Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Learn to Read Restaurant Chinese

The name says it all. Fascinating, and I'm only near the beginning.

Set your feet upon the trail here, grasshopper.

-Via the most excellent Anita Rowland

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

And Now: And Now

I just noticed I've started two post titles in a row with "And now:". Thought I'd get to three and call it a day.

And now: Today's Most Important News

It's not the Canadian elections.

Nor the new government in Iraq.

Nor even the Nielsen-Haydens moving.

It's obviously this.

Monday, June 28, 2004

And now, from Arizona: the election results

The Canadian election is being held today. Not being eligible due to a technicality - I'm not Canadian - I haven't followed ths one nearly as well as I should have. Results when they come in, though I expect to be the last one to post them.

In the meantime, catch up on some details here.

Friday, June 25, 2004

At least entertain us!

One of the things one does if one wishes to post somethig in one's blog every weekday (except vacations and holidays, when one avoids computers) is to plan ahead - have a couple of pieces ready to slap up onto the old blog in case a busy day comes around - or even a slow day.

Especially on a weblog such as this, which refuses to take rhetorical potshots at Bush Jr because it is unethical to attack an unarmed opponent.

But one digresses.

In order to get ahead on entries, one was planning to collect the titles of one's junk e-mail and write something snarky about the best few.

A problem with that plan:
All of the junk e-mail had boring,boring titles.

One nearly gave up on the effort, despite the sudden increase of unsolicited e-mail (notice how one has not mentioned the subject of a well-known musical comedy sketch yet), when the final letter of the day crossed ones inbox:

bowling ball necromancers from 6865

No idea what they're pushing, but one would pay a modest sum to see that movie.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


VegasBaby posted some Mark Twain quotes the other day. I've never heard this one, and it applies to me. The Girlfriend's daughter could claim the same:

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

- Mark Twain

...whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.

John Robinson over at Sore Eyes points us to this lovely bit of logic:

Sherlock Holmes: Visitor to a Small Planet

While atempting to identify a saboteur aboard the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701A), Captain Spock makes the following statement: "An ancestor of mine maintained that whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true."

We are all familiar with this maxim; it is Mr. Sherlock Holmes' most fundamental rule of logic and deduction. Indeed, the "process of elimination" is a longstanding and respected technique in such diverse fields as forensics, plant hybridization, and computer programming. Mr. Spock is very precise in his speech at all times. He is also known to be careful in the attribution of quotations. When challenged by Dr. Leonard McCoy (in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) he correctly identifies the phase "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us" as coming from Hamlet, Act I Scene IV. On another occasion (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) when Dr. McCoy replies "Herman Melville" to Captain James Kirk's "All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by", Spock points out that the line is from John Masefield. I feel certain that Mr. Spock would attribute the above statement, expressed in this particular fashion, only to Mr. Holmes. This implies that Mr. Holmes is an ancestor of Mr. Spock. My task was to validate or dismiss this.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


I know the logical engineering reasons, and if you think about it, you can figure them out yourself.


It is fun to ask why the elevator maintenance companies in Phoenix tend to be in single-story buildings.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Our sermon for today, from the book of Electro-Lux

So tell me:

Why are there see-through vacuum cleaners? I mean really! I don't wanna see all that schmutz!

Anyway: Real Live Preacher wrote some stuff, and now he has a Shop-Vac. Interesting points about creativity and vacuum cleaners.

In response to one of his central questions about why we use the annoying vacuums we use:

Two words: beater bars.

You can take that one any way you want.

Monday, June 21, 2004

NOTAM - Mojave Airport CA

NOTAM is an abbreviation for Notices to Airmen. This is the coolest one I've seen in a long time, for Mojave Airport in California:

June 3, 2004

Advisory notice to all concerned – Mojave Airport will be engaged in spaceport operations June 21st with potential extensions through June 22nd. Aircraft will be PPR (prior permission required) for landing beginning June 18th 1600l.

Spaceport operations.

Space Ship One made it to 100 kilometers altitude - the "official" edge of space - less than an hour ago as I write this.

