Thursday, March 31, 2005

[geek][gadget] iPod Shuffle: Eat'cher heart out!

For those of you who object to the, well, sterile[*] qualities of Apple's iPod designs, take heart: the PEZ(r) MP3 player is on it's way! I'm feeling compelled to buy one of his earlier products - I hope this takes off for him. I'm torn between this one: and this one: * Yeah, yeah, I know: clean lines, quality engineering, blah, blah, blah, wank, wank, wank... I love the UI on the iPod: that all-in-one controller is a beautiful thing. They're still boring to look at. ;-) [back] Catgories: ; ;

2 Comments:

Anonymous Spouse said...

The iPod is perfect in its simplicity. How is it possible that you cannot see this??

4/03/2005 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger protected static said...

sigh...

Simple is as simple does, I guess...

4/03/2005 11:28:00 PM  

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Monday, March 28, 2005

[politics]...beautiful, radiant things.

By way of explaining the change in description of this site, let me offer this:
At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world--prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. [Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56]
Emma Goldman - the 'true' version of "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.". See more tonight on PBS' American Experience - thanks lorraine, my TiVo is ready. Catgories:

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

[politics] Of politics and parenting, part 1.5.01

[Note: some posts write themselves, while others... not so much. This post is one of the 'not so much' ones. Actually, I've been hacking away at, editing, writing and rewriting this "Of politics and parenting" essay since the first week I started blogging. The first part wrote itself - it's this part that I've been having problems articulating well. So, here it is - warts and all. IMO, it really doesn't qualify as a completed post, hence the version number instead of '2' - think of it as a service pack release rather than an upgrade.] I'm a dad. My son is almost 5, and I've tried to be as involved a parent as possible. I'm a progressive. I've been politically active for more than a decade, and I've tried to be as involved an activist as possible. So... how has this mix worked out? You had a taste of it earlier, and I can hear you now: Okay, so what? So you've backed off a little, and aren't as radical as a few years ago. So friggin' what? Okay. Fair enough. I'm not out there as often as I was; I'm not out there as often as I feel I could be. But here's the funny thing: I'm out there every day. Huh? You read that correctly: Every. Single. Day. How? Did you even read the first sentence? Yeah. I didn't think so. For those of you who did: great - you knew where I was going with this, and I've got a hunch that you probably do many of the same things I try to do (we try to do - I've got to be fair - I couldn't (and don't) do this alone). I've got a hunch that you're doing it for many of the same reasons that I do - you'd really feel like you'd made a difference in the world, and this is the most direct way (and probably the most subversive way) you can: parenting. I've learned that it's hard to be a parent if you're angry. I've learned that it's hard to be a good streetfighter if you aren't. Parenting must come to the top of the queue at this time - otherwise, I've really screwed the pooch, and I can't afford that. I learned the object lesson of anger and parenting during the weeks following 9/11. My son was 16.5 months old - and it was quite clear that he could tell something was wrong. We were what was wrong... our anger was coming through loud and clear through our body language, through our hushed conversations, and it was upsetting him. In private, we'd rant about what seemed like the inexorable march to war with Iraq already apparent to anyone watching with a cynical eye. In private, we'd rave about the opportunistic corporatist jackals lining up to feast on the corpse of Arab world. Around our son, not a word. But the anger was still there... and he could tell. That's when we really decided to back off. We'd been cutting back our escorting at a local abortion clinic and at that point, we stopped altogether. We told people that it was because my wife was getting ready for internship, that we were moving, that the stress of looking for new jobs for our family was too much, but that was only a small part of it. The anger we felt against the self-appointed guardians of public morality was too corrosive, too toxic. Instead, we opted to do the one thing that called out to us most: to parent. So far, I think we're doing okay - right now, we have a beautiful, open-minded, tolerant boy who plays well with boys and girls and across peer groups - not too shabby for preschool. I know it's going to get harder (kindergarten... oy vey), but as we give him tools to deal with this fucked up world, I'm guessing that some parts of it will get easier, too. When the Legions of Rome spread out through Europe, they planted chestnut trees and oaks. Why? They planned on being there for a long, long time - these were food staples, the main source of flour prior to the widespread cultivation of wheat. They knew that these Legionnaires would never eat the nuts these trees would produce - but they were counting on the sons of these soldiers being there and needing food. Our son is such a seedling... We're planting for the future, not for immediate results. And right now, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather do. I can wait for results. Catgories:

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Friday, March 25, 2005

[geek] 30-second science blogging - 70 million year-old soft tissue!

