This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Secret mission status: Successful!

Due to a successful secret mission, I have the following to report:

  1. We still use cars
  2. Cars are still powered by gasoline
  3. When temperatures rise into the tropical range(+14°C), cute young women still wear almost nothing
  4. All is good

A secret mission

I am undertaking a secret mission today. My assignment, while simple, is fraught with dangers, both known and unknown. I have been issued with the latest in camo gear. to help me blend more fully in with the locals; I have also been given sensor and diagnostic equipment curently available to our science.

My mission: to investigate the strange life forms that abound outside the confines of my Universe, the apartment in which I live. I have not left te compound in about a week, and the Powers That Betm have determined that many things must've changed in that time. Do we still use cars, and if so, are the still gasoline-powered? Do cute young women still wear almost nothing when the temperature goes into the tropical range(+14°C)?

I will investigate and report back to Command later.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Of bottle returns, and the silly New Brunswick way

New Brunswick, the province where I live, has a bottle return policy. When you buy any kind of container full of liquid, such as juices or pop or whatnot, you have to pay a 10 cent deposit on that container. If you buy a case of those plastic drink boxes that you have to puncture with the straw that's attached and there're 24 of those boxes in a case, you have to pay that 10 cent deposit on each unit in the case, in this case 24 * 0.10 = $2.40 in addition to whatever the case itself costs.

This is to force people to recycle them, I guess. You collect all your empties(which you're supposed to wash after use, for some reason), then throw them all in a plastic bag and drag them(or drive them) to the nearest bottle return facility. They will then open your bags(by tearing them open), count the units you're returning(and make fun of the dirty ones), then give you a little chit to take to the cashier, who will run it through a calcalator using the formula Refund = X * 0.05, and give you your money.

Look at the formula again. That's right. You get only half your money back. You might wonder why. Well, so do I. In theory, the other five cents per unit goes to the bottle return company, which has to pay the employees, and also make a profit for itself, too. The situation probably isn't as bad as you'd think; there're a lot of empty bottles out there, and the bottle return place also handles beer bottles, and since this is New Brunswick, there're a lot of those.

What is really irritating, though, is that when you go to a restaurant and ask for a Coke, sometimes they serve them in cans and you have to pay deposit on those. But since most people leave their empties in the restaurant, the place not only gets your ten cents, but it also gets the five cent return price. Go to the food court in a mall, and it's the same thing.

Why can't we just take them to the dump? You don't have to pay people there anything extra to handle bottles, and we could get all our money back? Or better yet, just build the deposit into the purchase price and send it all back with the garbage. I know they go through our garbage at the dump anyway, so why not make them separate the bottles there?

If the tree-huggers out there don't like that idea, then why not do it the Oshawa, Ontario way? No deposit, but bottles have to be separated out at the curb for pickup by the garbage truck. There's a schedule when bottles get picked up, and they have to be in special boxes or the g/m won't take 'em. No muss, no fuss, no deposit, no return. Simple. Why make our lives harder than they already are?

Gillette: Is that when you tell her to take a hike?

Given some of my previous posts, you might think that I'm obsessed with commercials. And you'd be right. Having no wife or girlfriend, and definitely(hopefully) no children, and being quite a bit of an Evil Male Chauvinist Pigtm, I can obsess over whatever I like, without fear of feminine disapproval. It is my fervent belief than every man needs something to obsess over, apart from obvious things like work and family, without fear of feminine disapproval.

In any case, the Gillette commercial goes something like this: a man goes running(for health, that is), then comes home and goes to take a shower. In the meantime, his wife/girlfriend picks up his shirt he ran in, smells it and the accuses him of not having gone where he'd said he'd gone, because, well, because she can't smell anything on it. She even doesn't believe him when he claims, as we've seen, to have actually gone jogging. And all this is done in a really bad rendition of old Kung Fu movies, where the words you hear come out of their mouths don't actually match their mouth movements.

Something occured to me after the first few times I watched that commercials. At which point does the guy tell her to believe him or not, he doesn't care? After all, if she doesn't believe what you tell her, what does that really tell you about her belief in you? I hate to be harsh about it, but isn't trust the first prerequisite for a successful relationship?

You can have love, lust, fun, excitement, or even basic attraction, but is trust not the glue that holds it all together? Without it, none of these other feelings and emotions and physical reactions matter even an iota. Once damaged, is trust not one of the most difficult aspects of a relationship to rebuild? You can certainly lose it in many ways, including lying and cheating, but rebuilding it will be a very hard job. So, if you ask your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife (I refuse to use the term 'partner') something, and their response isn't necessarily logical based on what you think they should've responded with, should your first conclusion be that they're lying to you?

What'll they get up to next?


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Added new funny site to the list

I've added a new blog to the list, Girl Punch... The Perfect Blend of Crazy. Check it out.

Questioning my own wisdom

I've often wondered, even as I'm shopping for food, whether it really makes sense to keep so much non-perishable food at home, and that doesn't even include what's in my freezer. I've got enough fish in there to last probably two weeks, three loaves of bread, canned soups, canned vegetables, cereal bars, juice cans, and so on and so forth.

What really is the point of all that food? Why am I hoarding nuts, cereals, raisins, tin cans, dry breads, drinks, teas, potatoes, yogurt and all that jazz? Some of it goes bad because I simply can't eat some of this stuff fast enough, but I go ahead and replace it anyway, knowing that most likely, it too will go bad. There's no local or national disaster going on, no food delivery strikes, Y2K terror is long since gone(and I never even believed any of that, though fixing Y2K computer problems was a great way to make a lot of money very quickly). So why hoard the way I've been doing, and will continue to do?

Well, this recent illness of mine has proven the wisdom of this course of action. I haven't been this sick for quite this long in years, and I haven't been able to get out for almost a week now. Well, since I haven't been able to get out for all this time, and I live alone, it's a damn good thing I had all that food, or I'd've had nothing to eat. As it is, I'm now officially out of bread, cold cut meats, soups, etc. If it hadn't been for all that hoarding, with its attendent spoilage, I'd be pretty damn hungry.

I suppose I could've ordered delivery for all those days, but that's a huge waste of money and I'm sure it would kill me; you can't eat out all the time, particularly not when you're sick. The other possibility was to ask a friend or two to shop for me, but there were a couple of problems with that idea. First, my mind wasn't working enough to ask for what I needed, and second, I wasn't sure if I was contagious or not. Plus I would've needed a huge amount of food to last out the week, or I'd have to keep asking for people to fill me up, so to speak.

So, next time somebody tells you it's bad to hoard, so long as you do it within reason, tell them to leave you the hell alone.

What Office Space character are you?


What Office Space character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Not that I've actually seen the movie or anything.

A hilarious send-up of the China/Japan spat

This is a pretty funny description of the whole flareup between China and Japan over the new Japanese “history” books. Story

Of Stargate: Atlantis, or why I never got into it

The show, Stargate: Atlantis, is in many ways a very well done sci-fi show, a spin-off from the show Stargate: SG1, which itself is a spinoff from the movie, Stargate. It is well-designed, well-acted and F/X are relatively minor, though first-class, which is what you'd expect from a modern sci-fi show. The main villains, The Wraith, are ridiculously powerful, but aren't particularly evil. True, they eat human beings, but that's almost instinctual for them, so I'm not sure it qualifies as evil. They treat humans as cattle, but aren't we told that we have to be accepting of other people's cultures and values? The minor villains, whose name I can't remember at the moment, aren't really evil, just militaristic, and suffer from serious delusions of adequacy.

As I said, the show is well-done, in many ways. But it jumped the shark for me about half-way through 1st season. I stopped watching it about then until the two-part episode, The Eye, and skipped the following episodes until the season finale, The Siege, and its attendant episodes. The reason is, I was bored. There was no real excitement, no wondering what they're going to encounter. Even in the SG1 series, the teams encountered more than just humans and Goa'uld. There were fish people, lizard people, water people, pranksters, super-advanced peoples of various kind, and even cavemen. And unless they brought with them a manufacturing facility, you'd think the Atlantis people would be running out of ammo about now.

The show was exciting for a while, but then the novelty wore off. I've seen far more SG1 episodes by now, and I want to keep watching. True, some of the episodes are dumb or boring or whatnot, but on the whole, it's an exciting show. That, I think, is the problem with Atlantis. Almost from day-one, it turned into a soap opera. Even Star Trek: DS9 took several years to do that and I stopped watching it about then, and Star Trek: Voyager, which shares one part of the premise with Atlantis, never did, except for brief periods of time.

