003
Today is the first Cal football home game of the season. GO BEARS! Tomorrow, I move for the first time in six years. GO ME! Updates may cease for a bit if there are connectivity issues at the new digs. Happy long weekend to everybody.
posted to /life at 10:30am :: 0 responses
Thursday, 28 August 2003
You’d think that the events of the past couple of years would have taught Americans a lot about the danger of mixing religion and government, of the value of separating church and state. But no: Four out of five Americans do not understand the Constitution. Of that group, I’d have to guess that the vast majority are Christians; I doubt there are many American Hindus (or Buddhists or what-have-you) out there who think it’s a good idea to erect Judeo-Christian monuments in government buildings. It matters not to the Bible-thumpers. They’re gonna show up and shove God — their God — down your throat whether you like it or not. (And by the way, you’re going to hell.)

[found on The Morning News]
posted to /politics at 11:28am :: 0 responses
Pure Web fun: elevatormoods

I recommend starting with a selection other than #1, which is a bit of a downer (no pun intended).
posted to /misc at 11:28am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 26 August 2003
Check this out, word-nerds.

[Thanks to LB for the link.]
posted to /misc at 12:26am :: 0 responses
Monday, 25 August 2003
And what it is ain’t exactly clear. Some sort of ruling has come down on the California DVD Case, but the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation seem to disagree on what was actually decided.

Skimming over the actual decision I think what I am seeing is that the original preliminary injunction — requiring the defendant to remove DeCSS code from the Web — has been upheld. That’s what the A.P. article zeroes in on. But there is a bunch of other language in here that seems helpful to the EFF and all the other Good Guys in this saga. So that’s where the EFF’s optimism must be coming from. Hmm.
posted to /tech at 1:25pm :: 1 response
The Washington Post reports the story but misses the most important part, which Lessig brings out to some degree on his blog. Listen: Open Source and Free Software crusaders are not against such things as intellectual-property rights. What the General Public License (for example) basically says is this: more...
posted to /tech at 12:25am :: 0 responses
Friday, 22 August 2003
New Line has decided to release the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers — previously available only on DVD — to theaters in the weeks leading up to the premiere of the saga’s last installment, The Return of the King. Kick ass!
posted to /art/cinema at 11:22am :: 3 responses
Someone keyed my car last night. Not horribly — I think it will mostly come out with a good strong buffing — but still, this just stinks. I didn’t do nothing to nobody: didn’t steal no one’s parking space, didn’t mouth off to nobody, nothing. Nothing, I tell you. But out of the blue, this. Some people just suck beyond belief.

And yet, this cannot ruin my Friday. I move in just a week and a coupla days. Last night I bought rugs for the new digs. Tomorrow there is some serious freaking A/V shopping on tap. Life is wonderful, and nothing’s going to convince me otherwise today.
posted to /life at 10:22am :: 1 response
Wednesday, 20 August 2003
If not, I highly recommend The Bear Went Over the Mountain. Just finished it. Don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. Very funny, and in its own strange way, very, very deep.

The closest thing to it I can think of is Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. (What? Never read that? Imagine the product of an early 20th-century Irish Douglas Adams. Drool.)
posted to /art/books at 1:20am :: 2 responses
1) So I’m watching Letterman tonight, and suddenly the video is replaced by a screen of text, white on a red background, looking like something produced by an oldschool TV-studio character generator, the sort of crap they had for the video productions class at my high school, and it says:
Emergency Alert System
Tune to Channel 20 for Emergency Instructions
Child Abduction Emergency
more...
posted to /life at 12:20am :: 0 responses
Monday, 18 August 2003
Google just got more powerful.

[found on Follow Me Here]
posted to /tech at 11:18am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 17 August 2003
You know the crap the Republicans pulled in 1998. You know the crap they pulled in 2000. Most of my readers are probably pretty well up-to-date with the crap they’re pulling now in California. But have you caught wind of the crap they’re pulling in Texas? And can you spot the pattern here?
posted to /politics at 11:17pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Tonight I saw Gigantic, a well-crafted documentary about one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants. The film kicked much ass and had some great footage of TMBG’s John and John and the Band of Dans, but I think my favorite shot was a brief glimpse of the New York subway. The screen was suddenly filled with the unmistakable tile, a station sign in the unmistakable font, and then, the unmistakable shining silver behemoth, barreling into the station like something terribly out of control.

I arrived home to find that Gothamist (one helluva four-star blog that you must start reading if you love New York) had a posting about the subway, and a nice little picture. Sigh! Perhaps the universe is telling me I need to visit New York. After all, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve been down below with my beloved silver trains. Or had decent deli. Who wants to go to New York with me?

(Alternatively, perhaps the universe is telling me it is time to return to and finally finish Major Art Project #2, which is intensely subway-related and has been on the back burner for so long that Major Art Project #3 has since been conceived and completed.)
posted to /life at 12:13am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 12 August 2003
Sometimes life gets busy, and in a good way. Something clicks in your brain. Things seem different. More possible. Inertia decreases. Momentum increases. Fog: Now gone. And if you’re me, you suddenly find that you’ve found yourself a new place to live. My days in this place where I’ve lived for six years — six years! — are now finally, officially, numbered.

[Thanks to the_lucky_duck for this entry’s title.]
posted to /life at 1:12pm :: 5 responses



posted to /life at 1:12am :: 0 responses
Thursday, 07 August 2003
John Ashcroft just called to say “I told you so.” (I mentioned Mr. Hawash a while back).
posted to /news at 9:07am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 05 August 2003
You see the damnedest things on the streets of San Francisco.
posted to /life/bayarea at 11:05pm :: 31 responses
Monday, 04 August 2003
If you’re into politics (or you like to keep on top of Boosh’s myriad lies as best you can) you really must start reading Billmon’s Whiskey Bar. Today’s post, “The Check is Not in the Mail,” is a shining example of why.
posted to /politics at 7:04pm :: 0 responses
Sez the New York Times:
Geoff Garin, a pollster who is working for Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, said the Democratic anger toward Mr. Bush was “as strong as anything I’ve experienced in 25 years now of polling,” and perhaps comes closest to the way many Democrats felt about President Richard M. Nixon.
[feel free to use gatsby/daisy as user/pass pair]
posted to /politics at 12:04am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 03 August 2003
I’ve had a two-concert weekend, and lord, how it has soothed my soul. Friday night I saw blues legend B.B. King play out at Chronicle Pavillion. What a fantastic treat. I was never much into the blues until this past year, and now I just can’t get enough. I’ve discovered there’s nothing better to listen to when you’re down: The blues doesn’t hold you down in your depths; they make you realize that we all hit rough spots, that overall things aren’t so bad, and that even in the midst of adversity, you can still let your light shine, and you can still create something breathtakingly beautiful. I feel blessed to have seen B.B. play. He’s getting on up there in years, and we may not have him around for too much longer, although he looked and sounded awfully good to me. I’d bet my last dollar he keeps performing till the day he leaves us. more...
posted to /life at 4:03pm :: 2 responses
The Boy Scouts are in trouble in my hometown. Their 18-acre camp and council headquarters facility in Balboa Park is leased to them by the city for a buck a year, and that preferential treatment is now under fire in the courts due to the BSA’s official policies that exclude gays and atheists from the organization. more...
posted to /news at 3:03pm :: 2 responses
Monday, 28 July 2003
The Grand Lake Theater is not only the Bay Area’s most beautiful old-time moviehouse. It also displays fantastic political messages on its marquee from time to time, just as the old U.C. Theater did (and how we miss it so!).
posted to /politics at 12:28am :: 3 responses
Saturday, 26 July 2003
We killed the Hussein brothers. We took pictures of the bodies and showed them to the world. Okay, you might convince me that this was a necessary evil, given the parameters of the ongoing disaster over there. But then we cut the bodies open, shaved them, plastered and painted their faces, and again took pictures and showed them to the world. Well, I’m sorry. I think that Rumsfeld has lost it.

