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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Like I Need Another Project 

As you all know, I've just got oodles of free time coming out of my ears. Well, given all the hype about podcasting (thanks to Diane for the entertaining link), I decided I needed to get in on the game. So now I'm a podcaster (except I hate viral advertising, so I'm calling it the Deviant SynCast). Check out my first transmission and be dazzled.

(Don't worry -- I'm going to stick to this one. This isn't going to be like my other projects.)

You wanna start your own? Check out this site for some excellent info (geared toward Mac users, but other folks can do like we've done all our lives and adapt the info). Pic by Cathy Weber.

Life Imitates The Simpsons

Thanks to Diane for -- months ago -- sending me the story of the woman in Brisbane, Australia who got caught trying to sell Duff Beer on eBay.
In the mid-1990s, two breweries released their own "Duff Beer" in Australia until legal action by the creators of The Simpsons and the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. took the beer off the market. Fox has a policy of refusing to license The Simpson's merchandising for products that would be detrimental to children. . . . Buyers paid money into Woodford's bank account, but contacted police when they never received the beer. . . .

Woodford's lawyer Phillip Moore said she committed the scam to buy Christmas presents and clothes for her four children.
It's sad that she needed the money for her kids, but it's also sad that she tried to scam the Simpsons' good name to do it. Now if she had used a brand of beer featured on Family Guy, I wouldn't care.


Also from the Very Old Links file: Thanks to Garrett for linking us to the Wacky Weatherman. This guy ain't no James Martin!

Thanks to Diane for this collection of technical drawings from the Smithsonian. There's some nifty stuff there. And praise also be unto D for linking us to the GUIdebook, a collection of Graphic User Interfaces of ages past. Ah, the //gs.


He's not quite QBert, but you gotta see DJ Lejo, via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Infinite Livez! (Check the SynCast, yo.) Do not miss his video for Hit Me Baby One More Time.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Take That, Christo! 

Let's hear it for Geoff Hargadon, whose "Somerville Gates" -- a series of 13 tiny plastic replicas of Christo's stupid Central Park installation -- have blown up the spot, so to speak.
Hargadon -- "Hargo," as he's now known -- had to shut down his Web site featuring photos of "The Somerville Gates" after it received 5.5 million hits in one week. He's been fielding media calls nonstop, and has been interviewed by reporters from Germany to Colombia. . . .

Hargadon, 50, lives in Somerville, a mostly working-class city just north of Boston. His creation consists of 13 miniature plastic gates spread across his loft, often tracing the path of his cat, Edie.
TPCQ: "Turn the museums into low-income housing or discos. Give the art to the poor; give the grant money to me."

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

I'm sure by now you've all heard the gem Dubya popped while in Europe this week, but in case you haven't:
"This notion that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table."
So let me get this straight. Our president is guilty of illegally invading another nation, and implies that he's willing to do it again -- and his approval rating doesn't just plummet into the toilet? Is this a great country or what?

And speaking of Iran -- is it me, or did the initial reports about the earthquake there seem odd?
A powerful earthquake toppled mud-built homes and flattened villages in central Iran on Tuesday, killing at least 270 people and injuring 950, officials and state-run television said. A senior official said the death toll could top 350.
Since when are reports of natural disasters attributed to sources? Why didn't we hear a similar formulation in stories about the mudslides in California? Those sneaky Iranians -- they're probably just making the whole earthquake thing up! (TPCQ: "The question is not whether you're being paranoid. It's whether you're being paranoid enough!")

I Thank You

Speaking of things that are hard to believe -- this site is getting upwards of 500 visitors every day! I really don't know what to say, except: Thank you for your patronage. Maybe I should put up a PayPal link so you can give me money. Oh, wait. I don't need it. Give you money to the East Timor Action Network instead.

And thanks to MoFi for linking us to the remarkably impressive Artcyclopedia.


Metaphysik is fun and pointless, via ABS. I got to the level with the palm tree and the gun before I stopped caring.

Today I'm listening to: O Brother, Where Art Thou?!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Me Me! 

This made me smile. (The last line says "I don't know where you live, but I'm very good @ research.") Image swiped from Pictures of Walls. ("A gallery of walls with stuff written on.") Careful, you might see some bad words.

A while back, Garrett passed me a meme, and I've been meaning (memeing) to get to it. So here it is. Bam. And you say [expletive].
  1. What is your full name? Raymond Luxury Yacht. (TPCQ: "No, no. It's spelled "Raymond Luxury Yacht," but it's pronounced "Throat Wobbler Mangrove.")

  2. What's your favorte kind of cookie? Chocolate chip. Oreos are good too. But lately I've been jonesing for the chocolate chip cookie bars my lady friend makes. Mmmmm, chocolate chip cookie bars.

