Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 31

There's so little excuse for the last day of any month. Why not do away with repeating numbers and just count down from 30 million?


Monday, May 28, 2007

Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition

Hmmm... Visual C++ lite edition? Doesn't include MFC, I notice. Fuggedabbowdit.

Here's an alternative.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

At World's End... (eventually)

Ok, the movie was too long, but the "Hold yer water!" line was funny, coming when it did. The credits were also too long, so most people will miss the teaser at the exact end. And way too commercial, like anybody believes the fountain of youth is in Orlando, Florida.

But boring? Confusing? Incoherent? Pretty easy to follow, if you've been paying attention. Movie critics...


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Oh, yesterday was Towel Day...!

I turned my collar up. Does that count?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No past but regret, no future but vanity, no present but unrelenting change

Y'know what's weird about the impossibility of time travel? It implies that the past, having no independent reality, is mutable. That nothing prevents the future, fantasy entire. That the present conforms to our desire, like fire to fardels.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Snouters are alive and well ... in Japan!

You do remember Snouters, don't you?


Monday, May 21, 2007

Cute photo of Little Mermaid in a hijab

I guess there are larger issues involved...

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ode to Poi

Rutabagas and bananas
    Make a horrid exercise.
When you chew them, they're like rubber.
    Shut your mouth and don't be wise!

Don't be friendly with my brother,
    Do a Charleston on his head!
When that's over, do another!
    There's no excuse for what he said.

You're not homely, only lonely —
    Sort of tall, and gawkish too,
Singing rather monotonely,
    Like the Presbyterians do.

When it comes to tapioca,
    I can take or leave it, please.
When the subject's karaoke,
    Microphones just make me sneeze.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ferris wheels

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the Republican version of Big Rock Candy Mountain? Ahhhhh, I get it. Chicago's downtown be-dirndled frauleins are... happy-go-lucky!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Speaking of dimwits...

Just as Republicans have been watching twinkle-eyed by their own soaring prospects if either Clinton or Obama gets the Democratic nomination, so Democrats are feigning terror and stifling ill-concealed glee that Mitt Romney might get the GOP nod.

After eight years of the smarmiest Republican kleptocracy since Teapot Dome, Romney's Mr. Clean act clinks of everything wrong with Republicans — starting with holier-than-thou warmongering and ending with a really delicious vision of Separation of Church and State that looks like it just fell, clueless, off the turnip wagon.

The electorate has exactly one thing on its mind: Iraq. Right now, and forever until the troops come home, Democrats can do no wrong on any issue. And frankly, Mitt Romney looks like a snake oil salesman, or worse — a fool deluded by the same ignorant fantasies about the world and America's part in it that afflict George W. Bush.

What's with Lou Dobbs? I used to like CNN. I'm siding with the sanctuary guys. For 200 years, the United States and Canada shared an open border, and folks stayed on their respective sides for one special reason: Mutual contempt.

The U.S. thought Canada was Bumblefuck, to use Thomas Cahill's estimable phrase (in Desire of the Everlasting Hills), and Canada thought the U.S. was uncouth, untutored, illbred, obvious and oblivious.

The same thing can work with Mexico, so open the border and boycott Lou Dobbs. I know I do.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

DIMM witz

I discovered HP put two 256Mb memory sticks in this Compaq Presario V6101US, so today I upgraded to two 512Mb jobbies. 512 plus 512 is 1024, right? No matter what, the two memory banks just would not add up to a gigabyte. Then I noticed something...

If I put the memory in, and left the battery off, and left the memory bay door off, 1024Mb ... the requisite gig! Cool, thought I. So I put it all back together (battery in, bay door screwed down snug) and rebooted: 512Mb.

Took the memory bay door off. 1024Mb.

Put the memory bay door on. 512Mb.

Wot the...?! Examined the bottom side of the memory bay panel. It's got a metal lining, presumably some kind of spring-loaded anti-static device. I'd bent a corner of that springy, shiny undercover, and it was shorting something out when I put the panel door back on.

Peeled a plastic "Replace with genuine HP part numbbah blah blah blah" label off the old HP dimm and stuck it on the new one, as insulation. 1024Mb. Works fine. But it's no wonder Geek Squad can afford to charge sixty bucks an hour.