Isn’t it interesting that IslamOnline.net is the only site I can find that is showing the before-and-after shots side by side? Every bit as interesting as the fact that its article was so prominently linked to on Google News
posted to /news at 1:26am :: 0 responses
Thursday, 24 July 2003
One of the highlights of my recent week away was getting to make friends with a dog named Dutch. He is a golden retriever / german shepherd mix. Last night I hung out with a friend and Cinnamon, her energetic mutt. And for the next couple of days, I am caring for Henry, a camera-shy feline who very nearly got me thinking I need a cat. (I don’t. Do I?) What I really need is a dog, but that’s not going to happen until I have a house and a yard someday. Dogs need yards.
posted to /life at 11:24pm :: 0 responses
The International Herald Tribune (which has one of the craftiest site designs on the web) brings us the best article I’ve read about this recall foolishness here in California. Duly noted are the impact of Propositions 13 and 98, and Darrell Issa, San Diego slimeball extraordinaire. If you’re not up to date on this saga, this will catch you up.
posted to /politics at 10:24pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 16 July 2003
One rule of vacations is that sometimes the weather does not cooperate. But, even with the clouds, does this look so bad?

(Besides, the Bay Area has gotten me used to skies like these.)
posted to /life at 11:16pm :: 4 responses
Monday, 14 July 2003
sign
I am completely down with this and other “English” rules posted at the entrance to a botanical garden in Hanoi.

(This image made its way to me in friend-of-a-friend fashion to make its Web debut here at mahnamahna.net. I’ll let the photographer decide whether to claim his fame in the comments or labor on in obscurity.)
posted to /misc at 12:14am :: 1 response
Wednesday, 09 July 2003
You thought this new decade was just about terrorists and war and lying Republicans. But noooo: This is also the decade in which we begin to phase out swimming pools with deep ends. No kidding. Mark Morford, wackjob columnist for SFGate, usually the sort who is off the deep end, has something to say about this.

I have such fond memories of swimming lessons from my childhood. I don’t know how many summers had swimming lessons as a major component. At least five. And I know exactly what Morford is talking about. I remember triumphing over the deep end. It changed from a Dangerous Place where I was not allowed to an area I could splash on out to, turn around, and look across the pool to the kids who couldn’t yet tread water. There I was, and there they were. Kids. Growing up.
posted to /misc at 10:09pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 08 July 2003
The Internet is shit. I do a lot of net.cheerleading, but this dude has a really good point, I must admit.
posted to /tech at 1:08pm :: 2 responses
Monday, 07 July 2003
The Web can teach you wonderful things. Like how to take good pictures of fireworks. I really wish I’d read that last week. more...
posted to /life at 7:07pm :: 0 responses
A school board member in Illinois is in trouble for his advice to others regarding comments at a committee meeting. Sure, his statement is risqué, and therefore probably inappropriate given the setting, but humiliating and degrading? Really? The uncanny thing is, my ninth-grade English teacher — a woman — used the exact same metaphor in explaining how long our essays should be.

[found at the Obscure Store and Reading Room]
posted to /news at 11:07am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 06 July 2003
Experience the works of Larry Carlson.
posted to /misc at 12:06am :: 0 responses
Friday, 04 July 2003
On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate not only liberty, independence, and freedom; we also celebrate the power of the written word. Other countries celebrate their independence on the day a jail was stormed, the day a monarch granted autonomy, the day a war was won. Americans celebrate the day the country’s founders put quill to ink and crafted an elegant screed. Word up.

We don’t have a monarch here in America, but we do have sacred texts that we hold every bit as dear. The Declaration of Independence, like its brother the Constitution, is a brilliant document but an imperfect one. We cringe now at the Constitution’s three-fifths compromise, and similarly, this bit from the Declaration, recalling one of the crimes of King George, certainly clashes with the premise than all men are created equal:
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
We take for granted how extraordinary the American experiment was at the time that it began. And we also take for granted how much closer we are now to a society that holds as “self-evident truth” the equality of all. But look: In 1776, we were still talking about savages. And slaves.

This country was not perfect when it was created. It is not perfect now. But it remains a bold experiment, one that thus far has brought a higher standard of living to more people than any experiment that came before. As the experiment continues, there will be further missteps, and there will be unexpected triumphs. But even when things are looking really bleak, keep your chin up, and have some faith in this country. And today, take a moment to admit it: We are, in fact, very lucky to live here.

Happy Fourth of July, folks.
posted to /life at 4:04pm :: 3 responses
Thursday, 03 July 2003
Senate majority leader Bill Frist used to adopt stray cats, take them home, kill them, and cut them into pieces. I ain’t kidding.

[feel free to use gatsby/daisy as user/pass pair; found on The Morning News]
posted to /politics at 9:03am :: 3 responses
Sunday, 29 June 2003
… between all the goings up and the whole of the comings down and the fog of the cloud in which we toil and the cloud of the fog under which we labour, bomb the thing’s to be domb about it so that, beyond indicating the locality, it is felt that one cannot with advantage add a very great deal to the aforegoing by what, such as it is to be, follows … (Finnegans Wake, 599: 29-34)
Yesterday I went wandering, and found myself at a place I have not visited since I was a different person. Come. I wish to show you this place.
posted to /life/bayarea at 7:29pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 27 June 2003
John Lennon sang to me this evening:
Can you hear me,
That when it rains and shines
It’s just a state of mind?
Can you hear me?
posted to /life at 12:27am :: 2 responses
Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Kinda hard to hold your head high when you travel abroad these days, isn’t it? What you need is the American Traveler International Apology Shirt!

[found on hebig.org/blog]
posted to /misc at 1:25pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 23 June 2003
John Edwards has balls. William Saletan proves it with a fantastic, short dissection of the candidate’s current message.

Points two through six form what I think is a strong common-sense argument that, if eloquently and passionately and intelligently voiced by a charismatic candidate, could put Boosh right out on his keyster. What are the odds?

[We now pause for a self-absorbed moment to note that this is mahna mahblog’s hundredth post. Huzzah!]
posted to /politics at 11:23pm :: 6 responses
Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Children’s Internet Protection Act is a travesty for many reasons, but above all it demonstrates the bind that we netizens will remain in until all our leaders understand and use the Internet. more...
posted to /news at 2:23pm :: 4 responses
Sunday, 22 June 2003
Today, Beck played the Greek Theater on the campus of my alma mater. It was an absolutely glorious, crystalline summer day. Blue skies. Slight breeze coming in off the bay, making the eucalyptus trees that ring the theater dance. more...
posted to /art/music at 11:22pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 20 June 2003
Listen up, Americans. Iraq is not a quagmire, and we are not engaged in an occupation of that country, and anyone who says we are is a goddam freedom-hater. Right? I’m caught up, right? Oh, no, missed one thing: Combat ended May 1. Thus spake Boosh, right? So: War over, no quagmire, no occupation. And yet
posted to /politics at 5:20pm :: 3 responses
Wednesday, 18 June 2003
Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair abolished the office of Lord Chancellor (which has been around since 605 C.E.) and paved the way for a Supreme Court to replace it. I love the British political system: It is like a cranky, pissy, gummy old engine that seems built to last forever. It’s flexible enough (unwritten constitutions help in that respect) and magical enough to rear up every now and again, sputter and cough, backfire, and then neatly retune itself. Hell, even the elections come along at irregular intervals. “Surprise! Time for new leaders!” That can happen in Britain. And Tony Blair can establish a Supreme Court. Cuz they don’t have one.

Of course, the Tories are saying not so fast. (Love those wigs, too.)

[A Reuters article running in “Bangladesh’s Independent News Source” — isn’t the web the damnedest thing?]
posted to /politics at 1:18am :: 2 responses
Monday, 16 June 2003
Alphablogger Cameron Barrett (the brains behind CamWorld) has launched WatchBlog, a three-columned blog focusing on issues relating to the 2004 election. Editors of the Democratic persuasion control the left column; Republican editors control the right column; and Third Party types control the content in the middle. This is a really fantastic idea. Let us hope the site does not disappoint!
posted to /politics at 12:16pm :: 1 response
…a man who never lived had a relatively ordinary day. Happy Bloomsday, readers!
posted to /misc at 12:16am :: 0 responses
Friday, 13 June 2003
There is an online parlor game of sorts that seems to be quite popular amongst the Live Journal types. Someone sends you five questions, and you answer ‘em on yer blog. Well, why the hell not? The following questions come to me from my good friend Dave, The Dangerous Episcopalian, a.k.a. Bigpancakes. more...
posted to /misc at 12:13pm :: 6 responses
Thursday, 12 June 2003
California State Senator John Vasconcellos has introduced a bill that would provide ID cards to users of medicinal marijuana. The legislation, through sheer coincidence, currently carries the designation — are you ready for this? — Senate Bill 420. Not laughing? Catch up.

