one day at a time…
Thursday, February 28, 2002

the unordinariness of ordinary life

john h. farr has a good piece about tibetan monks and champagne selection on his website. [Please note: regrettably this resource has been removed by the author, and incorporated into his ebook 'Buffalo Lights', where the link is now pointed: a full synopsis and chapter selections are available.] tibetan monks visited our town, and i wonder if these are the same ones. just another ordinary day in heaven... though anybody who smokes from a bong as big as these guys use may expect anything!

Monday, February 25, 2002

food as culture

having discovered that a 'Crisco Party' in popular culture is anything but what the manufacturers might mean, i offer this instructive 'Marmite FAQ' for american readers to get there own back for my superior british airs.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

my woeful cultural ignorance in the USA

researching 'flash' animations i came across the NMMUG winner (Thee Multi-Dimensional World ov Horus Cat - Episode 2:Crisco) [Please note: this resource has now been removed, though the link will still take you to the NMMUG website.] then went to Crisco's timeline for an explanation. that reads like a short history of changing ideas on marketing, health and food science in the last century: how a manufacturer of soap and candles became a food manufacturer, popularized their product by working around jewish food injunctions then responded to medical evidence that their product was unhealthy. for a less flattering account see"The Rise and Fall of Crisco". seems that P&G has divested itself of the Crisco brand to german jam manufacturer 'smucker' -- which is probably a more interesting name for a processor of 'granola oil', which is known as 'rape seed oil' in the UK.

Friday, February 22, 2002

desperate needs, desperate remedies

if you have read of my alleged left brain tendencies you will know that i need to come up with some creative travel ideas. who better to turn to than w. heath robinson? his suggestion for practising mountain climbing by correspondence course in the home looks just the ticket. wonderful collection of cartoons to which rube goldberg trails in a poor second.

breaking the stalemate

i have been discussing a travel project with a correspondent and we have reached a point where we disagree on how to proceed. whilst i am in favour of specifying a 'package' and then 'selling' that to interested potential participants, my correspondent prefers specifying potential participants and involving them in a process where the outcome evolves from their dreams, passions and creativity. my correspondent characterizes my way as 'left-brain' and her way as 'right-brain'. i think of it as 'likely to work' and 'likely to fail'. i am not debating the issues here (which are more complex than i have simplified for brevity) but seek only to indicate some background for my rambling.

i got to thinking of great journeys in history and how they began. i have always enjoyed the title 'as i walked out one midsummer morn' as though laurie lee just wandered off and ended up fighting in the spanish civil war. missing persons reports may start like that but not great journeys.

then i fell to thinking about alexander the great. unlike the Richest Resident of Redmond i don't think alexander's style was to wander up to a group of soldiers and ask "where do you want to go today?" if they didn't pause, stare, then carry on chatting i think the feedback would have been as useful as the responses in this totally fabricated news item from www.denounce.com.

i feel sure alexander would have some grand scheme buried deep within his neural nets but most probably just thundered something like "join me in a glorious rampage as we conquer our enemies, loot their treasures and carry off their women". pbs has an excellent four part series 'in the steps of alexander' with michael wood. but alexander was not just a leader: he knew how to follow if the idea was presented properly. after the fall of persepolis the macedonians had their usual 'dionysian celebration' which is greek for 'piss up'. a courtesan called thaïs seized the moment (i like to think it was in flagrante delicto if you get my drift) and shouted "let's burn the freakin' library down!" now there was a gal who knew all about 'packages'! when he sobered up after torching the place alexander wept that he had destroyed an irreplaceable treasure of art, literature and knowledge. later thaïs hooked up with a guy called ptolemy who founded the alexandria library which in turn was torched by julius caesar.

maybe we can break this impasse by getting drunk (with optional associated excesses) then burning down the local library. ya gotta admire my package -- small but exquisitely formed <g>

all the news that never happened

read all about it at denounce.com. i give you my solemn promise with a money back guarantee that you wish at least one of them was true.

intellectual property (follow up)

'BountyQuest', another initiative to clean up the mess being addressed by creative commons (archive link), is discussed at salon.com. reads like 'the carpet baggers' (without the sex, unfortunately). [thanks to jerry kindall]

idealization has limitations

so says erik demaine whose computer origami simulations are used in reverse by the sheet-metal industry to build cars from a single sheet. this 'nature' science update has the details. as applied to map re-folding erik says "Aligning mountain folds, protruding out of the sheet, and valley folds, poking inwards, is the key. If they match up it's guaranteed to work. If they don't, you're toast." well now you know! if it doesn't work you may always announce "idealization has limitations".