T. rex soft tissue recovered from a 70 million year-old fossil. How cool is that? Catgories:

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

[geek][random] Heh... It worked...

Let's make it official: I am the number one Google result for... "you goat bastard". There's the power of blogging for you... Ain't it grand when technology works for humanity's betterment? You goat bastard. Catgories: ; ;

5 Comments:

Blogger Kristina said...

Okay, that is pretty cool. Though now I'm tempted to use the phrase all over my blog to see if I can knock take over the crown. *g*

3/23/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

Phooey. Can't you let a geek revel in his sure-to-be-all-to-brief moment of sheer Google-y wonder and delight?

You goat bastard. ;-)

3/23/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

"all-too-brief" as opposed to "all-to-brief". Yeesh.

3/23/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not any more, you're not. Sorry 'bout that... you goat bastard, you. *grin*

3/27/2005 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger protected static said...

Number 4 and sinking fast, I am... It was a wonderful week while it lasted.

You goat bastard!(Look Ma! Self-referential commenting! Narcissus, eat your heart out!)

3/27/2005 09:39:00 PM  

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Monday, March 21, 2005

[geek][random] I'm number 2! I'm number 2!

At least as of today, this search brings up this blog as the second result for the phrase "you goat bastard"... Wonder if this entry can push me over the top to number one? Everyone, repeat after me: "you goat bastard", "you goat bastard", "you goat bastard"...

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

(In case you were wondering, no I don't randomly Google phrases that I blog - it was a referral source in my webcounter... Now, names of people I've met - those I Google...) Catgories: ; ;

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

[politics] Of politics and parenting, part 1

I'm a dad. My son is almost 5, and I've tried to be as involved a parent as possible. I'm a progressive. I've been politically active for more than a decade, and I've tried to be as involved an activist as possible. So... how has this mix worked out? Well, the short answer is that parenting has won out. I've come to realize that (for me) there's a level of anger needed to be a good streetfighter that isn't compatible with healthy parenting. Streetfighter? Yeah. That's right. Streetfigher. I can't stand phonebanking or canvassing or voter registration; I have little patience for bureaucracy or holier-than-thou ideological purity wars, and I have even less patience for the back-room/patronage/deal-making ward-by-ward style of party politics. I like direct action. For most of the last 10-ish years I've marched, protested, participated in question-and-answer panels, spoken to university classes, and, mostly, volunteered as a patient escort at abortion clinics. There is no margin, no protective barrier for most of this - you fuck up, you feel it - immediately. By way of example, we have this: Time/Place: Annapolis, MD; October 1994 Occasion: KKK rally on the grounds of the State House. Me: Biker jacket w/ pink triangle pin that says "Queer" in purple Gothic script, long hair, combat boots, hacked-off BDU shorts. Message: Homemade sign that says "Fuck the Klan". Hey, it was the first thing I could think of - I had leftover signs from a pro-choice rally, I had a black Sharpie marker, I had bigots in white hoods... Voila! Instant sign. But it isn't one that I'd want to have to explain to my kid - even then, I knew it wasn't the most productive sign in the world. It'll alienate some people, but hey, who wants them on your side anyway, right? But I don't entirely feel that way now. Not quite, at any rate. Would I create the same sign today? In a heartbeat. Would I go in the first place? Probably... but I'd think about it a lot longer than 11 years ago. Would I go with the crowd that wants to confront the KKK, or would I stay with the more mainstream rally, buying into the "Don't give them more attention than they deserve" message of the preachers and politicians? I don't know. So if you were driving by that sunny October day a decade ago, and saw some grungy, punk, wise-ass, long-hair faggy, smart-ass carrying a rude sign and were offended, I apologize. Sort of. You see, my question is this? Did it get you to think? Did you have to decide, in that instant, where you stood? Did you see a teachable moment for your kids? I'm sorry I unloaded the F-bomb on 'em - really I am. I've worked really, really hard to not impart that little gem to my son's vocabulary and so far I've succeeded. But did you have to explain to them that, while some people wouldn't agree with the sign, they'd agree with the message? Did you have to tell them that there were hateful people taking shameless advantage of the Constitution a block or so away? Did you tell them that there were people who believed the stupidest things ("Yes, I know - stupid isn't a nice word... how about misguided? Or ignorant? Or hateful?") and that these stupid things made people angry? Did you have to tell them that these monsters believed that people weren't equal? Did you explain that these miserable exuses for human beings believed that skin color actually meant that people aren't the same? That people with skin darker than that smart-ass twenty-something kid's skin were viewed as inferior? As disposable? As candidates for ethnic cleansing, for genocide, for lynching and beating and rape and murder and slavery? If you did, I'm sorry; no kid should have to learn that message. But here's the sick thing - that ugly truth is still out there. It still festers under the skin of this society, waiting until it can burst forth in ripe splendor - oozing puss and infection everywhere, hoping to take root in the darkest places, the weakest places. But if you didn't... if you drove on past, and didn't say a thing - if you ignored your kids' questions from the back seat ("Daddy, what does 'nigger' mean?" "Mommy, what's the KKK?" "Daddy, what's a faggot?" "Mommy, why are Jews 'blood suckers'?") and kept on driving and hoped that the traffic over the Annapolis bridge wouldn't keep you from getting to the Eastern Shore for one last glorious weekend... I have only one thing to say: Fuck you, too. You made a choice that weekend - as a parent, as a human being - and you fucked it up. In the worst way possible. Where should I send your sheet? Catgory:

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

[geek][politics] You see, that's why we call them science museums

If it's called a science museum, why are they afraid of their communities' reaction to science? I picked this up by way of dKos, which in turn got it from an NY Times article (free registration required to access the page), but here's the upshot: a dozen or so Imax theatres at science museums around the country are refusing to air a movie about volcanos... because it dares to present current scientific facts about the origins of life.
"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents. Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous." In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."
Okay - what else would you expect from a SCIENCE MUSEUM!? Um... how about... SCIENCE! Reason #9,421,653 "Why I should not live in the Deep South" Catgories: ; (tryin' sumthin' new here...)

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Friday, March 18, 2005

[random] Well, this sucks

like the proverbial Electrolux... I'm getting really tired of Blogger's flakiness whenever I try to post comments - I keep getting DNS or similar 'server-not-found' errors. sigh I'd hate to move to another blogging service and lose my old posts...

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[random] Prince Caspian

A little more challenging than TLtWtW, but he's enjoying it immensely; we're managing a chapter per night. I'm not sure who's having the most fun with this...

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[geek] New! RSS Feed!

Courtesy of the folks over at feedburner... Feedburner produces either an Atom or RSS feed, as appropriate for your aggregator (not that I'm being aggregated... but hey, a guy can dream, right?).

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Monday, March 14, 2005

[geek][politics] Why software patents must DIE, DIE, DIE!!!