[found on petebeck.com]
posted to /misc at 4:12pm :: 1 response
Monday, 09 June 2003
Surely you can spare a minute to clean your ears? Take a one-minute vacation from the life you are living.

One-minute vacations are unedited recordings of somewhere, somewhen. Sixty seconds of something else. Sixty seconds to be someone else.
One-minute vacations are brought to you by Quiet American and are highly addictive.
posted to /misc at 1:09pm :: 2 responses
Sunday, 08 June 2003
Does anybody out there have a use for the Insert key? I accidentally hit it a few minutes ago — kicking the machine into that godawful bizarro mode in which anything you type overwrites whatever is in its path — and because I type pretty fast, it took me a few keystrokes before I realized what was happening, at which point I had to stop, look, find the freaking Insert key, and punch it again to stop the insanity. I have to stop and look to find the key, mind you, because outside of situations like this where I’ve inadvertently hit it, I have no need to hit it. Ever. I do not know of a single application in which it performs a useful function instead of “enable bizarro mode.” It exists only to cause me a minor annoyance now and again when it requires me to press it again. As if to keep it appeased.

(Can some Mac user out there tell me if Macs do the same thing with Insert?)
posted to /tech at 10:08pm :: 3 responses
Thursday, 05 June 2003
“The postwar period in Iraq is messy. We haven’t found what we said we’d find there and there are unpleasant questions about assumptions we made and intelligence we had,” said one senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If many more months go by and our troops are still there, the Iraqis are still fighting each other and us, and we still haven’t found any WMD, there will be hell to pay.”
Oh yeah? Ya mean things aren’t looking so good overseas? Well they’re no better here, where a new government audit spells it out quite clearly: Detentions of foreigners following 9/11 were “unduly harsh”. (A Justice Department spokeswoman’s response was the bureaucratic equivalent of “tough shit.”) Meanwhile, the Rs decided to trim the cost of the President’s tax cut by hosing cuts for the folks who need it most.

But not to worry. Perhaps it will all be over soon. (If you feel down about this stuff a lot, perhaps you should bookmark that last link.)
posted to /politics at 1:05pm :: 2 responses
Naomi Watts would like you know that her dog may be sick, but he is no stoner. Please be understanding.
posted to /news at 1:05pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 02 June 2003
Every now and again I find an old eighties album in the used bin that I’ve never gotten around to buying a copy of. And I snag it. The most recent is INXS’s Kick. Man, what an album. How many of y’all remember “Mediate,” the trippy coda for “Need You Tonight”? It consists mostly of nonsense along with a few great bits of advice, all in phrases ending in -ate — not unlike when Joyce fills a page with -ation words in Finnegans Wake. The “Need You Tonight” video included “Mediate,” which got a treatment that ripped off Bob Dylan’s promo for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: As each line was sung, a card with the lyric was held up and then tossed to the ground.

I thought it was pretty common knowledge that INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence died of autoerotic asphyxiation, but Google’s results seem to indicate that that fact has never been confirmed. No matter the cause, when INXS died along with Hutchence, we lost a fantastic band.
posted to /art/music at 11:02pm :: 5 responses
Sunday, 01 June 2003
Last night as I was preparing dinner, there was a strange and alarming noise outside. It sounded sort of like someone setting off some firecrackers in the nearby parking lot, but I took a look out there and saw nothing. Today I discovered the source: The large tree outside our apartment lost one of its main branches.


Last week there were some birds beginning to nest in that tree. They chirped nearly constantly in the morning and at twilight. Today there was no sign of them.

Happy June, readers!
posted to /life at 11:01pm :: 2 responses
Thursday, 29 May 2003
What do you do when you’ve just burned a CD and you realize you don’t have a spare jewelcase to store it in? Point your browser to papercdcase.com.

[And it’s powered by Free Software! Buy recycled paper!]
posted to /tech at 12:29am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 28 May 2003
The Netherlands is gearing up to outlaw indoor smoking, California and New York City style. But wait! What about Amsterdam’s coffee shops? Unclear.
posted to /news at 1:28pm :: 0 responses
It’s taken four years, but the California DVD case will finally reach the state Supreme Court on Thursday. (From there, it will probably head to the U.S. Supreme Court.) And yet, the media is still getting the story completely wrong: DeCSS was not created to copy DVDs (though its code can be used in that fashion), but rather to make DVDs viewable with Free Software.

See, you may think you “own” those shiny silver discs you’ve bought. You may think you can play your DVDs on whatever damn hardware you like. But the movie industry says you’re wrong. Moving overseas? Your American DVDs won’t play on European or Asian players. Run Linux instead of Windows or the Mac OS? Too bad: There is no sanctioned player software for that platform. Free Software projects don’t pay ransoms to gain the “secret recipes” needed to access closed data formats — instead, such projects reverse engineer the formats in question. The movie mavens (along with their inbred cousins in the music industry and the commercial software cabal) want to outlaw this sort of reverse engineering for good.

This might not sound scary if you’re the type of person who sticks to commercial software and never has a need to reverse engineer a damned thing. Windows will always play DVDs, and Windows is all you’ll ever use, so why should you care about this issue? I’ve got one word for you: e-books. If industry can in fact control how you access the content you have paid for, then the evil possibilities are endless when we arrive at a time and space where e-books are more prevalent than their dead-tree counterparts.

Say you someday purchase a book in Microsoft Reader 11.0 format. Two years later, you decide to upgrade to a new e-book reader. You get home and you realize that your new reader only reads Microsoft Reader 12.0 files. Microsoft is willing to “upgrade” your 11.0 format books to the new format, but for a fee.

Right there, you’ve been denied access to content you paid for. Will it be legal for you, at that point in time, to reverse engineer the 11.0 books you own and convert them to 12.0 format yourself? Or would it be legal for you to hire some good-natured hacker to do this work for you?

Some geek in the back just stood up and said my example is bogus, because we can safely assume that new hardware would be backwards-compatible and would be able to read older files. All right, then: Say you purchase a bunch of books in a competing format — Adobe’s e-book format, version 8.0 let’s say — and that competing format doesn’t do so well in the marketplace, and eventually, Adobe gives up, packs up, goes home. You’ve got a few dozen books in their format, which is now abandoned. And then your Adobe e-book reader fails, and you can’t find replacement parts or anyone who can fix it. Will it be legal for you to reverse engineer the Adobe format and convert your books to another format you can access? Will it be legal for you to pay a hacker to do the work for you?

We don’t know the answers to these questions yet. The next chapter in this particular legal saga begins tomorrow.
posted to /tech at 12:28pm :: 7 responses
Thursday, 22 May 2003
This smells like a hoax to me (where’d the picture come from?) but I don’t care. I love bears. And here we’ve got one that came across a U.S. Navy submarine and decided to try to make a snack of it.

[found on jwz’s Journal]
posted to /misc at 11:22pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 20 May 2003
If you’re visiting Manchester, England anytime soon, you can have lunch at Fawlty’s, be mistreated, and love it. (I’ll have a side of rat, please.)
posted to /misc at 12:20pm :: 0 responses
Are you like me? Are you a wannabe, self-taught coder who understands the concept of regular expressions, but hasn’t mastered them yet? Or are you a Real Coder who needs a tool to help churn out particularly nasty regexes? The Regex Coach is your salvation. Look at that screenshot! Wow! And the sucker runs in Windows or Linux! If only it were Free

[found on hebig.org/blog]
posted to /tech at 8:20am :: 0 responses
We all worry about the folks who create The Simpsons running out of ideas. (Well, those of us who do not believe that’s already happened worry about it.) If truth be told, the series is just not as consistently funny as it used to be. How much longer can it possibly go on?