To me, soaping a sci-fi show is the surest way to lose me as a viewer. I was perfectly content to watch, and like, Farscape until they turned it into a soap opera. It's one thing to revisit previous episodes, to expand upon what happened and what the outcome was, in the longer term, but to create just one script and follow it along for the whole length of the show is what Days of Our Lives is for.

In my opinion, Atlantis isn't really a bad show. It's not always consistent with reality(like projectile weapons require ammunition that has to be manufactured), and it's too soapy for my liking. It sometimes has great action and sometimes even good people trying to do the “right” thing in extremely difficult situations. It is well-acted, has great make-up and special effects, but I'm just not as excited about it as I was in the beginning. I'll watch the season premiere, whenever it comes on(probably in June or July), and make my mind up about it then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Great Popcultured quote

“Steven Spielberg said aliens are probably our friends; they wouldn't travel millions of miles(huh?) just to destroy us. He then passed the bong to the next person in line.”

Heard on the Popcultured show today.

Cute site of the day

The Creative Anniversary Calculator

Crawfish etouffee

Recipe for a wonderful dish!

Updated 4:00pm
So sad, my bad. Link fixed. I hope.

Thank God it's not raining!

Being sick in a hermetically-sealed apartment isn't much fun, especially when temperatures begin to rise. Of course, if the apartment's all sealed up, it's impossible to circulate the air, so you keep recycling your previous breath all day long. That's why I'm glad it's not raining out there; rain here tends to aim right for my windows, and if they're open, my rooms flood. As it is, I can keep the windows open and circulate the air. It's a bit cool out there, but that's better than living in a stuffy apartment where air hasn't moved in weeks.

The Reality Game is folding

I'm folding my other blog, The Reality Game. All non-duplicate posts from that blog will be moved and published here instead, starting next week. The reason? I can no longer see any reason to maintain two blogs where one will do just fine. The posts will be moved, edited and republished here. Please stay tuned.

Odd newz

Two pit bulls mauled to death

Disgusting commercials, are they necessary?

There's been an explosion of truly disgusting commercials on TV lately. The ones that come readily to mind are commercials for the Axe deoderant and Viagra(the predecessor to Viagra commercials was just as vile if not more so). Now, personally, I have nothing against soft-core porn, even violent soft-core porn, but I don't understand why it has to be inflicted on me every commercial break during every program on TV.

The Axe commercials are far more disgusting than the Viagra commercials, but the Viagra ones have a special place all on their own: they're the most divorced from reality. Axe commercials tend to the violent side, but Viagra commercials must've been written by someone who hasn't been in a North American office in decades.

I suppose it's one thing for a couple of old farts to discuss what they did after taking Viagra, disgusting though that thought might be. For the same reason that I don't want to see a guy dressed like a horse with a bit in his mouth, I don't want to hear anybody's descriptions of their sex lives, especially not two gangster lookalikes. That's not to say that they shouldn't talk about it, or do it, but don't inflict it on me.

But it goes beyond the pale that a man, in his early to mid thirties, would discuss his sex life openly beside the office watercooler and in front of a woman. Have you never heard of sexual harrassment, or hostile work environments, or hurting women's feelings? Even if it weren't for those things, it's still disgusting. Do whatever you want at home, but don't inflict it on your coworkers. At least they had the sense to make the coworkers look uncomfortable in the commercial.

But beyond any of that, what are these commercials propounding, anyway? The Viagra ads are selling a product that, apparently, makes you either a dirty old man or a dumb office prick who can't keep secrets secret. Axe commercials are, apparently, selling you on the idea that if you wear their product, skanky sluts with no modicum of self-control will be jumping all over you.

These commercials have a very European, or maybe even a South American feel to them, and look like a prelude to porn movies. Is that really what we want on our daily TV?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Of Kink, or why should we accept what they tell us?

There's a program on TV called Kink. It usually runs on the Canadian perversion channel, aka ShowCase. A few days ago, they ran a show about the gay Montreal S&M crowd. The things they showcased on that day were beyond belief, but the most incredible thing is what they expected of us, the viewing public.

The whole thing boils down to is that they want acceptance, and they won't settle for being ignored. It has to OK with us for them to do what they do, it seemed to me. They seem to fail to understand that most people simply don't care enough about them, one way or another. If they want to take all their clothes off, put on a horse bridle modified to fit a (fat) human male, stick a bit in their mouths, put hooves on their hands(so both they and their feet can reach the floor easily), prance around and make horsey sounds, well that's fine by me. Who am I to stand in the way of someone's idea of a good time?

But please, in private. I really don't want to see that sort of thing outside on some parade. This whole idea of publically accepting all modes of behaviour is absurd. It's unnecessary, and I think there's something to be said for tolerance with a line. “We, as a society, will tolerate your behaviour this far, and no further.” And that line should be “ what happens between consenting adults behind closed doors is between them only”.

In every society, there has to be structure, there have to be limits, there have to be rules. So long as we are not hunting the perverts or hurting them or denying them jobs or anything else that limits their choices in life, why should we have to accept, as opposed to tolerate, every life style out there? I don't inflict my 3D artwork, which isn't nearly as kinky as what I saw on that show, on the general public. It's publically accessible, of course, but the public has to know where to go look for it. It's an active choice they have to make, to look for it; they're not passive recipients of it.

Another Andromeda Quote

Pish: “Don't get scared and run away.”
Hunt: “Don't worry, I'm not running till I deal with you.”

Still sick

I'm still sick, but I'll try to write something relatively intelligent today.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Great Futurama quote

Leela: “I'm going to remind him of his humanity the way only a woman can.”
Professor: “You're going to do his laundry?”

State of emergency declared in Ontario town


Sick as a dog

I'm currently suffering through one of those weird illnesses that only a Goa'uld symbiot can cure. I'll be fine in a day or two, but it means that at this time, I can't sit up long enough to compose a real post. I do have about half a dozen ideas that are sitting in draft mode, waiting for me to expand on them. They'll have to wait, though, until I can gather enough of my mind to actually write something relatively coherent. Not that it ever stopped me before, of course, but I like to pretend. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Of roller skates, or what's with fashion?

There was a commercial on TV a few days ago, and it showed girls wearing actual roller skates. Not blades, skates. When did that happen? Since when are skates in again? I kept half-expecting Gold Member to appear. “I'm from Holland; izhn't zhat weird?”

Worry less if you're obese

It seems that it's not as big a problem as they thought.

Fluidic space, anyone?

Species 8472, perhaps?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Canadian humour

Canadian healthcare is like a hospital gown: you only think you're covered.

The beggar kid culture

There's a strange phenomenon here in town that I'd never witnessed anywhere else. Of course, I have to admit that I'd never before lived in a such a small town, or so close to downtown, but even so, it's something that I think shouldn't even be allowed to exist. There's a group of kids(if I had to guess, I'd say they're all under twenty) out there who seem to spend their springs, summers and falls, begging for money all up and down Main Street. Now, these kids don't seem hungry, they have large, well-fed dogs with them, they wear good(relatively speaking - they are begging, after all) clothes and shoes, and they're recognized as classmates by other kids in town.

Sometimes, they try to get creative in their attempts to swindle money out of hardworking people; they make up signs that say, “Travelling, please help.” My initial reaction is, if that sign is accurate and you are, in fact, travelling, and you hadn't settled the question of accomodations, food or money before you set out, that's your damn problem, not mine. The reality, however, is that it's just a scam: they're not travelling, and in fact have good homes here in town.

So these kids, well-fed and well-dressed, drag their huge, well-fed and shiny-coated, dogs downtown to beg for money. At least the guy who was begging for money with the sign that said “Will code HTML for food” was being honest and was willing to actually work for his supper. It sounds like a harsh expression, doesn't it? “Work for his supper”. But it's absolutely true for every single one of us who gets up in the morning and goes to work five days a week. Why, in realiity, should we part with our hard-earned money to feed those who refuse to work to feed themselves? Is giving them money not being an enabler of bad behaviour? When we do that, do we not reinforce their belief that they're somehow entitled to live a carefree life, to carouse with their beggar kid friends, and to not actually do something productive?

But what if they're really needy, you might ask? Well, then they wouldn't be able to keep their dogs quite that well fed. There are also several hostels in the area; I regularly pass one on my occasional lunch time walks. There are Churches in the area, and if they can't help for whatever reason, then certainly a Church would know who can. The economy might not be in the best condition, but there are still a ton of low-level jobs in the papers.

