mahna mahna .net
Friday, 17 December 2004
If you use a KVM switch to move between a PC running Windows and a PC running Linux, you’ve probably encountered Drunken Mouse Syndrome, in which, upon returning to the Linux box, you find your mouse pointer freaks out and behaves wildly, unpredictably, and angrily when you so much as breathe in the direction of your input device. For a long time I assumed that Drunken Mouse Syndrome was the fault of my KVM. Turns out, (1) that’s not true, and (2) there’s a fix. more...
posted to /tech at 4:17pm :: 2 responses
Monday, 13 December 2004
Marquard'sYou recognize this sign, doncha? Sure, Marquard’s has been at the corner of O’Farrell and Powell just about forever. Well, walk on by and take one last look, and maybe pick up one last paper: the Chron reports that Marquard’s is soon to be replaced by Hat World, “a huge national chain specializing in logo caps,” which the residents of SF have clearly been clamoring for. And thus the entire Union Square area is one step closer to being just another mall, albeit one that doesn’t share a common roof.

Combine this sort of news with the word from Sacramento that Governor Ahnold is going to force Caltrans to switch gears mid-project and build us an ugly-ass viaduct to replace the eastern half of the Bay Bridge, and you begin to think it’s only a matter of time before our entire environment is nothin’ but chain stores and concrete. Sigh.

[Yes, ‘tis true, institutions die all the time. Change is constant and unavoidable. Acceptance is peace. Namaste.]
posted to /life/bayarea at 11:13am :: 2 responses
Tuesday, 30 November 2004
My vote for Idiot Parent of the Year goes to “Confused in Virginia,” who wrote to Dear Abby this week:
My 16-year-old daughter went to a party at a frat house where she was given a great deal to drink. Feeling “woozy,” she went outside. One of the “boys” suggested she go back to his room to lie down. She had known this fellow before that night and trusted him. She was drunk, and he had sex with her. It was her first time. She claims she tried to make him stop, but he wouldn’t. more...
posted to /misc at 4:30pm :: 3 responses
Monday, 22 November 2004
You’re eating a buncha pistachios. Inevitably, there are a rugged few in the mix who’ve never deigned to crack their shells open even the slightest bit. Your attempt to finish your snack fails, unless you decide to get violent with the offending nuts. (And you probably don’t want to, because, as Mike’s Nuts informs us, “Closed shells mean the nutmeat is immature,” so if you actually do crack that stuff open, you’re probably in for some fart jokes or something.)

But no more. Some bright dude has invented a new machine that will help pistachio packers save you from this nightmare.

[spotted at Follow Me Here; special thanks to Mike’s Nuts]
posted to /news at 4:22pm :: 1 response
Friday, 05 November 2004
People keep asking me what I think about the election. They usually ask because they recall that I studied Political Science and know that I’m a political junkie. They very rarely like what I have to say, and want to argue with me, which is exactly why I don’t discuss politics with friends very much, because I despise political arguments. Especially because, well over fifty percent of the time, it’s clear that the person trying to argue with me isn’t even familiar with the fucking Constitution. Folks, if you want to speak intelligently about the political system that governs your life, you need to go back and fill in the knowledge gaps you earned by sleeping through your civics class back in high school. Don’t come around telling me what Congress should and should not (or could and could not) do until you can tell me who the majority and minority leaders are, what the hell a Whip is, and how committee membership is determined and why it is important. (In Congress, everything real happens in committee, and if you’re not hip to that, you don’t understand what’s going on.) more...
posted to /politics at 3:05pm :: 5 responses
Thursday, 04 November 2004
A coalfield fire that has been burning for 130 years in China has finally been extinguished. “The continuing blaze is also thought to have caused environmental damage to the region.” Gee, ya think? We’ve got our own coal fire problems in this country; witness the now-empty town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, which has had a fire burnin’ beneath it since 1961.
posted to /news at 10:04am :: 1 response
Wednesday, 03 November 2004
Need to pull the Internet out of the air when you’re traveling? Here are the top five domestic hotel chains offering free WiFi.

[spotted at The Morning News]
posted to /tech at 4:03pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 28 October 2004
Family loses dog. Family turns on the tube to watch soccer match. Family watches lost dog interrupt the game.

[spotted at Fark]
posted to /news at 11:28am :: 0 responses
Monday, 25 October 2004
Change comes slowly at The New Yorker. From its inception in 1925 until sometime in the 1960s — I once nailed down the date by combing through old issues in the library at Cal — it didn’t even sport a table of contents. When Tina Brown became editor in the 1990s, photographs and letters to the editor appeared for the first time. (When Spy magazine was still around, it used to print “Letters to the Editor of The New Yorker,” since The New Yorker didn’t.)