  3. Who is America's most overrated actor? I don't really get why George Clooney is so famous. I mean, he's okay, but he's no Ed Norton. I guess maybe people think Clooney's cute. Shrug.

  4. Name a guilty pleasure. "Accidentally" getting shrimp on my plate at the Taste of Asia buffet.

  5. "Scrubs" or "Everybody Loves Raymond"? The Simpsons. Futurama. Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Daily Show. End of list.

  6. Name two things you can't live without. My computer and my special lady friend.

  7. Using your first pet's name and your mother's maiden name, come up with your porn star name. No. What a stupid question. It's not even a question.

  8. What song are you listening to right now? Need To Be by Babbletron

  9. Name your celebrity crush. Diane's a celebrity. (TPCQ: "Homer, there's someone here who can help you." "Is it Batman?" "No, it's a scientist." "Batman's a scientist." "It's not Batman!")

  10. Favorite punchline from a joke. Garrett took mine. Well, Good ol' #2 -- "The Czech's in the male!"
Your turn, Jesse.


Thanks to Diane for NeoCon Luv, from the Iron Sheik.

Today I'm listening to: Babbletron!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Revolution and Robots 

Recently Diane and I saw Tim Wise speak; as always, he was excellent and insightful. (I gave him crap about how long it's been since he posted to his blog.) He started out by informing us that he would not be talking about "diversity" (a fait accompli in the modern world, and often misrepresented as the inclusion of people of color into white organizations -- the exact opposite from the actual way things progressed in the US, when white folks came over and inserted themselves into the native society already on this continent).

He also warned us that he wouldn't be spending any time on the "let's set the bar absurdly low" concept of "tolerance". As he points out, it's not really a big deal for white folks to "tolerate" black people, Latinos/Latinas, native peoples, etc. Moreover, tolerating the poverty and discrimination that exist in such abundance today is the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing, as progressive individuals and organizations.

I'd been thinking for some time about the Teaching Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and how facile their approach is. When we heard Mr. Wise, I had a shock of insight on a bit of culturejamming. So here it is. Enjoy.

Killer Robot Watch

The latest in our ongoing series of reports about the deadly threat to human life posed by murderous robots: They're being used to demolish buildings in Madrid. Can occupied buildings be far behind?
Robots suspended from cranes will help demolish the skeleton of one of Madrid's tallest buildings destroyed by a weekend fire because the ruin is too dangerous to be handled by workers, city authorities said Friday.
Yeah, right. They just don't want us to recognize the first step on the path to total robotic domination. John Connor, where are you?

Stupid, Ugly & Vapid

Here's something I'm getting incredibly sick of: Twits in SUVs who slow way down for dips in the pavement. Isn't that grotesque machine of yours capable of scaling solid rock? "Well, gee. My 2005 Chevy PigCrotch SUV is designed to drive over volcanos and conquer jagged mountain passes -- but it's not quite able to deal with this slight break in the curb as I drive into the supermarket parking lot." Get the $#@! out of the way!

Big Beef Language

And speaking of things that inflame my anger:
  1. Unless you have a speech impediment, saying the word "is" twice in a row shall henceforth be punishable with tar and feathers. I'm extremely sick of hearing this on the radio: "The problem is not a lack of potato nuggets. What the problem is, is a spike in the cost of elk hearts." Morons! Pause for three seconds and think about what you're saying. "The problem is not . . . The problem is . . ." Simple!
Okay, enough of this. It's my day off. Back to the video games.


SpaceTree is pretty stupid, but there's maybe one good joke in each episode.

Today I'm listening to: Frisky Radio! Bad site, good music.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Lupercalia! 

Today while doing research on the origins of Valentine's Day, I found the Roman antecedent, Lupercalia.
As part of the purification ritual, the priests of Lupercus would sacrifice goats to the god, and after drinking wine, they would run through the streets of Rome holding pieces of the goat skin above their heads, touching anyone they met. Young women especially would come forth voluntarily for the occasion, in the belief that being so touched would render them fruitful and bring easy childbirth.
So, in keeping with this grand tradition, I will be sacrificing a goat for my lady-love Diane. (Since we're both animal rights nuts, it'll be a tofu goat.)

Big Beef Language

There are some words and expressions I have a big beef with. In the interest of spreading my pedantic English teacher dogma as widely as possible, here are some tips for people who have the opportunity to write for the general public:
  1. The phrase "perfectly good" is meaningless. If it's good, then it's not bad -- but neither does it stand out. It's just good; a little better than average. To say that something is exactly (which is an approximation of "perfectly" in this sense) a little better than average is ridiculous. I heard this on NPR today.