Oh, but wait! Didn't you know? They don't really want to work. A friend of mine offered a couple of them a job at $10/hour to clean out her shed. That's well above minimum wage, but she got turned down. That's not why they're out there on the street corners.

Helping people is all well and good, if it actually helps them. But nobody's every proven to me that merely giving people money simply because they ask for it does anybody any good.

The Beggar Kid culture Posted by Hello

These kids in Fredericton, NB, were representative of what I'm talking about. They were gathered there, on a street corner, one fine Saturday this month, and were demanding food not bombs. Was it the educational system that failed them, or their parents? I don't know, but if they were going to protest bombs, they should've known there aren't any in Canada, and if there were, we don't have any bombers to deliver them. But protesting in front of an American consulate would've been too much like work. There was another sign there, painted on the ground, that said, “Free food, please help”. Till I saw that sign, I actually thought they were doing charity work. I should've known better.

Why does it matter, you might ask. They're only kids. The trouble is that kids don't stay kids, they grow into adults, and if they get used to always getting free money for nothing, they'll be welfare cases for the rest of their lives, and so will their kids. And you and I will have to pay for their choices. I'm all for helping people, but it should be help, not keeping the lazy kids in the belief that they're owed something for nothing.

Of howling dogs, or what's wrong with keeping them on the farm?

The neighbours in the house across the parking lot have gotten it into their hands to themselves a new dog, a Husky. Oh, in case you think that's far, they's maybe 20 meters between my apartment building and their house. They used to have another one, a huge black thing, that looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Lab, and it used to bark. At anything and everyone, but it never seemed to lunge after people or cars, like so many other dogs do.

Their new dog, however, howls, like a wolf. I've never heard anything like it. It's like living through Fang, the excellent book not the crappy movie. What, exactly, is the point of keep a dog like that in the city? When will people learn that sometimes, just saying 'No!' is the answer. It used to scrare the living crap out of me the few times I heard it. What, did we get invaded by maurading bands of feral poodles, or something? Are the wolves coming to reclaim their long-lost cousins?

Some dogs need space and wilderness. Please, peeps, for the sake of them, if not your neighbour, keep them where they belong: on the farm.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Another SG1 quote

Jonas Quinn: “Shouldn't we try to escape?”
O'neill: “Oddly, no.”
Jonas: “Why?”
O'neill: “Oh, any moment now, some over the top, over-dressed bad guy is going come floating in here, gloating over whatever evil fate awaits us.” Waits for a few moments, then there's a sound of many feet marching. “See?”

O'neill: “What, no gloating? Take pride in your work, son!”: speaking with Harak, First Prime of Anubis.

The difference between film and digital cameras

Some people wonder, what are the differences, apart from the obvious, between film and digital cameras. I'm going to outline a few of the more important ones below. If I've forgotten anything, please me know and I'll include, if I think it's appropriate.

Film: Film cameras care about the quality of the lens and the type of film. To produce good quality images, you need a good quality lens and film that matches what you're trying to accomplish. Some film is designed to be warmer than others, some film is meant for high resolution, some film is for portraiture work under specialty lighting. In SLR cameras, both lens and film are replaceable; in point-and-shoot(P/S) cameras, only the film is replaceable.

Digital: Digital cameras care about the quality of the lens, the light sensor and the image processing computer built into the body. The image storage media(like CompactFlash or SmartMedia) matters only if you care about how quickly it can save your image. Much of the picture modification that used to be done with film is now taken care of with White Balance and other tools built into the camera. There is White Balance for flash lighting, for natural lighting, for incandescent lighting and others. In SLR cameras, only the lens is replaceable; in P/S cameras, nothing is replaceable.

Film: Response to a shutter release is virtually instantaneous, especially on SLR cameras.

Digital: Response to a shutter release is very slow, especially in non-SLR cameras. There is even a term for this, called “shutter lag”. It can often be a second or longer, which makes these types of cameras useless for fast action such as car racing or sports. Digital SLRs do not, generally, suffer from this problem.

Film: Film canisters have a specific number of frames of film: 12, 24 or 36. No matter what's on each frame, that frame takes the exactly same amount of film as any other frame.

Digital: Digital storage media(CompactFlash, SD, MemoryStick, etc) come in specific sizes(16MegaByte, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GigaByte,4GB,8GB) and the number of pictures you can store on each depends heavily on the content of the frame, the size and compression ratio. It is impossible to predict exactly how many shots you can store on any given card, though you can arrive at pretty accurate approximations.

Film: Film cameras are measured by the dimension of the frame: 35mm, 6cm x 4.5cm, 6cm x 6cm, 6cm x 7cm, 6cm x 9cm, 6cm x 12cm, 4.5"

Digital: Digital cameras are measured in megapixels: 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP, 5MP, 6MP, 7MP, 8MP, 12MP, 16MP.

Film: Film cameras, even the so-called miniature P/S ones, can still be fairly bulky because of the need to insert a 35mm film cartrdige.

Digital: Digital cameras can be made very small because a memory card doesn't take up a lot of room.

Film: Film cameras are not battery killers.

Digital: Digital cameras, especially the P/S ones, are battery killers. Digital SLR cameras would take only a little bit more power than a film SLR.

Film: Must be processed and, in case of print film, printed. If you want to have these pictures on the computer, they must be either flatbed scanned, or run through a film scanner.

Digital: Digital pictures are available on the computer as soon as they are downloaded from the camera, and need only to be resized and compressed for emailing or being added to a web site.

This applies only to SLR-type cameras.
Film: Lenses mean exactly what they say. A 28mm lens is exactly that, a 28mm lens.

Digital: Due to a smaller sensor area than a 35mm film frame, lenses on a 35mm-type digital SLR camera have be multiplied by a factor, that is different for every camera, even from the same manufacturer. For a Nikon D70, the factor is 1.5. Thus, a 28mm lens for a 35mm film SLR is actually a 42mm lens on a Nikon D70 digital SLR.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Of annoying radio ads, and the cities we live in

I've noticed recently there is an inverse relationship between the size of the town or city you live in and the level of annoyance of the ads that air on that town's radio broadcasts.

When I lived in Toronto, the radio ads were not really annoying. But in Moncton, things are different. Commercials are annoying, and they're always for the dozen or so companies that advertise that way. Once you've heard a guy's mother demand that he get cell phones for his company from one of the major providers, you don't really want to hear it again. But you have to. And it's annoying, and so is she.

Little Johnny jokes

One day, the teacher said to the class, “I'm going to call out a letter, and I want you to think of a word that begins with that letter and then use that word correctly in a sentence. So, we'll start with the letter A.”

Little Suzie raised her hand and said, “I brought an apple for lunch.”

“Very good,” said the teacher. “Now, the letter B.”

Little Billy raised his hand and said, “There is a bee on my desk.”

“That's good, Billy,” said the teacher.

And so this kept going like that until the teacher reached the letter R, but nobody could think of a word that began with R, except little Johnny who had his hand raised and begging to answer. But the teacher was afraid, because she knew little Johnny had a potty mouth. But no other kid wanted to answer, so she reluctantly told little Johnny to go ahead.

“There's a rat in my house,“ said little Johnny and the teacher sighed with relief. “A big fucking rat,” added little Johnny.

One day, the teacher asked her students to tell a story with a moral behind it.

Little Angie said, “My father invested all his savings into one company and when it went bankrupt, he lost everything.“

“That's a sad story,” said the teacher. “What's the moral behind it?”

“Don't put all your eggs in one basket,” concluded little Angie.

Then it was little Danny's turn. “My parents thought they'd won the lottery, so they went out and bought a big house and an expensive car, but the lottery turned out to be fake, and they had give it all up and declare bankruptcy.”

“That's terrible,” said the teacher, “but what's the moral there?”

“Don't count your chickens until the hatch,” replied little Danny.

And so it went around the class until the teacher finally reached little Johnny, whom she fearfully asked to relate his story. “Well,” he began, “my Uncle Buck was in Vietnam. One day, the plane he was flying on was shot down and he had to jump out. All he had with him was a case of beer, a gun and a machette. He drank the beer on the way down. When he hit the ground, he was surround by fifteen enemy soldiers. He shot the first five with his gun. He killed the next five with his machette, but then it broke. And he killed the last five with his bare hands!”