The current (masterful) editor, David Remnick, has made a few evolutionary changes to the pub himself, but none as striking as the magazine’s first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate, which has grabbed a lot of buzz today. It’s no surprise who they’re behind — the mag has been relentless in its coverage of the Bush administration’s lies and missteps — but the rather lengthy argument presented (which apparently unfolds over five full pages in print!) is perhaps the best cohesive piece I’ve read thus far about why Bush has got to go. And if, in two weeks’ time, the people of this country return Bush to power, this piece will stand as a fine explanation for why so many will hold their face in their hands and weep for our country, so hopelessly ignorant and misguided, stumbling behind an intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt leader, into the once-promising light of the 21st century.
posted to /politics at 5:25pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 18 October 2004
Bush’s supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US — truths now firmly established by the Bush administration’s own reports — as treasonous America-bashing… . Conservatives don’t assess opponents’ arguments, they demonize opponents. Truth and falsity are out of the picture; the criteria are: who’s good, who’s evil, who’s patriotic, who’s unpatriotic… . These are the traits of brownshirts. Brownshirts know they are right. They know their opponents are wrong and regard them as enemies who must be silenced if not exterminated.
Paul Craig Roberts (a conservative) explores how the Right lost its taste for the truth.

[spotted at Dan Gillmor’s eJournal]
posted to /politics at 12:18pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 08 October 2004
John Lennon might have turned 64 years old tomorrow had he not been gunned down in 1980. A new exhibition of his paintings to mark the occassion makes me wish I were in New York. Luckily, the Guardian has some of the images up on the Web.

[spotted at the J-Walk Blog]
posted to /art at 3:08pm :: 3 responses
“Hello. My name is George Bush and I’m running for President. Please consider my qualifications as set forth in the following resume.”

[spotted at The Morning News … anyone know of a similar document for Kerry?]
posted to /politics at 2:08pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 05 October 2004
Issy is not yet displaying all 30 Hallmarks of Felinity, but she’s definitely got 1-5 and 19 down pat. How ‘bout your cat?
posted to /misc at 3:05pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 29 September 2004
“I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.” — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
He also said, at the same speech at Harvard, that the 17th Amendment — which provides for the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people — was “a bad idea.” Here’s the full report.

[spotted at Fark]
posted to /politics at 4:29pm :: 1 response
Tuesday, 28 September 2004
The onetime musician formerly known as Cat Stevens has a few things to say about where we’re at today. It seems that in Bush’s America, there’s no room for a man of peace named Yusuf Islam.
posted to /politics at 12:28pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 27 September 2004
I have two long, narrow rugs adorning the hardwood floor in my hall at Chez Newton (The Global House of Chillage). Until recently, said rugs were held in place by these nifty sorta-sticky things that IKEA makes that go under rugs. The IKEA name for this sorta-sticky thing is Patrull, a strange name to be sure, even for IKEA. And I’m pretty certain that the plural of Patrull is Patrull. But I digress.

The problem with Patrull is that over time, they lose their grip and you need new ones. Not wanting to deal with the traffic and parking nightmare that is modern-day Emeryville, I decided to stay away from IKEA’s brick-and-mortar store and instead head to IKEA.com to order myself a new pack o’ Patrull. more...
posted to /tech at 5:27pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 22 September 2004
Tuesday night, two members of my reading group told me — with absolute seriousness — that if George W. is re-elected, they’re leaving the country. While I understand the emotions that drive such a plan, I think it’s terribly shortsighted to think that all is lost and the only way to live in peace and sanity is to pack up and get outta Dodge. I’m as upset about the current regime as anybody, and even more upset about John Kerry’s rudderless campaign. But I’m already growing weary of the whining I’m hearing on the left. It seems Jon Carroll is sick of it, too.
posted to /politics at 4:22pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 17 September 2004
My photos from Burning Man 2004 are now on display in the museyroom. With that done, this blog should start to flow again.
posted to /site at 5:17pm :: 2 responses
Sunday, 29 August 2004
No posts for a while, I expect. I am Burning Man bound.
posted to /life at 4:29pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 26 August 2004
U.C. Berkeley Linguistics Professor George Lakoff has been arguing for years that conservatives are better at using language to frame debates in such a way as to give them a distinct advantage. He’s got a new book coming out on the subject, and this interview is fascinating.
Why do conservatives like to use the phrase “liberal elite” as an epithet?

Conservatives have branded liberals, and the liberals let them get away with it: the “liberal elite,” the “latte liberals,” the “limousine liberals.” The funny thing is that conservatives are the elite. The whole idea of conservative doctrine is that some people are better than others, that some people deserve more. To conservatives, if you’re poor it’s because you deserve it, you’re not disciplined enough to get ahead. Conservative doctrine requires that there be an elite: the people who thrive in the free market have more money, and they should. Progressives say, “No, that’s not fair. Maybe some should have more money, but no one should live in poverty. Everybody who works deserves to have a reasonable standard of living for their work.” These are ideas that are progressive or liberal ideas, and progressives aren’t getting them out there enough.
[spotted on Boing Boing]
posted to /politics at 11:26am :: 0 responses
E! Online reports:
The state of Illinois has filed a lawsuit against the Dave Matthews Band for allegedly dumping up to 800 pounds of liquid human waste from its tour bus into the Chicago River earlier this month… . Chicago’s First Lady, a passing tour boat filled with 100 people on an architecture sightseeing cruise … was doused by the falling excrement.
[spotted at The Morning News]
posted to /news at 10:26am :: 2 responses
Wednesday, 25 August 2004
It has taken me a few days to decide exactly what it is I have to say about Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, a pair of films by Richard Linklater that absolutely blew my mind this past weekend and immediately landed on my “all-time favorites” list.

