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

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On vacation

The Mad Perseid is on a much-needed vacation. There will be no postings from now till Wednesday, July 6th, 2005.

To all my visitors and repeat readers: thank you very much. I appreciate your support. While I'm out, please feel free to read the archives and comment on whatever you like.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

An interesting little site

Google Earth. See your environs in 3D.

God and Stargate

How does it happen that a religious advertisement, I Can Only Imagine, pays for ? I mean, SG1? One of the more blasphemous, though highly entertaining sci-fi programs on TV.

My Pirate Name



My pirate name is:


Mad Harry Rackham



Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.

Personal anti-aircraft batteries

Why aren't we allowed to have them? The office parking lot was the other day, and the damn bombers were squatting in the corner, looking ready to go out on another raid. They were all -class strategic bombers, capable of obliterating any target they chose. Able to refuel and rearm at any nearby body of water(or a park with little old ladies present), they can deliver punishing damage to the blackness of asphalt and the beauty of cityscapes, as well as causing devastating collateral damage. The sound of their approach strikes terror into the stoutest of hearts, and all Men tremble as the come into view.

Since they leave a radar signature that looks like that of a bird, SAM installations generally ignore them until it is too late. The only effective way to defeat them is with shoulder-mounted, eyeball-aimed, direct-fire energy cannon in the fifty-megawatt range. However, such weapons are illegal because, it was claimed, too many Bat-class night-assault fighters were being mistakenly shot down by an untrained civilian populace. I think it's a , however, and a pretty bad one, too; there has never been any evidence that any Bat-class fighters had been shotdown that didn't need it.. There is evidence, however, that the manufacturer of the ShitHawk to the tune of 5.6193052 quadrillion dollars. Such abuse of the lobby process must stop; our government is for everyone, not just the tm.

We must join together, my friends, to lobby for the right to conceal about our person and to carry in public heavy energy weapons. Our parking lots, our buildings, our wives and children, and our very bodies are at risk. We must have the means to defend ourselves!

Stepford Wives

It was all a fault! Hahahahahaha! That figures. If they're not a quadrant full of , they're building themselves android husbands who then convince real men to convert their own wives into androids as well. The . The destruction of . The . I think there is a pattern there.

All cultures are the same

Is that not what we're told by the crowd? We're then told not to judge other , that all cultures are just as good as any other, and all the others are certainly better than ours. Never bought that crap, never will. Read the story.

Tags: / /

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sometimes I wonder about South Park

And sometimes I'm sure, and at such times, I absolutely love this . I'm watching the episode where the boys think they have a copy of the Lord of the Rings, but instead they have the best porno tape ever made, Back Door Sluts 9. Having unwittingly watched almost the whole tape, Butters starts calling it His Precious, and another kid refuses to discuss it. “I don't know what I saw, and I don't want to know.”” The funny thing about all this is that while all the men know about the movie, all the women are mad at them for knowing all about it. And the three main boys have absolutely no idea why everyone, even some 6th-graders, are after it.

It's episodes like this that make me reiterate my vow to keep watching the show.

Too much Stargate: SG1

You know you've watched too much when you read this list and agree with most of it. But you also know you've gone beyond the pale when you actually blog about it.

Has anybody seen this new commercial?

I'm not even sure what it's about, but it features two Indian scientists, one of whom learns to speak Bee. That's right, he can communicate with bees. When he shows off this new ability to his fellow scientist, the other guy complains, “How's that useful?” At which point the first scientist asks the bee under his magnifying glass to sting the other scientist, and when he falls unconscious, he steals his desert.

Hilarious, man! Absolutely hilarious.

Question for the ages

Is being a because you hate plants like being a because you hate men?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Anagram Genius

Check out the Anagram Genius. “The Mad Perseid” = “Hide Stampeder” Excellent!

Something a little odd

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Of Barbarians, Destruction, and other such hilarity

For some reason, cable's been running and . Personally, I always prefered ; always felt a little over-done in places, like that ridiculous attack on Conan masquerading as an invitation right at the beginning. It was also heavily toned down, both the sex and the blood splashing, the reason for which I'm not entirely certain.

Both are great movies, and 's at the top of his form for them both. But what about the women? No sword-and-sorcery movie would be complete without them. Well, Barbarian had and Destroyer had . Yes, I know it also had , but I try to forget that, though I must admit the scene with the rats was pretty funny.

Hmmm... Women swinging weapons... Every man's dream. , anyone? Or perhaps the penultimate faux-les(s) ? Are there even any currently-producing sword-and-sorcery type shows on TV right now? I miss the genre.

How the world has changed

I watched the movie today and it occured to me how different things were back there. A runs his car off the road and the only reaction from the tow truck driver was “Well, I'll just tow you back to town”. Didn't take his keys; didn't call the cops; didn't report him to insurance; didn't put him in a database. Oh wait, that's right; that's 1959, they didn't have databases. In the defense of the drunk driver, however, the reason he drove his car off the road was to avoid the giant gila monster; nobody believed him, of course: he was drunk. But when people and cattle started disappearing, well, that was a different matter.

The sherrif lets a couple of kids look for some missing people, but doesn't tell them that if they find anything, they should report it to him first. So, they find a busted up car, and tow it back to town themselves, completely trampling whatever evidence they may have been. The cops gets chewed out for it, but not too much, it seemed.

A fun little movie, but we didn't get to see any of the train passengers get eaten by the gila monster after the train wreck. Awww...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Didn't work out quite the way I expected

Well, my trip happened, butI didn't make as far as Halifax. Spent some time around Dollar Lake, then went home. It was just too damn hot, and I didn't think it was supposed to be so bad in Halifax, I thought it was going to be a bit cooler. Oh well. I did take some pictures, and those will be put on my photoblog in a couple of days.

Off to Halifax today

Assuming I ever get myself organized this morning, I'm off to to see a few things. I'll bring back pictures, I swear.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Stargate: SG1 quote

Sam Carter: “I thought the Nox were pacifists?”
Nox woman: “I only hid the weapon; I did not fire it.”
Carter: “Oh.”

Of Brad, Angelina and celebrity wife-swapping

One of the things that forever surprises me is how consistently wrong celebrities can be about predicting the future. A while back, said of her then-husband, , that he was very good for and to her, that he made her want to reach new heights as an actress. He said pretty much the same thing about her. Then, suddenly, they're divorced. Then she's together with and then, just as suddenly, they're not.

In a way, this reminds me of of . Supposedly she left her husband, co-star in Underworld, for the director of that movie. She told once of the time when her young daughter was watching it and asked, “Mommy, why is daddy trying to stab you through the car roof?” Personally, I've always thought that the reason the celebrities switch spouses so often is that, in this way, it avoids all that jealous crap that comes up when they all have to do those fake sex scenes in movies. “Jealous? I'm not jealous. Not like she hasn't slept with half of Holywood as it is.”

USSR: The life and times of a diploma and ulcer aspirant

One of the interesting aspects of in the was how intense it was. Nobody ever worried about the children's or their . Nobody got a high mark merely because they deserved it or tried really hard, you had to earn it. You were expected to keep a notepad in pen, not pencil, and there was no . Mistakes weren't allowed, and they would check your notepads to ensure you didn't cross anything out with your pen. If your hand-writing wasn't up to par, as my often wasn't, they made you rewrite your notepad, in addition to all your other .

There were also no multiple-guess quizes, no open-book tests and several exams were actually one-on-one with the teacher and principal and done orally. These are math tests I'm talking about here. In my school, was considered a more important language than , and so we learned English and for two years before we even got to Russian. We learnt proper grammar and spelling, enabling me to communicate relatively effectively when we moved to . Of course, there was still much to learn about Enligh, but at least the base was there.

During recess we were supposed to go outside and play, but not too much, though we never actually knew what was too much and what wasn't. Things were expected of us, and of our parents, that we dared not fail to produce. The stress was often too much for many of the kids, and I had problems with it, too. With my 3 years of schooling in the USSR I was deemed equivalent to 7 years in Canada and so started immediately in Grade 8.