“That's a horrible story!” exclaimed the teacher. “What could possibly be the moral behind it?”

“Don't fuck with Uncle Buck when he's been drinking!” explained little Johnny.

One day, the teacher asked her students to put something on the board and explain it.

So, little Suzie went up to the front of the class and drew a house. “This our house, and my mother keeps it nice and neat. I love my house.”

Then, little Billy went up and drew a plane. “We flew on this plane for our vacation to Disney World. I love flying!”

Finally, little Johnny went up to board and drew a single dot.

“What's that?” asked the teacher when he just stopped and stared at it.

“Beats the hell out of me,” little Johnny replied, “but when my sister came home and told my parents she missed her period, my mother fainted and my father went to the neighbours' house with his rifle.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Whoring for reviews!

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See! The Mad Perseid in Gangsta Rap!


Odd news stories

When they're hurt, just put them out of their misery

Recycle that!

You can buy that here, but you can't wear that here

Don't chew that cat!

The insanity of the club culture

I live across the street from a major bar. The reason I say that right at the onset is that you know where I'm coming from, and what my bias is.

I'm not much of a partyer, and never have been. In my younger days, when I was young and foolish(as opposed to today when I'm merely foolish), I used to go out to strip clubs quite often and spend many of “quality” hours there. Because of where I lived, I could only go on weekends, and usually for the one day. But the time I'd get home, I'd usually be mostly sober, and no, I wasn't the one driving. Ah, the good ol' days.

Now, as I said above, I live across the street from a bar. A regular bar, the local strip joint is across another street after that. Yes, they allow that sort of thing in residential areas. Hell, this town allows a strip club across the street from a high school. In any case, because of my proximity to the bar, I hear the partying going on there well into the night, especially in the summer when I have to keep my windows open. More importantly, however, I see the people leaving the bar and going home at least semi-drunk. It's the same people almost every day.

Once I saw two teenage girls(as in 18+) crossing the street after they left the bar. One was more or less sober, but the other had completely passed out, on the opposite curb. Her sober friend kept trying to get her on her feet to walk across the road to my building where they lived, but of course she wasn't big enough or strong enough for that. At first I was going to go there and help them, but then I remembered that 38yo never-married no-children men do not put hands on drunk women, young or not, not if they want to have no possibility of legal troubles. I waited and watched them, just in case, until a married couple showed up to help. It's a sad world we live in, but that's what you get when you abuse sexual harrassment statutes and make a mockery of rape laws. In case you think I'm being overly-dramatic, this is the same sort of reason people are advised to just call in accidents on deserted roads and not stop to help, especially in the dark. Drivers who stopped on a certain highway in Ontario to help a car in the ditch have been ambushed.

In any case, what, exactly, is the point of getting drunk like that in the middle of the week? They're out there partying, drinking themselves senseless, opening themselves up for all sorts of problems, not the least of which is abuse and rape. Men don't have much to fear for rape, but they have their own problems when they're drunk. I tend to fall asleep when I'm drunk, but many get nasty and/or violent when they're drunk. The thing is, except the first time you get drunk, you know what you're like after drinking; it is impossible that you cannot. And so, they continue to go out, drink, get nasty. At 2 o'clock in the morning, I don't want to hear the sounds of retching or drunken arguments outside.

These bars are open till 2am, and in the spring, summer and fall, they have outside patios in full swing, with music blaring and people screaming. What is the point of the constant partying? Does having fun and dancing like that not dull the meaning of it? And if so, do you crave it more and more, because you can't really satisfy your desire for it because you've been dissentised to it? Even if you have to party, is it really necessary to do it, and the inevitable drunken stagger home out in public?

In other words, do you feel no pride in yourself, is partying all night long really all there is to your lives? If so, I feel sorry for you, I really do. I wish your lives were brighter, somehow. Next time you're out, think about how other people look at and think about you. It's tempting to claim that you don't care about what other people think, but that's only true if you don't dress up to go to these bars every day. Being a rebel and non-conformist isn't really all its cracked up to be, especially if you have to conform to your local group of non-conformists.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Scrubs: Is it just me, or is it really sick?

Doctor 1: “Couple's therapy is killing me.”
Doctor 2: “I don't know how you do it, making love to your woman in front of a stranger.”
Doctor 1: “That's not couple's therapy.”
Doctor 2: “Then what did I do?”
Doctor 1: “Amateur porn.”
Doctor 2: “Ooohhh.”

Mommy mommy!

“Mommy, mommy! I don't wanna go to England!”
“Shut up and keep swimming!”

“Mommy, mommy! Daddy's going out again!”
“Shut up and pour some more kerosine on him!”

“Mommy, mommy! I hate my sisters guts!”
“Shut up and eat your vegetables, then!”

Congratulations to the Catholics

A new Pope has been elected.

It occured to me, however, that a hundred or so years ago, news would be, “The Pope is dead, we've got a new Pope”, after some time has passed. There wouldn't be a minute-by-minute update of the failing health of one Pope, followed by the exact actions and statements of all the Cardinals leading up to election of the new Pope, followed once again by an artist's representation of the likeness of the new Pope. My, how the times have changed.

Double-standard, thy name is hillarity

If you watch the show “Will & Grace” long enough, you come to realize how much they highlight, though I don't know if intentionally, the double-standard in how women are treated vs how men, especially gay men, are treated, when they sleep around too much. I suppose it's open for debate what “too much” means in this context, but that's not really the point. Nor am I any too sure that these double-standards are particularly healthy for the gay community.

In general, a woman who sleeps around with many men, especially in a short amount of time, would be called a 'slut', and on most shows, they're not usually shown in a particularly good light. Men, too, would not be shown well, on most shows. Gay men, on the other hand, are invariably shown in a positive light when they do the same thing. I'm not sure if it's an outgrowth of the old San Fransisco bathhouse culture(I don't even know if it still exists), but I'm not sure it's healthy.
I haven't heard of too many controversies regarding this show, so my initial guess is that the gay community is OK with the treatment they get on it, and that means that they're OK with the behaviour. The question, is it appropriate? I don't know. But it can't be healthy, either emotionally or physically, especially in the age of AIDS and other nastiness.

I could, of course, be completely out to lunch with all this. As well, it can be argued that points I brought up here are merely strawmen I created in order to destroy. But personally, I don't really believe that.

That ungrateful SOB!

Since October'2004, I've lived under a dark cloud that in late April'2005 would have culminated in a layoff. As such, once it was all over bar the shouting, the crying and the gnashing of teeth, I was going to blog about the experience of migrating work to India. During the previous week, however, I found out that instead of being laid off, I'm being moved to another division within the company.

So, since my rule is never to blog in detail about the company I work for or anything that happens therein, I won't be able to blog about India. Sans the luck!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

It's a slow weekend

It's been a slow weekend for blogging, and therefore, I, the great and powerful though somewhat mad Perseid, present you with “What kind of... thing... are you”?

What File Extension Are You?

You are .exe When given proper orders, you execute them flawlessly.  You're familiar to most, and useful to all.
Which File Extension are You?

Which Nigerian Spammer Are You?

Which Nigerian spammer are You?

Which website are you?

You are You're involved in the community.  You like to share with your friends. You're into omphaloskepsis. You like pancakes and the color blue.
Which Website are You?

Which OS are you?

You are TRSDOS. Compatibility is always an issue with you.  You feel the world has passed you by.  Time has not treated you well.
Which OS are You?

Star Trek Appreciation Test

Trekkie Appreciator
Survey Says...

You like Star Trek and have obviously watched more than a couple of
episodes or movies, but you don't live or breathe the world (read: you
probably don't go to your local McDonalds in your Klingon gear - not
that there's anything wrong with that...). Excellent! You've managed to
tread the fine line between sci-fi buff and Star Trek nerd (otherwise
known as the difference between enjoying Star Trek for its
entertainment value and running around with a batleth quoting Klingon
battle poetry).

PS Like this test? Then don't forget to rate
it!! But before you go - how about some shameless self-promotion? If
you liked this test, maybe you'll like my Do *YOU* Remember The 90's Test @ or maybe my Australian Trivia Test @ - go on, you know you want to!!

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 22% on Trekkies
Link: The Trekkie Test written by MadameBoffin on Ok Cupid

Friday, April 15, 2005

Those voices in my head

In the olden days, they used to say that people who heard voices in their head or from the sky were either touched by God or in league with the Devil. In either case, they'd punished. If touched by God, then because they dared to challenge the power of the established church, whatever that church happened to be. If in league with the Devil, well, then they'd burn you at the stake on general principles.