Last night as I was watching the show, a solution struck me. What if all the characters changed? I mean, what if they shook up the show with some season-ender that just changed everything, and then picked up from there the following season, and stuck with the changes? It would be sort of like that trick they pulled on you in the original Legend of Zelda, where, at game’s end, you were suddenly told there was a second quest to fulfill. And in that second quest, all the locations were the same, and yet different; all the characters were the same, and yet different.

Imagine: Springfield outlaws nuclear power, doing away with Homer’s job and reducing Mr. Burns to a beggar. Mayor Quimby is impeached and removed from office. Moe finally comes out of the closet and declares his love for Smithers; they open a bed and breakfast while Barney takes over Moe’s tavern. The Simpsons win the lottery and move into Mr. Burns’s mansion. Maggie (but no one else) suddenly ages a few years and is no longer completely dependent on Marge, who celebrates her freedom by running for mayor. You get the idea. Now it’s your turn: What happens to Flanders? Grandpa? The Old Sea Captain? Perhaps some characters become more important than before, while others fade into obscurity (I nominate Reverend Lovejoy). Mightn’t all this get us ten years of fresh scripts?

Alas, history shows this approach isn’t a guaranteed creative jackpot: Recall the directionless second season of Twin Peaks, in which they changed most of the show’s characters drastically but couldn’t very well figure out what to do with them. Still, wouldn’t bizarro Simpsons someday be better than no Simpsons?
posted to /misc at 8:20am :: 3 responses
Monday, 19 May 2003
A Danish court has ruled that an art project that killed fish in a blender is humane. (Don’t miss the pictures.)
posted to /misc at 10:19pm :: 1 response
Friday, 16 May 2003
When I was little, I saw the moon in the sky one afternoon. My four- or five-year-old mind was encountering data that violated a pattern I thought I understood. The moon was out, and yet it was not nighttime. So I asked my dad why the moon was out.

Dad looked up at the moon and said, “Well, I guess the guys who take it down in the morning forgot, and left it up there.”

I cannot remember how long I believed that there were in fact men responsible for putting the moon up and taking it down. But I know I believed it that afternoon.

luna
At some point during my teenage years, I came down with the idea that when lonely people look up at a full moon, the mates they have yet to discover look up at the same moment; that connections are strengthened in these instants; and that two people, unknowing, connection strengthened, would suddenly be one step closer to finding each other.

The concept reshaped itself when I got me a girl. On fullmooned nights when we were apart, I would think to myself, as I looked up, that surely she was looking at the moon too, because I could feel the connection, and I felt it could carry me through anything. I called her once, asked her to go to the window and look at the moon with me. I suppose I was cheating to keep a pet notion alive.

Tonight as I drove home, there was a burned out moon in the sky.

By the time I got home, there was a new moon emerging from its chrysalis.

(“Easter,” he thinks yet again. “Rebirth.”)
posted to /life at 12:16am :: 1 response
Thursday, 15 May 2003
Over at petebeck.com I discovered a very useful stress test.
posted to /misc at 11:15am :: 0 responses
Monday, 12 May 2003
My weekend included both baseball and fireworks.

posted to /life at 12:12am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 11 May 2003
My new Pentax Optio S — a super-nifty digital camera that fits in an Altoids tin — is the coolest toy I’ve treated myself to in a long time. I bought it thinking that I would not be able to get it to work directly with Linux, but this weekend things turned out better than I expected. To get an Optio S talking to Linux via USB, add the following lines to your /usr/src/linux/drivers/usb/storage/unusual_devs.h file:
UNUSUAL_DEV(  0x0a17, 0x0006, 0x0000, 0xffff, 
		"Pentax", 
		"OPTIO S", 
		US_SC_8070, US_PR_CB, NULL, US_FL_MODE_XLATE|US_FL_FIX_INQUIRY ),
Now recompile your kernel. After a reboot, your Optio will act like any other usb-storage device, fully browsable from any mount point you set up.

Ain’t Linux a hoot? Ah, but someday this foolishness will not be necessary. There is already less and less of it all the time.
posted to /tech at 11:11pm :: 3 responses
I generally skip Mark Morford’s columns on SFGate. I find his writing shrill. He’s especially over-the-top as he sings the praises of San Francisco (“perfectly climated”? come on!) but it is still a good read that captures a lot of what I love about living in the Bay Area.

A lot of what Morford has to say about SF is also true for the more dynamic and spirited parts of the East Bay. Let’s not forget that Oakland beats the pants off the City in terms of diversity, and that Berkeleyans can wonderfully outweird their peninsular cousins any day of the week. We have better movie theaters and better pizza over here, too. And much less of that damned fog.
posted to /life/bayarea at 5:11pm :: 0 responses
Jon Udell is right on: SpamBayes absolutely rocks. Until recently, my spam level was very low, so I didn’t depend on a spam filter. But since February, I’ve been trapped in a massive spamstorm. Nowadays, I need a filter.

I only have two criteria for a spam filter. First, of course, it’s gotta catch an overwelming majority of the spam that comes in. Duh. But secondly, and even more importantly, it should never classify “ham” (real e-mail) as spam. Not ever. (I should not have to check my “spam” folder every now and again to make sure that a letter from my stepgrandmother in Illinois didn’t end up in the spam basket.)

SpamBayes has caught nearly 700 spams for me since February, when I started using it. And in that time, it has never — not once — flagged ham as spam.

Udell sez there is an Outlook version of SpamBayes, so I guess if you’re stuck with that particular demon, you’re not entirely out of luck. I’m using SpamBayes with fetchmail and pine, the most sublime e-mail client of all time. Bliss.
posted to /tech at 5:11pm :: 0 responses
The latest pictures from Hubble astound me. I do not understand how professional astronomers keep from breaking down from time to time, just plain weeping over the sheer vastness of that which they study. It’s staggering how much is out there, and how far away it is, and how old it is. And how small we are in relation to it all (in this life, anyway).
posted to /misc at 5:11pm :: 1 response
jd provides an excellent view of how the web continues to shake out, how the major media outlets still mostly don’t get it, and how blogs fit in to all of this.

[found on Scripting News]
posted to /misc at 5:11pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 07 May 2003
If I may borrow a line from Get Your War On, “Do you ever get the feeling that a secret game is being played in America, and nobody will tell you the rules?”

All sorts of media outlets are reporting that Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company, is actually taking a far larger, more lucrative role in the rebuilding of Iraq than previously disclosed. Did Halliburton have to bid for this opportunity? Hell no. Is Cheney still on their payroll? Hell yes. (To the tune of up to a million dollars a year.) more...
posted to /politics at 9:07pm :: 0 responses
Yesterday I read that Giants closer Robb Nen is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff. Surgery is required. Sigh.

Then I came to home to find new e-mail from my mother. Turns out my 87-year-old grandmother has been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff. Surgery is required.

Sigh.
posted to /life at 12:07am :: 2 responses
In 1997, Zannah, having fallen in love, created an exquisite online monument to her boy, which grew over the subsequent two years. The hopeless romantic in me thinks this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on the web. I wish there were more than fifty-six entries; I could page through these all night.

[Zannah also writes two fantastic blogs, vox.machina and #!/usr/bin/girl.]
posted to /misc at 12:07am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 06 May 2003
Two fantastic albums I’ve been enjoying lately:
  • Sway by Phaser. I saw this in the “new indies” section at Rasputin’s, with an interesting writeup beside it. Bought it on a whim. A little hard to describe — something like a fusion of Radiohead and The Verve. Extremely good stuff.
  • Evolve by Ani DiFranco. I have never been an Ani fan, but holy cow am I hooked now. Did you think folk-inspired music was dead? Did you think political music was dead? Wrong, boyo. Check out this disc’s title track. And regarding track four, “Slide”: Where else are you going to find lyrics like “my pussy is a tractor, and this is a tractor pull”? (And where can I find me a girl with that kinda spunk?)
posted to /art/music at 11:06pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 05 May 2003
How’s this for a Monday morning? You arrive at work to discover that, for the second time in as many years, an A/C unit on the floor above you malfunctioned over the weekend, sending water dripping down into your cube for hours and hours, destroying dead-tree files, soaking yer chair, and turning the carpet all spongy. As before, nothing expensive (yet replaceable) was damaged; the only casualties were cheap (but irreplaceable): interesting handouts from a training session I attended last year, docs and specs from older projects for which there never were electronic copies, and so forth. I have a funny feeling that since there is no immediate cost tied to this, in another year’s time I’ll go through this yet again. I wish the flood had destroyed my PC and monitor. That might have gotten a beancounter’s attention — when that happens, things get done. Hmmph.
posted to /life at 11:05am :: 0 responses
Thursday, 01 May 2003
I saw They Might Be Giants at the Great American Music Hall tonight. Predictably, they rocked the house. Just blew the roof right off the dump. It was a relatively typical TMBG show: Flansburgh never seems to age; Linnell always looks a bit different (he changes his hair or something) and a bit haggard. They are still touring with the Band of Dans, and guitarist Dan Miller never fails to amaze me. Glad to see that Flansburgh still delights in leading the crowd in a chant of “Dan Miller! Fuck yeah! Dan Miller! Fuck yeah!”