Today, we've got stupid human tricks on tap, and I'm not in a work-safe mood, so cover the kiddies' eyes and keep a sharp eye out for that nosy bastard from HR who's always trying to get you in trouble. So, okay... Anyone here old enough in Internet years to remember the uproar that went nowhere fast over Amazon enforcing a patent (5,960,411 granted 28 September 1999) on their "One-Click" 'technology'? Gee, where I come from, we call that browsers using a fucking cookie to remember someone... how... standard... No prior art on that one, right? Ah, hell - if you're gonna use an agreed-upon standard to rape and pillage, make sure it's a widely-used one, right? How about British Telecom briefly toying with the idea of trying to enforce a patent (4,873,662 granted 10 October 1989 - UK patent granted 15 August 1980) on the bloody hyperlink? Too bad Stanford/ARPA developed hyperlinks in the 1960s... No, no prior art on that one, either... Evolve or die, you piece-of-shit Victorian artifact! Well, now we can chalk up one more reason why software patents are simply illogical: in 2003, a company in Hong Kong was issued a US patent (6,665,797 granted 16 December 2003) for [drumroll] wait for it... [drumroll] passwords! [cymbals] Needless to say, they're preparing lawsuits against Apple's iTunes service, eBay, and anyone else they think has pockets deep enough to choke up some pocket change to settle and brush this off as a nuisance lawsuit. Personally, I hope they sue someone who has the business sensibilities of Don Corleone and they have whatever the corporate equivilant to waking up next to a severed horse's head might be. These fuckers couldn't innovate their way out of a paper bag - vultures like these need to be told where they can stick their worthless patents post haste, paper cuts be damned. But my real anger isn't directed at these technology bottom feeders, these digital tapeworms. No. My coldest fury is reserved for the US Patent Office. What congentital idiot, no, what FUCKING MORON in the US PATENT OFFICE thought that in 2003 you could issue a patent covering password-protecting online financial transactions? It boggles the mind. It certainly boggles my mind. Does this person live in a Unabomber-style cabin, lacking electricity or running water? Has this person never been mailed an AOL CD? Never been emailed animated gifs of cum shots or invitations to participate in recovering lost Third World riches for a slight downpayment? Never been asked to "earnestly... start the procedure of confirmation of customers' data as this instructions has been sent to all bank customers and is obligatory."? Horsewhipping is too good for someone this stupid. Shit, boiling in lead is too good for someone this stupid. I can't think of anything that would have given Torquemada a woodie that would really and truly suffice in these cases - I'm open to suggestions, but lemme tell ya: I've got a pretty vivid imagination. Anyone who comes up with something adequately horrible will either be worshipped as a master/mistress of the Universe or will have their IP address banned from future comments. Maybe both. Don't get me wrong - I think people should be able to charge for software, but it would seem to me that my industry would be better served by enforcing copyright law, not patents... The fact that some mouth-breathing, desk-bound, hemorrhoid-ridden, meatsack flunkie in Washington, DC can't tell a password from their reddened and puckering arsehole should seriously give one pause. Unfortunately, I don't see anyone in Congress willing to take this seriously - after all, look at the reacharound the Senate got from MBNA et. al. this past week... and as I type this, the House is waving their towel coyly, just hoping that Bank One will ask them to pick up the soap, too...

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Monday, March 07, 2005

[geek] OOT: Object-Oriented Thinking & Corporate Evolution - The Movie (or, "To Agilify, or Not to Agilify - that is the question:")

