Some timely advice on surviving the next zombie apocalypse from the fine folks at Common Craft.
More good advice can be found at the Zombie Survival and Defense Wiki.
This is not a diary. It is a collection of thoughts, essays, stories, etc on those topics that are of interest to me. Being a blog, it goes without saying that it is utterly self-indulgent.
10. It's Isaac Newton's birthday.
9. I couldn't decide whether i is the square root of -1 or i are the square root of -1.
8. I accidently divided by 0 and my paper burst into flames.
7. It's stuck inside a Klein bottle.
6. I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook.
5. I had too much π and got sick.
4. Someone already published it, so I didn't bother to write it up.
3. A four-dimensional dog ate it.
2. I have a solar calculator and it was cloudy.
1. There wasn't enough room to write it in the margin.
I've seen this in a number of places and, sadly, haven't been able to identity the author of it. That said, it's a very clever set of examples for why English is such a tricky and difficult language for non-native speakers to learn.
We polish Polish furniture.
He could lead if he got the lead out.
A farm can produce produce.
The dump was so full, it had to refuse refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
The present is a good time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass was painted on a bass drum.
A dove dove into the bushes.
I didn’t object to the object.
The insurance for the invalid was invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
The two were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch a tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of Novocain injections, my lips got number.
I shed a tear over a tear in my shirt.
I had to subject the subject to a number of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friends?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.
I'm on the beta for GrandCentral.com, which is a Google-owned business that has a service where they give you a central phone number which can then dial multiple phones (i.e. work, cell, home, etc) according to various criteria (family, friends, etc) and which also has an online voice mail system.
I have up to ten invites that I can hand out to the beta. If you are interested in checking it out, email me a request and I'll send you an invite.
First come, first serve.
Rodentologists have confirmed
That mice have religion
Who pray for warmth and food
For clean nests and large litters
And to be delivered from the Snapping Thing
that breaks their backs
The gods are mostly mousy beings:
Soft and wise
But at the apex of their pantheon
Sits a Cat whose name
Marcel Duchamp was one of the pioneers of the Dada movement, which was an artistic movement that strove to transcend conventional notions of art, via absurdist rejections of the norm, which pushed the boundaries of what was and was not art.
Duchamp is perhaps best remembered for the abstract Nude Descending a Staircase but my personal favorite is Bicycle Wheel (pictured to the right).
(I'm also amused by the title of his mustachioed Mona Lisa, L.H.O.O.Q., which, in French, basically sounds like "She is hot in the ass").
Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp is an excellent interactive timeline of his work.
There is a mythology to hacking. The public's idea of what a hacker is comes from a mixture of bad movie stereotypes and alarmist news reports. In the mind of the average person, a hacker can destroy your credit rating and steal your bank account merely by thinking hard. Given this, it's not surprising that many people are afraid of hackers.
To be sure, there are hackers who do bad things but, in truth, your average hacker is simply someone who is a) technologically savvy and b) deeping interested in understanding how things work. Hackers love to take apart systems and security systems are a favorite of hackers simply because they pose the best challenges.
In truth, most hackers aren't malicious and the the bulk of the danger on the internet isn't from hackers. Right now, the biggest online threat that the average person faces is identity theft, but most identity thieves rely on fairly low-tech cons (such as phishing for information) that require a level of skill that any decent hacker would consider to be beneath him.
Those hackers that are into thievery are usually more interested in bigger targets such as sensitive corporate data; however, your average hacker would rather be employed by security firms than risking their freedom by breaking federal laws.
Be that as it may, the media loves a story that can scare their audience and what's more scary to a technologically illiterate viewer than an entire convention of hackers? Thus, Dateline NBC decided to send an undercover agent to DEFCON 2007.
DEFCON is a convention of hackers. It should be emphasized that this isn't some sort of secret convention. DEFCON is well publicized and the organizers offer press badges to any reporting who would like to cover the event. It is also no secret that federal agents like to attend, too... so that they can talk to the attendees and learn what sort of cutting edge security risks have been exposed by them.
Dateline wasn't satisfied with this. They were sure that if they send a reporter in with a hidden camera, they'd be able to get some of the attendees to say things that were incriminating (or, at the very least, "scary"). Now the thing about hackers is that they aren't stupid. These are very smart people who think very hard about security. They aren't the sort of folks who are going to be fooled by weak attempts to sneak a camera into their convention.
Naturally, the organizers figured out what was going on and decided to have a bit of fun. They announced a contest to "spot the undercover reporter". The goal was simply to show her than her antics weren't going to be tolerated. They gave the audience the option of having her escorted out or of giving her a press pass so that should could continue to report on the convention, only without any illusions that she was going to trick anyone into exposing themselves. The audience opted to have her escorted out but, even then, the organizers said that she could return once she had obtained a press pass. She quickly exited the hall, followed by about a hundred and fifty people videotaping her and mocking her.
I want to be clear about this: I think that undercover investigation has a legitimate place in journalism and I've been dismayed by the fact that the courts have decided that corporations can claim violations of their right to privacy when reporters use hidden cameras in their investigations. However, at the same time, I think that sensationalism hurts the cause of legitimate journalism. Dateline wasn't trying to expose a legitimate threat to the public; they were trying to appeal to the technophobia of their audience. As such, I am glad that the tables were turned, especially given that the only damage that was done to the reporter was a bit of public embarrassment (and, to be sure, I think that the people following her and taunting her were being more than a bit childish).