Before Sunrise was made in 1995, and may be the best date movie of all time. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy star as Jesse and Celine, two beautiful early-twentysomethings who meet on a European train. Jesse is headed to Vienna; Celine is traveling onward to Paris, where she is a student. But Jesse persuades Celine to disembark in Vienna and while the night away with him before he catches a morning flight home to the States. They kill time mostly by wandering around the city, talking. And falling in love. more...
posted to /art/cinema at 5:25pm :: 4 responses
Monday, 23 August 2004
From News.com:
A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between “not specified,” “male,” or “bitch,” because of an unfortunate error in translation.
posted to /tech at 9:23am :: 0 responses
There is an abandoned train station in Oakland, near the 980, that I have been meaning to surreptitiously enter and photograph for more than a year now. But I haven’t, because I don’t have any experience with trespassing, and a few drive-bys seemed to show that getting into the place would be a colossal pain. Perhaps it is, but apparently it’s doable, because pics of the place showed up at Satan’s Laundromat this morning. Color me terribly jealous.
posted to /life/bayarea at 9:23am :: 6 responses
Sunday, 22 August 2004
It was overcast and windy and gloomy and grey today at Ocean Beach. But there was ocean and sand and much to see. And a lovely beachwalk to be had.


more...
posted to /life at 11:22pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 20 August 2004
“When state wildlife agents recently found a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some clues scattered nearby — dozens of empty beer cans.” The full details reveal that this bear has some taste: “Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest. The beast then consumed about 36 cans of Rainier.”

[previous Bears in the News is here; thanks to Spike for the scoop]
posted to /news at 2:20pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 17 August 2004
Pine: the best e-mail app everThere has been a lot of online coverage about eBay now owning 25% of Craigslist, the Web site and indispensable tool (for Bayareans, anyway) where I found my current job, my current apartment, and even a couple of dates. But in this piece in the Chron, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark says something that makes my Pine-lovin’ heart sing:
I sometimes use an Apple PowerBook, but for my purposes the Linux systems are snappier. Frankly, I do most of my work in e-mail, and I use a fairly old e-mail tool called Pine (a free e-mail program administered by the University of Washington).
So now I am aware of two other people who use Pine. Neat!

[Thanks to Spike for the link.]
posted to /tech at 10:17am :: 3 responses
Monday, 09 August 2004
This is apparently making the rounds today, as I spotted it at both the J-Walk Blog and Kottke.org this morning. Shopsin’s is a New York City diner that has the most extensive, all-inclusive, wacky, eleven-page menu you’ve ever seen. I am so definitely stopping in the next time I’m in New York. Looks like a Downtown 1 or 9 to Houston St. will get me there…
posted to /misc at 12:09pm :: 2 responses
The Associated Press sez here that Koko, the famous gorilla who “speaks” in sign language, recently told her handlers that she had a toothache, and even went so far as to rate the pain on a scale of one to ten. The part they’re not reporting: After having her tooth fixed, Koko ordered Lobster Thermidor and a baked potato for dinner, along with a bottle of claret, which she tasted before spitting a mouthful on the carpet, signing, “This tastes like my armpit.”

(Can’t help but notice that when you need someone to help give an ape a check-up, you call a prof from the med school at Stanfurd. Sounds right.)
posted to /news at 12:09am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 27 July 2004
The Washington Post answers one of the great questions of our time: Who Was General Tso and Why Are We Eating His Chicken?

[use bugmenot if you are prompted to register]
posted to /misc at 1:27pm :: 0 responses
Sunday, 25 July 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen: On the left, Vardaman, the Thinkpad. On the right, Issy, the little grey princess I adopted a week ago. (Does this mean I have to start reading John Carroll’s cat columns?)

itty bitty kitty

posted to /life at 11:25pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 23 July 2004
The mahnamahna.net photo gallery is now open over in the museyroom.
First exhibition: Amsterdam, June 2004
posted to /site at 12:23am :: 1 response
Friday, 16 July 2004
Leon Russell sang to me tonight the words of prophet George:
Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness more...
posted to /wisdom at 12:16am :: 1 response
Thursday, 15 July 2004
Tonight I was out for dinner at a fine restaurant within walking distance of my house. I was sharing table with a woman whose presence in my life I cherish. Just as my duck confit was arriving, a woman at the table behind us slipped into some sort of seizure: Her eyes rolled back in her head; she became entirely non-responsive. Her dining companions began to freak out, and a woman at another table who turned out to be a nurse rushed to the victim’s aid. more...
posted to /life at 11:15pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 13 July 2004
With logic like this on their side, how can they lose?
“It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right… . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.” — Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), advocating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a speech Thursday to the Heritage Foundation. (source)
[spotted at The Morning News]
posted to /politics at 2:13pm :: 4 responses
Monday, 12 July 2004
Things are quiet around here cuz I’m struggling to get some proper photo gallery functionality up and running. I haven’t liked any of the scripts I’ve tried thus far, and am probably going to have to learn a bit of PHP so I can hack a bit on the one that’s closest to what I want. More content — including pics from my recent trip overseas — shall spill forth once this bit of site tinkering is done.
posted to /site at 12:12am :: 1 response
Friday, 02 July 2004
After a week overseas, I am back on American soil.