This whole process, including head-scratching and pilot errors by moi, took maybe two hours. Time required by someone with eight fewer thumbs, maybe five minutes, tops. I had an Apple dealer (and authorized Apple service center!) break into a sweat and refuse to open my dual-USB white chiclet iBook to do this exact same job, a few years ago. (On an iBook, the memory dimms aren't accessible unless you lift out the keyboard, which is an incredibly snug fit, is why.)


Monday, May 07, 2007

Gimme Shelter (on the LPGA)

It's nice to see that Michelle Wie's handlers are drawing back bloody stumps for a couple of years. Having driven a 16 year old to heat exhaustion, wrist damage and who knows what else pitting her against folks who aren't necessarily better golfers, but are better street fighters† (things nobody in their right minds would do to Street Sense), the entourage is apparently at bay for the nonce. Hope she gets Fanny Sunneson again. [Update 2007-05-08: Like, at the John Deere Classic later this year? Funny, it ain't over till Michelle says it over ;-) This kid rocks!]

†E.g., Natalie Gulbis, who is to feminine charm what Mad Jack was to bedside manners. Gulbis resembles Chrissie Evert-Lloyd in a few particulars, not including talent.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Four Corners of Go

I've been a beginner at Go for decades, but here's some advice I've gotten from good players along the way.

1. BE AN HONEST BEGINNER. I.e., learn to recognize the 10,000 blunders every beginner makes, and don't do those anymore. My biggest blunder was showing off Japanese Go vocabulary to a Japanese exchange student: He took me seriously, so the game lasted three minutes (I perished in a ladder I was too stupid to abandon). He was too polite to laugh, but the contrast between his initial fear, dawning disblief and utter contempt for my game and me personally has proven memorable.

2. LAY OUT ALL THE STONES ON THE GO BOARD. All 180 white stones fill in the 13 x 13 inner table marked by the nine star points, but leave the K10 point open, and distribute the extra white stones evenly on the edges of your white phalanx in the middle. Fill in the outside points with 180 black stones, and put the 1 remaining black stone in the K10 center point. Guess the reason for this exercise.

3. GO GOT RHYTHM. Without exception, every nasty trap and surprise that awaits you on the Go board is sprung by one simple trigger: You were outnumbered two to one, by something that's not even there! Rule number one: Count the liberties surrounding a group of stones, not the stones themselves. This is a trick of perception that only comes with practice. Like a chess player sees zones and alleys, not pieces, a Go player sees a four-dimensional web of influence everywhere stones are NOT.

4. MAKE MOVES THAT ATTACK AND DEFEND SIMULTANEOUSLY. Good luck finding these. The only way to learn is to keep playing. Eventually, the fogs begin to lift, but for a long time you'll wonder, "What does attack mean?" and "What does defend mean?" Wrong questions! Sliding a stone next to your opponent's stone is not necessarily an attack, depending on circumstances. Building solid walls that surround "your" corner, is free time your opponent can use to grab the entire rest of the board.

The "attack and defend" rule is interpreted differently by different players, by the way. The 9 dans play strange incomprehensible games where lanes of contested empty space snake between furtive lines of black and white. The 9 kyus play fun, wide open, free-spirited games that seem to dance on the board. And then there's the ball of snakes, katamari damacy style, where two evenly matched players play thick, ugly games and try to smother each other off the board, like sumo wrestlers.

That seems like the essentials to me.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Pele plume's antipodal asteroid crater

It's interesting that Chixculub and the Deccan Traps are roughly antipodal, and roughly coeval. Allowing for continental drift, who knows?

Which leads me to wonder... The Hawaiian Islands sit on a "hot spot" located in the middle of the Pacific, with no nearby subduction zones to explain vulcanism. The oldest feature known to be associated with the Pele plume is the Meiji Seamount (70 m.y.o) near Kamchatka. Today, Hawaii is antipodal to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Track that back 70 million years, look across the globe, and I'll betcha dimes to donuts you find an asteroid crater.

Actually, my guess is, the event was much older and the Pele antipodal crater is what cracked South America apart from Africa and started the current continental drift vectors. But, as Occam's Safety Razor puts it, "First catch your zebra, then collect its antlers!"