the separation of church and government

a recent article in The Washington Post has a paragraph "Cal Thomas quoted Ashcroft as saying that "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you."" Ashcroft said in a statement last week that the reported remarks "do not accurately reflect what I believe I said." and also quotes another ashcroft statement which seems to be a clarification to that "Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator. Civilized people of all religious faiths are called to the defense of His creation. We are a nation called to defend freedom -- a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God."

some people are concerned about the convergence of church and state that they see in ashcroft's pronouncements. onesuch is Americans United where there is an interesting historical article about 'the big cheese' and the 'Danbury Letter'. last evening i attended a meeting of the American Legion where they took the Pledge of Allegiance. the pledge dates from an initiative by the boston "the youth's companion" magazine on october 12th 1892. clarification as to which flag was meant came on june 14th 1923 but not until 1942 was official congressional recognition granted. in june of 1954 an amendment was made adding the words "under God". in 1942 president eisenhower said when the words "under god" were added "in this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in america's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."

perhaps for clarity bush and ashcroft might enlighten us whether they think it's "one nation under one god" or "one nation under god" as stated, because if state and church do converge it can hardly be the latter in the sense i understood.

calm down! back off! help is at hand...

oh those sweet and lovely people at Abbey National (a UK 'building society' aka 'credit union' in many countries) have addresssed the problem of 'net-rage'. i am a long term sufferer from 'ram-cram' and 'screen-cram' (i did have 'disk-cram' but provided i use CD-Rs regularly i can control the symptoms) but when i also contracted '56k-rage' my life became intolerable. now when i suffer an attack (screaming, fist hammering, kicking, harware abuse, keyboard pounding) i log onto moments of simplicity and chill for a few minutes. drive an empty highway, watch the sun rise, listen to children playing and laughing in the sunshine, stare at the sky while listening to birdsong or lie on a beach listening to the surf. last time i visited i was so overwhelmed by peace and contentment that i hit the link offering "financial therapy"... well wouldn't you know it! now i need '404-rage' therapy:

STOP! before you burst a blood vessel here's the Abbey National link. they have been informed.

mixed messages

yesterday '95.9 the hawk - southern utah's rock station' played a track called 'walk on the wild side' which research seems to indicate derives from nelson algren's eponymous book. the lyrics are certainly in keeping with the genre: transvestites, hookers, blow jobs all the usual demi-monde stuff one might expect from the title. this radio station is part of the simmons media group who say "KZHK is known as "95.9- The HAWK" and has a classic rock format targeting men 25-54. Recent ratings reports show "95.9 - The HAWK" as the highest rated station in the market and revenue surveys indicate the station among the top 4 in local ad revenue. Along with the other radio stations in the Simmons St. George Cluster, "95.9 - The Hawk" is a valuable partner in community and charitable cause campaigns." ah! that explains the bit that did shock me. immediately following the song a family-values voice from a female link person asked me if i was having problems with my kids: drugs? alcohol, maybe? no lady, but my boys have been listening to your programming and they want to shave their legs, hitch across the USA, dress as women and give blow jobs for money.

micro$oft is tracking users

silicon.com article discusses our favourite software company's interest in which music tracks XP users are downloading. "The software gives each computer user an individual identity number that may be used to hack into the computer and used to spy on individual's habits." no doubt they have our best interests at heart... or maybe steve ballmer is looking for recommendations for his next wild ape dance at a micro$oft convention? we suggest the rezillos number 'somebody's gonna get their head kicked in tonight' might suitably get the message across.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

big rock candy mountain

surely you remember harry 'haywire mac' mcclintock? -- me neither! i was wandering down the road yestere'en humming (unbeknown to me) harry's big hit. my companion informed me that there really is a big rock candy mountain and whad'ya know? it's near here! (well there's one in british columbia too and probably elsewhere for all i know.) this i gotta see.

simple observation -- interesting meteorological explanation

all i asked was "i wonder why on a clear day <skiddaw> and <pine valley mountain> have clouds on the top?" seems melissa boutell was the one to provide an explanation of the <adiabatic lapse rate> in three clear steps.