Scaled Composites' website is getting hammered (as expected) at the moment, but here's the NPR story.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Has this ever happened to you?

You're sitting in an office.

Man, I hate when that happens!

Sit-Down Comedy

I love stand-up comedy.

I love the form. I love writing it. I love performing it. I love watching it.

I live in Phoenix, where there -might- be one good comedy club. I haven't been to the new one in Scottsdale yet, it might be okay. But in general, I really can't stand comedy clubs. Or bars, for that matter.

This is a bit of a dilemma.

Moving to Los Angeles is not an option - I would have moved there at least ten years ago otherwise.

On the other hand, I can post stand-up bits here.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Light day here, and yet...

...not really a light day at all.

Computers, which are supposed to Make Our Lives Simpler, have kept me quite busy today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Bloggers With Pitchforks

Today's tempest here in the teapot that is Blogistan:

Dave Winer, citing costs both in cash and health (stress, sanity), and forgetting to mention that he's not as wealthy as he used to be, suddenly pulled the plug on much of He owns it, he's one guy, he can't do customer service. It's confusing because some addresses - most notably Doc Searls - are still working.
I'm not posting any links; the situation is very dynamic right now so certain links will just break.

Disclaimer: I have a weblog on, but it's long since dormant, contains nothing of import, and I can't remember what it's called or how to access it. I was playing with the toy, is all. It will go away.

I think everybody is wrong to some degree:

Bloggers: this is a free service. Free services can go away. This weblog is on Blogger, which is part of Google, and it could go away. Pay services can go away. At the lowest level, it's just bits on a computer, and Stuff Happens. Keep good backups.

Dave: Would it have killed ya to give a weeks notice? Well, maybe. You are moving and don't need the extra stress of a major sysadmin headache just now. But surely there was a better way to handle this: Post a message at apologizing for the short notice, stating you need to pull the plug, emphazizing that there will be little to no tech support, and thanking the community for the interest over the years.

UserLand and Dave: When you split, very little was said about the status of Maybe nothing. It's cool that RSS is now under Creative Commons and you're gonna open-source Frontier (I think a Linux port of Frontier would be super-cool, but I digress (and no, I'm not in a positionto do such a port)). Are there any other interesting pitfalls out there?

Me: Surely I've over-simplified the technical problems.

Thanks, Dave, for Sorry it has to go away. If you have to drop the ping service too, I'll understand, but please transfer it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Turn it off! Dear God, turn it off!

Well, that's what I'd be thinking.

Patients Control Video with Thought Alone in Study

(Reuters) - Using thought alone and with some electrodes placed on the surface of the brain, four volunteers were able to control a video game, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Simply by thinking the word "move," the volunteers played the simple video game, the researchers reported.

Read it all

Monday, June 14, 2004

Without Advertising It Is Not Real

I can understand a cat having a Web page.

But Google ads?

Brain Empty

My definition of a good weekend: it's a good weekend if all you can remember about your DayJob is where you work.

It was a good weekend. I'm still mellow, and thus there is No Snark today.

I feel....


Friday, June 11, 2004

Have you seen this woman?

Ballad, “A Remedy for the Greensickness”
17th century, British Isles

A Handsom buxom Lass
lay panting in her bed
She lookt as green as grass
and mournfully she said
Except I have some lusty lad
to ease me of my pain
I cannot live
I sigh and grieve
My life I now disdain.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Uh Oh

I may have spoken too soon, at least according to these guys.

The Starship Mindf*ck - Or is it Quantum Trek?

So the Enterprise - this is the one with the beagle - limps back to Earth after saving not only the planet, but much of the Galaxy (which is overkill, but what the heck). Don't tell me you didn't expect they'd win. They did, but Archer is nowhere to be seen. He seems to have gone up with the final cataclysmic explosion.

The beagle hasn't figured this out yet.

They get to Earth, badly in need of some body and fender work. Nobody on Earth is answering the phone. This is odd.

