October, 2007: 32 posts.

Maxed Out

When Dave Ramsey shows up in the first 10 minutes of a documentary about credit in the USA, that’s a good sign for the documentary.

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders. Well reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Information Age: longer than you thought.

Seriously, Ryze?

Email from

Subject line: Someone wants to network with you

Okay, fine, I’ve not been to Ryze, but I thought it was cool a long time ago, and I don’t mind linkedin, or facebook, or even myspace messages, so I take a look at the email.


Someone wants to network with you:

NOTE: You can change your Ryze notification preferences at

I visit the site, log in and see the headline:

People who want to network with you…

And the actual message:

Upgrade your Ryze membership to see the list of 2 people who want to network with you

Uh, what? Really? I click the link and it’s $10 a year for Gold, and $20 a year for Platinum.

If the two people who want to network with me are legit, they’ll find me through some other channel, or heck, won’t they just email me?

Ryze was one of the earliest social/professional networking sites I joined. I remember seeing this visualization of the Ryze network and even being spotted on it. I even paid for a premium account at one time. I believe it was the same $10/month thing. But eventually it reached a limit in terms of what it could deliver, and I canceled it. Eventually it seemed that everyone who was talking to me was in MLM folks. Nothing wrong with that per se, but I started avoiding the site.

And now, just to view people who want to network with me, I have to pay? That’s the whole reason I think sucks. To do anything useful, you have to pay, and yet, the site is trumpeted as this great tool to network with. I’m sorry, but exclusivity and dubious value do not go together. And Ryze definitely is only of dubious value.

Ryze, get your act together. Your value proposition stinks. Bad.


Word from Virginia is that over the weekend my Mom had a successful nephrectomy. She has one less kidney than she had when she was born. Apparently it went well, and she’s recovering in the hospital.

I hope to get back there sometime this month.


Update: I just got an IM from my sister that my Mom is home now, tired and in pain, but doing well. This is a big load off my mind. It’s hard to be away when big stuff is happening.

Mom’s Magazine Article

Faith and Health. Phyllis Crawford.

Our Health Magazine, about my Mom, Phyllis Crawford. This almost… almost captures how awesome she is.

From October/November 2007 in (their website does not have the article).

In the article it has my Grandfather, Jesus Arthur Silva (where I get my middle name from, by the way) saying “No, Mia” — which is a typo of “No, Mija” — basically “mi hija” or my daughter.”

Other than that it was great to get this in the mail today.

If you want to read it, view the large version.

Morning’s Miscellany

Zappa Documentary on YouTube, Pointed to by Kill Ugly Radio:

10 Zen Monkeys asks writers Is The Net Good For Writers? My favorite is Clay Shirky’s.

My current musical obsessions: Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, Foo Fighter’s Baker Street, Toy Doll’s Nellie the Elephant, Siouxsee & the Banshees Dear Prudence, Christine, and The Passenger, and most of all Burning Sensations’ Belly of the Whale.

One of my favorite independent comics artists of the 1980s has a blog! Larry Marder of Beanworld.

Adam Bosworth, officially formerly of Google now, is up to something new, and doubleblogging about it. I found his talk at the 2005 MySQL Users Conference inspirational. It’s one of a few talks I return to every so often because it’s so packed full of ideas.

Don MacAskill of SmugMug points out that Amazon S3 now has a Service Level Agreement. This is good news. Leah and I have been talking about using S3 for hosting some of the larger files we serve off our various sites. Particularly podcasts, which she’s started doing, by the way.

Speaking of which, Leah is indeed podcasting. I think it’s great! Have you ever subscribed to a podcast? Well, it’s pretty easy, if you have iTunes, go to Advanced … Subscribe to Podcast… and enter Then sit back and listen. How often will she be podcasting? I have no idea.

The day commenceth!

Please Compare and Contrast

Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street, from around 1979:

Toy Dolls: Nellie the Elephant, from around 1984:

Topics you may wish to discuss include video aesthetics, goofy British dudes, musicianship, seriousness and fun.

I like both songs very much.

Leah made me look really good

Just the other day:

Joe at Football Game

She’s driving back from Utah tomorrow. My wish for her is excellent driving, good weather, and little traffic.

Yahoo Kool-Aid: Y! Mash and MyBlogLog

Vernacular speech is pretty crazy stuff. “Drinking the Kool-Aid” is a metaphor for embracing something fully, often unthinkingly. This metaphor has its roots in either psychedelic drugs or mass religious suicide. Take your pick.

Y! m.a.s.h.