date & time: how to take something simple and make it unworkable

let's get this settled once and for all -- we have been bombarded (ok, peppered) all week with emails such as this "as the clock ticks over from 8.01 pm on wednesday, february 20, time will, for sixty seconds only, read in perfect symmetry 2002, 2002, 2002, or to be more precise - 20:02, 20/02, 2002 .... an event which has only ever happened once before, and is something which will never be repeated. the last occasion that time read in such a symmetrical pattern was long before the days of the digital watch and the 24-hour clock - at 10.01 am on january 10, 1001. because the clock only goes to 23:59 it will never happen again." well at least that one came from the UK where the date formatting is halfway sensible in the dd/mm/yy format, although eagle-eyed as you are, you will notice that the author mixes it all up in his excitement and gives the momentous occasion in hr/min/dd/mm/yyy format rather than the ISO correct trailing hr/min.

however, for my american hosts (god bless them, as they keep saying) this happens differently because of the illogical way they format time. there are two logical ways to do it: up or down. mm/dd/yy is totally illogical and on a computer defies any attempt at simple sortation without resort to complex rules. even apple's operating system needs help from stewart cheshire to achieve natural order sort unless one uses zero padding.

my mother-in-law pointed out that for americans the same palindromatic symmetry occurs on the same day as the ISO format (but without the pretty repetition) as "2002, 0220, 2002 which last happened in the year 1111" but as she says for americans "...will again in 2112." don't want to quibble but there were no americans in 1111 <g>

with chilling good humour she added "we'll email you again when that occurs."

[thanks to mary lock, steven osburn, susan welbourne and dennis twiss]

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

copyright and intellectual property laws

what a mess -- but this 'tidbits' article on 'recolonizing the commons' discusses one way to clean up some of that mess and they say the licences will be FREE! the creative commons website is not planned to be fully functional until may 2002 but when checked today was accepting entries for an email list. [thanks to TidBits website]

shamelessly stolen

this from jerry kindall -- but what is a fellow to do? this man has THE most interesting links on any blog i visit, so i think of it more as flattery than theft. if you are interested in language and communication this article on the whorfian hypothesis (i can see you have pricked up your ears as joe orton would have said) will get you thinking. still TA (transactional analysis) followers knew this all along: 'what you say determines the way you think and feel' or something close.

well, might as well be hung for a sheep as hung for a lamb, so here's a follow on from another of jerry's links (this doesn't count jerry, it's not ACTUALLY the link you gave). this one's the rap version of the garden of eden story complete with interactive naked actors, snakes and apples.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

let's hope it remains a battle of words

i had always believed that the 'right to bear arms' was a misunderstanding because what the founding fathers sought was an armed militia not the right of individuals to carry guns. seems reasonable: governments usually try to limit the power of the governed to oppose them by force of arms. michael bellesiles 'arming america: the origins of a national gun culture' was a learned work from the professor of history at emory university which supported my belief. now an academic furore has erupted which questions bellesiles' research and so casts doubt on his conclusions. [thanks to phil ringnalda.]

why not take our personality quiz?

surprisingly accurate results about your lifestyle and surfing habits! at the first script prompt enter the NAME or even NICKNAME you want to use for the test. none of the responses are recorded so you may feel free to be your outrageous worst! [thanks to jon malcom]

important change in editorial policy

this column decided not to report microsoft security holes. however, in view of reports that some patches are failing we decided to report them second time round. we have yet to decide on a policy for failures on third, fourth...

Monday, February 18, 2002

comments system added

please feel free to click on the link at the end of any post and respond to any item.

have you got a big kid in you?

do you always ask for a window seat on the aircraft? do you still enjoy watching fire, water and big trucks cruising down the freeway? are mud and puddles like magnets for you? do you laugh hysterically when someone noisily farts in public? then this exhibition is for you. museums don't have to be boring. they have some online exhibitions too. have this one on us -- cheers! [thanks to beth lock]

Saturday, February 16, 2002

good guys use macs, bad guys use peecees

i'm not making this up, honestly. read the story at wired news when the test even managed to work predictively on an episode of '24hrs' starring kiefer sutherland. this column aspires to journalistic integrity, however, so we checked out the story. another column on the same website as the first reveals that the Richest Resident of Redmond also uses a mac... well that's another dead donkey story. still you may be interested in other famous people who use macs.

