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Archive September 2002
Sunday 29 September 2002
Kevan's blog reference to Synaesthesia led to me wondering what other strange indexing methods are out there, particularly of language; I'm pretty sure my indexes approximate "first consonant-sound, and audio word length", such that John and Joan are not indexed alike (Joan has a long vowel sound, John has a short), but James and Jane are. One of the main side-effects of this indexing system is that sometimes my brain will suggest a not-quite-right word for a situation, which then blocks all attempts to retrieve the correct word. It also isn't very good around people who have similar names, especially when combined with my frankly atrocious memory for faces. How does your mind index things? [16:45] [6 comments]
Gorgeous: Jackie Chan in a romantic comedy sounds quite unlikely, but it works very well, probably because it does, admittedly, also involve quite a lot of kung-fu. [16:37] [0 comments]
Tom Clancy's Netforce: The Netforce in this movie didn't actually belong to Tom Clancy at all, but rather to Squinty Beckett from Quantum Leap, who (spoiler!) doesn't die at all, not even when a building explodes drably nor when he is drably injected with poison, nor when he is drably shot. [05:56] [1 comment]

Friday 27 September 2002
The Guardian's Best British blog competition is over, and the results are disagreeable, as expected. If Kevan had entered, he should have won over the winner. Best writing indeed. [03:42] [0 comments] A very impressive optical illusion via Matt - convincing enough that I didn't believe it until after I'd checked with my program Palette Spy. A bit of defocussing later, and I can no longer see it 'wrong' even if I try. [03:36] [2 comments]
Fearless: One of those rare movies that I like even though it has very little action, and a plot that could be accurately laid out in a half-page. [03:33] [0 comments]

Wednesday 25 September 2002
Hooray! Programmers are the criminals. Why hasn't this logic been applied to gun manufacturers yet? Hm, it rather has been applied to cigarette manufacturers, though, and is tending that way for fast food too, isn't it? The good thing is, soon it will be impossible to commit a crime - it's not my fault I programmed the tool, officer, Microsoft wrote the compiler! [17:26] [2 comments] Britishcornershop.co.uk has many of the foods that I miss from England; Branston pickle, piccalilli, brown sauce, Beanfeasts, boxes of Worcestershire sauce flavour Walkers French Fries, Nice n Spicy flavour Nik Naks, vegetarian Bisto granules, Flamin' Hot Monster Munch, and Jaffa Cakes. However, when I get to the checkout with such a list, the 36 quid pricetag is rendered nigh irrelevant by the 80 quid shipping cost. Tsk. Even after removing the heavy liquids-in-glass-containers from the order, it's still 55 quid for the shipping. I can't bring myself to pay more for shipping than for the goods, unless the goods are extraordinarily cheap. So I go hungry. [17:20] [0 comments]
Pulse: Perhaps rather oddly, this is the only movie that has ever been responsible for me having a nightmare - that alone is interesting enough that I purchased it. [17:11] [0 comments]
Via Matt and Tyrethali, I heard about the game Tranquility, and decided to try it. I'm afraid it falls somewhere near Solitaire, as a very pointless-seeming exercise, an exercise more in patience than in skill, or dexterity, or intelligence. It certainly wasn't worth the effort I went to to get OpenGL to work with my outdated graphics card - there is no OpenGL driver above version 1.1 supported under Win2K; I eventually found an OpenGL->Direct3D wrapper, altogl, from altsoftware.com. That was an exercise in patience, too. How did I get from talking about a game to gibbering in geek? It's the magic of operating systems. [07:34] [0 comments]
More geekery... I am repeatedly appalled by Microsoft's downloading software; Internet Explorer's non-resuming-by-default, Windows Update not only not resuming, but also not even timing out or restarting when the connection has clearly died, and so forth. I wrote a resuming HTTP downloader in a couple of days - it seems insane to not use such a thing for auto-update programs that regularly download tens of megabytes. That they won't allow you to easily take a local copy of the updates is infuriating, too - if I wanted to update ten machines, I wouldn't want to clutter the internet with 300MB of traffic when I only want 30MB of information. Though I suppose I could use some sort of caching proxy if I cared enough. [04:48] [0 comments]
Tron: A very bad early-cyberpunk movie that everyone should see, and another thing that's referenced by the Simpsons. [04:42] [2 comments]