Now, what has all this education produced? Absolutely nothing. Without personal initiative and the cultural support thereof, all these years of schooling are basically wasted. And without an infrastructure to support even what was being accomplished, the education basically went into figuring out the least dangerous way of making additional money at the government stockpile's expense. That's a lead-in to an upcoming post on apartment renovations USSR style. Sure, you could work for the military, but not everybody wanted or was able to do so.

So, the USSR was basically a culture that pressured everyone to study as hard as they possibly could, but wouldn't allow them to truly take advantage of it. This is was one of their greatest weaknesses.

How'd I forget that?

How in the world did I manage to forget that I have a chunk of cheese in fridge? Hmmm... I think I'd better get cracking on it. Ha! Get it? Brie? Cracking? Bwahahahaha! Sometimes I kill me.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Now that's the way!

Oh my God! They made an joke! I love it! Now that's the way to make a ! Now can I please have Season IX? Pretty please? Please with sugar on it?

You be the judge!

Click on the pictures to see their stories.



Technorati Tags: / / /

Of floors and mouths, and the attraction thereof

This morning on the radio they had a discussion about some of the silly things that kids do, and one of the stories was of a six year-old boy who scraped a piece of off the driveway, put it into his mouth and in an apparent attempt to imitate his father, said “I've got to quit this filthy, dirty habit”.

Now, I don't remember doing anything like that, putting road scrapings into my mouth. I took out the power grid to an entire block once, but that's different. I also gulped down a quarter glass of vodka once because I mistook it for water. Does anybody have any stories they'd like to share? Speak up, don't be shy.


Gorgeous weather! What am I doing in the office? Oh yeah, wait... That's right. I'm earning a living! Damnitall! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What's with the new foreign language beer commercials?

There's been a spate of new beer commercials for . They're all in a foreign language, the two that I recognized were German and I think Italian. Not only are they in a foreign language, but parts are also bleeped out, which used to leads me to think they were swearing. Now I know they are. One their website they present the censored and uncensored versions of the two commercials. If you view the uncensored ones, you find out they are swearing. Sometimes I think our society is going straight to hell.

P.S. Now to get me a poster of that hot Italian babe, I'm going to have to get a case of Alpine beer. Maybe if I ask nicely enough, they'll send me a poster of the hot German one, too.

Copying stuff and the immediate world of me

One of the things that puzzles me is the persistent belief that people are entitled for free to things they don't want to pay for. If you're not willing, or able, to pay for something, you don't need it. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to disregard all the things one needs to actually live, and concentrate only on everything else.

, , , : it's all up for grabs, but the question is why? This, I believe, is the result of the belief that permeates modern . Somehow, people have the idea that they're entitled to something merely because they want it. Put a hot coffee on your lap while in the car, spill it on your crotch and sue. Stick a screwdriver in your eye and sue. Put a kid in the back of a truck, have him fly out on a sudden stop and sue. Society has gotten so warped we don't even tell these people to screw off and pay better attention to their own safety, we listen to their whining as if it is meaningful to us.

Why are you entitled to a free copy of just to edit your digital photos? Every modern digital camera comes with (which is a subset of Photoshop), which is quite usable but not as powerful as Photoshop, and they keep updating it, too, making those updates available even to those get P/E for free.

Why are you entitled to a free copy of just to edit your home movies? Every modern digital camcorder comes with some kind of video edit suite, which in most cases is quite usable but not as powerful.

I think people misunderstand what the phrase “The best things in life are free” means. Personally, I don't think it's talking about your photoediting software.

The same holds true for games. People go ga-ga over games they download and will proclaim to the world how wonderful think those games are. But in so many cases they don't want to pay for them. Why not? Apart from “I just don't want to!”, no one's ever given me a satisfactory explanation. If you don't want to pay for it, you don't really need it. You may want it, but that's not the same thing.

Music and movies are another example. Yes, the studios are heavy-handed it their enforcement of anti-piracy laws. Yes, until the VCR came along the only source of revenue movie studios had was when the movies played in the theatres. But if you love the movie or the CD so much that you talk about it all the time, shouldn't you support the producers(note: this doesn't mean the studio, this means everyone involved in producing it) by paying for it?

I've also heard the argument that “Those people make enough money, my copying that CD won't matter to them”. But the amount of money they already make isn't the issue. In fact, this entire post isn't about those producers making less money. It's about the consumers, blithely convinced that just taking something that has no physical form is OK.

This is why I think the surcharge that Canadian retailers add to blank CD and DVD media is absurd. I produce my own content for my own pleasure, I don't download movies or music or pirated software. Why should I be forced to pay that extra fee? And besides which, not everyone who downloads stuff burns them to disk. This is also the reason I found all those prequels they used to run in theaters so annoying. You know the ones where some guy goes on and talks about how much work he put into the movie and how it's wrong to copy them. You've got the wrong audience, dude: these people sitting with me in the theater paid to see this movie.

If you want to steal product, at least do us all a favour and stop rationalizing and justifying your actions. Call it for what it is.

I suppose I should mention that No, I don't work for any media company, and No, I'm not involved in producing fee-based content for public consumption, and Yes, I am a computer programmer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What the wind is blowing

I heard a comedian on TV relate a story about a guy in the Florida Keys who, just before one of the hurricanes, tied himself to a post and refused to evacuate, working on the theory that he was in good enough physical shape to withstand the hurricane winds. The comedian continued: “Let me explain something. It isn't that the wind is blowing, it's what the wind is blowing. If you get hit with a Volvo, it doesn't matter how many pushups you did that morning.” And I don't even remember the guy's name. Too bad, he's very good.

Common Errors in English

Just found an interesting site called . There's a lot of information there about proper usage, and more interestingly, there's information there about how usage has changed over time.

Monday, June 20, 2005

What is The Mad Perseid

Since I started blogging, I've received any number of inquiries as to what, exactly, is a Mad Perseid, what does it have to do with meteor showers and why are they mad.

Well, first of all, the correct form of address is The Mad Perseid. Anybody caught mis-speaking said title will be summarily punished by being forced to recite, from memory, all 286 . Not being a fan will not be allowed as an excuse.

The name itself has absolutely nothing to do with meteor showers. In fact, it comes from the show called that, until its cancellation this season, was one of my favourite current sci-fi shows on TV. It was the name of a character that you never actually see, there are merely references to him. The title used was The Mad Perseid Hasturi. was his name, he was mad(as in insane) and he belonged to a race called the Perseids. We were allowed a glimpse of him only once, and he'd been dead for a long time by that point.

So that, my friends, is where I got the name. I was intrigued with the concept, and so here we are.

And yes, I fully accept that this post defines me as an uber-geek.

Woo hoo! I'm a cool cat!

I received my wish and have just had my air conditioner installed! Woo hoo! I will henceforth be known as Mr. Cool Cat. Hooray for my coolness!

P.S. My wishlist has been updated accordingly.

Now that's just disturbing

I finally had to leave the room. I've got two maintenance techs from the apartment complex in, installing my A/C. They were hand-holding it out the window to see how far they had to shove it out. Just watching them hold that monstrocity with the bare hands made me shiver. And people told me, it's no biggie to install a window air condition. Ha!

South Park character generator

Here's a character generator. Thought you peeps might enjoy it.

Reality and the world of 3D - Part 13

- Continued 3

If you have never read the previous parts of my “Reality and the world of 3D” essay, please take a moment and read them before continuing. All the links can be found in the sidebar on the right. Thank you very much.

The is infinitely diverse, and it is a diversity that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a computer to represent. Why? Because the Universe can be thought of as being analog, but computers are digital. This means that computers, while capable of coming close, cannot achieve the level of diversity that's easily achieved by the simplest objects in nature. Let's take a look at why.