Go to head of page] posted at 22:50 :permanent link to item
Friday, February 15, 2002

mac vs pc

this site has just been upgraded & extended. read it and weep (or crow exultantly depending on your perspective and possibly where you live). [thanks to macdirectory.com]

do mutant females walk among us?

scary headline from the redherring site. relax, boys. seems they are talking about dichromats, trichromats and tetrachromats -- people with two, three or four color channel eyesight. theoritically probably only women could be tetrachromatic and the search is on for another Mrs. M. who although still being tested, is thought to be the first person identified as having this gift. interesting article on genetics written for lay people. i wonder why the gene for blue light ended up on a different chromosome from the genes for red and green? there is a connection between dichromacy (colour blindness) and tetrachromacy so the research may one day lead to treatment for the former condition. the figures for dichromacy sufferers surprised me when i read them elsewhere (it is particulary prevalent in men for reasons the article explains) but it had never struck me that the poor surfers thus afflicted found navigating the web so difficult. [thanks to jerrykindall.com] [eye image © Rare Medium Inc. "Catalysts for Digital Change"]

care of wells & fargo, illinois, boy!

today i opened a new american bank account -- not with a company like my previous bank which is populated by over-young men in under-cut shiny suits, but a bank run by real honchos. men with hard eyes who walk tall and carry weapons rather than mobile phones. men you can trust to treat you fair if you treat them square. actually shawna who filled my application was the epitome of a modern business girl and with efficiency and politeness logged onto the mainframe back at head office to run a check on me (clear so far... obviously the all points bulletins haven't reached these shores, well not yet). at the end of our business i said to her "may i say it is a real pleasure to bank with the company that calamity jane sang about". she did her best not to look nonplussed. so from now on, if you want to send me money, as calamity sang in 'the deadwood stage' i'm

"care of wells & fargo, illinois, boy!"

oddtodd tells it like it is

i am perceived as having 'plenty of spare time' even though i protest that 'unwaged' is not the same as 'unemployed'. this 'day in the life of' flash cartoon had me had ridden with guilt while simultaneously guffawing at the similarity between my own life and oddtodd's. it's a 2.3Mb download but i thought well worth the time. a correspondent, let's call him jon (because that's his name -- we only change names to implicate the innocent), responded as follows when i sent him oddtodd's cartoon: "Reminds me of when I left polytechnic with an HND qualification under my arm after 6 years of further and higher education, only to spend 18 months on the dole, before I conned my way into my present job. I used to wake up bang on 5:30 pm for the 'Neighbours' soap opera on tv, and spend the whole night writing job application letters. I did drop an interesting faux pas, at my interview though. When asked how I would handle rejections, I claimed I had PMT. I went on to explain to the rather bemused looking MD and sales director that this was "positive mental attitude". Suddenly realising my gaff, I proceeded to bang my head of the desk. I swear that's why I got the job." having done business with these guys i can confirm that his demeanour is consistent with that of someone who practises head banging on hard surfaces.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

the oldest living programmer?

bob bemer is the man who 'invented' the 'ESCape sequence' without which british telecom's (well they claim it's their's) link technology would fail (like their... oh never mind!). you may be more familiar with ESCape sequence as the '//' that shows in every URL after the protocol declaration. even BT have to do two slashes before they can hyperlink. bob put much of his work into the public domain for the benefit of all -- i hope bt hang their corporate upper (another good idea!) in shame. bob's 'handle' is 'father of ASCII' and he drives a ford expedition with the licence plate:


reportedly bob is infuriated by bt's current court case. if there is any justice i hope they end up paying bob for use of his technology.

expletive update

multi-talented jenny cockshull, whose impropriety gained notoriety when she sullied the hallowed airwaves of the beebeebceeb with a scatalogical expletive, has claimed a 'googlewhack' on behalf of a phrase i used to her "lilly livered wussies". for the surf challenged a 'googlewhack' is a phrase that when input into the google search engine returns a single entry. ok purists may niggle that it should only be two words and no quotes but what the hey! we're here to have fun, not to abide by the rules.