A shuttle is sent to San Francisco. Still nobody's answering the radio. Air traffic control is missing. The guys on the shuttle don't notice and go on talking about their upcoming shore leave. Suddenly the shuttle is attacked by WWII fighter planes. I didn't catch the markings on the planes.

Cut to: A Nazi German field hospital. Overflowing with wounded, yet the Nazi flag is properly flown. An officer enters, talks to the head medic about this guy - badly burned - who was brought in last night. It is, of course, Archer. A second Nazi appears. He's a blue alien in a Nazi uniform. He may or may not recognize Archer's uniform, which is in pretty good shape considering the explosion and all.

So: the crew doesn't have a clue what's up: Time warp? Alternate history?

And Archer's out cold at an Undisclosed Location. How did he get there? Did he Leap or what?

And the crew thinks Archer is dead.

And the beagle needs to go walkies.

And the show's moving to Friday next season.

Yes, Enterprise is bad SF. Yes, they should have all died heroically while saving the Earth. But this show might well be crossing the "so bad it's good" line.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

He's not a zombie

Note to news media:

I'm so relieved to know the exact location of Ronald Reagan at all times.

But he ain't moving. Somebody go locate Bush, Cheney and Rove and company, as they are far more dangerous.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Last Bus to Hogwarts

There could be minor spoilers.

Saw the new Harry Potter movie last night. My impressions:
  • Fun movie, once it got going.

  • It wasn't that much darker than the other two.

  • Some of the new design was nice. Some was tacky. Hogwarts felt smaller than in the last two movies, though I really like the more-mountainous setting.

  • Shame about the dress code.

  • It felt like there were things missing. They got all of the key items on the checklist, but couldn't linger on many of them. This movie has the feel of a longer movie that was snipped for running time.

  • If Michael Gambon had been cast as Dumbledore from the start, it would have been okay with me. But I missed Richard Harris. I'll get over it.

  • David Thewlis was just right as Professor Lupin.

  • Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are growing as actors.

  • Being a British TV fan made some of the minor roles more fun to watch.

  • One Ringwriath costume can cover a whole platoon of Dementors.

I'll see this again, and look forward to the extended DVD.

Oh bloody phooey.

I was going to post a pointer to a funny story I read yesterday by a Kerry volunteer who had fun running red lights with the motorcade. I was going to post it yesterday, but I was at work and a bunch of actual work came into the office just then.

Now I can't find it.


Monday, June 07, 2004

Sometimes the magic works

...and sometimes it doesn't.

Nancy Freeman replied to my second message as follows:

I don't know how you did it, Pat, but the blogger ad at the top of your page when I surfed in today was for a guesthouse I stayed at on the tiny island of Mangaia last December.

My Blogger ads today are showing me George Bush stuff.

No, guys. Try again. Really.

Vote Early and Often

So I'm driving through a pleasant part of Phoenix yesterday.

I passed the Johnson residence. Attached to the mailbox was a campaign sign. "Vote for T.C. Johnson" it said. Below that: "Olympia City Council".


I'm a geography geek, and I am aware of no Olympia closer than the capital of Washington.

Mr and Mrs. Johnson: I'm sure you're proud of your child T.C., but that particular sign isn't gonna generate a single vote. Unless you're voting absentee in Olympia.

Just saying.

Friday, June 04, 2004

My Canada (A message for our Canadian readers)

Yes, My Canada includes Joey DeVilla.

My North America includes Joey DeVilla. This is convenient for me, as I am not officially Canadian.

Becoming Canadian is somewhat tempting. But the last time I took the Canadian Immigration test online, I got 74/100. One needs 75 points to be considered.

So I still live in Glendale, Arizona - part of the Endless Suburb that we know as Phoenix.


One would think, that this weblog - a forum devoted to cynicism - would have a Daily Dubya feature. This weblog would, but time is short, and other folks pounce on Bush (metaphorically of course) much better than I ever will. See Making Light/Electrolite off to the left for examples and pointers.

And I am a gentleman. Gentlemen don't fight unarmed opponents, and that's what a battle of wits with Dubya would become. Rather quickly.

But I can't resist this photo guide to Rumsfeld fighting techniques.