Anyway, with that, I’ll cop to two new social-software, web two-point-oh oddnesses. The first is Yahoo! Mash, YASN. I’m not sure what to make of it, I try all this stuff and this one seems not to have much for it. It’s another reminder that I still have been unable to regain my proper nickname (artlung) with Yahoo. I put in a false birthday lo those many years ago and there’s no way to recover the account. Contacts with Y! over the years have been fruitless.

Oh, I’m not talking about Mash. Yeah, well, there was not much to do, no offense to my pal Lilia who both introduced me to my current wife and invited me to Mash. If you want to connect with me, go ahead, the address is — let’s hope, for Yahoo’s sake, that it’s more successful than Yahoo 360. It appears that Mash requires Yahoo registration at this point, so don’t complain to me if the links above don’t work. 🙂


MyBlogLog was purchased by Yahoo about a year ago. It purports to build up a community passively as people visit your site, and entice them to do so actively as well. I’m ambivalent about this idea. As I was saying the other day to some other bloggers, I initially set up my site with no comments by active choice because dammit, it’s my site, not yours. Get your own site! Of course, I changed course on that when in 2004 I moved from Blogger to WordPress as my blogging platform. I’ve not regretted allowing comments. Fun fact, Sassy was my first commenter.

Feel free to “friend” me on MyBlogLog or join the ArtLung community. What is the benefit of doing either of those things? Uh, I don’t know. I’m a poor salesman. Maybe you can carp about the lack of longer blog posts, or more emotional writing that I used to do? Hmm… maybe this is not such a hot idea.

(And yes, I can see the irony plain as day that just the other day I was carping about Ryze as a social network, meanwhile I’m joining these — maybe I have a problem).

Morning is the time for Miscellany

Danah Boyd is surprised to be used as a pack mule for some great marketing. I think it’s the nature of the beast. When something hits your gut, it’s natural to try and promote it. Taking a step back and realizing you’re part of someone’s street team can be a little disorienting!

Via The Beat, Strong Bad takes on Webcomics. Funny stuff. and I used to make watching Strong Bad part of our Monday night ritual. Maybe it’s time to do that again.

Via Jim Bumgardner, a wonderful rant on the state of music available for purchase: Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends.

Via MetroRider LA, apparently some folks in Riverside have fun on their commute: Metrolink train 706 commuters chirp up over Magnolia Bird Farm landmark. Sounds like wacky goodness to me. I sure wish I could grab a train to work.

Jason Scott’s detailed indictment of 2600 and his disappointments with their behavior is actually moving. It reminds me of how I feel about, oh, the record industry. Like, dude! you guys are cool! get with the program!

Raph Koster, of general game punditry, remarks on the interoperability agreement to do with avatars for 3-D worlds. I love the idea of making avatar building a standard as common as GIF or JPG. Let me make my one avatar, then I can import it into any game I want to! Just like making an icon for a message board or online service. But 3-D, animated, and articulated. O’Reilly Radar also covered this yesterday.

Coding Horror talks about programming fonts, and gives “quick brown fox” of code. The biggies for me in choosing a font to code in are: how distinguishable are the braces and parentheses, and how distinguishable are the one (1) lowercase L (l) and uppercase eye (I). They are similar enough to cause cognitive friction and generally mess with you. Based on his article I tried out Microsoft’s Consolas, and I find I like it.

StupidFilter sounds like an excellent project. I particularly like that one of their goals is the creation of a WordPress plugin. It sounds like a complement to Spam Karma. Their intended methodology sounds terrific.

That’s all for today

Just me and the pygmy pony

Lyric of the day:

I’m gonna find me a horse
Just about this big,
And ride him all along the border line

With a
Pair of heavy-duty
Zircon-encrusted tweezers in my hand
Every other wrangler would say
I was mighty grand

But by myself I wouldn’t
Have no boss,
But I’d be raisin’ my lonely
Dental Floss

Raisin’ my lonely — Dental Floss
Raisin’ my lonely — Dental Floss

Well I might
Ride along the border
With my tweezers gleamin’
In the moon-lighty night

And then I’d
Get a cup ‘a coffee
and give my foot a push,
Just me-and-the-pygmy-pony
Over by the Dental Floss Bush

My name is Misc, How do you do?

Uncov got some para-journalistic love from Wired. I have mentioned uncov before. I have thought a bit more about the salty language Ted uses, and I’ve decided it’s really interesting to my brain to have the subject be computer science and business and have the language come out of, oh, Quentin Tarantino. Id meets intellect. WIN.

My new favorite movie blog is Slashfilm. A recent post is about Across the Universe, and the fact that it’s developing a cult following: Across the Universe: the Next Cult Sensation?. Several of us went to see it the weekend it came out over in Simi Valley and I enjoyed it. It put me in the mind of a Chicago or a Moulin Rouge. Parts of AtU get a little too surreal, but basically it holds together like a musical, it’s magical, and the music is rather well handled. Also, I was pretty proud to spot the Joe Cocker cameo. And there are others too, but I won’t ruin those.