standards must be maintained

this blog aspires to gravitas when discussing the makers and shakers of our future. we try to avoid those scurrilous lampoons of our leaders which are so prevalent in less austere publications and which hamper serious discussion of the issues at stake... unfortunately, like oscar wilde the only thing we cannot resist is temptation!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

unaccustomed rituals

if you're a bit out of practise for tomorrow then there are instructions available, though my own advice is just to throw yourself wholeheartedly at the task and the devil take the hindmost. do what comes naturally. personally i have never had any complaints -- but then again i never had any compliments either. maybe i will send for a little something to be despatched in a plain wrapper or perhaps limit myself to giving what my american-born wife calls a "howdy-pat".

tomorrow is ENIAC's birthday

two accounts of its development, the first from martin h. weik who was at the ordnance ballistic research laboratories, aberdeen proving ground, MD where ENIAC was the computing workhorse calculating trajectories. the second is from the penn library exhibition and centred around john w. mauchly who worked at the moore school of electrical engineering (with j. presper eckert) where much of the early development took place. so who really invented the computer? well for that, try this excellent site the alan turing scrapbook. the awesome power of ENIAC first run on february 14th 1946 was summarised by none other than VP al gore, honorary chairman of ENIAC's 50th anniversary celebration on valentine's day at penn who pointed out that the microprocessor in a simple musical valentine's card nearly equals ENIAC's computing power (which is more than can be said for whatever counts the votes in florida).

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

sshhh, IT is everywhere!

'gardeners' question time' is a very long running bbc radio program currently chaired by eric robson (pictured below, left). when jenny cockshull cheated by using the internet, that was when the internet bit back! jenny (pictured below, right) has even captured the historic soundbite (1.2Mb sound file in '.wav' format) for you to savour.

i'm still waiting for my fifteen minutes of fame andy warhol forecast someday we would all receive once in our lifetime. [sigh!]

snogging is good for you!

this article from WebMD comes as a great relief... now all we need to do is workout, lose weight, stop smoking, drink less alcohol and stop worrying. [thanks to eduard schwan]

how to make friends and influence people

this is the patent that was granted to british telecom for their 'Hidden Page' technology that they say means every user of hyperlinks in the USA (their patents have expired in many other countries) should pay them a licence fee. perhaps one could have more sympathy if they put a similar effort into the services for which they already receive money... but at least we now know why so many hyperlinks don't work! in yesterday's preliminary hearing US district judge colleen mcmahon said "the language of this patent is archaic and it appears that this technology was already outmoded by the time it was patented" which just about sums up BT in a nutshell.

has his time finally come?

many thought his lacklustre performance in the last presidential election was his swan song and served only to ensure that gore lost to bush, but ralph nader is bouncing back. a sure sign is when newspaper columnists who don't even like nader, such as joel connelly of the seattle post-intelligencer, begin to describe him as "a burr-in-the-saddle corporate critic" when we read of "treasury secretary paul o'neill's explanation that enron's collapse was just part of "the genius of capitalism."" maybe worth a quick read of nader's profile just in case you need to sound knowledgeable sometime soon.

Monday, February 11, 2002

let me get this off my chest

i can think of few things more instantly infuriating than a pair of scissors that refuses to cut a cellophane pizza wrapper. what triggers your spike?

131 quotations

politics, government, and war, many of them hilarious to help you laugh before you cry with an especially rich vein of nonsense from m. barry, mayor of washington, DC.

rounding off today's cynicism fest

a song from billy bragg with a kristofferson variation "for freedom's just another world for nothing left to sell". maybe i need a few inspiring bush clippings for balance... 'xboxes of evil' has a nice ring to it.

mark twain had the last word

in 1904 in advance of his death in 1910 mark twain dictated 'The War Prayer' which his family urged him not to publish for fear it would be regarded as sacrilige. it's hard to keep an old curmudgeon down, however, and he left instructions to have it published posthumously.

warmaker's DIY kit

everything you needed to know to become a warmonger at FASMAN the federation of american scientists military analysis network... and maybe a few things that will make you think again.

more smedley darlington butler

this time on intervensionism. would a modern soldier of his rank get away with stuff like this?

what would he say if he was alive today?

reading a condemnation of war by smedley darlington butler (1881-1940 major general - united states marine corps, two congressional medals, distinguished service medal, republican candidate for the senate) i cannot help but wonder how he would feel about 'the war on terrorism' especially given his views on war profits.

are CCD/CMOS technologies dead?

the foveon company has just annouced a new technology called the X3 sensor which records full RGB colour in each pixel of the array. its available for delivery now in the run up to PMA-2002 in orlando on feb 24th where sigma have announced they will show a camera containing the chip. digital photography just took a giant step.