Monday 23 September 2002
I had a terrifying realisation, earlier. A good way to approach resolution of many of the most annoying problems in modern society is to ask yourself "what would a stupid person do?" This seemingly counterproductive question arises from the more reasonable question "how the hell do stupid people get by?" The answer to both questions, of course, is "get someone else to do it," and this, I'm afraid, is the only reasonable answer to dealing with insane bureaucracies. [16:26] [2 comments] A triffidish movie of zombies, entitled 28 Days Later looks promising, somewhat by description but more by the trailer, wherein the few glimpses there are of the movie's visuals rather remind me of Cemetery Man. It sounds like the zombies probably don't explode though, which is a bit disappointing. (via Kevan) [12:45] [0 comments] Hooray! Less than a month ago my TV exploded, and was replaced by a spare of Jalen's that had nowhere to go. That spare has now exploded too. Probably objected to being primarily used to watch The A-Team, old-camp-Batman, and Saturday morning cartoons. [12:29] [0 comments]
The Prisoner: Good enough to be referenced in at least two Simpsons episodes, Patrick McGoohan is the king of unnerving over-pleasantness. [12:23] [5 comments]

Saturday 21 September 2002
I discovered the other day I needed to install Windows 2000 in order to be able to use the firewire and digital video capabilities of my camcorder. So I did. Only then did I discover that the network card in the machine wasn't supported by the normal drivers. Nor was it supported by any of the three different close-to-right Intel drivers I tried, except one which allowed a few K to be transferred on any connection before dying. So I replaced the network card with one I ripped out of another machine. This network card was also unsupported. So I gutted another machine, and was surprised to find that a Realtek 8019 was supported. Still, I hated Win2K 12 times before it was even installed, and another 18 before I'd got the drivers to work. Also, I recommend that anyone installing Win2K backup their files and do a from-scratch install rather than letting it do an upgrade. I'm pretty sure I would have only hated it 20 times if I'd done that. On the up side, the firewire connection does work, though bizarrely it won't capture images as smaller than 640x480. I suppose any good software will handle it. [09:19] [2 comments]
Consumer beware, at least in America - Volkswagen cars since 1997 have been, and still are, manufactured with crappy components controlling the electric windows. In under a year, two of these have broken in ours. They can supposedly only be replaced with $500 parts, of the same rapid-break nature, and the dealership claim they are not covered by the warranty. When they break, the windows stay open, and the dealerships don't stock the part so you can't close the windows for over a week. This is bad. So, if you're buying a car, buy another brand. They don't even offer non-electric windows as an option. Tsch. [08:47] [5 comments] Apparently, Blake's 7 is coming out on DVD, in America, on January 7th 2003. Information duplicated here, along with mention of release in the UK too. Someone remind me closer to the time. [08:34] [2 comments]
Storm Riders: Computer-enhanced live-action anime - visually appealing, and about as nonsensical as you'd expect from regular anime. [08:27] [3 comments]

Thursday 19 September 2002
Some silly product ideas floating around in my mind, yelling at me. From American Product Naming Inc. comes "X-treme Prozac-O's" - the breakfast cereal that makes you content with another day of drudgery. From Americana Merchandising, "Zkeletor" - the antidepressant in the form of a lolly that resembles a plastic toy based on a popular cartoon villain. And vibrates. [13:40] [4 comments] Things not to say around a Scrabble table. "Tsk, you only won because you were after Bob." "No, I want to go after Bob. For, er, a reason." And, best of all, "You can go after Bob - you need the advantage." [12:04] [0 comments] Apparently today is "Talk Like A Pirate Day". I did my piratrey yesterday, with my flag of the United States of Americarrrr, and refuse to talk like a pirate just because I'm supposed to. Pirates don't obey the rules, that's part of what makes them pirates. Tsk. You're after me lucky charms. [11:45] [3 comments]
Blue Streak: Nice amusing disguise-based fun in the first half, leading into not-too-bad action towards the end. [11:41] [0 comments]
Hoorah, more political amusement. Been a lot of this recently. Today's - an anti-drug advertisement. "This is Stacey. This is the dime bag that Stacey bought. This is the dealer..." and so on to "this is the terrorist monster who smuggles the drugs". I wish for a parallel ad, "This is the US government. These are the oil addicts who pay for the US government. This is the terrorist monster who attacks other countries for their oil." [06:03] [2 comments] Click for a close-up.Click the flag. [01:51] [8 comments]
Look Who's Talking: Nobody, because there was no proper mouth-animation technology in those days. [01:46] [0 comments]

