Saturday, November 01, 2008

Advanced pumpkin carving

[Thanks to Norm.]

Advanced pumpkin carving.

Rita Rudner

[Thanks to TC.]

"I'm so afraid of natural childbirth. It's backwards, it seems like everybody is taking drugs except when they need them."

links tip

Here's a tip I invented to supplement browser bookmarks:
if you have a web server, make and upload a page of simple text links to the sites you visit the most, and then set this page as the home page in your browser.

Mike and the Sony A900 (updated)

Mike Johnston said he would take a few days off from the tOP blog. But then he got his loaner Sony A900, and clearly he could not stay away.
He's very impressed with its resolution.

Update: he expands on resolution.

Military think and Iron Man

I'm just watching Iron Man on blueray*. It's a good movie, like Transformers it's both well written and visually gorgeous. And funny. (I'm not much into action movies, but when they are fused nicely with SF and humor, that's a different matter.)

One scene illustrates well the problem with military think: Iron Man goes in and wipes out some terrorists that the marines can't get at. The air force don't know who or what it is doing that, so what do they do? They shoot at him.

Military people and others who love to fight say that they are necessary because the world is full of enemies. But the problem is that shooting is not their last resort, it's their first instinct. When they face something they don't understand, they shoot.

Another thing the film illustrates well is the principle that you make superior weapons to protect yourself, and then you better make sure they don't "fall into the wrong hands". Only the problem is: quick, mention one single weapon in the history of the world which did not fall into "the wrong hands" sooner or later. Usually sooner.

The Dissonance said...
In the twenty years I spent in the U.S. military from Private to Major we were always taught that killing was the last step in a line of escalation. When the US troops went through those huts in Panama I was never so proud as to see that no civilians were shot even though they popped up at very strange times and suddenly.
I don't know how they are trained today, but we certainly never shot first and asked questions later. Not in any unit I was in.

Eolake said...
Well, that's very good to hear.
I wonder about stuff like napalm, though. I think it's very hard to bomb or napalm villages without innocents getting hurt.

Also, like most human Minds, the military minds is split: there's the sensible mind, and the mind which for example in 2003 planned and promoted "Operation Shock And Awe", which was simply to bomb the city of Baghdad into rubble, murdering at least tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. (In the end it didn't happen. Maybe they promoted it to see what level of sadistic destruction they can get away with without too much of an uproar.)

* I can spell Blue-ray right, but I don't, as a mark of disrespect for a format where the machine takes two minutes to load a disc, and doesn't remember how far it played the disc last time, a huge annoyance for me since I always watch a movie in several chunks. So every time I come back to it, I have to wait several minutes for the machine to boot and load, and then I have to find the point where I played to last.

TTL added:

"In the twenty years I spent in the U.S. military from Private to Major we were always taught that killing was the last step in a line of escalation."

Your humor is rather macabre, don't you think?

Yes, I can see you were probably "taught" all kinds of things. But look what U.S is actually doing. Over one million iraqis killed. Most of them children. And since U.S. had absolutely no reason to go into Iraq* in the first place you surely must be joking about the "last step of escalation" part.

Or perhaps you meant: Last step unless the nation willingly hands over control of their natural resources and lets you freely rape their women and torture the males for funny tourist photos. And lets your build a military base the size of the Vatican on their land. Is that what you meant?

*) Same for Panama, Vietnam and every other country the U.S. has attacked since WW2. There have been absolutely no valid reason for any of those wars. In each case U.S. has been the aggressor.

What The Duck

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ham 'n cheese

Breaded ham and Dutch Edam cheese. (It's about the only yellow cheese I can find in this country, which shocked me a little, since in DK, yellow cheeses are abundant and varied.)
Earthenware by Denby, a lovely brand with understated design.

Phil said:
Can you explain "breaded ham" to the American?

Eolake answers:
It's when you cover a ham with bread crumbs.
The main thing for me is that the products which are called 'breaded' are, for some reason, higher quality. Instead of small and thin, greasy slices which look processed, I get big, thick slices obviously cut from a real ham.

Prawn sammich

I've decided to generally have some decent ingredients around to make myself good sandwiches. I have the skills to make better sammiches than four out of five British cafes (not hard), so I might as well do it.
Home baked wholewheat bread and of course good quality ingredients.

The 50 Worst Cars of All Time

The 50 Worst Cars of All Time. Thanks to tOP.

Halloween bonus

Free Domai Halloween bonus page.

A street photographer

Here's a street photographer who is not afraid to get (really) close. I'd like to learn that.