And ooh, what’s this, a new Cat and Girl collection! Yay! I’ve mentioned this strip before. Here’s $8228.40 and a Metrocard, described as:

This 468 page brick of a book prints every episode of Donation Derby from its inception through December 2006. It adds a handy place index and brief interviews with your Donation Derby regulars. Buying this book supports my lavish lifestyle.

See, if you send money to Cat and Girl‘s cartoonist, Dorothy, she will draw you a comic of what she buys with it. I love the concept. I’ve even donated. One of mine made the cut. You know, I already told you to read it!

Meanwhile… I’m ashamed to admit that I totally forgot about World Egg Day, which was Thursday. I missed the Frederator Studios piece. However, I can do some penance by linking to the wonderful and hallucinatory

Their animation is sort of wonderful.

In a serious and more academic realm than cartoon dancing singing eggs, Paul Kedrosky says Ooooh, Blogs are Now Authoritative, reporting that the National Institutes of Health style guide describes how to cite a blog post — Sample Citation and Introduction to Citing Blogs:

NIH: Sample Citation and Introduction to Citing Blogs

Also in a serious vein, KPBS should choose JeSais.

Over on BLDGBLOG, I love this rant: Greater Los Angeles. I don’t agree with it all, but that’s L.A. for you. Heh. While I’ve brought up L.A., let me suggest you check out the Militant Angeleno Blog. BLDGBLOG was a part of the big Science Fiction and Architecture thing Chris G and I went to a few months ago.

It’s raining here. We have some friends coming, and we’re tidying up. Alex’s birthday was yesterday — she turned 17! — and she and some friends are headed to Magic Mountain, driven by Leah. Man, I so don’t want to be 17 again. It’s a lovely day.

Required Viewing for the Music Business

via Mark Evanier, Flo and Eddie, aka The Turtles, explain their storied relationships with lawsuits and bad managers:

The music business is a cesspool, always has been. Sad.

Flowchart of the Day

Over on Worse than Failure, there’s a thoughtful essay about the usual software is impossible: Avoiding Development Disasters. The graphic looks right to me. A dozen paths to failure. Success rare.

Code to Ruin

.NET, Miguel de Icaza

A few weeks ago Miguel de Icaza, the firebrand behing Mono, the open source implementation of Dot Net, posted a bit about the punditry about Microsoft’s decision to allow folks to look at the code behind Dot Net. Not exactly open sourcing it. Got that, he was talking about those talking about it:  A Journey Into the Dumb-o-Sphere. Well, I did some googling and found the two dummies he was referring to here and here.

Good Weekend

It was a good weekend.

Pumpkin pie.

Paychecks arrived on-time.

Bills paid on-time.

Leah‘s still back: awesome. Latest photos? Terrific.

Heard good things from my sister by text message about the cytology of my Mom’s cancer. She continues to recover from her surgery. As Drudge would say… developing.

Not looking forward to the traffic today since the horrible happenings this weekend. But into it I will go. Various traffic sites indicate minimal problems though, so here goes.

And today’s video selection is “Lowercase n:” (via Panopticist)

And if you didn’t like that, just go back and watch Nellie the Elephant. That one’ll get your day started right.


Reader Subscription Stats are Complicated

Check out more information over at the FeedBurner Blog: Burning Questions • Google Reader Subscription Stats and FeedBurner

I don’t pay too much attention to stats, but I do watch for folks coming in through referring links. FeedBurner is pretty cool, I use the FeedSmith plugin referenced.

Valleywag’s take is typically cynical.

Play Misc-y for Me

I’ve been reading and listening to lots about animation, and one of the more fun things has been Spline Cast, a podcast about 3-D animation.

My favorite podcast right now is Dave Ramsey’s 1 hour version of his show. Don’t bother with the 3-hour version, it’s not really free.

My previous favorite podcast is Harry Shearer’s amazingly witty, terribly dry podcast “Le Show.” Supremely funny stuff to me.

The coming Scriptaculous 1.8 library looks like it has some new and powerful stuff in it.

Douglas Crockford’s latest comments about worrying about the security of JavaScript where many sites are pulling JavaScript from several tom-dick-and-harry websites (for ads, maps, calendars, photos, etc.) are interesting: Making JavaScript Safe. His concept is AdSafe. If you want to see him talk about the need for the tool prior to the announcement of AdSafe, check out this Google Talk on Gears and the Mashup Problem (Incidentally, this is the kind of thing I watch while I do the dishes):

In that video, I learned what an IBM 3270 is, and that the basic interaction model is what the web became. The central takeaway from this talk for me is the insight that any web page that pulls from more than one site is a mash-up. Just because you’re not using Y!Pipes or Google Mashup Editor doesn’t mean it’s not a mash-up.