Things to do today:
  1. See Fahrenheit 9/11.
  2. Get a David Letterman fix.
  3. Get at least half the unpacking done.
  4. Sort out all gifts I brought back.
  5. Reflect on a splendid journey.
  6. Enjoy being back home again.
posted to /life at 11:02am :: 0 responses
Friday, 18 June 2004
I was sitting on the couch, watching the game and enjoying homecooked tacos, when the bug first landed on the screen, partially obscuring the number of runs Boston had scored thus far. The bug rotated a bit and then sat still.

“Git! Offathere!” I barked to the bug. The bug rotated a bit and then sat still.

“Git! Git!” Gesturing now, as if to a person standing in my way, shoving aside some air a few times. The bug crawled over to the number of outs and then sat still. more...
posted to /fragments at 9:18pm :: 4 responses
EFF employee/activist and science-fiction author Cory Doctorow gave a talk at Microsoft Research about why he thinks Bill & Co. should quit building digital rights management into their software. He manages to tie together cryptography, the invention of radio, e-books, Flowbees, the way AT&T used to own every phone in the country, player pianos, Apple iTunes, Ringo, the Luther Bible, DVD region encoding, and cellphone ringtones as he explains why DRM will never work and can only inhibit innovation and incredible business opportunities.

If you’ve rolled your eyes at me during my DVD region encoding rant (or my iPods-are-evil rant), GO READ THIS DAMMIT. It’s also required reading for geeks and artists of all flavors.

(By the way, on the subject of ringtones, if you’ve chosen a cellphone that requires you to pay for ringtones, you’re on crack. One of the greatest things about my Treo 600 pda/phone is that any old MIDI file can be a ringtone. Didja know that the Web harbors free MIDI versions of just about any tune you can think of? My phone alerts me to the end of a meditation sitting with a sparkly little rendition of “Within You, Without You.” A nice little shot of George that always does me right.)
posted to /tech at 2:18am :: 4 responses
Wednesday, 16 June 2004
…a man who never lived had a relatively ordinary day. Happy Bloomsday to everyone, especially all my friends partying down in Dublin tonight! (Shouts out to DS, KC, SC, JH. Y’all have a cheese sammich and a glass of burgundy for me, y’hear?)

[Kudos to Google for the celebratory logo they’re sportin’ today. And finally, beware the Bloomsday virus!]
posted to /misc at 2:16pm :: 4 responses
Tuesday, 15 June 2004
I keep an eye out for duck-related foolishness on the Web, to send to my friend the_lucky_duck. This here page may be the greatest duck posting ever.
posted to /misc at 5:15pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 11 June 2004
In the wake of Ronald Reagan’s death, most of the press coverage has been fawning. There have also been the expected hatchet jobs by certain leftists who have been waiting for years to dance on this particular grave. This piece in the Chicago Reader is more balanced, but still manages to note most of the ways in which our 40th President made the world I grew up in a meaner place. I also love this particular point:
People believed [Reagan] meant well and forgave the messes he made. Lucky for him, he didn’t get the country into a mess so big that meaning well wasn’t good enough. Sorry about that, George W. Bush.
posted to /politics at 12:11pm :: 1 response
Thursday, 10 June 2004
Ten foods you should never eat. I am pleased to say that I have only eaten two of the ten (#7 and #8), and neither of those within the past year or so.

[spotted at The Morning News]
posted to /misc at 2:10pm :: 0 responses
Ray Charles has been on my “gotta see him perform before he’s gone” list for several years. I never got around to seeing him, and now it’s too late. The Associated Press obituary taught me several things I didn’t know about him, including his real last name.
posted to /news at 1:10pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 09 June 2004
Robert Plant sang to me this morning:
And if you feel that you can’t go on
And your will’s sinkin’ low
Just believe and you can’t go wrong
In the light you will find the road.
There’s a missing piece here, though: What if you can’t find the light?
posted to /life at 2:09pm :: 0 responses
Here we have the online presence of the New York City establishment that inspired the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. Do not miss the rules or return policy.
posted to /misc at 2:09pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 04 June 2004
I’m George W. Bush, and I’ve got everything under control.
posted to /politics at 2:04pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 02 June 2004
Parents attend son’s funeral. Parents go home. Parents receive phone call from son.

[spotted on The Morning News]
posted to /misc at 2:02pm :: 2 responses
Thursday, 27 May 2004
It’s kinda creepy when a site you last visited on a lazy Tuesday afternoon at work more than three years ago suddenly e-mails you out of the blue.
Matthew,
                                                                                
We haven't seen you in a while...
our records show that you last signed in to Tickle,
formerly known as Emode, on February 13, 2001.
more...
posted to /tech at 1:27am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 26 May 2004
In the space of about three hours today, one person described me as “such a gentle person” and another referred to me as “sensitive and thoughtful.” These kind words left me filled with an almost boundless joy.