Now here’s the real scoop. If you’re me, what is the best thing you can imagine seeing on-stage? How about one of your very favorite bands covering a Beatles tune? Wait, we can do better than that: How about one of your very favorite bands covering a George song? “Fuck yeah!” But wait, we can do better than that. more...
posted to /art/music at 2:01am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 27 April 2003
Yesterday afternoon, I had already done my “work” (read: apartment hunting) for the day, so I headed into the City for a walk on the beach. If you’re me, you need walks on the beach from time to time. I’ve had one coming for a few weeks now. It was overdue.

Walks at Ocean Beach are one of the very few rituals in my life. The rules are simple. more...
posted to /life at 5:27pm :: 3 responses
Sexy Beast is one of two movies released in 2001 to feature a human-sized, demonic-looking rabbit. The other is Donnie Darko. Both these films are worth seeing, but the latter is one of my favorite films. Friday night, I watched it for the third or perhaps fourth time. more...
posted to /art/cinema at 4:27pm :: 1 response
At Rasputin’s last week, I picked The Stranglers Greatest Hits out of the used bin, kind of on a whim. I only knew one Stranglers song, “Peaches,” which serves as opening theme music for a great movie, Sexy Beast. Fun song that makes me smile + cheap used CD = spontaneous purchase.

Turns out it’s a fun disc, with a neat cover of a song I had not heard in years: “96 Tears,” originally a hit for Question Mark and the Mysterians in 1966. During my childhood, whenever that version of the song came on the car radio, my dad would emit an excited “Ooh!” or “Yes!” and crank the volume up. Great song. Sometimes the painfully simple lyrics work best:
Too many teardrops
For one heart
To be crying

Too many teardrops
For one heart
To carry on
posted to /art/music at 4:27pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 24 April 2003
If you see a robot rolling down the streets of Berkeley and it stops to inquire why you’re wearing clothes, don’t you worry about a thing. That’s just Slats, the latest creation of the dude who created The Sims.

[found on The Null Device]
posted to /tech at 11:24pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 23 April 2003
Dan Gillmor, the Merc’s fantastic tech writer, explains why the Mac platform is so exciting right now, especially among hackers.
posted to /tech at 1:23am :: 0 responses
Monday, 21 April 2003
Today my c: drive at work bit the dust.

I was installing Mandrake 9.1 and told it to go ahead and resize XP’s NTFS partition. It did that, but it also corrupted said partition. I actually don’t know for certain that the data loss is Mandrake’s fault — through a stupid mistake of my own that I cannot bring myself to detail here, the partition may have been in a damaged state when I told Mandrake to resize it. But I did not realize that until it was too late. And now I’ll never know.

The machine in question is a brand-spankin’-new Dell that I’ve only had for two months, and I still have my old machine, so I’ve really only lost two months’ worth of data. (Plus, a lot of my work — email included — lives on a server, not on my local drive.) The main loss is in the time it is going to take to rebuild my customized, comfortable Windows environment. No version of Windows has ever been usable out-of-the-box as far as I’m concerned, and XP is no exception. I spent three hours after my usual quitting time tonight installing and configuring software on the new box that our IS department brought over. I figure I’m not about halfway through.

Cherished readers, I hope your Mondays were better than mine.
posted to /life at 9:21pm :: 0 responses
Sunday, 20 April 2003
Berkeley’s College Avenue used to be Audubon Avenue. Telegraph was Choate, and Shattuck was Guyot. Martin Luther King Jr. Way was Grove Street. The flatlands were known as Ocean View. And those are just the changes in placenames. Fellow lovers of the East Bay, check out the history of Berkeley.
posted to /misc at 10:20pm :: 1 response
Today, I observed Easter for the first time in years, accompanying A&B to morning services at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. This ain’t church like I’ve ever seen it. Glide is the lifework of the Reverend Cecil Williams, who, over the past four decades, has built one of the most diverse, all-embracing, active congregations in the country. They are ten thousand strong. They are a tremendous force for good, and when you are in their midst, they seem to you unstoppable. more...
posted to /life/bayarea at 9:20pm :: 2 responses
Saturday, 19 April 2003
It’s all about baseball: April’s not even past us yet, and I’ve already taken in a National League game and an American League game. Today my afternoon consisted of beautiful sunshine, hot dogs, beer, a large soft pretzel with mustard, and a spanking of the Texas Rangers by the Oakland Athletics, 12-2.

I’d really like to be a hardcore A’s fan, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Nearly every game they play is marred by the designated hitter rule, one of the foulest creations known to man. Interestingly enough, there is an entire Web site devoted to abolishing the DH, but in reality, that will never happen as long as there is a players’ union. Here’s a bit of irony: History’s first designated hitter can’t believe the rule is still in place.
posted to /life at 4:19pm :: 0 responses
The harder we fuck with nature, the harder nature is going to fuck with us, period. Case in point.

[found on MetaFilter]
posted to /news at 10:19am :: 0 responses
When I was a sophomore at Cal, I remember teaching folks how to use the World Wide Web. It was exciting new technology that a lot of students hadn’t yet experienced.

Less than ten years later, things are quite different, of course. Students now blog and hack together creations like U.C. Berkeley Hot or Not and Final Distance, which, when fed your desired class list, outputs an optimized class schedule. Actually signing up for classes happens on the Web now, too. Wow. I hope the Tele-BEARS phone bots found work.
posted to /misc at 10:19am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 16 April 2003
The World Health Organization has confirmed that SARS is caused by the “same virus” that brought you the common cold. If that’s true, then how come every article I read speaks optimistically of a vaccine or even a cure? I mean, if it’s the same virus that causes the cold — which, last time I checked, can’t be prevented or killed off once it’s got you — then aren’t we just fucked?
posted to /news at 7:16pm :: 1 response
Conflict of Transportation Competitors is titled like a government report and reads like one too, but it is fascinating nevertheless. Wanna see how the Bay Bridge worked when trains crossed it? How about a map of the old Key System, which at one point connected San Francisco, Berkeley, Albany, Oakland, and San Leandro with electric streetcars? What’s with those “expressways” in San Jose? Also: details on how General Motors systematically destroyed every major transit system in California (with the exception of San Francisco’s Muni). Makes me feel kinda dirty for driving a Pontiac.

[found on Boing Boing]
posted to /misc at 7:16pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 14 April 2003
I knew this was coming, but I don’t keep up on NYC news as well as I’d like, so I did not know until today that tokens for the New York subway were sold for the very last time this past weekend. [Feel free to use the user/pass pair “gatsby/daisy” if you don’t have a NYT account.]

Back in college, visiting New York was nothing but a dream, and a friend named Anastasia gave me a subway token as a sort of “you’ll get there someday” keepsake. There has been an MTA token on my keychain ever since. Now it’s a relic. Sigh.

I have to admit that Metrocards are nifty and convenient, but I’ve always liked the tokens. The very idea that the transit system was so important as to merit its own currency struck me with awe the first time I found myself in Manhattan. I never knew the subway in the pre-electronic-turnstile era, but I always enjoyed the clink of the token as it slipped into the slot just prior to the distinctive beeeeee emitted by the gate when the green GO appears.