For an example of the difference between and , let's look at something that's probably available in every home, a radio. Most people have had radios with analog tuners before, and may still have them to this day, and certainly many people now have digital tuners on their radios. Look at your analog radio. When you move the tuning dial, your radio is tuned to the exact frequency you choose, regardless of how fast or how slowly you turn the dial. You can tune to any frequency on the dial, including all of the in-between frequencies, limited by the fine-tuning dial and by your own ability. By contrast, digital tuners can only tune in to very specific frequencies. Most digital tuners tune to odd numbers such 103.1 or 107.1. They can also tune into 103.3 or 106.9. Some can tune to both even and odd numbers, but certainly nothing in between. But: when digital tuners tune to an exact frequency, it is that frequency and no other; with analog tuners, it's always questionable.

Let's now look at multi-meters. These devices measure voltage, resistance and current, and come in both analog and digital models. Just like the analog radios, analog multi-meters show exact values that exist on their scales, though sometimes they make reading the exact value a bit difficult. Digital multi-meters let you easily read the value, but it may not as accurate as a well-designed analog multi-meter. This is not to imply that analog is better than digital, only that it displays its values differently and often more precisely, though whether such exactness is required is a different question.

So, basically, what we're saying is that analog shows exact numbers of almost any complexity, while digital only shows discrete numbers within a certain precision. Put another way, analog can be represented by fractions(ie., one third, or 1/3), while digital represents only discrete values(ie., 0.3333333~). In many cases, where digital can represent whole numbers of sufficient size, it is far superior to analog. This is especially true in cases where information has to be transmitted.

One thing you must remember. Computers are incapable of representing fractional numbers as fractions. While it can be programmed to perform the formula “x=1/3 + 2/3” and come up with the answer of “1”, this is not a natural action for a computer. A computer wants to work with decimal numbers such 0.33333 and 0.66667 and it wants to round things to approximate the results when dealing with fractional numbers. This why, in many cases, financial calculations are performed with whole numbers rather than fractionals. So, instead of saying 1.05 for one dollar and five cents, the computer stores 105 for one hundred and five cents. In many instances, this is very advantageous, including 3D.

You may be asking yourself why we're spending so much time on differences between analog and digital. Computers are digital, so why worry about analog. Well, the reason I spend so much time dwelling on this subject is that I want you to understand how the reality of 3D computer graphics differs from the reality of the real world. Please stay tuned for more.

American Dad

I watched an episode of last night for the first time. I guess I have to learn that there are channels above 212. I realize that the show's made by the producers of , but they're not the same. First of all, I don't think in F/G they ever had get burnt when he tried to enter a church and then say, “My work here is done” and turn into a flock of bats and fly away. Though they did have Peter's father once say, “Holy Mamma, it's the Holy Pappa!”, but it's just not the same.

After watching this one episode, I've decided this has to be the conservatives satirize the weird liberal idea that the conservatives are the spawn of the devil.

All in all, I have to say I enjoyed it. And did I mention that I also watched brand new and Family Guy episodes? No? Well, I did, and enjoyed them! So there! Ha ha!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

New photos

New from Parrsboro, NS are available now. Enjoy.

When did Canada's child labour laws get repealed?

I went to do some grocery shopping on Friday, and apart from the fact that they have completely redesigned the store to the point that I couldn't find anything, I noticed one interesting thing. When, exactly, did 's get repealed? I swear, there were kids working there that couldn't have been more than 12 or 13. Some of them seemed to be hawking some weird charity or other that I never heard of before, but others were doing actual work.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they were doing a bad job or were rude, but I just found it weird seeing kids that young cutting up vegetables for display in a store. They'd better be getting paid for this, or at least not work for free, as far as the store is concerned. The question really is, however, whether or not we want to have kids that young working outside the home. It's one thing to make your kids wash the dishes or peel the potatoes for a family meal(they have to learn sometime, after all), but I think it's a whole new game when you send them off to pack vegetable racks at the local supermarkets.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Weird problem with comment counters

Please bear with me - there seems to be a comment counting problem. Hopefully it'll work itself out soon.

Things that amaze me

These things amaze me. I don't believe they should work, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. I use three out of four of these on a daily basis, and have even used all four simulataneously on occasion. Oh well.

Calling cards

Interesting. Did you know that when you make a long distance call with your phone company-issued you get charged a dollar plus your regular per-minute rate? I certainly didn't. My phone calls are usually long enough that a dollar gets burried in the charge and I don't see it. The only reason I found out was that I was speaking with a Customer Service, changing to a better long distance service, and the guy told me. Damn charges!

I discoverd Technorati Tags

To make it easier for people to find my blog and articles, I'm going to start adding to my posts. If I get really ambitious, I might even go back and add them to some of my previous posts.

Blogger comments have been reactivated

For your reading and commenting pleasure, I have reactivated Blogger comments on this blog, in addition to the HaloScan ones. Please look at the line below for an explanation:












Perma LinkBlogger CommentsHaloScan CommentsHaloScan Trackbacks
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You may use either of the commenting systems; if you have a Blogger account, you might find it easier to use that commenting system instead of the HaloScan one. Please let me know what you think and how this works for you.

What *do* they teach in those beauty schools?

Story.

Woo Hoo! Canada makes American news!

Story. Of course, it's a stupid pothead story, but even so...

Aliens are among us!

And they said we're alone in the Universe. Ha! And no, it's not my picture.

Yes, my Reality essay is NOT dead

You may find links to all the parts of the “Reality and the world 3D” essay in the sidebar to the right.

Reality and the world of 3D - Part 12

3D - Continued 2

If you have never read the previous parts of my “Reality and the world of 3D” essay, please take a moment and read them before continuing. All the links can be found in the sidebar on the right. Thank you very much.

In the previous sections, you learnt what reality is and what 3D computer graphics allows the artist to do and how it works. You also learnt to look at reality on an object-by-object way. Let's now put it all together and see how reality relates to 3D computer graphics.

First, let's recap a very important question. What is “3D computer graphics”? At it's simplest, “3D computer graphics” are images generated by a computer based on information provided to it in a 3-dimensional, computer-stored space. It may include life-like representations of people, animals, worlds or even simple geometric forms or objects such as spheres, pyramids and cubes. These generated images are represented on a 2-dimensional grid and uses converging lines(and other techniques) to simulate depth.

There's the key operative word: simulate. That's all “3D computer graphics” really are, simulations. And not complete simulations, either. If you make a scene taking place inside a warehouse that has no windows, there is no need to simulate the outside world. In other words, when we're creating our 3D scenes, we're only creating them only so far as the camera can see.

“Camera?” Yes. In 3D software, all the regular photographic concepts such as cameras and lights apply.

Let's change tracks for a moment, and discuss the nature of universe. We haven't done that yet, we've only discussed the objects and forces in nature itself. No, this isn't going to be one of those metaphysical Star Trek type discussions.
Dr. Crusher: “If there's nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with the Universe.”

Dr. Crusher: “Here's a question you shouldn't be able to answer. Computer, what is the nature of universe?”
Computer: “The universe is a spheroid object seven hundred meters of diameter.”
---- Star Trek TNG: Remember Me

No, what we're going to discuss is the diversity of the Universe. Please stay tuned... In fact, the Universe is infinitely diverse, and it is a diversity that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a computer to represent.

Please stay tuned for more...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

See? Finales *can* be entertaining!

Now, if they could come up with the excellent Moebius two-parter for a Season 8 finale for SG1, why oh why did they have to horrify us with that terrible Enterprise series finale? Inquiring minds want to know.

It was funny, entertaining, and several actors were doing excellent out-of-character characterizations. It was, in other words, an absolute delight to watch. Great hopes for the second part. Thank you so very much!