the right side is the wrong side

will these colonials never get it right er... i mean left? this comprehensive guide suggests that it's not quite as simple as one might at first think (ie right is wrong and left is right and only the brits realise) if you read through as far as the statistics. [thanks to beth lock]

also speak pelvic thruster

with apologies to friedrich nietzsche and richard strauss maybe i'll stick to body language... i'm not very good at it but i did better in a recent test than i did in the robin's nest grammar test! [thanks to steven osburn]

Sunday, February 10, 2002

permanent travel

want to circumnavigate the globe every two years on a "global village at sea"? the 'freedom ship', if built, will be 4,500 feet long, 750 feet wide and have a population of over 10,000 people. smacks of frank lloyd wright's 'cities in the sky'. sounds to me like a disaster in search of somewhere to happen. [thanks to beth lock]

wolves, dogs and sheep

the shepherd who keeps a dog to protect the flock from wolves should remember that dogs have more in common with wolves than they do with sheep -- when greenpeace advertised that they were ãhiring activistsä, to their dismay that's exactly what they got! as protest organisations grow it seems they grow to resemble the very things against which they protest.

what's with the shoe?

ever noticed how often one sees a single shoe lying in the highway? how is it possible to lose only one good shoe and not notice? not possible if the owner is walking, so my guess is that they are thrown from moving vehicles. how does that happen? when did you last slip off one of your shoes and casually toss it out of the window? i may not sleep for days thinking about this one.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

hello george, this is ian, you don't know me but...

last night we watched the opening ceremony for the olympic winter games. did you see the girl who passed her mobile phone to george bush? the ensuing conversation was probably inane, but what would you say if you had ten seconds to speak to the most powerful man on the planet? i can see this becoming a fad, with hordes of people waving their mobiles at the president as he walks through crowds. c'mon georgie, you're a man of the people! how about allocating one minute per day to making a phone call to a randomly selected number and listening to what we have to tell you. it would make great television -- 'What the People Really Think'. just on the off chance, i am preparing my sixty second contribution to influence the future: mr. president, no other man in history has sat on the watershed of events the way you do. you have the opportunity to make the waters flood towards the parched lands of the earth where they will bring forth abundance for the many, or you can divert them to trickle into the private reservoirs of the few...


here are a couple of overviews of blogging. the first is by sal towse and the second by rebecca blood. fancy a few weblogs by the fireside? pop over to see dave winer who has a BIG list (281 when i checked, but with a record high of 583 and a low of 45) of weblogs that have been updated in the last three hours.

how low will we go?

well lower than this if we have to, just to get visitors. tacky pictures courtesy of our vegas stringer who we presume wishes not to be identified (provided of course the free show tickets arrive).

more good guys

hard on the heels of adam rice's kindness (see yesterday's last entry) jerry kindall sent an explanation of how he implements 'links open in new windows'. really, there needs to be a Good Guys 'n' Gals Middle World somewhere. although maybe like groucho marx i wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member.

Friday, February 08, 2002

do people really do this?

apparently this couple had an internet love affaire when they were half a world apart but ended up married and together. no accounting for the strange things some folks get up to, i suppose <g> good heavens, they even have a promo website for the book they are writing together.

good guys

the javascript code that underpins the 'links open in new windows' was supplied by adam rice. i wrote thanking adam for the original code and dropped a clumsy heavy-handed hint about additional features i would like to see. within hours he responded with updated code that provides the elegant solution you now enjoy. i think it was richard nixon who peddled the notion of 'middle america'. sometimes in moments of utopian exuberance (whisky in moderation is a help here) i hope that one day all the good guys will get together in one place to form 'the middle world'... boy, will that be a great party! if it ever happens adam, let me buy you a shot of highland park gently diluted with some cool peaty highland burn water. sl‡inte!