Aaaargh! It has been 205 days since I was last in New York. This is entirely unacceptable.
posted to /news at 6:14pm :: 3 responses
Thursday, 10 April 2003
Dave Winer is a brilliant, high-profile software/standards developer and Big Thinker who pontificates about this and that in his DaveNet blog and keeps track of the geeky world of scripting (as it relates to Web development) and more in his Scripting News blog. Winer is a dyed-in-the-wool commercial software developer: His company produces and sells the popular (and powerful) Radio Userland desktop blogging software. I tend not to give Winer as much credit as he probably deserves because — and this should be no surprise given his mode of making a living — he is hostile to the Open Source and Free Software movements, and has been known to badmouth both with red herrings and false premises. Winer likes open standards, but not Open Source. Pity.

He really does understand the power of the Web, though, and more specifically, the emerging power of Weblogs. His latest missive ties together the fall of Napster and the rise of blogs, and contains the most concise description I’ve yet seen of where I think the ‘net is headed:
One day, and that day is coming soon, a creative artist will use the weblog world to distribute a musical meme, good music, a catchy tune, and then sell a CD with a high-res scan of the same music, and that will undermine the smelly assholes and their cronies, forever. Say goodbye.
posted to /tech at 12:10am :: 0 responses
Baghdad has fallen. Get Your War On is there.
posted to /misc at 12:10am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 08 April 2003
Monday, 07 April 2003
Progress (?): There was a time in my life when I would have been horribly upset if a coworker’s reaction to a new shirt of mine was, “Oh, shit!” When it happened today, however, I just beamed.
posted to /life at 11:07pm :: 2 responses
Sunday, 06 April 2003
This article in the San Francisco Chronicle makes the case that Howard Dean, governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate, is beginning to harness the power of the Internet in ways that no politican ever has.

Are you against the war? Willing to vote Democratic? Don’t know much about Howard Dean? You should: He and Al Sharpton are the only two in the running who oppose our actions in the Middle East. Wanna know more? You can start with his official blog.
posted to /politics at 12:06am :: 0 responses
Saturday, 05 April 2003
The feel-good story from the front lines last week was the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital. Turns out a very brave Iraqi led the Marines right to her. The story is nothing short of amazing.

Martin Luther King was right: There are people of goodwill everywhere. It’s just tragic that they so rarely end up in positions of power.
posted to /news at 7:05pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 04 April 2003
Need a good laugh this fine Friday? This tale is beautifully written and funny as hell. “I awoke the way you awake when you suddenly know that there is a large levitating sinister presence hovering towards you with menacing intent through the malignant darkness.”

[found while exploring Deadly Bloody Serious]
posted to /misc at 10:04am :: 0 responses
I’m a huge Radiohead fan, but I don’t follow the various Web sites that offer daily news about the band, so I did not know until yesterday that early mixes of the band’s forthcoming album, Hail to the Thief, are supposedly “widely available” online.

I tried grabbing the tracks in various ways. Most of the popular P2P networks are most easily accessible via Windows, which I do not run at home, so I gave it a shot at work. LimeWire, the only Gnutella client I still trust (BearShare being chock full o’ spyware and adware and other nastiness), couldn’t hook me up. eDonkey also failed spectacularly. In both cases, I could see the files I wanted, but I could not download them due to network congestion, latency, and what-have-you. Kazaa got me pulling down data, but the mp3 tracks turned out to be minutes and minutes of silence. (Not sure what the story is there, but my assumption is that these files are decoys fed to the network by the band’s label.)

Two big ideas here: (1) I cannot for the life of me figure out why the music industry is so up-in-arms about P2P given that it is so amazingly bad at putting you in touch with what you want. P2P is barely-organized chaos that requires a lot of work on the part of the end-user. It is not friendly technology at all. This is the kind of crap that only college students have time for. (2) Radiohead’s two previous albums were also available online weeks before they were released. (I was enjoying Amnesiac for more than a month before it hit stores, at which point I bought a copy.) Did this hurt sales? According to this article chronicling the latest leaked tracks, Kid A and Amnesiac debuted at #1 and #2 on the Billboard 200. So … what’s the problem?

(I was eventually directed by a fellow fan to a Web page where the tracks remain available … for now.)
posted to /tech at 12:04am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 02 April 2003
If it is a crime to be an Arab-American citizen of these United States, with a wife, three beautiful children, and a successful career, then I suppose Mike Hawash is guilty. But last time I checked, none of these things are a crime. And yet Federal authorities are holding Mike Hawash despite having charged him with no crime. Keep in mind when you ponder this frightful scenario that in John Ashcroft’s America, you can be detained indefinitely without ever being charged with a crime. Please go check this out. The site I’ve linked to is run by a former Intel vice president and friend of Mr. Hawash who is concerned and outraged and trying to reverse this travesty of justice — a type of travesty that is becoming more and more prevalent in our country.
posted to /news at 10:02pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 31 March 2003
Tell me: How much better would your quality of life be if everyone followed these simple rules? Especially C1. Come to think of it, C1 kinda applies to elevators, too. Is there anything more annoying than people who try to crowd into an elevator before folks have a chance to get out?

And since we’ve mentioned elevators, how about those morons — slightly above krill on the food chain — who arrive at the top of an escalator and then just stand there, oblivious to the domino-esque human catastrophe forming behind them?

[found on kottke.org]
posted to /misc at 8:31pm :: 1 response
Saturday, 29 March 2003
A week ago, the tree outside my bedroom window was still bare, and I looked out at it, wondering when the green would start to emerge. Today, its skeleton is covered in bright shoots. In another month it will be lush and once again keeping most of the sunlight out of my room — the only drawback to its being there.

Today was one of those warm, crystalline-clear days that makes the Bay Area just shine. I spent several hours in the City, neighborhood-shopping for my impending move. It was unusually warm over there. I’d worried about being chilled by the usual SF breezes. Not today.

Returning home on BART, I looked out one side to the tree-lined East Bay hills, and out the other to the sparkling bay. And I thought to myself, There is no place I’d rather live.
posted to /life/bayarea at 8:29pm :: 0 responses
In a dream I had last night, there was no Pacific Bell Park five blocks from my office; instead, there was a massive, abandoned high-rise hotel down by the water. I think my mind based this structure on pictures I’ve seen of Detroit’s Book-Cadillac Hotel (more on that fantastic structure here).

At any rate, in the dream, I headed down to the hotel with several coworkers. Exploration was our goal, Dark Passage-style. Urban archeology. We broke in — it wasn’t hard — and began poking around. To our astonishment, one of the elevators was in working order. It arrived with a tremendous groaning sound just seconds after LB pressed the call button. more...
posted to /life at 11:29am :: 1 response
Thursday, 27 March 2003
Sure, the French hate the war, and the Bay Area hates the war. Sadly, that is not the only commonality between us Bay Area types and our brothers and sisters in France.
posted to /news at 7:27pm :: 0 responses
There has been a lot of noise made over the past few days about how the Iraqi forces are disregarding the “rules” of war. Last night on CBS, I heard a Marine whine (yes, I’ll use that word) about how they’ve encountered enemy soldiers who don’t “fight like men” — in other words, don’t wear fatigues and shoot when expected to.

I won’t argue that the summary execution of prisoners of war is justified; it’s not. It’s disgusting. But throughout history, the underdogs in armed conflict have always resorted to tactics that fall outside the generally-accepted rules of engagement. Our country is no exception. Let’s think back to 1776 for a minute. Back then, the accepted way to go into battle was to don colorful uniforms (they didn’t call the British “red coats” for nothing) and march down the road with fife and drum making plenty of racket. But the American Minutemen hid in the bushes and picked off the Brits with their muskets. Not fair!

So if we’re going to fight this damn war, how about we shut up about the actions of our enemy and just fight the war? I thought we’d decided that the time for talking was over.
posted to /news at 1:27pm :: 2 responses
My good friend Dave has put together a fantastic gallery documenting recent attacks on McDonald’s restaurants around the globe. Power to the people!
posted to /news at 1:27pm :: 0 responses
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter says that “The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win.” This is an interesting viewpoint you won’t be hearing via our mainstream media.
posted to /news at 1:27pm :: 0 responses
Great news for NYC residents and all the rest of us who love the place. Those annoying recorded messages in taxis that remind us to buckle up? Going the way of the dodo.