Bashing Americans for fun and status

There's a story about a crazy Cannuck who tried carrying an assortment of weapons across the Canada/US border from New Brunswick and was let through by US Border Service. This story is used to say “See how stupid they are? They see a man carrying all those weapons covered in blood and they let him in.” Except, as it turns out, they didn't know it was blood and they couldn't actually keep him out, since he has dual citizenship, Canadian and US. It also seems that on the day he crossed the border he was due in a Canadian court for sentencing on assault charges. So, a man due to be sentenced is out wandering Canadian streets and that's OK, but the fact that Americans let through an American citizen not wanted by them for anything is not? Get a grip, people, get a grip!

Story link updated June 23, 2005

Of spell-checkers, or why it's important to spell properly

There are idiots out there trying to dumb down the English language because they're too stoopid to learn to spell and think the rest of us are too(as opposed to dee two :->). But spelling immediately separates those who know the English language from those who don't, and that's a very important distinction, especially in the business world. Even in the blogosphere, it is valuable. Why should I waste my valuable time on a blog whose writer doesn't take the trouble to spell his or her posts correctly, thereby forcing me to try to interpret what the writer meant to say. Of course I understand that typos will appear no matter what; we're not professional editors, after all. At least, most of us aren't.

And no, I'm not talking about running your article through Blogger's auto-spell feature and let it go at that. After al, you're sentence maybe wrong, butt they're checker want now about it(by the way, this sentence passes Blogger's spell check, but words blog and Blogger do not - go figure). Not knowing how to spell and wallowing in your ignorance is not exactly an inducement for me to return to your blog. It is just not a well-thought out blog that I'm looking for, but one that's a pleasure to read. This doesn't mean that my blog's perfect and can't be improved, it means that I enjoy reading those blogs that have a well-written article.

It's not just blogs that are a problem. Usenet is just as bad and Heaven help you if you browse the graphic art sites. Those people revel in their ignorance and flame anyone who questions them about it. So why is spelling important? It's not that it shows off your education, it's that it shows you're able to communicate legibly. Not all communication is verbal, and if all you can do is write in IRC chat style, I don't want you anywhere near official communications.

P.S. I'm sure people will find typos in the preceding. I apologize in advance.

Phrase of the day

Incest: “Bumping uglies with your sister”.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It wasn't bad, not bad at all

I saw Mr. & Mrs. Smith today, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. When you go into a , you have to turn off your brain and just watch the sparkles. Or the gunfire and explosions, as the case may be. It's a fun movie. Literally. People actually laughed out loud, and not the snickering kind of laugh, either. A fun ride that I might even go to see again.

Locusts: damn those non-evil but naiive scientists

Could the movie Locusts have been any worse? I think so. If Lucy Lawless hadn't been in it, would've been completely unwatchable, and she wasn't even wearing armor or swinging a sword.

Formulaic, full of cliches, with a non-evil but horribly naiive scientists who starts the whole thing going, not to mention a highly unlucky Intelligence operative.

It was bad it was actually impossible to stop watching. Just like people like to view the wreckage after a particularly spectacular car crash, so was I unable to change the channel. It was sad, in a mindless fun sort of way.

Related topics

A quick message to all my readers:

I'm beginning to group related articles under their own headings on the sidebar. Hopefully, this will make it easier for people to find multi-post articles, especially if they stretch more than several weeks. Let me know how this works for you.

Thank you for visiting, and more importantly, for returning.

USSR: The life and times of an aspiring musician

I'll admit it, right here and now, that I used to play the violin. And by all accounts, I was actually pretty good at it, within the limitations of a nine year old not-gifted boy who still had to do all his other homework as well. In the tm, you see, extracurricular activities didn't figure into the make-up of your school workload. There was no skipping classes to play sports, no missing homework to learn a musical instrument. Extracurricular activities were just that, activities you do in addition to all your regular duties, not the replacement thereof.

As so it was that I stayed up late nights, practicing and making up for homework that I missed doing by taking music lessons in the early evenings when I should've been studying. Luckily for us, the music school was just down the street, which was great since it was situated on a street with no public transit. I even remember doing recital, which apparently went over very well, though I remember very little before and after it. The music teacher told my parents, “He's got a good ear for music, he can duplicate anything I play on the piano on the violin. Just don't ask him to sing.”

Which was no actual surprise, since I knew from very early on that I couldn't sing, and can't to this very day. When I was in kindergarten, we had to put on a show. I suppose we had to put on more than one, but this one in particular stuck in my mind. During one of the early practice sessions, the teacher stopped us, looked straight at me and said, “Don't sing anymore, just lipsynch. You're throwing off the rest of the children.”

I had to quit eventually 'cause, in the words of my mother, “it was driving you insane”. Too much work. Homework was the biggest time drain, having so much of it, and we usually went to school six days out of seven, and there were no long weekends. Modern kids simply can't understand what real amounts of homework is like. I used to stay up nights rewriting my notepads because my handwriting wasn't to exacting industrial specifications that only that particular teacher had, and it only applied to me(being a teacher's pet in the Olde Countrytm meant something completely different). Eventually my mother had had enough and told my teacher to go screw herself, that she wasn't going to make me stay up all night ever again. If she didn't like my handwriting, she could just kiss my mother's ass. Not in those words, of course, but the gist was there.

Maybe in some alternate reality, somebody made a different decision somewhere along the line, and I'm now a great musician, world-renowned and with a bevy of immoral young women at my beck and call1. In this reality, however, I'm a bitter old man, sitting on my front porch, pointing hairdryers at passing cars to see if they'll slow down. No, just kidding, I don't have a front porch.

And there endeth a promising career and a bright future. Of course, I know for a fact that I came out far ahead when we moved to Canada, regardless of any possible music career.
1 I would guess that no matter what reality I'm currently in, to have a bevy of immoral young women at my beck and call is a fantasy that is an intrinsic aspect of me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Debt relief

There's a story on about debt relief for the poor nations, many of them in Africa. The relief amounts to about $40 billion, but let's call a spade a spade. Debt relief is nothing more or less than a declaration of bankruptcy for nations. Intrinsically, I see nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but let's be honest here. How many of those countriees will “get their books in order” as the story claims? If corruption is endemic to their institutions, how much will cancelling the debt help? The main question that should be asked is what have those government done with the billions of dollars they have already borrowed? We're forever told that poverty in those countries is due to lack of aid, but this isn't exactly the first time through the debt forgiveness cycle.

In essense, the Western taxpayers are shouldering the dozens of billions of dollars of aid that apparently has had little or no impact on poverty. Shouldn't we, as those who are paying for all that, demand that we see some small change, that something positive is about to happen? If The System® in those countries is the problem, then the countries should replace their systems with some other that fosters growth and prosperity. And no, the replacement system must not be socialism or communism, not while we fund it.

The non-stop funding of the poor nations despite complete lack of progress is an outgrowth of our decadent Western idea that help should first and foremost help us feel better about ourselves, regardless of what it does for those it's intended for. The non-stop lend-and-forgive cycles make it unnecessary for the so-called governments of those nations to actually govern. All they need do is hold out their hands and money will be thrown at them and no accounting will ever be demanded of them.

For years, we've been subjected to the horrible scenes of famine and starvation out of Ethiopia, and I was therefore completely shocked to discover that not only does that country field an airforce, but it was currently engaged in a war with Erritria. I never even heard of Erritria before. Now, is that a good use for our relief money? We remove the responsibility of the Ethiopian(and Erritrian, for that matter) government to care for their citizens so they can play their little war games. Same with North Korea: they're building The Bomb® while their citizens starve.

Yes, we should help those countries. But the help should be such that they can stand on their two feet, and not demand the cancellation of debt every few years because money loaned them somehow winds up in personal Swiss bank accounts of their so-called leadership.

Monday, June 13, 2005

New profession created due to the blogging phenomenon

With the rise of blogging, a hitherto unknown profession of “Stats Whoring” was created. Members of said profession are willing, and able, to say anything, do anything, to be rewarded with the Crack of the Bloggers, the Stat. Like the opiate of the masses of previous generations, it is addictive. A stat whore's only current interest is a new unique hit.