  2. Putting something in quotation marks does not emphasize it. Using quotation marks around something indicates that the enclosed words are not literal. For instance, many of us referred for some time to "President" Bush, as a way to indicate that he had not been fairly elected.

    If you wish to emphasize something, you should underline it, or italicize it, or make it a larger typeface. Today in the Copps supermarket, I saw a sign reading: If you do not receive a receipt, your purchase is "free". If we don't assume that the person (presumably a freakin' manager) has grossly misused a pair of quotation marks, then the meaning of the sign is that your purchase will not in fact be free.
More of these as I come across them.


Let's see, what else. We're bribing our allies.. And take a look at these creepy people. Goat pic from Marissa.

Diane and I were in NYC for ETAN stuff this weekend. 'Twas a good time. Pics will be up soon. Homer sleep now. (We got in last night at 11pm.)


Well, it depends on whether you like VDay or not. You can choose something sweet or something vindictive. Watch out! That second one is wrong.

Today I'm listening to: The Crystal Method!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sam He Is -- and a Kidney He Needs 

Hey people.. I'm way tired and I'm going to NYC tomorrow and I'm totally exhausted and I have a conference call in an hour and I don't know where the meeting is in NYC and I need to find a place to stash Eileen.

But the reason I'm posting (without a pic -- a rarity) is because a good man named Sam Johnson -- whose blog I've been reading and linking to for a few months -- needs a kidney transplant. And as you know, this ain't cheap. Please give a few bucks to help him reach the $100,000 needed for this operation.

Take a second to visit his website for full details.

No TimeWaster or anything today. Sorry! Give to Sam!

Monday, February 07, 2005


Yesterday I posted a link to a funky little Flash site called The 2Headed Dog. Little did I know that it was actually part of an MTV2 viral marketing campaign. I apologize profusely for inadvertantly aiding MTV's insipid program of world domination, and I vow renewed vigilance against such missteps in the future.

I hate being stung by the borg. (Resistance is fertile!) I much prefer being infected by the Borges.

Speaking of borgxx: I think Julian Borger is being a little dramatic when s/he claims that Bush's budget axe will fall on the poor.
A programme that helps the poor pay heating bills is to be cut by more than 8%, while 18 housing and community programmes will be consolidated with total savings of about 40% - almost $3bn.

The administration has also said it will save $60bn over 10 years on the Medicaid programme, which provides health services to the poor. It argues that the savings will largely come from administrative costs, but there will be severe cuts in several health programmes.
First of all, learn to spell. It's "programs," yo. What's with all the extra letters? And secondly, poor people don't deserve all that free medical care, anyway. I mean, imagine what would happen to the economy of your country, Mr. (or Ms.) English smartmouth, if your government started giving away free health care for every "poor" person who asked for it.

Now here's a real commentary -- I am now wildly outraged about those overly sensitive Latino/a students at the University of North Texas.
For the stunt, the Young Conservatives wore bright orange shirts that read "Illegal Immigrant" on the front and "Catch me if U can" on the back. Passers-by were encouraged to track them down around campus and win a prize.
What's so bad about that? Some people are so sensitive!

Killer Robot Watch

Beware the Robotic Attack Jet.
Eventually such planes will be military mainstays. Of this, most observers are sure; it is simply a lot less expensive—and safer—to send machines into battle than to send people. . . .
Uh.. Safer for whom? (TPCQ: "I have seven pudding cups! Thank you Uncle Sam!")


I dunno.. C&G may have to add London to the short list.

Time for video games.


You must watch How to Make an Internet Cartoon. Mag. Ni. Fi. Cent.

Today I'm listening to: Dub Beautiful!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Wasting Time 

I've come to believe that -- given the insane pace and energy I put into my school days (not to mention ETAN work, writing, music, and a thousand other projects), I deserve to waste vast gobs of time on the weekend. To that end, this post is nothing but homage and links to same.

First off, pursuant to my last post about MUDs, I found this interview with RM French, lead designer for Iron Realms, creators of Achaea and Lusternia.
Q: Many people claim that the text game (the M**) is on its way out, that it is a dying genre of an increasingly narrow niche audience. What would you say to them?

A: I was one of those people actually. Seven years ago, I predicted text games would die within five years in the face of graphical juggernauts like Everquest. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. I've finally came to the realization that there will never be a shortage of people who enjoy playing roleplaying games using their imaginations as evoked by the written word rather than through splashy graphics. As long as there are people who prefer to read novels as opposed to going to the movies, there will be gamers who prefer text MUDs over graphic games.
I could have sworn I said something very similar to this not long ago.