But today, things are different. These days, those of us who hear voices in our heads are receiving instructions from on high: “Cleanup on aisle 3” or “Security to Section Five” or “DVDs are twenty five percent off until nine p.m. today” or “Home Entertainment, line three.”. I feel safe knowing that no drunken mob of pitchfork and torch-carrying villagers is after me merely because I'm receiving communications from the powers that be.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Canadian politicians are smarter than American politicians

In both America and Canada, politicians can talk out of both sides of their mouths. But only in Canada can politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths in English and French; in fact, they're required to. Aren't we lucky? First we hear the double-talk in English, then as if our intelligence wasn't insulted enough, we get it in French as well.

The ridiculousness of reparing older cars

Recently my car began sounding like a tractor. Not being one of those “look-at-me-momma-I'm-making-some-noise” kind of people, I took the car in to the dealer. Having been through that sort of thing many times before with other cars, I was therefore completely unprepared for the estimate: $715 + tax. I have never in my life received an estimate like that for exhaust work. Even from the dealer, the estimate had always been in the $300-$400 range, and I've always thought it was too much.

It turns out that the dealer refuses to just replace the component that went bad, in this case the resonator, this being a stainless-steel exhaust. They want to pull the whole thing and replace it. Apparently, they ship them from the factory pre-assembled, and it never occurs to anyone that $715 + tax is a tad too much for this sort of thing. A quick trip to an independent garage next door to the office rectified that, however, and now, for the cost of $155.71(including tax), my car now sounds the way it did when I first bought it. They cut out my old resonator and replaced it with a new one. Will it last as long as a factory one will? History suggests that it probably won't. But the car is now 6 years old, and if it lasts for another 2, I'll be happy. Maybe then I'll think about replacing the whole thing, depending on the car's condition.

This reminds me of the time I couldn't make the dealer understand that it made no logical sense to spend $1500 on replacing a busted air conditioner on a car that was then 6 years old and had 220,000 kilometers on it. $350 is what an independent garage charged me, and it lasted till I got rid of the car at 270,000 kilometers.

The moral of the story is that whenever the dealer tells you you have to replace 6 of something when only 2 are busted, don't just accept it, get a second opinion.

How to make everyday conversations sound like Star Trek gibberish

Sensors have detected a rupture in the thruster exhaust resonator, forcing a return to home base for reconstruction. However, the engineering team at the base refused to replace just the damaged component, and wanted to pull the entire the exhaust system instead; the cost of this procedure made it prohibitive for an aging vessel. However, a Klingon repair base in the adjoining sector was willing to go in, cut the leaking component out and replace it with a new one, all for a fraction of the cost.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or is Spongebob Squarepants really hillarious? I had the tv tuned to it while I was cooking, and I found the show mindlessly entertaining, in a way that other cartoons before and after it were not. I'm not entirely positive, however, if it's actually meant for kids or adults. Or is it both?

Overheard at the mall

There were a couple of truckers at the mall yesterday discussing the upcoming city bus driver strike. That strike is now in progress.

Trucker1: “They want twenty one bucks an hour to start.”
Trucker2: Laughs “For what? The freight walks itself on.”

Of wind turbines, or are we there yet?

One of the more interesting things I came across during my day-trip to P.E.I. last Saturday was the wind turbine test centre in northern PEI. As you're driving up, you can see these things from quite a distance away. As you get closer, you begin to realize what a constant distraction they are, since they're always(or almost always) spining. They also hum, a constant, dronning humming noise that's right out of every power hum noise in myrriad sci-fi movies. Do you want these things in your backyard?

If they build large farms of these some place out of the way, you still need to build massive power transmission lines and towers, you need roads, you need parts to maintain them, you people to maintain them. Do the turbines work at all wind speeds, all directions and at all times? What about the noise polution? There've been reports that wind turbine farms alter wind patterns for the area they're in.

I'm not saying they're evil and should be discarded; that would be like the econut lobby always saying how evil nuclear plants are and how they should be discarded. I'm saying that before we start wholesale switching from traditional and proven power sources, we should know what all the costs are going to be.

These pictures were taken in a wind turbine testing facility in PEI in April/2005

It's big, the turbine
Testing the wind turbines
Closeup of the wind turbine
Testing the wind turbines
Turbine, and what it looks like your back yard
Wind turbine testing farm

It's big, the turbine

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Weird names in the Entertainment industry

I'm getting very tired of people just making up names for themselves, names that don't make sense. Take, for example, “The Rock” and “Cedric the Entertainer”. What kind of names are these outside a particular segment of the industry? If you have a name specific to your particular niche, like “The Rock”, please do us all a favour and quit using it when you break into mainstream movies. I went to see neither The Mummy Returns nor The Scorpion King because “The Rock” was in it, I went because I wanted to see the movies. Be proud of your name, Dwight Johnson.

And what's up with “Cedric the Entertainer”? What kind of a name is that for a grown man? If you're too ashamed of your real family name, at least come up with a good fake one. Don't just string words together that you think reflect who you are.

Of sour grapes, and the wrath of dairy

Here in Atlantic Canada, two things that supermarkets don't seem to carry in the regular dairy sections is proper sour cream and yogurt. They carry something called “Artificially Soured Sour Cream”. I don't really know much about it, other than the fact that it tastes like crap. It's rubbery and it looks horrible. Put it in soup, and it just clumps. As for yogurt, they carry a lot of the fruitty kind, the kind I don't want, and they also carry absolute garbage. You have to go to the Natural Foods section to find good natural sour cream and yogurt.

This is all very weird, because the same supermarkets in Toronto carry these products in their regular dairy sections. It's almost as though the local milk Marketing Boards make the retailers sell crap in the regular sections, but the good stuff in the Natural Foods section. Weird.

Updated by me: spelling corrections, April 12th, 2005, 6:12pm ADT

Of colanders, or why is only crap available now?

You know, there is nothing more convinient than a single-handled colander. The handles on those things are long, making it easy to pick it up and keeps your hands away from all the heat. Why is it, then, that I can't find any of them anymore? Why are only double-handled colanders available in stores and online? A website for international sources of colanders only lists double-handled ones, while the American Kohl's lists only one single-handled one, but it's just a strainer, not a full colander like the others.

I have one at home, and I spend countless hours worrying about what would happen should it ever rust, and I toss and turn in bed, sleepless, unable to welcome the beckoning unconsciousness, sick with dread should the handle ever fall off. How would I replace it? How would I make pasta without it? Can my life get any sadder than it already is?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Choosing a digital camera

As some of you know, one of my hobbies is photography, and I've decided to put together a little guide on choosing digital cameras. I'm going to specifically exclude film cameras.

There are many reasons why you might want a camera. You may be looking for a hobby, to document a vacation, to have a record of your kids growing up, to share your lives with your friends and family, or any combination of the above and many others I haven't listed or even thought of. As with many other things, people take pictures for variety of reasons that are important to them and may be meaningless to others. So how do you know which camera is the best for you?

For one thing, there is no such thing as the best camera, even if it's only best for you. Whatever camera you choose, there'll always be one with more and better features, if not now, then in about a month. If you waited for the perfect camera, you'd never take any pictures at all. So, how do you choose one?

Let's look at the types of digital cameras out there. Just like with film cameras, there are point-and-shoot type digital cameras and there are SLR-type digital camera. SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. Point-and-shoot(P/S) cameras are light and compact, and have really amazing features. SLR cameras are large and bulky and offer far more flexibility and useability than do the P/S type cameras.

Digital cameras, like their film forefathers before them, are composed of two things: the lens and the body. In the olden days of film, the quality of the lens was far more important than the body. So long as you had a working body without a great deal of features and you had a high-quality sharp lens, you could take excellent quality pictures. The light-sensitive material in film cameras wasn't embedded in the camera body, but rather in the film itself; if you didn't like the results from one type of film type, you could always switch to another. In digital cameras, the situation is totally different. The light-sensitive material is built right into the camera body and cannot removed or changed. So, in digital cameras, both the body and the lens are very important.

The lens is what captures the light in your scenes, focuses it and projects unto the light-sensitive material called the “sensor”. The better quality the lens is, the better your picture will be, all other aspects of photography being equal. Lenses used in P/S-type digital cameras are not the best quality, though they are very good nonentheless. One aspect of the lens that is always advertised is the F-factor. Your camera may be equipped with an F2.8 lens, or maybe an F3.5 or an F4 lens. Remember, though, that the smaller numbers are better.