My day ended in confrontation with a person who finds me to be none of these things. The joy is gone, and I am left with a head buzzing with thoughts and anxieties that will not fade. John Lennon is telling me turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream but sadly, I cannot find the peace within that would help me to heed his advice.
posted to /life at 9:26pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 21 May 2004
Slashdot alerted me to the fact that George Lucas’s amazing first film, THX 1138, is finally going to be released on DVD come September. Four days prior, it will hit the big screens in selected cities, and thank the lord, the city I work in has been selected. Unfortunately, the excellent trailer for this release shows that Lucas has done his usual thing and added a whole bunch of CGI imagery, and even entirely new shots. I hope he hasn’t screwed things up, but in case he has, I’m glad I have my bootleg disc of the original version of the film.

The official site is kinda confusing to navigate, but is a lot of fun experience-wise if you’re familiar with the film.
posted to /art/cinema at 11:21am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 18 May 2004
According to Beliefnet’s 25-question “What’s Your Spiritual Type?” quiz, I am a Spiritual Straddler, with “one foot in traditional religion, one foot in free-form spirituality.” Sounds about right, actually. (Now where did I put my zafu?)

[spotted at J-Walk Blog]
posted to /misc at 12:18pm :: 3 responses
A blog I would have loved when I was a boy: “the world’s first interactive T. rex dig”! I hope this finds its way into classrooms. (I wonder how many teachers are that wired.)

[spotted at jwz]
posted to /misc at 12:18am :: 0 responses
Monday, 17 May 2004
When building this site, I chose Blosxom to power this blog, in part because it is Free Software. I also evaluated Movable Type, because I was told that it was Open Source. It turned out that wasn’t true — despite the source code being available.

If that last sentence made you blink (and you want to know more), alphablogger Mark Pilgrim has a great post you should read.
posted to /tech at 9:17pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 13 May 2004
This is the strangest Classic Beetle I have ever seen.
posted to /misc at 2:13pm :: 4 responses
That’s just one of the lovely ideas in Kurt Vonnegut’s latest short, angry, pessimistic little screed that does a fine job of taking stock of the world we suddenly find ourselves in, although I’m not sure I agree with the idea that “all great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being.”
posted to /misc at 2:13pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 12 May 2004
This short blog post by tech guru Clay Shirky makes me think about where cameraphones and the Internet are taking us. Part of me laughs gleefully. Part of me dreams about writing a book about it in twenty years titled The Slow Revolution.* Part of me feels scared.

(Tell me this is not some amazing new form of distributed journalism. History books almost writing themselves.)

[*Hands off that title, bitch! Sucka’s mine!]
posted to /tech at 1:12am :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 11 May 2004
One American beheaded in Iraq. My heart goes out to his poor family. But the righteous indignation pouring out of Washington is just nauseating. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan remarked that this act proves that our enemies “have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women, and children.” Let’s recap: We’ve been in Iraq for a little more than a year now. We’ve lost less than seven hundred souls thus far. But we’ve slaughtered some ten thousand. If the Red Cross is correct that up to 90 percent of the prisoners we’ve taken in Iraq are innocent, it isn’t outlandish to think that our mighty military machine has made hamburger of thousands of guiltless individuals who were just doing their best to get along in a rough part of the world. Sure, “that’s war for you.” True enough. But let’s not stand up and take the high ground here, Mr. McClellan. That’s all I’m saying.
posted to /news at 4:11pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 10 May 2004
For a couple of days now, Bill Murray has been singing his sad, soulful version of Roxy Music’s “More Than This” in my head:
I could feel at the time
There was no way of knowin'
Fallen leaves in the night
Who can say where they're blowin'
As free as the wind
Hopefully learnin'
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turnin'
More than this
You know there's nothing
More than this
Tell me one thing
More than this
There's nothing
more...
posted to /life at 6:10pm :: 4 responses
The British government has come up with a strategy for curbing teenage pregnancy that sounds promising but strikes me as unlikely to ever have traction on our puritanical shores.

[spotted at Fark]
posted to /news at 3:10pm :: 1 response
Friday, 07 May 2004
“…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.” — President George W. Bush, 9/22/2003, explaining why he doesn’t pay much attention to the press.

“I failed to recognize how important it was to elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including the president and the members of Congress. ” — Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 5/7/2004, explaining why he did not inform the president of the unfolding torture scandal in Iraq.

“Yeah, the first time I saw — heard about pictures [of Americans torturing Iraqis] was on TV.” — President George W. Bush, on Arab network al-Hurra, 5/5/2004.
posted to /politics at 2:07pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 03 May 2004
Haven’t you always wanted to dig a really kickass hole in your backyard?

[spotted on MetaFilter]
posted to /misc at 4:03pm :: 3 responses
Thursday, 29 April 2004
This idea came to me via jaderabbit. Anyone can participate, whether you know me or not. Invent a memory of me and post it in the comments. It can be anything you want, so long as it’s something that’s never happened. (Then, of course, post this to your blog/journal and see what people would like to remember of you, only the universe failed to cooperate in making it happen so they had to make it up instead.)
posted to /misc at 1:29pm :: 6 responses
As I’ve noted a few times in my column, Free Software is definitely getting friendlier. In “The Rise of Interface Elegance in Open Source Software,” blogger Steven Garrity explores the trend.