Crockford is the best speaker on JavaScript ever, and probably the smartest person about client-side web programming I can think of.

Meanwhile, in 1980s pop music video news, watch this video of the Go-Go’s: Turn to You:

via Open Culture, check out this interactive Map (and Timeline) of Religion.

via We Make Money Not Art, Milk and Tales are a darned interesting art/design group that make interesting, immersive, interactive, artistic installations and public art. This is really interesting work to me. It merges my HCI interests with public art. Here’s a quote to pique your interest:

We started to work on interactive installations together as an offshoot from the course where we were fine-tuning our skills in creating narrative environments. A narrative environment is an experience or a place designed to communicate a story, is hopefully engaging and a place for dialogue. Interactive environments are inevitably linked to narrative environments. We’ve got a mix of skills and are very happy designing both.

Rafe Colburn points to this nice essay: LinkedIn and Facebook and how they are the same and how they are different. The first thing I thought of after reading it was this comment by Sassy: “LinkedIn for work, facebook and myspace for fun. There’s no more room for anything else.”

Cartoonist and illustrator (of both adult and for-kids works) Ellen Forney asks a great question:

I decided long ago not to have a pseudonym to distinguish my work for kids from my work for adults. No separate websites, no separate business cards. And no separate blogs, which is actually starting to feel a little weird. Is it weird? I just figure people can sort it out for themselves.

And if you ever wanted to watch Vanna White and Pat Sajak talk about fonts, I have you covered, via links

That’s all for this morning from Misc-ville.

Mom’s Cancer News

So I mentioned yesterday, ever-so-briefly, that there was some news about the pathology report from my Mom’s kidney, which was removed. This morning my father sent me an updated and elaborated diagnosis, and more information. This may prove useful to someone, and is definitely useful to family and friends who would like an update.

First off, a link about staging Kidney Cancer from the American Cancer Society: Detailed Guide: How Is Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma) Staged?.

Next, here’s the deal on my Mom’s cancer, straight from my Dad this morning. My annotations are enclosed in (((triple-parentheses))):

Mom is Stage 4 — based on the fact she has mets to lung and brain. Under TNM system (((American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), sometimes also known as the TNM system))) she is T1B (((Tumor is larger than 4 cm but smaller than 7 cm (about 2¾ inches) and is limited to the kidney))), NX (((Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed (information not available).))), M1 (((Distant metastasis present; includes metastasis to nonregional (not near the kidney) lymph nodes and/or to other organs (such as the lungs, bones, or brain).))) — which means the tumor was not locally invasive, that the nodes (N) are unknown, and M1 which means metastasis has occurred. Her Karnovsky score (((More about Karnovsky Performance Status))) is perfect — her overall health, and her Furhman grade (((The most widely used and most predictive grading system for renal cell cancer is the “Fuhrman Nuclear Grade”. Your pathology report should use the Fuhrman Grade. Fuhrman grade is on a scale of I-IV, where grade I carries the best prognosis and grade IV the worst. Nuclear grade means that the system is based on just the appearance of the nuclei of the cancer cells, rather than the appearance or structure of the cells as a whole. Nuclear characteristics used in the Fuhrman Grade particularly indicate how actively the cells are making protein. Source.))) — how aggressive tumor looks microscopically — number of mitotic figures, is grade 2 — putting it all together survival should be 80% or better for 5 years. Of course new chemo drugs may improve on this. Dad

This is terrific news, and given my Mother’s amazing attitude, on full display back in this article, I have great hope.

Misc and Max

Some strangeness afoot. Police apparently came in the house while I was in the tub and looked around looking for some dude (Ryan Reynolds?). They didn’t bug me.

Also, my Windows 2003 and my iTunes and my old 1GB iPod Shuffle are not playing well. Jerks.

iPod Could Not Be Restored


I tried the iPod Reset Utility, I tried the instructions which included making a .BAT file, and I tried the normal process of allowing iTunes to reset the firmware. No dice and Windows would hang — complete freeze, and I was unable to quit iTunes as an application or as a process. UGLY. I also tried going into Hardware Manager, but the iPod would not be read there.

I was able to get it working on my older Mac G4. It’s slower, but with the Mac iPod Reset Utility things worked.

So I’m giving up syncing my podcasts from Windows and moving to the Mac. Really I need to get a new Mac — for work and for things like this, but that’s not in the budget yet, and if I can’t pay cash, I can’t do it.