Unimportant techno-babble:

In theory, the F-factor determines the speed of your lens, or how much light it
gathers. The faster the lens, the more flexibility you have in shooting under
different conditions. In practice, however, this is not the case, because the
F-factor is an indication of ratio of the apperture width to the length of the
lens barrel. This is why an F2.8 lens on a P/S-type camera gathers much less
light than(aka slower than) an F2.8 lens on an SLR-type camera. There is another
number, called the T-factor(I think) that determines that absolute amount of
light gathered by the lens, but this number is never shown to the average

The sensor built into your camera's body is as important as the lens itself. One thing you should keep in mind is that when I refer to the sensor, I include all the data processing the camera's computer has to do to the data that it retrieves from the sensor. The better the algorithms, the better your pictures, all other things being equal. There are two types: the CCD and the CMOS. Most cameras, especially most P/S-type cameras, use the CCD sensor. Some of the higher-end digital SLR-type cameras are now shipping with a CMOS sensor, which is supposed to produce better results than the CCD, but they are much more expensive than their CCD brothers. CCDs also come in different sizes. In general, the larger CCDs produce better results.

Next comes a concept relevant mostly to P/S-type cameras: the zoom factor. It is usually expressed as an 'X' factor, 3X zoom, 5X zoom, 10X zoom. In SLR-type digital camera, the zoom factor is part of the lens, which is replaceable. When looking zoom factors, disregard references to digital zoom and look only at optical zoom. Optical zoom is the only thing that matters.

Next is resolution. Resolution controls the amount of detail that appears in an image, but is not necessarily related to quality of the picture. A lower-resolution image, shot with better exposure and lens, will invariably provide a better picture than an ultra-high resolution image that's soft and blurry. These days 5 and 7Megapixel cameras are common even in the P/S-types, though 2 and 3MP cameras can still be good values.

Next is the storage media used by the camera. Most manufacturers, like Nikon and Canon, use Compact Flash media. Others, like Fujifilm, use SmartMedia and its successors. Sony uses its own standard, the Memory Stick. None of these media formats are interchangeable. You can't use the Memory Stick in a Nikon camera, and you can't use Compact Flash media in a Sony camera. One of the significant advantages of Compact Flash media is the huge capacity of the memory modules. 1GB modules are now easily available in stores, and 4GB and 8GB modules either on their way to your local store, or will be soon.

Next is viewfinders. A viewfinder is what you look through to compose your picture. On digital cameras, it can be a basic minimal-function optical viewfinder, an LCD screen, an electronic full-function viewfinder, or a combination thereof. A camera that doesn't let you compose with anything but the LCD screen will burn through batteries very quickly. Electronic viewfinders are best because they limit power usage while at the same time being as functional as the larger LCD screens. The ability to turn off the LCD and use the electronic viewfinder is very helpful. My Nikon 5700 had that feature.

Next is the useability. How well organized are the controls on the camera? How large or small is the camera? How loud is it? How fast does it start up? Are your hands too big for the camera you're looking for? It's all a matter of perspective and what you're used to. I'm a Nikon user. I started with the N-8008 film camera, then upgraded to the Nikon N-90. From there, I chose to go to the Nikon 5700 digital P/S, and finally am a proud owner of the Nikon D70 digital SLR. So for me, the Nikon control layout is both logical and easy to use. In practice, it hasn't changed much since the N-8008, even on the D70, which may seem like a drawback, but actually isn't. It hasn't changed because it works. Certainly, additional controls and displays have been added, but twirling the command dial on my D70 did the same thing on my N-8008.

Next is continuity. How easily, if at all, can leverage your investment in your current camera into your new digital purchase? How easy or difficult will it be for you to learn the new technology? This isn't really an issue if you're looking at buying a digital P/S-type camera, but it's important for buying an SLR. If you have bought a lot of lenses, backs and flash units, will you be able to use any of it in your new system? Are you willing to divest yourself of all your accessories to move into a completely new system? Those are questions that nobody but yourself can answer.

So. What kind of camera should you choose? The usual answer is “the best you can afford and are willing to spend money on”. This means that just because you can afford a $10,000 camera doesn't mean you're willing to spend it. Maybe you just don't need it. So, what kind should you buy? Depends in many ways on you're planning on doing with it. If you want to learn photography, your best bet is a digital SLR. They provide the most flexibility. If all you want is snapshots of your kids, a P/S-type camera may be appropriate. P/S-type cameras are invariably cheaper than digital SLRs, but are not as versatile or flexible.

Versatility is an important benefit of digital SLR cameras. Their lenses can be replaced for different effects and zoom factors and they usually feature the instant-on capability. When you turn a digital SLR camera on, it is available for shooting immediately; a P/S-type camera needs several seconds to power up, extend the lens barrel and activate the LCD screen. A digital SLR also has one other advantage over P/S-type cameras: it is able to shoot and focus much faster. So for fast-moving action like sports, kids or pets, a digital SLR is almost a necessity.

Where should you buy your camera? P/S-type cameras can be had at the big box stores like FutureShop, but for digital SLRs, check out your friendly neighbourhood camera store. Wherever you buy from, make sure they have good return policies.

And remember: whatever you get, use it! A camera, especially an sophisticated and expensive camera, that's sitting on a shelf gathering dust is just a waste of resources, yours and the world's. I hope you have fun with yours, and that this post was even a little bit helpful. If you'd like more information, just leave a comment and I'll answer as best I can.

New show on the government agitprop organ

CBC has premiered a new show today called H20. A political thriller set in Canada, of all places. It's actually pretty good, which is a bit of a pleasant surprise. Prime Minister drows, throws country into chaos. Turns out he was assasinated. Americans and Chinese are the boogaloos in this one.

One must keep in mind, however, that Canadian politics don't tend to the cut-throat kind. Our would-be assassins carry plastic knives past the ever-vigilant RCMP, only to be stopped by a closed door. The worst acts of outrage are, of course, perpetrated by our Prime Ministers who tend to beat the crap out of protesters who get in their faces. Throw in the occasional pie-flinging and a pay-back choke hold, and you've got yourself the entirety of Canadian political violence.

I could be wrong, of course. I often am.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A galactic picture

One of our neighbours in the wide, wide Universe

Taken from a Hubble Telescope website

Posted by Hello

It's a sad life

As I stood there in the grocery store, it occured to me that it's a sad life when you get excited over buying a new frying pan. “Look me! It's got a red dot to tell me when it's ready for cooking! Isn't that cool?” There must be something more to life than frying dead animals and plants. Mustn't there?

My photoblog has been updated

Just for your information, my photo blog, The Mad Perseid Photography has been updated today.

Commenting available again!

Woo hoo!

Commenting not available at this time

Haloscan appears to be down, hopefully it'll be resolved soon!

Out on a trip Saturday

I was out on a trip to Prince Edward Island yesterday, took a pile of pictures, will be posting some up on my photo blog, as well as my website. Also, need to blog about something I discovered while on the island, but it'll have to wait till morning sometime, or maybe even Monday.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Well, a little something new

I'm going to try BlogPet and see how it works out. Scroll down far enough to see the end of the right-hand sidebar.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Canada beats Sweden

But that's not important right now. What's important is this quote from the story:

Martin gloved a Delaney Collins shot, but then dropped it in her crease and Goyette pounced on it to score Canada's first goal on a two-man advantage.
When did it become OK to refer to women as “men”? We have chairpersons, not chairmen, police officers, not policemen, sanitation engineers, not garbage men, person-hours of effort, not man-hours.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sin City, or how not to make Sky Captain

Sin City is one of most visually stunning films I have seen in a very long time. Shot entirely against blue screen, everything not actually human is computer-generated, even the weather. “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” was done exactly the same way, but where Sky Captain failed, Sin City succeeds, because the F/X do not overshadow the story. In fact, Sky Captain's biggest problem was the fact that there wasn't a story. Sin City has three, and all are more or less related, even if it doesn't look it. I will not say more, since the film is still new and I wouldn't want to spoil it for anybody. Suffice it to say, however, that if you don't like violence, don't see this film. If you don't, you will miss a great film experience. For once, in many years now, I have not felt ripped off when going to the movies.