[spotted at LWN.net]
posted to /tech at 1:29pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 23 April 2004
USA Today reports:
A teacher at a Newton County school has resigned after officials say she admitted she told two students to throw a 14-year-old girl from a classroom window… . two boys later told principal Kenneth Daniels that they threw the girl out the window because they did not want to be written up for disobeying a teacher.
[spotted at MetaFilter]
posted to /news at 1:23pm :: 2 responses
Thursday, 22 April 2004
I was cleaning out my browser bookmarks today and I found a link to Garrison Keillor’s old advice column at Salon, “Mr. Blue.” From May of 1998 till just a week before September 11, 2001, Mr. Blue dispensed advice about life, love, and writing. The advice was almost always stellar, the prose always a sheer delight to read. I will never forget the following exchange, from the 6/5/2001 installment of Mr. Blue: more...
posted to /misc at 4:22pm :: 2 responses
Here’s an interesting Freedom of Information Act case, courtesy of The Memory Hole:
… I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the following: All photographs showing caskets (or other devices) containing the remains of US military personnel at Dover AFB. This would include, but not be limited to, caskets arriving, caskets departing, and any funerary rites/rituals being performed… . The Air Force then sent me a CD containing 361 photographs of flag-draped coffins and the services welcoming the deceased soldiers.
posted to /news at 2:22pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Novelist Neal Stephenson interviewed at Salon:
One of things you like to do on the side is dabble in programming. Do you see similarities between writing code and writing fiction?

I think there are common threads between writing and programming. That’s a really easy statement for people to misunderstand and twist around so I’m a little leery of making it. All I’m saying is that the thing you’re making — the novel or the computer program — has got a very complicated and finely wrought hierarchical structure to it. The structure has to work right or the whole thing fails. But the only way you can work on it is by hitting one character at a time. You’re building this thing one character at a time while having to maintain the whole structure in your head. That description applies equally well to programming and novel writing even though they’re very different activities.
[You can watch a short commercial for a free Salon “day pass” if you are not a member.]
posted to /misc at 10:21pm :: 0 responses
Tuesday, 20 April 2004
I have never watched a single episode of American Idol and that pattern is not likely to change. I am, however, aware of the mini-stardom of William Hung, the UC Berkeley engineering student who appeared on the show in January, singing his uniquely pathetic version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Hung has been all over trash-media since; it seems like a new story about him pops up every few days.

I’ve been disturbed by Hung’s popularity from the outset, though I’ve found it hard to explain why. Well, SFGate columnist Emil Guillermo nails exactly what’s wrong with Hung’s fifteen minutes of fame in a two-part column: part one · part two

I especially liked this bit, which references a classic piece of Americana that I’ve long felt is tragically infused with a particularly insidious sort of racism:
[the folks behind Hung] are updating a classic anti-Asian image — that of the Mickey Rooney character in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” complete with buck teeth, bad hair and bad accent. Rent the movie and cringe.
posted to /misc at 4:20pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 09 April 2004
Crew Boats Fend Off Otter Attack:
“I don’t think I’ve ever rowed harder in my entire life as I did trying to escape the otter — that devilish creature had already attacked Scott and now it was coming back for more,” said Noah Riner ‘06, who was in the second varsity eight at the time of the incident.
posted to /misc at 2:09pm :: 1 response
The Center for American Progress fact-checks Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission: Part 1 · Part 2. An excerpt:
Claim: “We decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton Administration’s covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network.”

Fact: Newsweek reported that “In the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called ‘Catcher’s Mitt’ to monitor al-Qaida suspects in the United States.” Additionally, AP reported “though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months,” thus terminating the reconnaissance missions started during the Clinton Administration. [Sources: Newsweek, 3/21/04; AP, 6/25/03]
posted to /politics at 10:09am :: 0 responses
Monday, 05 April 2004
I’m watching the A’s play the Rangers on the tube, and an ump-heckler can clearly be heard on the broadcast. He has just tried out “Hey ump, why don’t you put your helmet on your other end? There’s more sense there!” which I will charitably rate two stars (on a typical four-star scale), it being opening day and all. He’s got the start of something here, but it’s a bit clumsy, and I don’t think we can let pass the classification of the ump’s headgear as a helmet.

The ump slam that made me laugh the hardest when I first heard it was the four-star “For chrissakes, ump! If you had another eye you’d be a cyclops!”
posted to /life at 9:05pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 02 April 2004
Monday, 15 March 2004
Budget Travel magazine has some thoughts on where to grab really cheap meals in San Francisco. I can personally report on a few of their picks: Nirvana, Home, and Eos are fantastic, while Red’s Java House is not everything it’s cracked up to be. At the very end of the article, they tease me by mentioning a riceless carne asada burrito available in the Mission, which is definitely going to merit further investigation. And soon.
posted to /life/bayarea at 7:15pm :: 1 response
Sunday, 14 March 2004
From a piece by Freeman Dyson in the latest New York Review of Books comes this:
Littlewood was a famous mathematician who was teaching at Cambridge University when I was a student. Being a professional mathematician, he defined miracles precisely before stating his law about them. He defined a miracle as an event that has special significance when it occurs, but occurs with a probability of one in a million. This definition agrees with our common-sense understanding of the word “miracle.”