Meanwhile, in the interwebs, where things are funny and do not require you to look at Windows Event Logs, check out this: Gabe and Max’s How to Get the Dreamlife of Your Dreams Using the Internet Thing

That made me laugh.

Elsewhere, this post by Adrian Belew about Frank Zappa made me cry.

I suggest you watch the funny video before you read the crying-making thing.


I’m sure it’s for a good cause

Lois Lane Kisses

via Uncle Eddy

Fun things I noted recently, Neil joined my MyBlogLog (we’re up to 1 member, yay!), and also that he had mentioned me in a blog post but I had missed it. Kind words. Neil’s a very funny writer.

Headed to work now. Yesterday was good. Hoping for likewise today.

My Commute Can Be Pretty

Commute. Pretty.

On Las Virgenes through the canyons as I am coming into Malibu.

Misc is out of Style

To start with, a random screenshot from a video from 1989:

Truth is Out of Style Screenshot

It’s by MC 900 Ft. Jesus. Watch actual videos by MC 900 Ft Jesus below:

I enjoy his music very much. He got his name from a vision of Oral Roberts:

May 25, 1980, while overlooking his religious center which was in financial difficulty:

“‘I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me. When I opened my eyes, there He stood … some 900 feet tall, looking at me … He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600-foot-tall City of Faith. There I was face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. I have only seen Jesus once before, but here I was face to face with the King of kings. He reached down, put his Hands under the City of Faith, lifted it, and said to me, “See how easy it is for Me to lift it!”‘”

“Oral recalled that his eyes filled with tears, and Jesus assured him that He would speak to the ministry’s partners and that the City of Faith would be finished.”

On to Misc, or, continuing the misc!

Ubuntu has a new version out — 7.10. A few weeks ago, our houseguests brought with them a sad, cheap Wal-Mart laptop that would neither boot nor behave. I installed Ubuntu (6) for them and it’s given them what they wanted, a basic email and photos and web browsing machine. I have been impressed and as my Windows 2003 Server machine gets lamer (remember that?) it makes me think seriously about converting it to Linux. There are several apps I would miss: FileZilla, TextPad, Paint.NET, iTunes. We’ll see. I’m not really a zealot about open source, but I’ve been following Mark Pilgrim’s posts about switching to Linux and it has me intrigued. And it was great to install an OS on an x86 Machine and not have to dig around in boxes for stupid Activation Keys and do Windows Activation. It might be great for me too.

MAS read a book about SuperFoods, and the list he posted has me interested. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes:

  1. Beans
  2. Blueberries
  3. Broccoli
  4. Oats
  5. Oranges
  6. Pumpkin
  7. Wild Salmon
  8. Soy
  9. Spinach
  10. Tea
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Turkey
  13. Walnuts
  14. Yogurt

And what’s this? An obscure fact about “protocol relative links” — cool! Http-https transitions and relative URLs, via Simon Willison.

The Harold and Kumar sequel might be called Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo Bay. That’s as crazy as the first movie was. Harold and Kumar is a dumb movie I really like.

“Guilty Pleasure” movies have been a topic at work of late… two I really like that are not necessarily great movies are Necessary Roughness and Under Siege.

Yes, San Diego Voice and Viewpoint‘s website is still under construction. Yes, it’s sad when newspapers, even niche ones, don’t have websites. What year is it again?

Oh, the thing that powers the avatars on my site and over on Leah’s site is called Gravatar. They got bought by WordPress.

I got the new Cat and Girl book in the mail! See, look, here’s proof I got it:

Cat and girl!

Buy one!

Banner: $8228.40 and a Metrocard

Dave Segovia is reintroducing himself. He’s a heck of a character. Drop by his blog and say “Hi!”

Over on BlogHer, Laura Scott mentioned leahpeah’s recent posting about uncomfortable subjects and readership.

David Foster speaks about a basic question cancer warriors have about why they would get cancer if they did everything right. He’s got the same kind of cancer my Mom has. Here’s a quote:

But they are beating up themselves and their lifestyle for no reason. It is true that some behaviors–like smoking cigarettes–cause cancer. But many–if not most–cancers have nothing to do with how healthily you live your life or how many vegetables you eat or vitamins you take.

And lastly, the estimable Jeffrey Zeldman points to the A List Apart Web Survey Results, which make for some interesting reading.

Have a great weekend!

All The Misc That’s Fit to Misc

Don’t use oxygen and smoke, please.

Thomas PM Barnett, a great Powerpointer, mentions that Al Gore has his Nobel Prize because of his PPTs (actually Keynote, but same difference, presentation software).