Of weird emails, or how to waste bandwidth

Bandwidth is, has been, and always will be that precious commodity that we all want and can never have enough of. Like hard drives and memory before it, we always want more bandwidth than we have. It is therefore hilarious we I receive an email that has more data in its Recipient list than in the actual body or subject, or when it has more forward information than actual text. It happens most often with jokes that get forwarded from person to person and the Forward blocks never get removed, and at work when people just add recipient names rather than use a group.

Check out the Orange Pulp blog

It's all about oranges, in all their sugary-sweet goodness. All kinds of oranges, things you can do with them, and where to find them.

My favourite orange isn't actually orange, it's red: blood oranges. I first developed a taste for them when I lived in Houston, but they're hellishly difficult to find in Canada. Every once in a while I come across them, and buy a pound. Or three. Love 'em, not to mention the reaction I get from people when they see them.

The Orange Pulp blog.

What a nice, nice day!

It's such a nice day out there. The weather network says a high of 13C, but my car says 15C. It's sunny, not too windy, just absolutely gorgeous!

If I were more of a bastard, or had a worse work ethic, I'd just take off from work and go shooting. After all, I've only got the one month left, nobody'd notice. But no, I'm too worried about my work ethic. Fool!

The Google Gulp

A bit late, I know, but hey, that's just me!

The Google Gulp!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Interesting mapping software

Google Maps

Some regions allow you to get an annotated satelite view. You can even see your house.

Of isms, and the world of dogma

A recent discussion about feminism has prompted me to write something about the 'isms' of this world and to put my perspective, not to say spin, on them. I will not be discussing all of them. But first, a definition: an 'ism' is generally a dogmatic belief in something. In no particular order, therefore:

    The ISMS
  1. Creationism: At its core, Creationism is an all-overriding belief in the biblical story of creation, where God created the world in six days just a few thousand years ago. That is, it's a belief in a story codified by the Old Testament, and apparently merely a retelling of a much older story.
  2. Religionism: At its core, this 'ism' is a belief in a particular deity linked with a set of traditions, actions, books and stories. Despite claiming to be peaceful in some way, most major religions have caused or are causing horrible wars throughout the ages. People in the grip of religion are capable not only of unbelievable acts of kindness, but also acts of unspeakable evil. When you feel 'God' is on your side, you can do pretty much anything you please and disregard the consequences.
  3. Marxism: “From everybody according to their ability; to everyone according to their need” and “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” are the defining aspects of this 'ism'. As is terror, torture, mass-murder and wholesale destruction of whole classes, the foremost amongst which is the 'farmer'. As well, apathy is a powerful manifestation of Marxism in societies aflicted by it once enthusiasm for mass-slaughter fades with time. Every Marxist is a Communist, though not every Communist is a Marxist.
  4. Feminism: This 'ism' is characterised by the destruction of the traditional family(mascarading as freedom), the elimination of choice for women(mascarading as choice), and an all-overriding hatred of men(especially white men) and all things heterosexual(mascarading as being against violence against women). There are, of course, varying degrees of all of this present in any given feminist, like in everything else, but individuals are irrelevant unless they write and pass laws. For that, you have to look to the leaders of the feminist movement. A degree in “Women's Studies”, a feminist propaganda arm, allows one to ask on a daily basis the age-old question, “Do you want fries with that?”. By definition, an unproductive part of society, determined to replace one type of 'daddy', the man, with another type of 'daddy', The Man(ie., the State).
  5. Capitalism: This 'ism' is belief in private ownership of goods and land, capital directed by private citizens, not representatives of a particular government and free market competition where privately-held companies compete with one another for consumers' attention. In its pure form, capitalism is probably no better than other systems in providing a decent life for the commons. History suggests that companies will exploit, unless there are laws to limit certain forms of corporate behaviour.
  6. Socialism: This 'ism' is the intermediate step between capitalism and communism, or so the socialists and wannabe communists tell us. In actuality, socialism in its pure form is just another word for 'dictatorship'. Government, and government agents, control all forms of production and consumption, including industry and agriculture. Pure forms of socialism offer no social safety net for the non-productive members of society. When used sparringly to somewhat dilute pure capitalism, it provides the best societal organisation.
  7. Communism: The end-all-and-be-all of utopian social engineering, this 'ism' eliminates all classes, in theory, making everything a cooperative effort. Cannot succeed on more than a local level for more than a very short period of time. Invention, improvement, progress, all these things will be eliminated under communism. For an idea of what it's like, read an old Soviet sci-fi book, “The Fogs of Andromeda”. There has never been an attempt at communism that didn't turn into a horrid disaster. Classes cannot be eliminated, because people cannot be voluntary experts in everything, and the moment experts get together, we get guilds, and therefore classes. As well, human nature eliminates the possibility of communism: we work hardest when it's ours, not something held in common.

Hope this clears up a few things for you. If not, comment on it, and I'll try to expand on them..

Updated April 7th, 2005: Damn, forgot one important one:
  1. Atheism: This 'ism' is an all-overriding belief in the lack of anything beyond what can be seen with the human eyes or analyzed with technology. Atheists have a tendency of being just as fanatical and dogmatic as their religionist brothers, which is probably why they hate them so much!

Of smoking, and picking bones thereof

Now, I personally don't have anything smokers. I don't understand why you would want to draw the smoke of burning shrubbery deep into your lungs, especially when it's been doctored, but really, I have nothing against you. I hate the way you smell in an enclosed space after having a couple, but really, against you, I have nothing.

But why, in the name of all that's holy, must the ground within 2 meters of an outside ashtray be littered with dozens of cigarette butts? If you're standing right next to the damn thing, why must you just flick the expended munition unto the ground? What is so difficult about putting it into the place that was placed there for just such a purpose, and when you're standing right next to it? It's so bad the building had to hire a cleaner just to clean that crap up. Several times a day.

Yes, non-smokers litter, too, but so do smokers. Yes, coffee drinkers can throw the empty cup on the ground, but never have I seen hundreds of empty cups on the ground in one place. Or even a dozen.

So, peeps, please! Respect those around you!

A few minor adjustments

Made a few minor format adjustments to the blog, mostly to enlarge the sidebar area to help accomodate some long URLs appearing there. Hope it all still works.

Javascript, and the curse of the blog!

Why do people insist on sticking Javascript into their blogs, but don't bother to actually debug, or ensure it works with all sorts of browsers out there? Do you people not know how irritating it is to receive Javascript errors just so I can have the priviledge of visiting your blogs?

P.S. Now I know I've lost it, I complain about other people blogs! LOL!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Great quotes from the original BSG

Just thought I'd share a couple of quotes from the original Battlestar Galactica.

Imperious Leader: “Recall all raiders to defend the base ship.”
Centurion: “All raiders have been destroyed.”
I/L: “Destroyed? How? We caught them completely by surprise.”
Centurion: “Apparently, it was not as great a surprise as we thought.”

Imperious Leader: “Now that we are omnipotent, we can be more charitable.”

From the pilot

Starbuck: “How did you happen to crash?”
Centurion: “We consulted the warbook, but it had no advise pertinent to our predicament. While we were discussing that, the ground came up and hit us.”

From “The Return of Starbuck”, the only watchable episode of the monstrosity we've come to know and hate, known as “Galactica 1980”

Reality and the world of 3D - Part 14

Part 14 of my “Reality and the world of 3D” essay is now available at The Reality Game.

News oddities

Aren't there enough starving children out there?

Family Values

How could you tell the difference?

I just don't know about this one

Bet he wasn't expecting that!

And they have the nerve to talk to ask about climate change?

Doesn't that mean you need to provide a digital copy of your fingerprint?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Of weather, or what's with horizontal precipitation?

If there's one thing I hate it's when it rains, or snows, horizontally. Even if it's a nice, cool day, on which I might want to open my windows, I can't. Why? Because the snow and rain pass right through the window screen and messes up my stuff! What must I do? Whom must I implore?

Of cars and why we love 'em

What are cars? There are many definitions of that word, but the purposes of this discussion, a car is basically an automobile(look at the noun). That's too long of a word, however, and so from now on I'll just call it a 'car'. But what is it, what does it do, and what does it give us?

At its simplest, a car provides transportation for passengers and driver for a variety of reasons, be they work, life management or pure recreation and entertainment. For all these reasons, cars give us power. True, they're costly to operate and they emit fumes we would much rather do without. However, all power costs something.