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

I'm talking, of course, about browser standards.

This blog looks fine under Internet Explorer, but the comments were unreadable under Mozilla.
I have temporarily fixed the problem, but at the expense of the design. Grr.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I've Fallen And I Can't Read!

Light snarkiness today. Much work and some catching up, since I left early to do the vision thing.

So after the Eyeglass Incident, I've had a complete eye exam (they're fine, just nearsighted), and a kinda weird reversal of my vision.

I had to get a dilated eye exam, so they put the drops in, checked me out, and all was well. I wear contacts on occasion, usually for theatrical purposes, so I was led into the contact lens room to try the newest Acuvues. That, combined with the still-dilated eyes - the drops take a couple hours to wear off - left me farsighted.

I was in a shopping mall, and needed to eat, so I went to the sit-down place in the mall and tried to order. Couldn't read! This was alarming, even though it was temporary. Explained the situation to the waiter, then ordered a cheeseburger. I couldn't read the book I had, but I could see the Yankees game on TV just fine, so baseball it was.

Hopefully, I'll look distinguished when I eventually need bifocals.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Lack of Vision

Only light snarkiness today - my eyeglass frame disintegrated at the office
this morning. The glasses are too unsteady to use for driving. I'm
way nearsighted. This is the spare pair.

What's a cynic to do?

I went out to the car and got my swim goggles out of my gym bag.

These goggles were purchased off the shelf for less than ten dollars. They
have vision correction built in. They're made by Body Glove. I can drive in
them. I look silly, but I'm safe.

I want another pair, but I can't find them on line. Maybe Sports Authority
still has some. Must look.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Nancy Freeman is Driving Me Mad!

It's just a minor thing, really.

Nancy's song "Fate" is bouncing around inside my head today. It's full of sci-fi imagery and mystery. It's one of my favorite songs. It's not available in stores - hasn't been recorded yet.

What's driving me crazy is I can't remember part of the chorus:
And now she's got a ______, a CD and a key
To an interdimensional gate
But it's not gonna do her a damn bit of good
If she doesn't believe in fate

Winter falls with a resounding thud. (Spoilers!)

Went to see The Day After Tomorrow yesterday.

Bad, bad disaster movie. Good special effects. Interesting politics.

Knowing in advance that the plot wasn't very good, and not expecting anything better from Roland "Of course the alien computers speak ASCII" Emmerich, your intrepid reporter was able to stifle screams of pain until the third act, and to not actually disturb other patrons until the closing credits.

You will have heard the plot by now: Dennis Quaid discovers impending ice age, ice age remodels Los Angeles, then New York, effects budget runs out, movie ends. You may have even heard that the Republican National Church doesn't much care for this movie. I hadn't heard that particular story until moments before the movie started.

Here's why the GOP hates this movie: it isn't the preachy, completely expected "Mankind is ruining the planet" speeches (which were so cliched the filmgoing audience could have easily sang along). No, they hate what is possibly the best characterization in the movie.

See, a disaster movie of this scale (instant ice age - just add CGI) aimed at American audiences will inevitably feature a scene with the President. In Independence Day, we got President Bill Pullman, ex-fighter-jock, and cut from whole cloth. Ice Age Day After Tomorrow gives us Perry King and Kenneth Welsh as President Blake and Vice President Becker. That's what it says in the credits, but what we see on screen is a Bush/Cheney show that could be taken on the road.

Welsh's VP is clearly in charge of things - he's the busy man surrounded by aides and sounding Presidential or at least right-wing Republican. King's President is seen alone in the Oval Office. When a key decision needs to be made, the President redeems himself by cutting the obvious puppet strings and making the correct, painful decision.

I applaud that - it was the second-best part of the movie (after the effects).

My suspension of disbelief - already tenuous by this point - crumbled during the third act upon observing that the space station seemed to have been placed into a retrograde orbit. And I actively cursed at the screen when I saw the following credit:

Inspired by the book
"The Coming Global Superstorm"
by Art Bell and Whitley Streiber

Art Bell and Whitley Streiber?

Gibbering, I was led from the theater.