Read/Write Web has good thoughts on Microsoft’s playing catch-up with Google on a number of web tools. I like competitor for Google. It means we’ll keep getting innovation. And don’t count our Yahoo. They are building a lot of stuff these days.

The cartoon where Jesus, Mohammed, and the unseen Barmaid talk are usually good. Like this one: Snake.

Free To Play notes a study that says of the time kids ages 2 to 17 play games, 91% of it is on free games.

WebKit now has an implementation of a local SQL database (via John Gruber). That’s odd, and cool. It seems to be what Google Gears is trying to do, or what Flash does with its Local Shared Objects. All of these kick the butt of mere cookies for storage. The real thing they allow is to allow web applications to work without an internet connection. What’s WebKit? It’s the engine inside Safari and KDE browsers. This local storage thing is being discussed with great enthusiasm these days seems like. It’s still a great time to be working on web stuff.

Last night Leah and I visited a bookstore after dinner and I looked at a book called Beautiful Code. It’s got a chapter by Douglas Crockford. I’ve not bought it yet, but it’s been added to my “to read” list. I’ve been trying to write my JavaScript according to his code conventions.

Terrorism is an inverted lottery

From a recent interview: William Gibson Hates Futurists ::

On whether some new terrorist attack will make 9-11 look small

“Eventually, I would say it’s almost inevitable. Not immediately, because there is no need. The last one is still working. In some strange way, [for terrorists] anything that was less than 9-11 won’t do. Anything less spectacular just won’t do.

“How terrorism works in the broadest sense really is the inversion of the psychology of the lottery. The paradigms of asymmetrical warfare are such that one of the defining and unchanging characteristics of the terrorist is that he has very, very little in the way of stuff to work with. He can’t really do much. He can kill a few people. He can knock down a few buildings in New York. But if he does it in a terroristically effective way, and if the society he does it to responds in what to the terrorist is the optimal way, everybody in society feels threatened. In spite of the fact that the odds of any given individual being done in by a terrorist’s bomb are about the same odds of that individual winning the lottery.

“Terrorism is a con game. It doesn’t always work. It depends on the society you are playing it on. It certainly has worked with the United States.”

Smokey Sky above Moorpark

Fires to the northwest, northeast, to the southeast. We get smoke, everything smells of smoke. No school closings tomorrow, says Moorpark Unified School District.

Sky above Moorpark 4

It all reminds me of the fires in San Diego back in 2003.

Moorpark Air is Bad Today

I woke up with my throat dry and with an acrid feel in my nose. I can also feel, with a deep breath, some pain on inhalation. This is not good. It’ll do me good to get out and out of this air. I’m going to encourage Leah and our houseguests to get away from it too for at least a while today.

Sunday night we were calling the Sheriff’s Department and City and School District to find out about possible school closures and didn’t get any information till late at night. But there were no school closings for Moorpark.

Today, however, there is no school. Here’s the advisory from the Moorpark Unified School District:


Please check the website for notification about the following day. By Tuesday afternoon, a decision will be made regarding the status of school on Wednesday.

And this is from the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District:

Due to the smoke from many of the wildfires in and around Ventura County, it is possible that almost all areas of Ventura County will encounter smoke at some time. Air Quality in areas affected by the smoke are considered to be unhealthful. If you smell smoke, be cautious and use common sense to protect your family’s health. Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults and children should limit time spent outdoors, and limit prolonged or heavy exertion. If you have symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to excess smoke exposure, including repeated coughing, shortness of breathe or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatique or lightheadedness, contact your health care provider. This advisory will be extended as conditions warrant. If you have questions contact Ventura County Air Pollution District, Kent Field or Mallory Ham at 805 662-6960 or 645-1400.
For more information see also:

Air Quality Forecast

Ventura County Fire Department, LAFD News & Information, Ventura County Sheriff Department, InciWeb

The Air Quality forecast is continuing to be “101-150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” That is right at the top end of the scale in terms of airborne particulates.

I hate unhealthy air.

Lyrics of the Day: Endicott

Endicott’s up by 5 o’clock
Endicott’s givin’ it all he got
Endicott’s job is six to nine but
Endicott’s home by 9 oh five
Endicott helps to cook the steak
Endicott helps to wash the plates
Endicott puts the kids to bed
Endicott reads a book to them

(Why cant you be like Endicott?) (oh)

Endicott loves Tribena so
Endicott puts her on a pedestal
Endicott’s wish is her command but
Endicott don’t make no demands
Endicott’s always back in time
Endicott’s not the cheatin’ kind
Endicott’s full of compliment
Endicott’s such a gentleman
Read complete article→

Where There’s a Misc There’s a Way

The language in this is not safe for work, but the sentiments are important: How to Irritate and Annoy People in the Name of Blogging

A lot of people I know or know of are blogging about the fires in San Diego: Sassy, JeSais, MAS, MissEwon, Chuck, and Geoff. Also, people I haven’t met: Raph Koster, Cocky Bastard.