Anyway -- on to the time wasting. You should start with [CENSORED].

Speaking of inappropriate -- pic swiped from here.

Have a gander at Organic HTML. It takes a website and makes a plant based -- apparently -- on its color scheme, directory structure, and multimedia elements. The result for fbesp.org/blog is pretty cool.

How about some blasts from the past? Go back to GreenTowel and watch Rock Shock and tell me it isn't magnificent. And can you ever have too much We Like the Moon? Or Bing! I'm a Guinea Pig?


What, you need more? Okay, whatever. Sing along with Volare.

Today I'm listening to: The Crystal Method!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Want a New MUD 

Before we get to the rant, I'll thank you to check out the new pics of snow beings at Imagenary.

Now then.

For the last four months or so, I've gotten deeply into MUDs. I know, I know. I'm about a decade behind the times. In the era of the MMORPG, the MUD is an ancient anachronism, a relic from the time before we could actually represent our travels. As one pal put it, the only reason people MUD anymore is because they want to virtually get it on with elves. MUDs are outmnoded, irrelevant, deprecated. They are to online gaming what Zork is to Diablo. (Hey, you can download Zork I from that site! Sweet.)

But I'm into the MUD concept. Something about the text descriptions, the extensive focus on character, and the freedom of imaginative exploration really appeal to me. (Or to the nerd English teacher in me.) Maybe this relates to McCloud's analysis of the icon vis a vis the linguistic/graphic video game split. Whatever the reason, I really like typing away with a mug of tea, raising arms against a sea of kobolds. Plus they're free, and I'm poor.

But there's a snag: I can't find the MUD I want. I must have gone through fifty different MUDs by now, making it through the newbie introduction system in at least half of them. None of them meet all of my criteria, which are as follows:
  1. The code must be neat and the controls intuitive. Most MUDs do okay with this.

  2. I must be able to heal quickly. Some MUDs apparently don't have healing potions or other ways to heal after a battle, so the character must sleep -- sometimes this takes 2-3 minutes. Tedious! I wanna chug a Cure Light Wounds and be on with it.

  3. I want to get moving and have plenty of places to go. For a while, I ate, drank, and slept Achaea. It's got a very involved guild system, and the people play their roles seriously. But after a few weeks, I realized that all of the places which promised adventure were crammed with other players killing the beasties. To make matters worse, Achaea requires active involvement in one's guild, so adventuring takes a back seat to the machinations of your virtual workplace. Like I don't get enough of that at work!

  4. I need maps. I'm not interested in figuring out how the path leads from Creggmore to New Ravensville. If your MUD has been around for five years and there aren't any decent maps to help us figure it out, you've got problems.

  5. Interesting quests. This is the big floppo. Aardwolf is the MUD I've spent the most time in; it's got lots of decent areas (though many of them are cursed with stupid random you- can't- escape- except- by- randomly- pressing- direction- buttons- until- you- happen- to- find- the- exit mazes), and all the other requirements are rather well met. But Aard suffers from two problems. First is limited role playing. Whatever -- this isn't a big deal. I like the personas of the people in Achaea, but it's a minor matter. The bigger problem is the questing system -- it's very boring. You find a Questor, and s/he tells you: "Find and kill [name of monster] in [name of area]." So you do, and the Questor gives you some "quest points," which you can trade in for nifty items.

    Would it really be so difficult to develop some interesting plot-based quests, like saving people in distress or gathering parts for a machine? This is where so many MUDs fail to creatively engage; instead, they focus on building new areas -- which are also devoid of story or meaning.
Alas. It seems there are no MUDs which really excel in each of these categories. Nodeka has a nice questing system, but healing takes forever. Ashavar's Legacy has -- in addition to a nearly unreadable website -- some decent puzzles, but lacks the maps I need, and the quests are confusing.

I'm giving it one last try with Lusternia, from Iron Realms -- the same people who made Achaea. It seems to have fewer people and more areas, which should cut down on the sparse monster populations that irked me so in Achaea. Also I seem to have found a guild which will enable my "let me explore" virtual identity.

If this one doesn't work out, though, I'll have to just say "funk it" and play Aardwolf for hack 'n' slash, then go back to the GUI world of Avernum 3 for storyline.

Yeesh -- the only thing more ridiculous than someone who spends so much time MUDding is someone who spends equal amounts of time blogging about MUDding.


This is pretty cool. Can you find the hidden message?


Yes, we all know there are subliminal messages in Britney Spears and Led Zeppelin. (Not to mention the Beatles.) But what about Daft Punk? I mean, like the guy says -- it's right there in the track. It must have been on purpose!!!!!!!!! Well, at least that song has a glorious video.

Today I'm listening to: Myst!