Wednesday 18 September 2002
The best web-comic I've seen in a long time, though it takes a while to get going. A little bit Gaimanish, plus bad jokes, and characters discussing the very badness of the jokes. Clown Squad. [07:39] [0 comments]

Tuesday 17 September 2002
Spooky. An article I linked to on the eighth, about legal rights in America disappearing, has disappeared. No trace. An internal search of the site brings up no reference to it (though searching for 'legal rights' does, amusingly, bring up "Obituaries: 1 results found on 'legal rights'"). There is, however, a cache of the article, for now. [16:07] [10 comments] Office Space: It's pretty much an exact image of how corporate America really works, but for some reason it's funny instead of hateful. [14:51] [2 comments]

Monday 16 September 2002
A particularly poignant poster, in light of my blogging of a few days ago regarding drugs - "That tired feeling... That's just individuality trying to reassert itself... Don't give in!" - a message from the Ministry of Homeland Security. [16:32] [1 comment] Marvellous things from b3ta.com - A Tribute to Ray Harryhausen and the Meat or Accident Quiz. [16:16] [3 comments]
Hm, I'm told rubbernecking does occur in England. Perhaps I just never noticed because the accidents in England (except perhaps in London) aren't scattered every few hundred feet like they are around here. Hm, is it perhaps just capital cities, or are accidents so prevalent elsewhere in America too? Now I mention it, I don't recall seeing any accidents any time we've been away from DC and surrounding states. [14:04] [3 comments] Dictionary fun again - I couldn't remember how to spell floccinauccinihilipilification, so I asked the dictionary. It didn't know either, as it turned out, but it had some great suggestions for what I might have meant. Suggestions such as foolish woman or fluxing lime. But no, I'm pretty sure what I actually meant to say was flag smut fungus. [08:58] [1 comment] Before I came to America, I had not encountered the term rubbernecking (speaking of He-man, as I was in that mouseover - here's his livejournal). Rubbernecking is a term commonly used in America for "causing two miles of backed-up traffic by slowing down to look at an accident that isn't even on your side of the road". I don't recall this sort of insanity happening in England, but then, I didn't drive - does it happen? Damask suggests the reason for this is that Americans are brought up to be spectators, to watch, not to do. Seems about right. [08:47] [9 comments]
Pleasantville: It could have been good, but it's not, it's slow and drab. [08:33] [1 comment]

Sunday 15 September 2002
In less disappointing news, though - liveandfrivolous.com is now up and running. Spread the word, my flying monkeys! Tell the world! [12:41] [0 comments] How disappointing - in trying to find The Barefoot Kid, one of the top ten Google hits is kungfuzombie.com. So promising, perhaps even good, but, alas, in German. [12:37] [0 comments]
The Barefoot Kid: An unusual mix of silly and poignant in the best kung-fu movie ever to revolve around a shoe fetish. [12:36] [0 comments]

Saturday 14 September 2002
Work is now in progress, on liveandfrivolous.com. Keep an eye out for an update in a couple of days, when it's all up and running and the DNS has propagated. Watch this space. Or some space kinda near it. [05:56] [0 comments]

Friday 13 September 2002
It seems there are many sites like savekaryn.com; internet panhandling extreme. But I wonder - would a similar, prouder model of requesting money work? Perhaps, rather than "your money will pay off my debt", "your money will have fun". Live vicariously through Raven, dot com. I notice "frivolousspending.com" isn't taken. To some degree I rather suspect it would do better than standard begging; it would be like Big Brother or The Real World, so long as one were to spend the money properly frivolously, and fully document it, blog-like, on the site. Tempting to give it a shot, low-risk venture that it would be. I'm sure I could become entertainingly frivolous, if it weren't my money at stake. [22:27] [4 comments]
A banner-ad entertains me. "Would you send your children to bed without heat or without dinner? 1 in 5 kids in America faces hunger because of decisions like this."