In related news, in the UK:
"The Home Office has admitted that the police had, at times, acted inappropriately in restricting photography in public places"

... This is the same page, only in a version where I can't copy any text. Does anybody know how they do that? (And how to get around it?) (Funny, I can copy in Firefox, but not in Safari.)
... Nope, I was wrong. I can copy all the text by using command-A. What I can't do is drag over any text to select it. Very odd...

The MacBook and media longevity

David Pogue writes about the new MacBook and is sad about FireWire going away. Without it you can't repair a dead Mac from another Mac, and you can't import DV tapes.
"Last week, on the phone, I got a chance to vent my unhappiness to Steve Jobs himself. I told him about my long-held intention to edit down those 100 tapes, maybe when I'm retired.
I must admit, he gave me quite a wakeup call. He pointed out that in 10 years, there won't be any machines left that can play them."

Note: I almost wrote: "... and laments the departure of FireWire...", but I am trying to stay aware of when I'm just imitating the generic journalist phrasing of the world, and avoiding it.

Update: also from NYT: Google settles book scanning law suit.
And MS announces an upcoming slimmer and more responsive OS, named Windows 7. They clearly feel hurt by the perception of Vista as bloated and flawed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross have caused a big scandal in the UK, calling up the actor Andrew Sachs' answerphone during Brand's radio show and confessing sexual attraction for his granddaughter, Georgina Sachs.
"The BBC could face prosecution over obscene phone calls that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made to 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. The controversial presenters left a series of lewd messages on Mr Sachs’s answerphone claiming, in shockingly explicit language, that Brand had had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina."

Thousands of people, including the Sachses, are calling for their heads, and so far they have been suspended (Ross is the biggest earner there, 18 million pounds for three years' work. Good gig if you can get it). What idiocy. I suffered through pretty much all of the prank, and all I could hear were two comedians, sorry, "comedians", behaving like brain-dead schoolboys. Not funny for sure, but to make a major case of this is just almost as brain-dead.
I never could understand moral indignation. We have financial turmoil, wars, crime in the streets, but what people get upset about is somebody making a bawdy phone call?

Update: this article says Georgina Baillie is a "burlesque dancer". I'm guessing that means that she's a stripper, but it's not her they are tearing down today, so they don't use that word.

Here's what an army of volunteers can do: one can use Wikipedia as collection of synopses (synopsi) of current news events, it seems.

An interesting aspect of this is that after the radio show itself appeared, almost no complaints about it were made to the BBC. But after an article condemning it in a Sunday paper and escalation in the media show, complaints soon reached a record-breaking 30,000!
I've found that often people are upset only because they think that they are supposed to be upset. You point out to them that this is not the case and the upset disappears like magic.

It's also interesting that the most upset person is Georgina... you might not expect her to be such a sensitive person if you know she's dancing in nazi-decorated group called the Satanic Sluts!

Prince Charles the Beast?

Prince Charles is the anti-Christ? I don't know, he seems to me more like an amiable doofus.
'If we "calculated" the "number of his name" as instructed and it came to either 616 or 666 we would have our answer. There is such a man. Prince Charles of Wales' heraldic achievement (coat-of-arms) literally consists of the very beasts described in Rev 13 and Dan 7, he is a Prince (Dan 9:27) and he is from the old Roman Empire that destroyed the Temple (Dan 9:27). So what does his name add up to? Rather than 616, his name adds up to 666 using the ancient gematria system. And not only does this work in the English, but also in the official Hebrew transliteration (Nasich Charles Mem Wales).'
(This quote was from the page linked below rather than above.)

Another tidbit from the same site; some now say the real number is not 666, but 616.
'They and satanists responded coolly to the new "Revelation". Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, based in New York, said: "By using 666 we're using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we'll start using that." '

I hope for their own sake that it's not the whole of their religion which is based on pissing off members of another religion. That would seem a bit thin.

A cult is a religion with no political power. -- Tom Wolfe

Quotes and comments

Never give a party if you will be the most interesting person there.
-- Mickey Friedman

I'm wondering, why not? One might entertain a lot of people.
Besides, some couldn't stand the thought of not thinking themselves the most interesting person in the room.
I'm reminded of a guy I knew who I considered a bit of a showboat. This perception was confirmed when I was at a gallery opening. I was sitting alone in a room, when he came in, alone. I thought to myself: "What, Carl, without any audience? What's that?" And then I noticed that he was not actually enjoying the art on his own, he was just cleaning his nails.

Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.
-- Groucho Marx

Well said, G.

There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.
-- Franz Kafka

I hope that's not true, for I have both in abundance.

Joe the Plumber pursued for record deal

"Joe the Plumber" pursued for record deal, article.

I remember like thirty years ago I commented that it would be a fun idea to make a fan club for a perfectly ordinary person. Little did I know that this would become an actual phenomenon in the Internet age.