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind's eye to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous agility, Or to take arms against a sea of formalism, And by opposing end them. To iterate: to code; No more; and by coding to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That programmers are heir to. 'Tis a consumation Devoutly to be wish'd. To pair program, to code; To Code? Perchance to refactor! aye there's the rub...
Okay, so I'll never be mistaken for the Bard... But I finished Object Thinking a while ago, and hadn't really had the time to wrap up my thoughts on it... Much as Hamlet felt torn between offing himself and carpe-ing his diem, no matter how dread, so do I feel torn philisophically. I can hear you now: WTF? Okay, some background (obliquely, gently - no NDA or IP violations now...): our office is slowly and painfully transitioning from a software and consulting services company to being a software company. We're turning consultants into software engineers, and, well, much like watching sausage being made, it ain't purty. We (the company) are used to clients coming to us with A Problem To Be Solved. In order for us to Solve The Problem, we will be paid a certain amount of money provided we can Deal With It in whatever the client's timeframe happens to be. We gear up and go in like something out of The Wild Bunch, guns a-blazin', bits a-twiddlin', specs a-flyin'. Code spews forth like Pekinpah's gouts of cinematic blood, bodies fall, and, at the end, we emerge... uh... well, okay - perhaps The Wild Bunch isn't the best metaphor and I know I certainly don't want to be Ernest Borgnine; but I digress - and you get the idea. But much like the aging outlaws trying to use Civil War-era train robbing tactics against Maxim machine guns, our 'cowboy' tactics won't cut it if we're going to support a product over the long term. We have a certain amount of money invested in this product, we have a certain amount of time to produce some results... and if things pan out, we need to live with those results and be able to support those results for however long it takes. I've been reading a lot of books on XP and other Agile practices because initially it seemed to make a lot of sense: our organization is small, we don't have the resources to sink a lot of time into up-front design work, we have a pretty good team environment - but we're still all cowboys. The Lone Hacker, coding into the night, fueled by coffee or Diet Coke or Jolt! or Mountain Dew, pizza boxes piling up, the commons of our offices becoming more and more dorm-like by the week as we head into crunch times. It's killing us - it might work for consulting (which is debatable, but it isn't an uncommon style for smaller shops), but it ain't gonna cut it for any kind of sustained haul. Enter our research, and my reading of, among other things, Object Thinking. So. Back to the book. I still feel conflicted about it: I like to think I grok it, and I really, really, really liked it - but it's gonna be an extremely hard sell to the rest of our team. Also, I found some of the final chapters hard to get my head around entirely. I'm sure that some of it makes a lot more sense if you're a Smalltalk programmer, but for me... nope. And for some of the other folks I work with? They won't get past the philosophy of the first two-thirds of the book, and if by some miracle or event-horizon anomaly they do, they'll throw it away in disgust when they hit the last chapter... Push comes to shove, I'd give it three Amazon stars. I liked it, I was ready to hear the message. I'm not sure if I've had my moment on the road to Damascus, though. It'll take a bigger revelation than this book to get me to risk being crucified (upside-down or not) by an unruly populace unable or unwilling to listen to a new gospel. I have met the Buddha on the road, and, well... for the time being, I'm going to let him live. I still have way too much to learn before I try to apply this stuff. Which, as far as I've been able to tell, is the archtypal beginning of all internal quests, right? Knowing that you do not know, and all that... We'll see.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

[random]"Give me back my sock, you goat bastard!"

Heh; anyone see that episode of Family Guy? If not, that'll just seem like a pretty random segue: we've started reading The Chronicles of Narnia to our son, and in the CORRECT ORDER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! For those of you just joining the program, C.S. Lewis' estate or whoever has the rights to his books has decided to publish them in the order that the stories occur, not the order in which they were originally printed. This means that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is now the second book in the series, not the first! The Magician's Nephew? First. Feh. We've reordered them according to their publishing dates, as Lewis wrote them and AS WE READ THEM OURSELVES! This'll be fun - we started serious chapter books with Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass a while back - we figured since his preschool was doing Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach, he could probably handle Alice - then The Wizard of Oz more recently, so now we're on to Narnia. (We'll get to The Prydain Chronicles and Earthsea later.) We're not a religious household, so it'll be interesting to see how we wind up parsing the Catholic content. There are definitely going to be some questions. Back to Spar Oom and the city of War Drobe ;-)

1 Comments:

Blogger Kristina said...

Oh yay! We read it to the kids last year after taking them to the stage production at the Children's Theatre. They really loved it and we moved on to Prince Caspian but attention spans waned and it got shelved after only about 1/3 completion. I'm very excited about the movie...

3/08/2005 09:23:00 AM  

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

[politics] By the numbers: the FCC and Nipplegate

“For the price of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors. (Actually, you might be able to afford four ‘nuke malfunctions’: The biggest fine levied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year was only $60,000.)”
Rolling Stone, by way of SpeakSpeak.org... Here's how the folks at SpeakSpeak describe themselves:
SpeakSpeak was created in a response to the right-wing's stranglehold on the FCC. Conservative activists have hijacked the FCC's complaint process. As a result, the FCC levied almost $8 million in obscenity fines in 2004. We're here to remind the FCC that the Parents Television Council does not speak for all of us. It bears repeating: The PTC does not speak for all of us. Now, the rest of America needs to speak up.
They provide some excellent resources for those of us concerned about the undue influence wielded by the self-appointed guardians of public decency on the far-Right. Use 'em for all they're worth! (yeah, yeah, I know... I was going to give politics a break... feh.)

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