It seems American parents are falling for a false dichotomy. American parents: just because you're only offered two options doesn't mean you have to choose one of them. I recommend that you instead pick a hidden third option, such as sending your children to bed without bees. They'll thank you for it later. [21:44] [1 comment]
Mrs Doubtfire: It's on TV again, at this very moment, and also in two hours - the movie may not contain zombies, but it keeps bloody coming back like one. [21:29] [0 comments]

Wednesday 11 September 2002
I was pondering some T-shirt-selling tomfoolery, related to a top secret project. I went to the first place people go when they want to print and sell T-shirts and are too lazy to do it themselves; cafepress.com. $13.99 they take off the top, for even a single-colour single-sided print on a white T-shirt. I can get 12 such shirts printed at $4 each, elsewhere. It's certainly not all shipping-and-handling charges, either, since they charge that on top. How can they charge so much? Probably by having no competition at all for the "print, sell, ship" service. How can they have no competition? I wonder if perhaps there's a monopolistic patent in place. I'm rather tempted to set up a similar service with a slightly different focus - instead of Cafepress's "no client risk" approach, I would rather offer a "small risk, but double your profit" approach. It appears that an outlay of under $1000 enables one to screen-print four-colour T-shirts for under $2 each (plus about $12 per design per colour for making the screens). A cafepress-competing business, then, could reasonably charge $50 per design plus $8 per shirt plus shipping-and-handling, making a decent profit, and still giving more money to the client so long as the client sells at least 10 shirts. I suppose I would also insist on the client paying for an initial run of at least 24 to be in stock, since printing them individually would be a pain. Even so, it would be a nice compromise between Cafepress's "we've got your money, la la la" approach, and the more standard "give us your money, we give you T-shirts" approach. Since I don't want to have the T-shirts I might design, and don't want to have to mess with shipping things, this compromising business model would be ideal for my purpose, and, I suspect, for many others'. Also, Cafepress's products are rubbish, and fade. I couldn't charge $15 (plus shipping) for such a thing.

To summarise my points here - I would like to set up a business that would compete with Cafepress, but I fear they would probably slap me around with a secret patent, and also I would tire of running such a business in short order. It still seems like it might be worth it, though, if there's no patent issue; the drudgery could be offloaded on grunts, if such a business were to take off. And I'd quite enjoy doing the web-based part. Anyone nearby got $1000, a 10'x10' spare room, and some time to invest? [17:05] [10 comments]
Mrs Doubtfire: I would like this movie to cease being on TV twice a day, perhaps replaced with something involving zombies. [16:19] [5 comments]
I was surprised and dismayed, last night, by a friend firmly disbelieving that an eight-year-old child could be sophisticated enough to write a poem with intent to parody the usual style in which eight-year-olds write poetry. It doesn't seem such a difficult concept to me - I was well acquainted with parody when I was six; probably earlier, but my memory of before then is hazy as hell. I had learned disdain for my peers by that point. Why would I not engage in stylistic parody? But it seems that the art of parody is not as culturally standard in America as it is in England; even the most crude implementations seem lacking - I'm told children swear the pledge of allegiance verbatim, even. I don't recall any chants from my childhood ever being so exempt from transmogrification. Without a good cultural grounding of satire, no wonder someone like Bush can (nearly) win the popular vote. [00:18] [2 comments]
Witness the horror that is savekaryn.com - she's got $10000 in under three months, just for asking. That's more than I'm paid at the moment. If you must send money to such things, go for dontsavekaryn.com instead. Or, even better, send me money. [00:04] [8 comments]

Tuesday 10 September 2002
My quiz popup ads are paying properly - it's not just numbers on a screen, I have now received a cheque for $39.59 from popupsponsor. Thus, I recommend them for anyone else who wishes to do such things. They even have options to choose between; "super-annoying ads that pay more" or "slightly annoying ads that still pay decently". [23:47] [0 comments] I'm a little bit less irked by Maryland's tax people, now - they sent us a letter saying the inquiry was now closed, which is better than most of the bureaucracy's behaviour. [23:43] [0 comments]
With September 11th approaching, it seems about time for a sweepstakes. What will happen?
  • There will be a 'surprise' follow-up attack, coincidentally strengthening Bush's position in his UN discussions on the 12th. (10:1)
  • There will be a surprise attack on Iraq, by America, which will be met with sympathy by all nations at the happy end of the US stick. (4:1)
  • Similar surprise attack, but on the 13th to make it a little less obvious, and to perhaps have UN support. (3:1)
  • Nothing will happen except really bad television. (even odds)
[23:39] [10 comments]
Tenacious D (the HBO series): Entertaining stuff, despite being largely comprised of fart-level humour. [23:30] [0 comments]