A sub-genre of stats whorring is “Comment Whoring” where, in addition to craving the bi-second unique hit, the comment whore craves comments, and will do and say anything to obtain them. Oddly enough, not only are these two professions legal, they're actually encouraged by the Powers That Be®.

If you have any additional information about these professions, please forward it along. Thank you. This has been a public service announcement from The Mad Perseid.

Not guilty!

God damnitall, I hope that man gets some serious help.

Tech Support!

Tech Support Story

And if you know me, you know where I'm coming from. LOL!

Canadian movie shorts

One of the distinguishing features of a significant portion of Canadian moviemaking is the atrocious acting and a visual style that resembles nothing more than being shot with a handheld digital minicam. I don't know why, but Canadian movies look like they've been shot with an incorrect lighting setup. If you want an example of what Canadian movies look like, check out the Season IV openner episode of Andromeda called “Answers given to questions never asked”. (Yes, I know it's sad I can quote episode names, but let's push on, shell we?) There's a scene in that episode when the crew meets the Avatar of the Abyss and the whole bridge lights up. That's what Canadian movies usually look like: overlit with very sharp shadows.

Which is why I so enjoy watching Canadian movie shorts that TV stations here sometimes play. Yes, they're often hokey, but they're usually made on a tiny budget and are often surprisingly good, and especially funny. I saw two such yesterday.
One was about a young Grim Reaper making a housecall. The family in question stabbed him, shot him, hit him upside the head, their Goth-wannabe daughter kept trying to mate with him and made him chase them all throughout the house. Needless to say, he wasn't in the best of moods when he finally cornered all four of them in their bathroom. So it is perhaps for the best that it was at that moment that the answering machine came on and the Reaper realized that after all that, he's been terrorizing the wrong family. The guy who needed reaping lived in the house across the street, and not being a particularly pleasant guy, he didn't get a pleasant send-off from the now seriously pissed-off Reaper.
Another one was about a woman who for a lack of a better word I suppose we could a call a 'spinster', except that she was relatively young and actually pretty decent-looking. She tends her garden and curls up at night a romance novel. She doesn't lead what one might call a very exciting life, until one day when she pulls a weird root out of the ground. She doesn't know what it is, so like a good gardener(I guess) she places it in a container full of water. Overnight it turns into a weird scaly-type creature. At first, the woman's afraid of it and attacks it with a frying pan(Heh! Only in the movies!), but quickly realizes that the poor thing looks more afraid of her than she is of it.

Anyway, she keeps the little thing, and it seems quite content to be cuddled by her like a baby, and it responds by attaching a stranger sucker right to her forehead. Here we go, I thought, no good deed goes unpunished. But no, with the sucker the little creature is able to create whole worlds in the woman's mind and place her at the heart of the action, usually in the middle of a trashy romance with over-muscled gents. It doesn't really hurt the woman, makes her feel like she has a life, and is sort of a 'Thank you' from the little creature for the care the woman's giving it.

It's at this point that it starts getting weird. A pushy and abnoxious vacuum salesman comes through the door(actually pushes his way in), and starts whining and bitching about no one will give him a chance to make his spiel. It's at this juncture in his otherwise drab life, that the little weird creature eats him. Literally. In fact, the little beast reminded me a little of Nibbler on Futurama. It's the perfect crime; there's no evidence the man was even there, it eats him all up. Next thing you know, the woman's house is full of stuff: encyclopedias, food processors, etc.

In the final act, just as she has attached the little sucker to her forehead again to enjoy a quite night with a hunk, the doorbell rings and she goes to answer it. The screen goes blank, and all you hear is the following exchange:

Female stranger: “Have you ever thought about the afterlife?”
Woman: “Please, do come in.”
Another short that I remember(I'm not sure this one's Canadian, though) is about a man who had his arms replaced with more impressive arms. They weren't android arms, they were real, just better than his original parts. Or they would've been, if he'd actually be able to use them. One time, in a public bathroom, he was flat on his back with some hot babe riding him for all she was worth, yelling, “Grab my tits, grab my tits!”, and was getting upset with him that he wouldn't. He wished he could, but he couldn't make them work; they just dangled at his side, useless.

So, he decided to go back to the doctor who gave him the new arms, and complained. The doctor, of course, couldn't figure out what was wrong with them, but after making much oooh and aaah over how good they looked, convinced him to get a new chest to go with his new arms. When he told the doctor he wanted his old arms back, he was told they weren't available, they were sold to someone else. The last you saw of him, somebody else was trying to convince him to get a new brain!

Tasting of the forbidden fruit

Today I have violated every propriety known to man. I commited an unpardonable sin, a sin whose very definition was unfortunately lost when the third tablet was dropped by Moses thereby destroying the final five commandments. Scour the other sacred texts, and you will find no mention of this sin. Had the elders who had written the sacred texts been aware that such a thing was even possible, they surely would've codified it with the pages of their most glorious books. Sadly, however, this shall forevermore be known as the Unknown Sintm!

So, to wit! Being hungry and having neglected to do shopping, I had very little in terms of edible foodstuffs in the house. So, I figured that baked fish, whole kernel corn and raisin bread would make an excellent dinner. Surprisingly, though, it was. It never fails to amaze how versatile raisin bread really is. You can have it with anything, anything at all. Especially this kind of raisin bread, which is basically reguarl dark rye break baked with nuts and raisins. Mmmm... Yummy!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Blog-surfing and browsers

This is probably of interest only to techies and/or bloggers. The percentages are based on 3,720 total hits since April 6, 2005.

    Browser Types:
  1. Browsers utilizing the MSIE Core: 49.18%
  2. Browsers utilizing the Mozilla/Gecko Core: 47.11%
  3. Other Browsers: 1.96%
  4. Netscape(N3 and N4): 1.01%
  5. Opera Browser: 0.74%
    Operating Systems:
  1. Windows: 95.05%
  2. Apple Systems: 3.29%
  3. Other Systems: 1.07%
  4. Linux/UNIX: 0.59%
    Continents:
  1. North America: 85.44%
  2. Europe: 8.45%
  3. Asia: 3.65%
  4. Oceania: 1.69%
  5. Central America: 0.27%
  6. South America: 0.24%
  7. Africa: 0.21%
  8. Unknown: 0.06%(my guess is aliens)
Know your readership and know your readership's access capability. When Mozilla(which includes Firefox) and MSIE are virtually neck and neck, it makes little sense to develop a blog for MSIE or Mozilla only.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Stupid news story

There's a story on CNN that caught my attention. Basically, it's about a six year old girl that was killed by a car while trying to save a turtle crossing a highway. Apparently, her mother had pulled over so they could help and the girl, an animal lover, darted out and was killed. Now, I've seen some comments around the blogosphere(exactly where, I can't remember) about this story and there's much ooohing and aaahing about how sad this story is. I'm sorry, but I simply don't see it that way.

This story isn't sad. What it is is moronic and stupid. First, the mother. She pulls over to help a turtle(which doesn't appear to have asked for or needed said help), and somehow the girl escapes from the car. Aren't six year-olds supposed to be in child seats, and if so, how did she get out of the car? How did she so quickly undo her seat belt, get out of the child seat, open the door and dash out of the car? So quickly, in fact, that her mother didn't have any time to react?

Second, this is what you get when you devalue human life so much that you equate it's worth with animals. This is what comes from countless animal rights groups harping on this and harping on that. This is what comes of PETA getting it's collective bondage thong in an uproar over an animal used to murder people. This is what comes of slamming on the brakes while driving so a small animal on the side can continue ignoring the road(I was in the car when somebody did that). This is what comes of claiming that we, as humans, aren't worth anything more than the smallest bug.

Decades ago, in the Soviet Union, an eighteen year old boy was posthumously awarded a medal for getting himself killed while trying to save a burning tractor. This happened decades before I was born, but I clearly remember in school being taught that what he did was heroic and we should all try to emulate him because, get this, the tractor, unlike all of us meat people, is irreplaceable. It wasn't until recently that they finally agreed that they were wrong to deify him like that, that he should've saved himself and not the tractor, which was destroyed regardless.