[found on The Morning News]
posted to /news at 1:27pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 26 March 2003
… what it is ain’t exactly clear. Two very different takes on the war tonight on network television. On NBC’s Dateline, a portrait of a Pentagon in disarray, stunned by the ferocity of the resistance in Iraq … “shock and awe” a complete failure … commanders on the ground begging for reinforcements that aren’t going to be there for days … not-so-subtle hints that the war could drag on for months.

But on CBS’s 60 Minutes II, a very different picture: our forces facing harsher conditions and tougher fighting than expected, yes, but holding their own and beginning to distribute humanitarian aid in Umm Qasr … footage of civilians in that town (mostly children: beautiful, hopeless, struggling, heartbreaking children) crowding around military water trucks, carrying away the first potable water available there in more than a week, flashing the thumbs-up sign to the camera.

What to believe? (And am I the only one who thinks of Homer Simpson every time I hear the name “Umm Qasr”? <homer>”Mmmmm, qasr!”</homer>)
posted to /news at 10:26pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 25 March 2003
This site is now generated by HTML code that contains no <table> tags whatsoever, but instead lays everything out via CSS positioning. (If you know what that is, you probably understand why I’ve affected this transition, and why it is a Good Thing. If you don’t, you’d likely be bored by the explanation.)

Please email me or attach a comment to this posting if the site now displays funny in your browser. Let me know what browser you’re running, what version you’ve got, and what platform you’re on. I want everyone to be able to hear me loud and clear.
posted to /site at 7:25pm :: 2 responses
Sunday, 23 March 2003
A wise poster on Fark.com recently made the case that this country endured four decades of Cold War and never felt it necessary to rename Russian dressing. But the French go against us in the U.N. and suddenly the Congress is all about “Freedom Fries.”

It’s a great American pasttime to bash the French, but Tony Judt, in the first of a fantastic three-part piece about the politics of this war (appearing in the New York Review of Books), reminds us of a few sobering statistics that should make us rethink our view of the French as a bunch of “surrender monkeys” …
In World War I, which the French fought from start to finish, France lost three times as many fighting men as America has lost in all its wars combined. In World War II, the French armies holding off the Germans in May-June 1940 suffered 124,000 dead and 200,000 wounded in six weeks, more than America did in Korea and Vietnam combined.
posted to /politics at 10:23pm :: 0 responses
Michael Moore won an Oscar, and, as expected, let fly with a political speech that ended up garnering more boos than cheers. Which is appropriate: He chose not to deliver an anti-war message, but an anti-Bush message, which, no matter your politics, was inappropriate for the moment. The man is a gifted filmmaker, but let’s face it, he is also a clod.

Adrien Brody, on the other hand, is a class act. When he won for Best Actor, he did three things that kicked ass, pure and simple: (1) He gave presenter Halle Berry one hell of an unexpected, full-on-the-lips kiss that left the woman stunned, (2) when the orchestra started playing before he was finished, he very forcefully (and successfully!) told them to knock it off, and (3) he delivered a beautiful pro-peace message that was everything Michael Moore’s speech was not: inclusive, noble, heartfelt, touching. Well done indeed.
posted to /art/cinema at 8:23pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 20 March 2003
This is simply disgusting: Some war protestors here in San Francisco have decided that the proper way to express their outrage is to ralph all over the sidewalks at the Federal Building. I swear, the police oughta round these asshats up and charge them with endangering the public health or somesuch thing.
posted to /news at 2:20pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 19 March 2003
If you ever enjoyed M.U.L.E., the amazing, 8-bit multiplayer space colonization game from 1983, you will enjoy this piece at Salon.com about the game’s creator, Dani Bunton. And if you are a gamer who has never played M.U.L.E., you should. It is an absolute classic. Here is a copy of the Commodore 64 version of the game. To play, you’ll need a Commodore 64 emulator. VICE works well on Win/Lin/OSX and is Free. The primitive UI is not altogether intuitive, so do take the time to read the docs. Now grab one or two joysticks and knock yourself out. (The Atari 800 version of the game also runs on modern PCs via emulation, but it is inferior in terms of both audio and video. The Commodore was simply a better machine.)
posted to /tech at 12:19am :: 0 responses
Gallup sez that 66 percent of American’s approve of Boosh’s ultimatum to Saddam. Well, at least I know with some degree of precision the size of the minority I belong to.
posted to /politics at 12:19am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 18 March 2003
My brother refers to George II as “Boosh.” I don’t know why. I like it. If you say it right, it makes the man sound even more ridiculous and pathetic and stupid than he is. (Yes, “even more.”)

Thus spake Boosh: “And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people.” But remember, folks: This war has nothing to do with oil. We’re going to liberate the Iraqi people. Yes, by incinerating some of them, and stop asking questions, you, or you’ll end up in the Helen Thomas section.

Your instructions, good citizen.

THIS JUST IN: Poland is going to commit “up to 200 soldiers” to our war. (Write your own joke here.) I can just imagine them arriving at some large base in Qatar. Before they even get their bearings, they’ll probably be told to pitch their tents in a corner and be quiet and not bother anybody.

AND FINALLY: This mysterious flu that’s been in the news is worrisome. As if we don’t have enough trouble. Let’s pray we don’t have the next plague showing up for dinner as well.
posted to /news at 12:18am :: 0 responses
Sunday, 16 March 2003
Douglas Adams thought it would be the dolphins. Turns out, maybe it’s the fish. A 20-pound carp has warned a Hasidic Jew from New York that the end of the world is nigh.

[found on Drudge]
posted to /news at 12:16am :: 0 responses
Saturday, 15 March 2003
I spent the first half of my day trying to figure out if I was really going to drive up to Berkeley and watch Irréversible. This film has spawned quite a stir among critics and cinephiles: It is artfully and skillfully made; its narrative structure is unusual (unfolding backwards, a la Memento); its central theme is a universal truth; however, that theme is explored through some of the most horrifying violence to ever grace the big screen.

I was torn. I like difficult films. I like dark films. But I don’t like watching terrible things happen to innocent people, and I’m in a period in my life right now where I don’t need any help feeling awful about how life sometimes works. I ultimately decided that my interest in the film was strong enough that I’d go anyway. more...
posted to /art/cinema at 8:15pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 12 March 2003
“L.T. Smash is a reserve officer in the United States Military who has been recalled to active duty and deployed overseas in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.” Here is his blog.

Interesting reading. If it is not a hoax (hell, even if it is), it’s only a matter of time before the military cracks down on unauthorized blogs, right? It’ll happen after someone spends half an hour explaining to Rumsfeld what a blog is. Then we’ll have to surf over to Stars and Stripes for the official, sanitized L.T. Smash replacement. Who will, of course, be no good at all.
posted to /misc at 12:12am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 11 March 2003
I have started listening to KFOG with some regularity. It is one of the treats of being a Bay Area resident. This is old-school, stuffed-full-of-talent, independent, local rock radio. Dave Morey, the head deejay in the morning, is a legend.

Each night, KFOG does the “10@10” — at 10:00, ten songs from one year. Tonight, they did 1992. That’s high school for me. That’s a lot of memories that came flooding back all at once: memories I very rarely touch. I listened. The music was amazing. But most of the memories were a visceral yuck. They started up when Kurt Cobain did: I’m so happy, ‘cause today I found my friends. I remembered the day we heard he killed himself. The memories grew more pesonal from there.

They finished the set with U2’s “Even Better Than the Real Thing.” The Achtung Baby album is one hundred percent terrific, just incredible stuff. One of the best albums of the 90s. But to me, forever, it will be entirely tainted with a certain memoryset that simply is not and cannot ever be pleasant.
posted to /life/bayarea at 12:11am :: 0 responses
Monday, 10 March 2003
This morning I got into work to discover that my three-week-old Windows XP-based Dell would not let me log in. After taking my username and password, it just hung. I tried booting into “safe mode.” Same behavior. I tried logging in as Administrator. Same behavior. No matter what, same behavior. No error messages, mind you, and nothing in any sort of system log that might point to what is amiss. Nothing to help me at all.

This machine had suffered no trauma — not even a software installation since the last time it successfully started up. It had just decided to throw a fit. Long, long story short: The IS/IT department was stumped by the machine’s behavior too, and ended up calling Dell. Dell’s suggestion was to reinstall XP. Which I basically ended up doing. My machine let me log in for the first time at 2:18 P.M., and is now suffering from very minor but very annoying glitches systemwide.