Littlewood’s Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person’s life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month.
posted to /misc at 3:14pm :: 2 responses
Monday, 01 March 2004
MC bought himself a that has some pretty interesting instructions.
posted to /misc at 11:01pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 25 February 2004
Nifty gift from the folks in my inbox today: Digital images of me in baby and toddler formats. I offer the image to the right as proof that, contrary to the belief of one of my best friends, I did not have a beard back in those days. Look at me. Awww.

(Somebody tell the future Cal grad to take off that red jumper!)
posted to /life at 8:25pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 23 February 2004
The subway map you take with you every time you visit New York is no good anymore: As of yesterday, many lines were permanently rerouted to take advantage of additional tracks now running across the Manhattan Bridge for the first time in twenty years. One result: The very last Q-diamond train made its final run Saturday night, and it was quite a party. I so wish I could have been there.

[use gatsby/daisy as a user/pass pair for the NYT link if you need to]
posted to /news at 10:23am :: 0 responses
Friday, 20 February 2004
Our eejit governor wants it to stop immediately, but the gay marriage train has been rolling for about a week now, right across the bay from me, in the city where I work and sometimes play. Two people I know have married their longtime partners thanks to Mayor Gavin Newsom. These are beautiful, loving people I’m talking about — people who treat others one hell of a lot better than plenty of straight people I’ve known. People who would probably make much better parents than plenty of parents I’ve known.

I mean, just look at these loving people. Counterarguments hold no water: “Equality” means marriage cannot be a reward for having been born heterosexual.

[Besides, the king of Cambodia thinks it’s a great idea!]
posted to /news at 11:20pm :: 1 response
Tuesday, 10 February 2004
I try not to say things like “President Boosh lies every time he opens his mouth,” because I end up sounding terribly partisan and shrill, just like the asshats who used to say that Clinton put his hands on every woman he ever met. Watching Boosh on Meet the Press this past weekend, though, I felt damned fatigued as I tried to keep up with his outright mischaracterizations and half-truths and (yes) lies. Luckily, the Center for American Progress has catalogued them for me.

[I now return you to your Web browsing-related program activities.]
posted to /politics at 1:10pm :: 0 responses
Monday, 09 February 2004
As I’ve said before, it’s one of Newton’s Laws: The Internet changes everything. Including, now, laundry. This is the neatest out-of-left-field use of the net I’ve heard of in a while.

[thanks to MC for the link]
posted to /tech at 8:09pm :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 04 February 2004
There’s a lovely little piece over at SFGate today (no, you won’t find it in the printed Chronicle) about the folks who work the tollbooths at the Bay Bridge. I’m a FasTrak user now, so I don’t hand bills over to these people anymore, but back when I did, there were faces I recognized, and I even had a couple of favorites who were always cheery and pleasant and remembered me and my Beetle. Now I just cruise through and listen for the FasTrak unit’s double-beep. Easier. Quicker. But a moment of human interaction that was part of my daily routine is lost forever.
posted to /life/bayarea at 11:04am :: 1 response
Tuesday, 03 February 2004
This is making the rounds (I saw it at Boing Boing) and it’s easy to understand why. This is fun:
While sitting in your chair, lift your right foot slightly off the ground and move it in clockwise circles. Now draw the numeral “6” in the air with your right hand. Your foot will involuntarily reverse direction.
posted to /misc at 10:03pm :: 2 responses
Monday, 02 February 2004
Monsanto, which makes a strong showing annually in the “Most Evil Corporation of the Year” competition, has been awarded a patent on the wheat that northern Indians grow to make chapati, the flat bread so common in that part of the world. Monsanto didn’t engineer some new strain of wheat or anything like that. They simply identified the gene sequence inherent in wheat that Indian farmers had crossbred into perfection over the centuries. Now they own it. The world has gone mad. If this keeps up, greedy, balding white men are going to own the very air we breathe.
posted to /news at 4:02pm :: 2 responses
Some of our soldiers are using some of our money to create an Exorcist theme park in Iraq. I ain’t kidding. You know, I’ve seen The Exorcist two or three times, and I don’t recall the desert scenes at the beginning. I guess once Linda Blair starts projectile vomiting and doing naughty things with a crucifix, it kinda makes you forget what came before.
posted to /news at 11:02am :: 1 response
Friday, 30 January 2004
You’re an Italian battery-charging company named Powergen. You need a Web site. What domain name do you grab? Of course.

[part of Business 2.0’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business]
posted to /misc at 2:30pm :: 1 response
Tuesday, 27 January 2004
Tonight, the Berkeley Finnegans Wake Group hit this:
Poor Isa sits a glooming so gleaming in the gloaming; the tincelles a touch tarnished wind no lovelinoise awound her swan’s. Hey, lass! Woefear gleam she so glooming, this pooripathete I solde? Her beauman’s gone of a cool. Be good enough to symperise. more...
posted to /art/books at 10:27pm :: 0 responses
Ladies and gentlemen, our political lesson of the day is brought to you by Ben (of Ben and Jerry’s), truemajority.org, and some Oreo cookies. I can’t imagine how anyone can disagree with the argument put forth here.