Photo business seems good

"Time will reveal the true impact of the financial mess on the broader economy, but it was certainly encouraging to see the vigorous business being conducted on the Photo Plus show floor: It seems photographers are doing quite well, thank you."
- article at Imaging-Resource

What a lemon

I got these as a free promotional item from Sainsburys.
Lemon flavored raisins?
Called "Nakd"?
And labelled "Ew"?

(OK, the "N" in "new" is on the back.)

I have to admit they don't taste bad though. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A quality timepiece

I bought this little travel alarm clock online because I wanted a long term kitchen timer for my breadmaker, since the alarm built into that machine is too weak to be heard in other rooms.
Holding it, I was under the impression that it was the cheapest piece of junk that the People's Republic Of China can produce with today's methods, but when I saw the guarantee document, I stood corrected. It seems it's a "quality timepiece" and "manufactured from first class materials and assembled under rigorous quality controls"!
Wow! Rolex, feel the fear!

Spelling and googling

Here's a tip: often when you can't spell something, even in a foreign language, try googling it. Four times out of five, Google will throw you the correct suggestion for what you're looking for.
For instance I was once looking for a recipe, and I had both words spelled incorrectly (because it was Swedish), but google found it instantly anyway and suggested the correct spelling.

Diminishing returns

Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.
-- John Maurice Clarke, Economist

That's BS, innit? Unless you constantly renew your knowledge, you'll definitely get diminishing returns.

Aesthetics veiwpoint, and Aardman

Mike Johnston, like me, looks at the whole world from an aesthetics viewpoint.

... Anyway, it's one a.m. here, and I was just down posting a letter. And it's frost outside! Eeeeeek!!

The letter is to Nick Park. I had an idea for a story which I'd love to see made into an Aardman short-film (it'd be like five minutes). Of course the chance of it happening is like winning the lottery. But hey, it's a cheap lottery ticket, so I shot it off.

I was inspired by a DVD called Aardman Classics. They have made lots of stuff I never heard of, and some of it, like "Ident" (below), is wonderfully strange and abstract.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fluff and Edge of Space, new art

Google Zurich

[Thanks to TC.]
Apparently these are pictures from Google Zurich.
Free super-cafeteria and massages? I'd never go home.
It might be hard to get work done. But then I'd be so pathetically grateful that I'd want to work hard.
Update: here's a video. And another one.
I wonder how their pay is, considering all this.
I also wonder how they deal with the flood of job applications they surely must get. (Which they would even without this kind of office.)

Penguins, Christmas Caper

Funniest animated short ever.
I recommend getting it in full resolution (I got it with the Madagascar DVD).

Update: re-watching Madagascar now, it's even better than I remembered. It has many fall-down-laughing moments. Like the zebra walking on the street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, with the Bee-Gees music and everything!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Green Card

I never saw Green Card before, but I just started. Seems decent. Am I the only one, though, who feels that Andie MacDowell and GĂ©rard Depardieu are, um, visually mismatched?
Or to be less diplomatic, isn't he butt-ugly?
Though it seems some women like him.

I got the movie for the delectable Bebe Neuwirth, but I must admit Andie is beautiful too. Her hair is astounding. I've only met a couple of women with a wealth of hair like that. I'm guessing it must indicate life and strength, seeing as if you get sick, your hair often loses its bulk and beauty.

Machine noise

I love my bread machine, but I have to say that when it kneads the dough, it makes a racket like a skeleton orgy on a tin roof.

(OK, so it's not that bad, but was I gonna not use that line? I don't think so.)

The conspiracy to destroy TV

The conspiracy to destroy TV, article.
Is the broadcast-watching TV audience (in America I assume) really down to 15%? Sounds incredible to me.

Readius e-book reader foldable screen

Earlier video about the screen technology here.

Sheryl Crow - Soak Up The Sun

I'm not a huge fan of all her work, but she has a great smile, a great voice, a few very nice songs, and I like her rendition of Ode To Billie Joe (did you hear that one? from a live performance. I think I found it by network).
Update: it seems to be rare, so here it is.

Half a beast

Clip from a documentary related to Alister Crowley. I found it funny that I was the 333th viewer, I guess it means I'm just half a beast yet.

Heart strings

Beware the pull on your heartstrings -- it's often the pursestrings that are actually being reached for.
-- Barbara Mikkelson

One thing that comes to mind is the repulsive TV ads for charities they have here in the UK, like for cancer research.

Gravity defying homes

Gravity defying homes slide show.

Slot cars

I'm considering buying my nephews, typical boys at 12 and 15, a slot car race track, like the biggest Scalextric set I can find.
Do you think that's a good idea? Any ideas for a better gift? Or maybe just a better brand?