Sunday 8 September 2002
An interesting advertising technique; I rather wonder whether it's secretly a cover for an even sharper technique. Say you're going to advertise in some innovative and deceptive way. Give an example which fully describes your product. The outraged press print articles, outraged or impressed people point at those articles, and lo, your product is advertised. I wouldn't be surprised to see a "Sony backs down, doesn't spend $5M on actors after all" article later. Why would you, when you can get this sort of delicious exposure free? [13:08] [5 comments] Another big hoorah for America - your legal rights and public opinion. [13:03] [0 comments]
Tricky Brains: Toilet humour, groin-stabbing, and a rather brilliant naked suit with the words "I'm naked" emblazoned on the front. [13:02] [0 comments]

Friday 6 September 2002
Kevan is UpsideClone today, with The Campaign for Real Advertising. [12:53] [0 comments]
Sixty Million Dollar Man: Accurately summed up by part of the tagline on the box; "he's a microwave oven... he's a toothpaste..." [11:14] [0 comments]

Thursday 5 September 2002
I somewhat enjoy the cartoon villain quiz. But mostly because I am MOJO JOJO! Oh yes I am. You cannot imagine how very Mojo Jojo I truly am. More Mojo Jojo than you, certainly. [11:36] [5 comments]
Braveheart: It would have been better if it starred Charlton Heston instead of Mel Gibson, as an exploding zombie instead of a Scottish hero, that eats people's brains instead of showing its arse. [11:34] [3 comments]
It's time for another proper angry rant, brought to you today by the Virginia state tax people's "we need you to send us that W2 that you already sent us and don't now have a spare copy of because we have it", and by the letter Z, appearing in such words as Zoloft and Prozac. This rant covers all my favourite rant topics; doctors, America, and corporate slavery.

Lots of people - good people - that I know are getting prescribed various antidepressants, in a Doctors' Classic "treat the symptoms not the cause" sort of way. I realise doctors can't really prescribe "your life not suck", but antidepressants being prescribed for most of these people is like having them wear a blindfold and a local anaesthetic as a 'cure' for them being repeatedly poked in the eye with sharp sticks. I'm not suggesting that their brain chemistry isn't fucked up. I'm suggesting that the reason it's fucked up is that everyone here lives to their budget or worse - a budget they acquire by working more hours than is reasonable, for an uncaring faceless corporate soul-destroying monster.

A strange thing about this - I can't perceive anything different between America and England's dealings with money (apart from taxes in England being less effort). The people I know in America don't spend a lot of money frivolously, most of them earn more than their equivalents in England, rent and food isn't much different, there are a couple of bills that are worse but not so much so that it would counterbalance the "earning more". And yet, somehow, everyone here lives worse than paycheck to paycheck, always on the verge of being destroyed by a little car-trouble or an unexpected medical bill (such as for the prescription of a different brand of chemical blindfold).

Even if you're 'winning', starting to earn a little more than enough to break even, you're still stuck in a perpetual nightmare of doing the bidding of others - if not employers, the tax bastards. There's even a celebration of 'labour day', celebrating the hardworkingness of Americans.

There's no celebration of that one time emancipation pretended to happen. [02:58] [5 comments]

Wednesday 4 September 2002
An article: The Power Of Stupidity. I don't endorse all of what is said, but I am entertained by most of it. [09:56] [0 comments] On a vaguely related note, two snappy put-downs I particularly enjoyed. "I beg to differ." "I beg for you to differ too." and "It's been nice talking to you guys." "I wish I could say the same. Without lying." [08:41] [0 comments] The best, most ridiculously stupid sentence I've ever encountered, ironically sent to the hate_the_stupid mailing list: Most of the comments they made were vulgar and tasteless, displaying their wonderfully flawed logic of misunderstanding. [08:03] [0 comments]
Condorman: A cartoonist is the embodiment of the A-Team in a single superhero - brilliant awfulness. [08:01] [1 comment]

Monday 2 September 2002
BEES! Also, magnetic cheese. [00:32] [5 comments]
Fallen: One of the best movie endings ever, and not just because of a "whew, I'm glad that movie finally ended" feeling. [00:30] [8 comments]