Here is a video of the incident.
The engine of the world
Has seized up
We've had to pull the planet
Of to the side of its orbit
We've called the mechanic
But he's backed up, right now
There's been some kind of mash up
Out in the Oort
So sit back and relax
Have a smoke, or a toke
(If that's your thing)
The planet isn't going to be going
Google Earth is one of those killer apps that you just can't put down. The first thing you do with it, of course, is to find your home and then other places that are significant to you, such as your old high school. Eventually, though, you find yourself just wandering the globe as a virtual eye-in-the-sky tourist looking for interesting things and oddities.
This is a slide show of some of the more curious things that people have found including a jet fighter that's apparently been parked in a residential neighborhood, a really huge bunny rabbit, and a picture of Oprah Winfrey embossed into a corn field.
I'm always on the look out for cool optical illusions. I was forwarded a link to article which features a spinning silhouette of a dancer.
The article claims that the figure indicates whether you are right or left brain dominant depending on whether you see her spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise. I'm skeptical of the scientific accuracy of that but the illusion is, never the less, very interesting.
I initially saw her spinning clockwise and had a very hard time convincing my brain to perceive her spinning the other way. I found that once my mind saw it as a three dimensional figure, it was very hard to do the usual sort of left/right flip that is typical of these illusions. In my case, the trick is to concentrate on the shadow of her foot which is my easier to flip around.
You've probably come across the Star Wars gag where you substitute one word of dialog with the word pants. I decided to see what I could do with my personal favorite SF movie: Blade Runner.
"They don't advertise for pants in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop. Ex-pants runner."
"You look down and see pants, Leon. They're crawling toward you.."
"Fiery the pants fell. Deep thunder rolled around their shores... burning with the fires of Orc."
"Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your pants."
"I just do pants... just pants.... You Nexus, huh? I design your pants."
"Gosh, you've really got some nice pants here."
"I don't know why he saved my pants. Maybe in those last moments he loved pants more than he ever had before. Not just his pants, anybody's pants, my pants."
"Quite an experience to live in pants, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."
"Do you like our pants?"
"They're artificial? "
"Of course they are."
"Must be expensive."
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Pants on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched pants glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
"Pants are like any other machine - they're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem."
"Must get lonely here, J.F."
"Not really. I make friends. They're pants. My friends are pants. I make them. It's a hobby."
"I've done... questionable things."
"Nothing the god of pants wouldn't let you in heaven for."
"Did you get your precious pants?"
"Someone was there."
"We're not pants, Sebastian, we're physical."
"Christ, Deckard. You look almost as bad as those pants you left on the sidewalk."
"This announcement is brought to you by the Shimato Dominguez Corporation - helping America into the new pants."
Natalie decided to surprise me and fly out here for her birthday (a fact that she managed to accomplish with immense amounts of stealthy and conspiratorial planning with my co-workers). Given that she's out here, I'm going to be taking the next three days off from blogging.
Enjoy your weekend and, if you're lucky enough to be a government employee, enjoy your 3-day holiday.
I have always sucked when it's come to trend spotting. I started sipping Chai about a month after the entire population of Omaha, Nebraska had fallen in love with it. I was the guy who learned about Doom from Dateline NBC. I started saying "All your base are belong to us" right about the time when most people were ready to cockpunch the next mofo who injected the meme into a conversation.
Given this, you should regard any pop-culture prognostication from me with a hefty grain of salt. That said, if I had to make a guess, furoshiki seems like it could be a contender.
Strictly speaking, furoshiki is a Japanese term for a special kind of cloth used to wrap up various objects. More informally, it's the technique used to wrap the objects. As you can see from the chart, below, there's a lot of techniques. Although I'm not sure if you'll ever get the good folks in Branson to take it up, I can see this sort of thing appealing to Upper Eastsiders who are started to get bored by Feng Shui, especially given that there's an environmentally friendly pitch to using furoshiki over disposable materials.
The Today is That Day website has a list of "8 Tips on How to Get Out of Bed even When You Don’t Want To". Here are the tips along with my take on them.
1) Give yourself a mental command before you go to sleep.
That seems a bit too authoritarian for my tastes. How about a politely worded mental suggestion?
2) Think of your one definite burning desire as soon as you wake up.
That would be more sleep. Am I missing something?
I'm not sure that baring my teeth in anger at the morning light really qualifies as a smile, but I'll see what I can do.
4) Think of your "want to do" list.
Number 1: Hit the Snooze Alarm
Number 2: Sleep
Number 3: See Number 1
5) Think of the benefits that come from getting up and getting your day started.
Any task with the word "think" in it, before I've had my morning coffee, is a phenomenological oxymoron.
6) Plan your first "reward".
Fifteen more minutes under the covers. Thank you, may I have another?
7) Make a commitment to other people a part of your morning routine.
I hereby commit that I shan't snap my girlfriend's head off first thing in the morning. This is best accomplished by the judicious deployment of the snooze alarm.
8) Put yourself on a schedule that is non-negotiable.
Trust me, getting a few more minutes of sleep is highly non-negotiable. I'll be sure to pencil it in.