Google is changing their PageRank algorithm? is a question/inference the blogosphere is drawing. The working theory is it’s for selling links. They’re diluting PageRank. I’ve had several offers to buy links here on — and I’ve turned them all down. Typically the link buyers want the links to be permanent, as in, forever and ever. No. I don’t do forever and ever unless you pay me big big big bigtime.

While we fight fires, China launched a lunar probe. In 2001 I posted a story that they’d have a man on the moon by 2005. They didn’t make that, but a moon probe is pretty good. In 2003 I blogged Bruce Sterling’s Wired op-ed on a China-India Space Race.

High School band covers Zappa. Wow.

GIMP 2.4 is out. I’m going to try it out. The interface is not PhotoShoppish enough though. via Paul Slocum of Tree Wave.

Dorothy (of Cat and Girl)’s computer is broken. Sad.

There are two free songs on right now: Black Men Ski (previously mentioned here) and Pastry Shop (previously). Also, I moved Stew’s blog to a subdomain a few weeks ago:

Jason Scott, who was interviewed by Leah and the BBS Documentary, writes about two subjects which make me wax nostalgic for Amiga: Fred Fish’s death, and The Juggler raytraced animation. That animation was truly magic at the time. It was like looking at an alien spacecraft, and there it was for me to study and think about. I never got to render anything, the programming was too inscrutable for me. I did like to mess with DPaint though. Which makes me think about the fact that I’ve been doing computer graphics for 25 years, since I was 13 years old.

Man, I really do like that Endicott song. Seriously.

Be safe out there people. Onward.

Slate: Crashed Hard

I tried to click through to a slate article just now. Big .NET error. Ugly. I figure the linker got the url wrong. I slice off the request and just leave — and still, ugly. Ten minutes later? Still down. This is what we call FAIL. Someone should be getting a page, someone should be implementing a static “be back soon” — I’m stunned to see a major site fail so spectacularly and nakedly. Server Error in '/' Application.

UPDATE 25 minutes later: back up. Glad to see it. I hate that kind of downtime – as a web professional and as a reader. Can’t imagine how the Slate staffers feel.

Misc, Misc, everywhere… and not a drop to drink

Blurbomat points to the review of MacOS 10.5, “Leopard” on Ars Technica. Anil Dash has no sense of humor about one icon.

I wish Windows had included Mac networking by default years ago. Sadly, no. Maybe something based on:

Error: MacOS Bomb

I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.3.1. Bugfixes and an easy transition from 2.3. I’m so glad I chose WP so long ago, and not MovableType. WP is the open source winner. Speaking of WP, they moved Gravatar to their infrastructure which has gone well, the blog High Scalability pointed out Making Gravatar Fast Again. Cool stuff, and will help them avoid “crashing hard” moments. The Gravatar article pointed to Varnish, a tool I had not looked at but which might be appropriate for some projects I’m part of.

Thomas Barnett points out that Bush said he’s relevant. If you have to declare you’re relevant, you’re not. I just wish he wasn’t commander-in-chief. Can we fast forward to the next administration? This one is making me tired.

Philip Greenspun has some new original thoughts on non-profit donations. I wish he did more writing like this. In 2003 I said of him: If anyone can be considered a model for my own experimentation and thoughts on how to put together a personal site, it’s Greenspun. Greenspun has been accused of being an egoiste and of being insensitive in his use of metaphors, and more. Bottom line: he thinks deeply, and I admire him. Still true.

I dug the drawings, I laughed. How can I feel like a flying squirrel? The answer: Sleep Sack!

Heaven and Here is still around. And they are blogging about the best television show ever, The Wire. It’s coming again in January. Yes, I said EVER.

Binary Wolf points to InciWeb and an amazing map of the Witch Fire.

Greg’s Cool Thing points out a post on a Windows utility to check and see what processes are using a DLL. Potentially very useful.

Robot writing out Bible nonstop – this sounds a lot like the The Nine Billion Names of God for some reason. Are you there God? it’s Me, R2-D2.

Japan Probe points out the world’s most dangerous hiking trail. Yikes!

Lines and Colors points to the work of Allan R Banks, Classical painter. is a slow site, but worth the load times. I’ve also been meaning to point to this post on the Pre-Raphaelites, also from LaC. Also pointed to there is this very in-depth study of one painting: Millais’ Ophelia.

Millais’ Ophelia

Slashfilm says “See Blade Runner: The Final Cut on The Big Screen.” I’ve decided to do it. Thursday night at The Landmark. Hit me on email ((( joe at ))) if you want in.