The thing that is so amazing to me is, Bill Gates and his minions have trained people to expect this sort of behavior from computers. Sometimes, things go wrong for no apparent reason at all, and you have to reinstall an app or even an entire OS. And that’s just the way it is.

I firmly believe that someday users will be more sophisticated and will not put up with this crap. I firmly believe that someday, people will expect nearly flawless behavior from their computers, and they will wonder why they ever thought that mysterious crashes and breakdowns were acceptable. I firmly believe that someday, people will understand that end-user software does not have to cost money, does not have to crash or break down, and can be tinkered with to the user’s utmost desires.

I firmly believe that someday (not too far off), the world will run on Free Software. Someday, Microsoft is going to take a fall and find itself suddenly and staggeringly irrelevant, like IBM in the late 80s and early 90s. When that happens, I’m buying the beers. Until then, I breathe a sigh of relief each day when I come home to my Linux box.
posted to /tech at 7:10pm :: 0 responses
Sunday, 09 March 2003
Hatchjaw wrote in asking what the hell a “museyroom” is. My non-answer is, the word appears on page 10 of Finnegans Wake. (Say it out loud slowly for one shade of meaning; break it apart into its constituent parts for more. This is part of how you play the game that is Finnegans Wake.)

While we are on the subject, a limited-time exhibit has been added to the museyroom.
posted to /site at 4:09pm :: 0 responses
Roger Ebert is not just that large dude who reviews movies on the teevee. His printed reviews are generally brilliant, and when he skewers an awful movie, he is frequently hilarious.

The thing you really notice about Ebert after a while is that he is a real writer. The man could write convincingly about anything. Now for the treat: Sometimes Ebert gets worked up about the state of the world and writes an opinion piece, like this one in which he just eviscerates John Ashcroft.

(Crap. The last three words of the previous paragraph probably just got me on some damn Justice Department watchlist.)
posted to /politics at 4:09pm :: 0 responses
A PDF version of the booklet I crafted as part of /\/\/\/ Major Art Project #3 is now part of the permanent collection in the museyroom, which is finally open to the public. (This first incarnation of mahnamahna.net is now 55 percent feature-complete.)
posted to /art at 2:09am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 04 March 2003
Yes, the blog has stalled. This is because I have been sick (mostly in bed) for the last four days and am only now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As soon as I stop coughing up ectoplasm, I’ll devote more time to the site.
posted to /life at 11:04am :: 3 responses
Thursday, 27 February 2003
See for yourself the global nature of the nascent anti-war movement. Alas, George remains convinced that he knows better than the rest of the world. So this man, who, as Nelson Mandela put it, “cannot think properly,” and who, no matter what really went down in Florida, did not receive as many votes as the Other Guy, is going to fire up the war machine. And since this man has no grasp of history at all — but rather bases his decisions on an arrogant, born-again worldview that holds that since our nation is righteous and Christian and freedom-loving, we can do no wrong — he doesn’t grok these well-known facts about the war machine: (1) When it starts up, you never know (and cannot control) when it will stop again, and (2) it in turn can start up other machines. Frightful machines. Evil machines. Machines whose actions we cannot even begin to imagine or predict.

George is going to turn the key soon. The gears will start turning, the machinery will be in motion, and there will be nothing for us all to do but hang on and try to survive the ride. And make some noise.
posted to /politics at 12:27pm :: 3 responses
Tuesday, 25 February 2003
Here is a great little essay comparing the New York and Washington subways. It makes some keen observations about the world beneath Manhattan (one of my favorite places on the planet).
posted to /misc at 10:25am :: 0 responses
Monday, 24 February 2003
Molly Ivins with the real scoop on France and the French. She absolutely hits it out of the park with the final sentence.
posted to /politics at 11:24pm :: 0 responses
Our Department of Homeland Security has opened up a new information site, Ready.gov, that is highly educational. Check out these Homeland Security graphics:


What have we learned? (1) Holy crap! Austin is highly radioactive! (2) If while driving you see the horizon explode, swerve off the road immediately. (3) The terrorists are using Klingon technology involving dead fish to create a warp in the space-time continuum.

Will someone remind me what the hell color we are at today?
posted to /news at 12:24am :: 0 responses
Saturday, 22 February 2003
This article at The Onion is spot-on. I have stalled at page 128 of Infinite Jest and am having a very difficult time getting started again. In the meantime, I’m finishing The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, which is a real mindfuck.
posted to /misc at 3:22pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 21 February 2003
I have upgraded to Blosxom 2.0 beta 1 and hacked together a comments system. (And it is truly a hack; what I do to Perl is frightening.) At any rate, if you want to leave a comment about any given post, click the “comments” link.
posted to /site at 10:21am :: 1 response
Thursday, 20 February 2003
rdesktop is Free Software that lets you connect a Unix box to a Windows machine running Terminal Services (a.k.a. Remote Desktop access in XP). Extremely cool software that just plain works. There is a very friendly graphical front-end available as well, but I found it to be more trouble than it was worth.
posted to /tech at 12:20am :: 1 response
Monday, 17 February 2003
The Howard Johnson’s at 46th and Broadway in Manhattan is apparently doomed. I don’t know quite how to feel about this. Show me this picture and I know exactly on the planet where to go to see it in person. It’s like 8845 Highsmith Lane, or the Eiffel Tower, or De Rokerij on Singel in Amsterdam: It is a faraway point on the face of the globe that I have seen and have a vivid visual memory of.

The problem with the Howard Johnson’s on 46th, I suppose, is that I only have a vivid visual memory of it because I have walked past it so many times. No, I have never eaten at the Howard Johnson’s at 46th and Broadway. Should I have? I suppose I missed my chance.
posted to /news at 11:17pm :: 0 responses
The Howard Johnson’s at 46th and Broadway in Manhattan is apparently doomed. I don’t know quite how to feel about this. Show me this picture and I know exactly on the planet where to go to see it in person. It’s like 8845 Highsmith Lane, or the Eiffel Tower, or De Rokerij on Singel in Amsterdam: It is a faraway point on the face of the globe that I have seen and have a vivid visual memory of.

The problem with the Howard Johnson’s on 46th, I suppose, is that I only have a vivid visual memory of it because I have walked past it so many times. No, I have never eaten at the Howard Johnson’s at 46th and Broadway. Should I have? I suppose I missed my chance.
posted to /news at 11:17pm :: 1 response
FP asked me a long time ago why I don’t write a journal. My answer was that I saw no point in writing something if there was to be no audience.

A blog has an audience. Which is not to say that this blog is intended to be a world-readable journal. But that’s part of the idea.
posted to /life at 4:17pm :: 0 responses
Some folks have wanted to see pictures of what I’ve spent the last few months working on. Here you go. This work was crafted in honor of the marriage of Arin and Byrne and presented to them on February 9, when the blog was not yet out of debugging.
posted to /art at 4:17pm :: 2 responses
Sunday, 16 February 2003
posted to /misc at 10:16pm :: 0 responses
Last night, I walked through San Francisco late at night, in a slow, quiet, steady rain, more of a late spring sort of rain than a winter rain. I wore a tuxedo and carried a black umbrella as I returned to my hotel, “bridesmaid” duties complete, dear friends Arin and Byrne married at long last.

This afternoon the rain in the East Bay was very strange and wonderful. Again, this was not winter rain: It fell softly out of a bright silver sky. It was Edenic. It was a beautiful frame for my friends as they begin their new life together.
posted to /life at 10:16pm :: 0 responses
Version 1.0 of my blog, powered by a slightly modified and extended version of Blosxom 1.2, is now live.
posted to /life at 6:16pm :: 0 responses
/blog (467)
/art (36)
/books (6)
/cinema (13)
/music (13)
/life (97)
/bayarea (25)
/misc (120)
/items (21)
/news (82)
/site (21)
/tech (42)
/wisdom (9)
Blosxom
Creative Commons
Atom
2010 (6)
2009 (10)
2008 (11)
2007 (30)
2006 (64)
2005 (58)
2004 (95)
2003 (193)
my Amazon wish list

© 2016 Matthew Newton, published under a Creative Commons License.