But this all boils down is that we are the dominant life form on this planet, and we are dominant for a reason. We build civilizations(we destroy them, too, but that's a different matter). We create art. We learn about the universe at large. We communicate our history to our progeny. We help beached whales. To allow a child to come to harm over a turtle on a busy highway is, in my opinion, criminal.

A new element has been discovered

Governmentium

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of
the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been
named "Governmentium." Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75
deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons,
giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which
are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called
peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However,
it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it
comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to
take over four days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but
instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant
neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact,
governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each
reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming
isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe
that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity
in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as
"Critical Morass." When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes
Administratium - an element which radiates just as much energy as the
Governmentium, since it has half as many peons but twice as many
morons.

Gorgeous day today

Went for a nice drive today, all the way out to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. It was an absolutely stunning day. Not very hot, no bloodthirsty bugs orbitting my head in attack formation. Took a bunch of pictures, will post them to my photoblog and my website in due time, as I process them. And then, when I got home, I found my apartment to be pretty cool, too. The two bedroom windows were open and they sucked all the heat out. I love it! Still wish I had my A/C installed already, but even so, it's very nice right now.

Worst movie ever?

Could The Day the World Ended be the worst movie ever? Boy thinks father is an alien, who's currently in town, eating the inhabitants. Only Nastassja Kinski makes it remotely watchable, even though she never takes her clothes off. Randy Quaid is also in it, as is Harry Groener, the dude who played the demonic mayoer of Sunnydale on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But seriously, folks, this one's got my vote. It was so bad I couldn't stop watching it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

South Park quote

Butters: “Don't you get it? Eight people died!”
Stan: “Well, nine, actually. One of the women was pregnant.”
Butters: “WHA...”

Lifecycle of Bloggers

Here's an interesting little nothing.

I have to admit that I'm at Stage #3, though I'm not yet receiving gifts from strangers.

Wishlist added

I just added a wishlist to my blog. These are things I want to do or buy. They'll be crossed as soon as I accomplish them. Does anyone know of an easier way of dealing with that wishlist other than manually editting my template every time?

New blog added

Miranda's Window Dressing

Political Correctness run amok!

Now, I can certainly understand that if you preferred to do crack with your friends rather than pay attention to your studies, you might be jealous of those who actually persevered in school and learnt to spell and that as a result of that, you might want for spelling to be simplified so you wouldn't feel quite so bad about yourself, during those few lucid times, at least.

But why would any sane individual want to impose these changes on others? If word spellings change over time, then so be it. But to lobby for the change? You've got to be kidding me! And then to actually go out and form an organization called The Simplified Spelling Society and picketed the Spelling Bee competitions just goes beyond the pale.

But what really takes the cake, however, is wanting to change English spelling because immigrants find it difficult. Immigrants? Who cares about them? If they're not willing to learn the language of their new country, they're graciously invited to stay where they are. I can see no reason to accomodate them in that respect.

If these people think the level of illiteracy is high because of English spelling, I invite them to study at a Ukrainian school in Kiev in the 1970s, which taught Russian, Ukrainian and English to Grade III students all at the same time, and successfully, too, and actually taught English before teaching Russian. Americans, and for that matter Canadians, should be outraged that there are groups out there that think they're too stupid to learn to spell even one language when other countries routinely teach multiple languages simultaneously.

Yes, English is a weird language. Yes, English is often difficult for foreigners, but what language isn't. But for all its weirdness, an English essay is often shorter than a comparative French one. But that's not even the point. Let the bloody language evolve, don't legislate changes. What these people want to do is take the lowest common denomenator and lower everybody else down to that level, whereas we should be striving for the opposite. We should be educating those who don't have English skills, not glorifying their ignorant and slovenly spelling.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

OMG! I'm so behind the curve!

I thought Desperate Housewives was a reality show. Silly me!

A question of great importance for the ages

If a man says something and there's no woman around to critisize him, is he still wrong? Inquiring minds want to know.

Who makes that kind of decision?

There's a commercial running on Canadian TV right now for Tim Horton's advertising, apart from the obvious, a camp for kids. The dialog goes something like this: “Every coffee purchase helps support a camp for deserving kids.” Now, I couldn't quite help thinking, what exactly is a 'deserving' kid? And more importantly, who makes those kinds of decisions?

According to their website, the kids they're talking about are the ones who can't afford camp, and while I have nothing against that in principle, I wish the commercials would actually be honest and just say what they mean.

Of basic business courtesy, or what's sadly lacking?

Is it too much to ask that when you say you're going to deliver a product on a particular day, you actually take every possible step to ensure you fullfil your promise? First, it's the store forgetting to tell the delivery company to come pick up the item and deliver it to the customer. I can understand how at the end of the day, you might forget to fax off the requisite forms. But shouldn't you do so first thing the following morning so it can be delivered that day, as you promissed? Then it's the actual delivery company lying about it's delivery schedule. They actually had to the nerve to tell me to wait for them between 1pm and 5pm. After I told them no, call me 15 minutes before you come and come from work to wait for you. Now it's almost 6 and they haven't come or called. Bastards!

A euphemism

“Who got you pregnant?” is the same as “Who gave you the hot beef injection?”

When mad actresses attack!

I still think there's nothing funnier than grown people making fools of themselves, and in public no less. Child ticket, indeed!

Looking into the past

One of the interesting aspects of astronomy is the fact that whenever you look at anything in the sky, you're basically looking directly into the past. Even when you're looking directly at the sun, which is one(1) AU away from Earth, you're looking into the past. Five hundred(500) (150,000,000km divided by 300,000(speed of light)) seconds into be the past, to be relatively exact, or just over 8 minutes. Which means, when all is said and done, that if our sun were to just blow out one sunny day(like, say, somebody dropping an active stargate into it), it would take more than 8 minutes for us to find out about it. And that's just the sun, which is so close to us, astronomically speaking.

Now, look at something a little further away, something like the Andromeda galaxy, which is 2.9 million light years away. Since a light year is the distance travelled by light in one year, this means that when you look at the Andromeda galaxy, you're really seeing it as it was 2.9 million years ago. In that time, it have been completely destroyed, but we wouldn't know about it until the light of that even reached us, which if it happens today, won't be for 2.9 million years. Of course, all this assumes that physics in the world wide universe behave the way we expect, and there aren't any weird space warps or light accelerants out there, and that light really does travel at 300,000km/s.

What does all this mean? It means that any time you look up at the night sky, you're stepping into a time machine that can only go backwards. The further the object is from Earth, the longer it's light takes to reach us, and the further back in time you go when you look at it. This has a serious impact on the Seti@Home Project, which attempts to utilize the idle CPU cycles of thousands of home and office computers to analyze signals detected in the sky in an effort to find extraterrestrial civilizations.

Since the project looks at radio waves, and radio waves travel at, or slightly slower than, the speed of light(300,000km/s), that means that the project is actually trying to detect signals from civilizations that would've been using radio thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of years ago. If there were no such civilizations, and they are only now using radio, their signals won't reach us for a very long time, unless we make contact some other way.

So remember this: any time you want to escape into the past, simply look up at the sky on a clear night, preferably away from the city. When you do that, you truly are looking at a galaxy far away, a long time ago.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Upcoming movies I want to see...

Though not necessarily by paying to see at the theatre. These are coming in July.

Undead Fantastic Four The Island Stealth

Of high technology, or when does it start being magical?

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that a “sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic”. While intrinsically true, it fails to make a distinction between three points of view. When viewing technology, there are three types of people. The first type is the person who owns the tech and has worked with it all his life. The second is the primitive upon whom the technology he has never seen before is suddenly thrust. The third is the super-advanced person for whom your technology is so primitive he doesn't understand how you even use it. As well, there are varying degrees of everything, and nothing is ever as black-and-white as the quote above portrays.