Some of you have asked more about my Mom — really, the latest info I have is pretty much contained in this post over here. And for more background on my Mom, check out the magazine article.

Have a great week and be well. I hope all of you affected by the fires are getting back to normal.

Misc-y Halloween!

Did I really go a day without blogging? For shame! No, not really.

It’s Halloween, though I don’t have any special visuals to offer you today — I’ve been far too busy lately. But I do have many tasty linky treats to offer. Really!

Remember, Color Me Badd — famous for the song I Want To Sex You Up — they were a vocal band, sort of a boy band, from the 1980s? I just read that Kevin Thornton, one of the members of the group, went through an exorcism to remove demons from him. He is now a devout Christian. All this according to Undercover Black Man. You can listen to his exorcism — here’s the sound file from the radio show where it happens. It’s pretty freaky. Perfect for Halloween!

Harry Potter Postmodern Textual Controversy! I suppose everyone has heard now that J.K. Rowling said that part of how to understand Dumbledore is that he’s gay. Now, it’s not explicit in the books, but the author aught to know about his or her creations, right? I expect that they know what they were thinking. Here are two articles, from very different sources taking completely different viewpoints: over on FindLaw, a legal affairs website, Michael Dore has an article called Harry Potter and the Framers’ Intent which posits basically that what is on the page is on the page — the way the legal system works. If there’s no explicit memory conjured by Dumbledore, if there’s no signaling of his homosexuality in the text, it’s not there. One might argue it is too subtle, but if it’s so ambiguous, it can hardly be said to be there, yes? How subtle does something have to be before it’s not there? On the other hand, science fiction author John Scalzi takes the completely opposite position: What Authors Know About Their Characters. I think this is an interesting question. In sci-fi fandom there’s a concept of “canon” works. So in Star Wars, one typically considers only the movies to be canon — novelizations, comic books, tv shows, and other items are not canon, so are not accepted into some discussions of the work. Here’s more from Scalzi, talking about an article from the New York Times on the same subject:

if Rowling had as part of Dumbledore’s background that he was straight, or entirely asexual, his character would be different and his actions and responses and backstory would be different. He would be different. He wouldn’t be the Dumbledore he is today (or was, because he’s dead, but even so). Rothstein seems to be falling into the trap of assuming that everything that goes into a character shows up on the page. This is entirely wrong. What shows up on the page is the public life of the character, so to speak: The things about a character that a writer chooses to let you know about them. The private life of a character exists off the page, and takes place between the writer and the character.

I think in the end it is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s hard to ignore what a creator says about a work. For example, Blade Runner, one of my favorite movies — in different versions it is clear/unclear/subtle/unsubtle whether Deckard is a replicant. I tend to skew toward interpretations where Deckard is not a replicant, though in interviews Ridley Scott (the director, and for our purposes a primary author of a movie) says with no hedging that he’s a replicant.

So what do you think of this? Can you think of other “controversial” statements other creators have made about their creations?

Self loathing ghost writers! Speaking of authorial intent, did you know that Leslie McFarlane hated ghostwriting the Hardy Boys? In fact one of his books seems to be brimming with double entendres designed to denigrate his works. The 10 Zen Monkeys blog has a post about it — How gay were the Hardy Boys? — I actually see McFarlane as a rather sad figure, reading this. I hope never to create artistic works I despise.

Meanwhile, in the funny papers funnies – go read Cat and Girl today. I laughed!

Casual games are apparently a $2.25 Billion with a B dollar market. You know, I know there’s a lot of room for growth in casual games, but numbers like this will make you crazy I think. It’s not like you’re going to make a game and win all that market. Remember — they were going to win the huge market for petfood. Same concept. But casual games are a great industry and a very exciting one right now. Okay, not really very Halloween-ish.

I’ll leave you with blasts from the past:

In about 1981 or 1982 I stole a Halloween mask — then in 2005 I remembered it. And actually, I had forgotten that I did that until today. I guess one does not like to think of the wrongs one has committed. I don’t shoplift anymore.

In 1987 I made great killer poster for Halloween:

Halloween Poster, 1987

Also in ’87: I designed some pumpkins:

Halloween Pumpkin Designs, 1987

In 1991 I won a costume contest as the joker:

JokerJoe 1991/Colorized Badly

In 2001, the year I started this blog, I was musing about costumes and not wearing one.

In 2003 I made this header.

In 2003 I was only talking about the fires in San Diego.

In 2005 I made a guts cake for Alex.

Alex's Guts Cake 3

And last year I mused about Festium Omnium Sanctorum

Happy Halloween everyone!

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