So, why do we love our cars, and why we fight tooth and nail to keep them? It all comes down to two things: power and simlicity. Power I talked about above, but what about simplicity?

The ability to go on the road at any time, and to go anywhere there are roads, that's simplicity. Even those who don't keep cars recognize the simplicity they give us; that's why they're always asking for rides. Even if they're splitting the cost of fuel, they're basically trying to get a free ride. Why? Because they recognize the simplicity they afford, but are unwilling to pay for on their own. They could get on a bus, train or plane, but they'd much rather bum a ride with you because of the simplicity of personal timetables.

So, the next time somebody tells you to ditch your car and take public transit, tell them to go to hell. Unless, of course, it happens to be simpler to take public transit rather than drive. It's all a question of simplicity.

Of beginnings, and similarities between shows

It occured to me today that the beginnings of the original Battlestar Galactica were, in some respects, very similar to Stargate: SG1. Ancient tech, no visible power source, all activated by a light or a medalion, pyramids, hieroglyphics, stone carvings, that sort thing. The Lords of Kobol had, apparently, an ancient Egyptian bent.

Wouldn't it be funny, therefore, if the Ancients of Stargate fame turned out to be the Lords of Kobol? Not only would they then be responsible for leaving countless planets open to attack by ridiculously powerful aliens(in three galaxies, not just one), but they would also be the ones who had inflicted on a hapless humanity the most pernicious computer programming language in the known universe.

Spring has finally sprung

Well, it's not a particularly nice day out there, but the birds are a'singin' and it smells like spring. Woo hoo! Another month and a half before the trees turn green!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Of choices, or why we are given such bad ones

It is ridiculous, on the face of it, to have to choose between spending $100 on ink cartridges and $115 on a new printer. Yes, yes, I know about cartrdige refills, but I don't like them and I don't trust them. However, the popularity of third-party inks and cartridges has prompted the printer industry to change their warranties, and to issue terse warnings regarding the use of these inks, warnings that I personally don't believe. The printer industry could eliminate the third-party ink industry overnight if they would lower the price of their cartridges. Of course, that might cause people to not buy new printers every half-year or so.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Canadian Identity

What is the Canadian Identity®? In the past, the Canadian identity included a great deal of pride in the accomplishments of the Canadian Armed Forces during WWI, WWII and other conflicts. Pride in being part of the British Commonwealth was also a large component. Even when I became a citizen in the 1980s, it was still required to accept the Queen as Head of State and to swear loyalty to her.

These days, the Canadian identity seems to include a large dose of what our previous Prime Minister called “Da Canadian Values”, a vague, unidentifiable mass of platitudes all centered around universal health care(it isn't), heritage(hockey, it's on our five dollar bill), soft power(unarmed peacekeepers, they're on our ten dollar bill) and multiculturalism(it isn't).

There is one more aspect to the modern Canadian identity that is sometimes covered up, often worn proudly and always so self-destructive that most people don't even realize it's poisoning them. I am, of course, talking about the two drugs called Anti-Americanism and Anti-Bushism. Both drugs are highly addictive and destructive to the users, very seductive to those not yet caught in their grip, and extremely useful to the ruling elite to divert the populace's attention away from them.

So, in order, then.

Universal Health Care. The bane of Canadian politics and those caught in its grip. Responsible for the initial spread of SARS in Toronto, chronically over-burdened and under-funded, it survives merely because governments, Federal and Provincial, will eventually dump enough money into it to make it seem like it's working, and because those with money will simply go to the US to have tests and procedures done there, then bring the results home for their own doctors to look over. What, exactly, does Universal cover? Well, basically only hospital stays and doctor visits. Drugs prescribed outside a hospital stay or doctor visit, dental, and vision are not covered.

Heritage. Is there nothing more to being Canadian than hockey? CBC, a government propaganda organ, would like you to believe there isn't. It wouldn't do to remind the commons of the time they might have been proud of their country and its accomplishments, it would only give them ideas about their station. For those not familiar with hockey, it's basically boxing with skates and body armour. Sometimes you can even sneak up on an opponent from behind, put him in hospital and cry about it on TV. It's often said that “I went to a fight and a game broke out“. Don't believe it? In Canada, we can buy videos of the greatest fights in hockey.

Soft power. Basically, soft power requires its wielder to live in an illusury world, a world populated exclusively by people who are all nice and decent and law-abiding and striving to make everybody happy and if they do something bad, all it takes is for you to ask them nicely to stop and they would. Sometimes you have to bribe them with a carrot while telling them you have no stick, but that's only as a last resort. Soft power also grants you the ability to ignore, in any meaningful way, the arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder of your own citizen in another country, especially when assurances are given.

Multiculturalism. This is the belief that all cultures are basically equivalent, and all deserve the same chance to flower. This, of course, is despite the fact that those cultures have fled their own countries.

Anti-Americanism. This is the belief that America is always wrong, populated by ignorant unwashed Texan cowboys who all hunger to convert everyone to radical Christianity.

Anti-Bushism. This is the belief that Bush is an uneducated lying moronical Texan warmongering cowboy who wants to convert everyone to radical Christianity, which also leads into Anti-Americanism because how can 57 million Americans be so stupid yada yada yada. Both Anti-Americanism and Anti-Bushism are now integral part of Canadian political and social landscape.

Why is this bad? After all, it doesn't really hurt anybody, other than Americans' feelings because they can't understand why somebody they consider a friend would act like that. For one thing, it weakens national character. Do you really want a government acting like it's got Tourette's Syndrome? But leaving aside the government for the moment, why is it bad when people indulge in that sort of thing?

We all do it. When we see something silly on the news about a particular country, we roll our eyes and say, with a knowing smile, something like “Oh, those Italians!” or “Oh, those Germans!”. But what I see directed towards Americans is something of a different order. It's not just Canadians, many other people do it, too.

The world is happiest when Americans can be shown to be dumb, ignorant or cowboys, and preferably all three at the same time. When America fails at something, even temporarily, there're smiles all over. “Look at that, ha ha! You big dumb old Americans! You can't do that because insert reason du jour here.” When America succeeds at something, even temporarily, there're frowns all over. “You big dumb old Americans! You think you won a great victory here? Now they'll hate you three times as much.”

Much of this is attributable to cultural jealosy and envy, plain and simple. It is the most successful nation on the face of the Earth, militarily, socially, politically and economically, and other peoples, including Canadians, hate it for that. Most of our trade is with the US, but we're willing to irritate our closest neighbour and largest trading partner with trivialities. We watch their mopvies and claim they have no culture. We flock to Broadway and claim they have no love of theatre. We drive to their national and state parks and claim they have no love of the outdoors. We build the Canada Arm, and completely overlook the fact that Americans then strapped that baby on a spaceship, launched it into space and then used it to repair and launch satelites and whatnot.

Our movie industry is non-existant, even when funded by federal tax dollars, yet we complain about theirs. Our TV shows are produced with government funding and in the majority of cases can't make it beyond CBC, the government propaganda organ, yet we complain about theirs. Our doctors and nurses flock to America, yet we're proud of our Universal Health Care. We laugh at the antics of some of their soldiers, yet overlook the fact that Somalia was as much a disgrace on a much, much larger scale for our forces, as Abu Gharaib was for the theirs. A discussion about the weather in Canada provokes a comparison between having to put up with Canadian weather here, or with George Bush in the US, followed by grumbled when it is pointed out that even if it can be said that the US has to put up with G/B, we have to put up with our weather for eternity(global warming's starting to sound much better now) while the US less than four years.

Countries, and people, that matter, that are accomplishing something now, and are capable of accomplishing something into the future, have no need for this kind of behaviour. People that are proud of themselves, secure in their own societies and confident of the future are not likely to look down the rim of their glasses at an entire society of 300 million people and sneer. For all its much-publicized lack of socialized medicine, the US did not suffer 44 casualties due to SARS the way Canada, which is to say Toronto, did, nor did it allow thousand of its elderly citizens to die of a single heat wave.

This is not to say that the American society and culture is without problems, that it is perfect. Of course it is not. On the other hand, no society is perfect, and those that strive for perfection invariably end up as hell-holes that their entire populations would flee at a moment's notice, if only they could.

I hope that Canada will soon grow out of this fascination with putting down the US, if not for altruistic pro-American reasons, then at least for selfish pro-Canadian ones.

Words of the day

Coprolalia: the involuntary use of obscene words or socially inappropriate words and phrases

Copropraxia: obscene gestures

From Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc .


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