To a primitive living in a muscle-powered world, every kind of technology is magical. He doesn't even know what technology is, and to him everything you do with it smacks of a force of nature. Take a gun to a primitive world and shoot a wild animal with it in full view of a primitive native, and he'll think you smote the animal with thunder. Take a phaser and do the same thing, and he'll think you did it with lightning. In other words, like all of us, he'll equate what you have done with what he knows, which at that point in his development is nature, and so you, and your actions, will appear to be magical.

We, as the technologically advanced people we think we are, think entirely too much like our primitive predecessors for our own comfort. Like them, we equate what we don't know with what we do know. In Star Trek: TOS, a series made in the 1960s, computer displays were basically panels with blinking lights and external information storage was on thin tape units. In Star Trek: Enterprise, a show made in 2001-2005 and set a hundred years before TOS, computers were much more sophisticated versions of our modern computers and external information storage was on data padds, much more sophisticated versions of our modern tablet PCs.

On the whole, science fiction(especially visual sci-fi), no matter how hard it tries, reflects our current understanding of technology. There are certainly exceptions, such Stargate: SG1 where alien technology is so advanced and powerful, the aliens hardly even think about it, building space ships that are basically pyramids with hyperdrives attached. They even put burning fire torches at regular intervals throughout their ships. To primitives, the aliens appear as Gods, even to those primities they press into service. But we, as semi-advanced people, know that it isn't magic that powers their weapons or directs their spaceships. We may not know how it works, but we know what it is.

So, at what point does technology become magical? To a primitive, all tech is magical because he has no point of reference. To more advanced people, in my opinion, technology becomes magical when it is not visible, but will stop being magical as soon as we understand how they do what they do. If the manifestations of power come directly from some person, then that person will seem magical. The best example of that is Q in Star Trek. He carries no gadgets, goes where he pleases no matter how secure or inaccessible the place is, and comes and goes in a flash of light and a puff of insult. He seems magical, but only until you learn how to do what he does.

What, then, is 'magic'? I think that magic is merely anything that is unusual and that you can't explain. Once you explain it, it ceases being magical. And I think that it's a high price to pay for technological progress. That said, it's also true that as some magics lose their quality, other magics take their place. We live in a universe filled with magic, if only we'd open our eyes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Russians who wed foreigners should be exiled?

Once again, Russian government officials miss the actual point of this story. If one in three Russian women want to marry a foreigner and live abroad, will stripping them of their citizenship really prevent them from doing so, and more importantly, doesn't that say something about the state of affairs in your own country?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Movie quote

“It was at that moment that the Chosen One learned a valuable lesson about iron claws: THEY HURT LIKE CRAP, MAN!

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist

USSR: The life and times of a non-ideological firebug

This is a short blogging series I'm starting about my recollections of the time I lived in the . These are not going to be in any kind of chronological order. Please note that while most people in called it , Russia proper wasn't much more than a republic(equivalent to a province or a US state) in the old , albeit the most important one. I've personally never even been to Russia proper; I was born in and lived in , , which of course is its own country these days. I left when I turned 13, so everything that happens in these stories happened when I was very young.

One of the few things I remember clearly about my childhood in the Olde Countrytm is that I was a bit(well, OK, quite a bit) of a . I liked fire, you see, or put more precisely I liked fire not for its own sake, but for what you can do with it. I also seemed to enjoy sparks, by which I mean electrical sparks, much like those you get when you plug a load into a live electrical outlet.

Which might, I suppose, explain how I realized that it's really a bad idea to plug a wire into an outlet. To this day I don't know what I was thinking. I clearly remember doing it, but what was actually on my mind as I did it is, sadly, lost in the dim mists of time. I do know that I wasn't trying to be malicious about it; in fact, I did it with my parents in full view and in the room. I don't remember how long the power outtage lasted, but I do remember that it was on that day that I learnt that it's a bad idea to insert a wire into a live electrical outlet. And by insert I mean actually insert each end of the (very thin) wire into each slot on the outlet. I wasn't hurt, and I think I scared my parents(especially my father who is an electrician) far more than I scared myself. It was an experiment gone (not so) wrong, and I certainly did learn from it.

But that was the least of my firebuging.

I never really meant to hurt anything; it was an accident, an experiment and a cosmic joke, both the window sill and my hair. I was trying to improve my understanding of the universe, and it was in that spirit that I burned half the window sill and a (small) portion of my hair. I suppose this is how Darwin Awards get handed out, but at some point in life I had decided to find out if cotton burns. Specifically, cotton balls. True to form of a never-ask-for-directions male, instead of simply asking my parents(especially my father who is basically a walking encyclopedia), I decided to conduct an experiment.

Of course, I chose a day when my parents weren't home, and gave vent to my scientific couriosity. Very carefully I stuck a cotton ball out the window and lit on fire. Unfortunately, the cotton ball exploded with fire and I jerked my hand back, neglecting to open my fingers until they were some distance on the inside. And so, my flaming cotton ball fell like a meteor in between two layers of glass and came to rest on top of... you guessed it... a thick layer of more cotton balls placed there to keep the fridgid outside air from seeping inside. The whole thing exploded in flame.

Well, what's a nine-year-old boy to do after he's set his window sill on fire? Why, he puts it out, of course. One glass of water at a time. Of course, I then compounded my error about lying about what happened. You know, the usual lies boys tell when they've set a place on fire: somebody threw a flaming stick up through our window which not only managed to fly threw a very small open window, but managed to ignore a layer of cotton between two layers of glass. My mother, bless her heart, believed every word. My father was much smarter.

This all became a lot funnier when a few weeks later in class, our torturer.. er, ahem, sorry, teacher, decided to show us crude oil and how it burns. Now, I had an excuse: I was nine years old. What was her excuse? She took a... you guessed it... cotton ball, poured some crude oil on it from a beaker, and while holding it aloft, lit the damn thing on fire. Needless to say, she spent quite a bit of time stomping on the floor, trying to put the whole mess out. I felt very vindicated at that point.

Before I end this for today, let me just add it is not a good idea to throw partly filled aerosol cans into a bonfire. They don't just explode, the top where the button is blows off and the thing takes off like a rocket, with flames belching out the back of it. When it misses you by centimeters is when you realize how stupid you had been.

Hope you've enjoyed this; it was certainly fun for me trying to remember all the things I used to get up to when I was very young and foolish.

Speaking of elevators

Late last week while riding down in one of the elevators at the office, when it reached the ground floor, it made a horrible grinding noise. I commented, “Uh oh, that can't be good.” So what I find today? They're replacing the big thick cable that holds up the elevator. Shudder.

Amazing discovery!

Alcohol in chocolate(you know, the chocolate that looks like little booze bottles) actually goes bad. It appears to get absorbed into the chocolate itself, and let me tell you, few things are as disgusting-tasting as that.

Of hanging guts, and other such mechanical chicanery

I don't know why, maybe it appeals to my inner geek, but the sight of a disembowled elevator shaft with all it's stuff hanging out makes me shiver with excitement. All that machinery, lifting me up each day to achieve my very best and then gently lowering me back down again to rest and absorb what I have accomplished. The knowledge that said machinery is being actively(and most importantly, pro-actively) maintained to ensure the smoothest ride and a most pleasurable start to a new day fills me with a tingle from my toes to my head. Knowledge that the elevator scenes from Resident Evil and The Shaft will be avoided brings a smile to my face every morning.

Ooooo, I'm quivering in my seat. Can you feel it?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

OK, lesson learned

This is a public service announcement: “Four cups plus of Orange Pekoe tea makes one high as a kite! And it's an excellent feeling!”

Too much information

I just realized that after having watched so much Stargate: SG1, I can't watch The Mummy with a straight face. I mean, every time they open a sarcophagus, I keep expecting that Ra will rise again, despite having been nuked. And then, when the mummy actually comes to life, I just can't stop laughing. And when the pyramid finally gets destroyed, it looks just like something the Ancients would do. LOL!