Thursday, February 07, 2002

benign viruses

from a post at silicon.com "Genetically modified viruses may one day help to build miniature circuits smaller than the wavelength of visible light. Researchers at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California have discovered a way to bind any molecule to the surface of viruses.The viruses in the La Jolla experiments already show a mysterious ability to organise themselves into straight lines at right angles on the surface of silicon chips, which could be of great assistance to any circuit designer who wants to build with them." read all about it at the scripps research institute where the news release is much less daunting than the title of the original research paper: 'Icosahedral Virus Particles as Addressable Nanoscale Building Blocks'.

exo-skeletor flying vehicle

ESFV: wow! what a wonderful buzz phrase. a correspondent gratefully notes the arrival of one of the sci-fi promises for the third millennium [thanks to steven osburn for this] though looking at the picture i am inclined to wait until like sultry vixen laura kensington (charlize theron) exposing her nude body from under her raincoat in 'the jade scorpion' i can "slip into something more comfortable" to which c.w. briggs (woody allen) replies "What are you gonna put on? Jergens lotion?"

unfinished business

colin powell told congress yesterday "We believe strongly in regime change in Iraq and look forward to the day when a democratic, representative government leads Iraq to rejoin the family of nations." quoted in an independent.co.uk article. i could agonise forever about when proactive 'regime change' becomes 'forcibly overthrowing the governments of sovereign states because we don't like them' but what really caught my eye was "to complete the job left unfinished in 1991". can anybody tell me why 'stormin' norman' was short-leashed within striking distance of baghdad, why i have never seen his views reported and why his then commander colin powell now wants a second bite at the rotten apple he passed up first time round? sheemz there waz shum mishtake.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

miniskirts and hard science

seems that members of the scientific community are fashion victims no less than super models. yes the miniskirt first appeared in australia in 1965 worn by jean shrimpton to the melbourne cup. quite what relevance this has to hard science you can read at Citizen, Science and Scientific Method [thanks to carmel glover for this one]. my own personal preference is for the forthright flaunt of the topless dress. gorblimey we will even resort to nudie pictures to get readers.

single malt distillers' web sites

there are any number of websites devoted to malt whisky, but here are the ones i could find that are brand specific: Edradour the smallest distillery in scotland, Glen Moray in the heart of speyside, Glenmorangie gaelic for 'glen of tranquillity' (with some tasting notes - pdf file), Clynelish one of the most northerly distilleries in scotland, Isle Of Arran scotland's newest whisky distillery, Johhnie Walker one of the biggest, Laphroaig one of the best, McDowells ...ahem, made in india?.. ahem, Glengoyne close to loch lomond and the trossachs, The Macallan don't omit the definite article in the name of this revered whisky, Ardbeg the ultimate island malt. some of these sites have entry pages asking for confirmation that the visitor is of legal age to consume alcohol (look, it's better security than a microsoft product, alright?) and the urls given bypass those pages (just like hackers do on microsoft servers, alright?). sláinte!

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

failed but not forgotten

quite why William McGonagle's The Tay Bridge Disaster should have come to mind is quite beyond me. read it and weep. but take courage! he never never lost faith in himself and is remembered when many of his contempories have been forgotten. how could one ever forget somebody whose middle name was Topaz?

Monday, February 04, 2002


manufacturers of dog treats seem to have a weakness for punny names (recent purchases in this household have been 'puperonnis', 'bonz', 'snausages' and 'nawsomes') but The Brown Dog Institute are in a league of their own! prize for the best submission by email response for a product with a buttock clenchingly punned and spelled name. same prize and conditions as yesterday. [thanks to our roving web maven for the BDI link]

Sunday, February 03, 2002

all lowercase, please!

SPAM is the registered trademark for a brand of luncheon meat, not unsolicited commercial email (UCE), and the owners Hormel Foods Corporation "do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term. Also, if the term is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters to distinguish it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with all uppercase letters." that also means no pictures of tins of meat that look like the trademarked product! if there is sufficient email response with URLs to web pages that violate Hormel's trademark i will give a prize of a registration for a small mac shareware title of my choice to the person who is the only one finding a particular site. [thanks to the current edition of About This Particular Mac]

Friday, February 01, 2002

love or obsession?

John Swerdan sings macintosh songs about "computers and technology sung and played by a human being" with titles like "Quickdraw Bill" and "Poor Sad Mac". must be those cold, lonely, dark winter nights in sweden. you can buy the CD with an autographed fold-out poster for $15.00 including shipping. whatever next? 'The Swingle Singers C++ Songbook'? 'HTML for Swinging Lovers'?

how many effs?

read the following four lines carefully (cheating is pointless) counting the ocurrence of the letter 'F':


3? 4?... six actually! the eye skips the 'of' word by processing it as an icon rather than as a series of letters.
[thanks to Jon Malcom for this one]

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)