[spotted at Boing Boing; Flash is required]
posted to /politics at 10:27am :: 0 responses
Friday, 23 January 2004
I just watched the broadcast of The Late Show that I attended last night. A couple of reactions. First, Paul did not sing, “Bloomie, I love you” as I reported following the taping, but rather, “Bloomie, I’m lost.” I may have screwed this up because, looking over the lyrics of the song that the cape routine is built around, I don’t see the lines “Baby I’m lost” or “Lost in the wilderness” at all, and yet Paul sings those lines during the climax each week. Hmm. Is Paul grabbing those lines from another blues song? If you know what’s up here, please enlighten me via the comments for this post. Further: They sure did give extremely short shrift to both “Will it Float?” and the cape routine. Ah well.

When I got up this morning, I was still high off having been in the Ed Sullivan Theater last night, so I decided to keep the energy flowing by having lunch at Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli, which is right around the corner from Dave’s headquarters, and figures prominently in the show quite often. I got myself a corned beef and pastrami sammich and a Sprite. Grand total: $6.25. So it turns out that Rupert offers one of the cheapest lunches in town. The sammich scores only a 3 out of 5, but I wasn’t expecting 2nd Avenue Deli quality here. It was just a gas to be in the Hello Deli. The place is tiny, an absolute shoebox. There’s room for eight people to sit and eat, and that’s that. The clientele seems to be mostly Dave fans stopping in to gawk and eat, but there was also a regular who came in and was warmly greeted by name. And yes, Rupert’s default facial expression does in fact seem to be that odd deer-in-headlights, confused look you’re used to seeing on The Late Show.
posted to /life at 10:23pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 22 January 2004
And tonight, folks, I was there.

Tip: If you know you’re traveling to New York within three months, there is a a form you can fill out to put yourself on the list for Late Show tickets should there be cancellations, which are apparently routine. The tickets themselves are free.

I had actually forgotten that I’d filled out that form when I first learned I’d be coming to New York to cover the LinuxWorld trade show. So I was a bit shocked when my cell phone rang yesterday and the voice on the other end said, “This is Molly from The Late Show.” It didn’t take long for the shock to turn to elation. more...
posted to /life at 11:22pm :: 7 responses
Tuesday, 20 January 2004
My soul has been nourished. I made my way to New York today to attend the LinuxWorld Expo trade show, which begins tomorrow. An hour afer I landed, I checked into my hotel, and shortly thereafter, I’d already hopped a downtown 6 to Astor Place. I got off there, headed upstairs, walked one block east and two blocks uptown, and arrived at the 2nd Avenue Deli, which serves the best corned beef and pastrami on the planet. One sandwich and one beer will set you back twenty-five bucks once you’re done with tax and tip, but that’s part of being in New York. This city sucks the bills right out of your pocket. But when you’re putting an end to a sixteen-month craving, you don’t even notice.
posted to /life at 7:20pm :: 5 responses
Monday, 19 January 2004
For decades, a hooded man has left cognac and roses at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe each January 19, thus marking the macabre writer’s birthday. In 1993, the visitor left a note that read, “The torch will be passed.” And passed it was, apparently to the visitor’s sons. All we know about them is that they’ve mucked up a tradition with lame notes they leave behind. This year, we learn that they are anti-French louts who cannot proofread. Listen carefully: I think I hear Poe rolling down there.
posted to /news at 6:19pm :: 1 response
Wednesday, 14 January 2004
Philip Mangano is our nation’s “Executive Director, Interagency Council on Homelessness,” but it’s more meaningful to call him the President’s “homeless czar.” And it looks to me like Boosh might have screwed up here and got himself someone who is neither inept nor mean.

Mangano has an intensity that you generally don’t get in government types. He thinks it’s possible to end chronic homelessness nationwide within ten years. He believes homelessness is a social evil, and compares the movement to end it to the abolitionist movement. He believes that “The only approach that will end homelessness is a non-regional, bipartisan, non-ideological, non-sectarian approach” He also says that to him, parties are irrelevant: “There’s no D or R or I or G on this issue.” In a short profile in today’s Chronicle, he really can’t be pegged as one of W’s guys until the very last line:
“Then pray for me,” he said [to the homeless couple he’d been chatting with]. “I’m trying to help you.”
So we’ve got ourselves a religious man who — oh, hold on a moment. There’s someone at the door. more...
posted to /politics at 10:14pm :: 1 response
Monday, 12 January 2004
Greetings, readers. I’ve been absent cuz the machine just plumb ran out of steam at the end of the year, and though it’s now running again, it’s not quite yet up to full speed.

I have, however, put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. In 2003, green was appropriate: Something was growing. Now, something may be taking flight, so I’ve wrapped things up in blue.
posted to /site at 11:12pm :: 3 responses
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