I just love fantasy and sci-fi, and especially when they're combined. So I'm a geek. So what?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Movie Quote

Sam: “Whenever there's any doubt, there is no doubt. That's the first thing they teach you.”
Vincent: “Who taught you?”
Sam: “I don't remember. That's the second thing they teach you.”

Ronin
Reporter: “Now that's ironic. It woke up after 60 million years, and Godzilla destroyed the very next day.”

Godzilla: 2000

An interesting site

Population clocks

Friday, June 03, 2005

Software that promotes itself

Why do programmers insist on system-blocking 'About' boxes when the software is starting up, and then, after it has loaded, keeping the box on the screen for several seconds. Why can't they use application-blocking boxes that won't screw up your whole system? MS Visio is known for that, and I've used other software packages that do the same thing. Paint Shop Pro, for example, keeps its logo on the screen while it's loading, but removes it immediately thereafter. It's still annoying, but not as much as Visio. Why? Why?

It's a sad, sad world!

Today at lunch I overheard a couple of young guys seriously discussing the ins and outs of the child-support system. “If you do this, they'll claim that” and “She can sue you for more if you seem to live beyond your means” sort of discussion. And I found that to be very sad. These two guys couldn't have been much more than 20yo at most, and now they're saddled with this nonsense for twenty or more years. That kids, especially young men, allow themselves to be put into these kinds of situations is a story that always fails to rear its ugly head in public discourse. The government doesn't help, either, but encouraging both sides to not seek any kind of reconciliation.

God help either of the two guys should they miss one payment; they'll be branded Dead Beat Dadstm forever, and that'll be the end of them. The way they seemed to talk about it didn't suggest to me that they were looking for ways to avoid payments, they were merely discussing strategies for not getting stomped on by the system, which seems to do a lot of stomping. I think the following rules would help.

  1. Every child born must be DNA tested against the husband in the marriage - strike down presumption of paternity - Lenin may have been an idiot, but he did have one good idea: “Trust, but verify”
  2. For children born outside of a marriage, the child must be DNA tested against the first man named as the father - take nobody's word for it
  3. If the first man named is determined to not be the father, no other man is to be named or tested and the one you named cannot be held liable for anything - if you have to guess the identity of the father of your child, learn to raise the child on your own
  4. If the man named is positively determined to be the father and assuming the two don't want to get married, the maximum the non-custodial parent(in most cases the man) should be made to pay is the minimum state required to keep the children(not the other parent) from starving. In other words, the most anyone not actively living with the children should be made to pay is what married parents are required to provide.
  5. Paternity should be claimed at birth - if the man happens to be poor when you have a child by him, don't leave him not knowing that he has children until twenty years later when he's made his fortune and then suddenly you rear your skanky head out of the dim mists of time demanding back child support - if living with him through the trials and tribulations of being poor wasn't good enough for you and your babies, then leave his newly-earned fortune alone, you skanky ho.

Rules for men:
  1. Learn to protect yourself at all times - don't spread your DNA around like cheap champagne after a successful car race - your DNA is worth your weight in gold - literally
  2. Stop donating to sperm banks - that fifty bucks you get for your DNA can cost you a lifetime of child support payments
  3. Don't give sperm so your lesbian friend and her “life partner” can have a “baby” - lesbian relationships are no more stable than hetero ones, and when they break up, the one that keeps the baby will come to you for child support payments
  4. Learn to be an adult - have a discriminating taste in women
  5. Learn to keep it in your pants - it's a fun activity to be sure, but not an essential one

Rules for women:
  1. Learn to be discriminating in your choice of nighttime partners
  2. Decades ago, entire platoons of small-cup bras went to their fiery deaths so you could enjoy the benefits of birth control products - don't let their sacrifice be in vain - learn to demand protection for him, and for you
  3. Learn to be an adult - an unexpected baby won't make him want to marry you, especially if you've been telling him you're on the pill!
  4. Learn to tell when you're lying to yourself about not really wanting a baby
  5. Learn to keep your legs closed - it's a fun activity to be sure, but not an essential one

What is your Battle Cry?

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Hark! Who is that, skulking across the desert! It is The Mad Perseid, hands clutching a meaty axe! And with a cruel grunt, his voice cometh:

"Vengeance and goo flow from my veins! I destroy all in my path like the world's mightiest bad-ass!!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

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SG1 banter

Ever since Season VIII of Stargate: SG1 started showing, I felt there really wasn't much in the way of the hilarity that is the dialog on that show. Mostly, I think, this is due to the fact that O'Neill doesn't go on off-world missions anymore, and having a deskjob I guess isn't conducive to irritating one's enemies with banter. The two-part episode, “The Reconning”, however, rectified that to some degree.

Baal: “That one.”
Selmak: “How do you know?”
Baal: (smirking) “I'm a God, all-knowing.”
Carter: (makes a change to a control and looks at a screen) “Good.”
Selmak: (sneering) “Lucky guess.”
Carter: “What next?”
Baal: (points) “That one.”
Carter: (makes a change and looks at a screen) “That took us in the wrong direction.”
Baal: (Just stands there looking surprised)
Selmak: (smirking) “All-knowing, huh?”

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Photos added for June 2, 2005

I added some extra photos to my photoblog. Enjoy!

Weird dreams

So I've been having weird dreams lately. One is repetetive and the other was not.

The first weird dream was of my old apartmet in Kiev(yes, I know they don't spell it like that anymore, but why should I care?). It was a huge thing, unlike the apartments that people lived in in other buildings, and it had the added advantage of being completely private, which most people didn't have, at least most people that we knew. It had two bedrooms with large closets, a giant living room with an equally giant closet, a vestibule, a toilet room, a bath room, and a kitchen. It had parquet floors throughout, except the kitchen and the toiletry. I seem to have relatively clear memories of this apartment, despite not having lived there in almost thirty years.

When I was very young, before my grandmother died, my parents and I lived in this apartment with my grandparents. When my grandfather remarried and moved across town, we basically inherited this apartment, while still keeping his name on the apartment. His new wife's name was on the other apartment, and the end-result was that we had ours all to ourselves. You see, the Russians had a great idea for saving money on building apartments and adding infrastructure to a city: they simply crammed unrelated families into apartments and called it a wash. Why build more buildings when you can simply combine families. It also did wonders for the divorce rate: almost no point in getting a divorce if the ex has to keep living with you because there aren't any other apartments for him to move to.

So, in the eyes of many of our friends and neighbours, we were rich beyond dreams of avarice. We may not have had a lot of money, and we may not have had a car, and we often didn't have a lot of food, but the one thing we did have was an apartment all to ourselves. And not just any old apartment. No, this baby was rebuilt by German slave labour acquired at the end of WWII(ie., prisoners of war). If there's one thing Germans are good at, it's building things: tanks, planes, ships, bombs, bombed out apartment buildings. And this thing was no exception. Unlike the Russian-built buildings around it, this baby stood the test of time and barely had any problems., even with the almost non-existent maintenance the Russians performed on a oh-so-rare basis. The German who worked on that particular apartment even lived with my grandparents and I can remember hearing that “he was really a very nice guy”.

The other great feature of this apartment was a huge balcony, all made out of metal(iron, probably), and a grate for a floor. We didn't really have lawn chairs back in the old country, so there wasn't much sitting on balconies in those days, but we improvised. We kept our dogs there, in a doghouse my father built out of materials I still don't know where he got.

This dream has reminded me of things I've almost forgotten, so I think I'll blog about them later.

The repetetive dream is of some young(though legal) thing drying me off after a shower. My current guess is that it is a premonition of a fantasy I'm going to have when I'm old, decrepit and being kept in a nursing home and bathed by a nurse. I'm going to need the fantasy because the nurse isn't going to be some young(though legal) thing worthy of a dream.

 

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