September 27, 2007 Header

October 2007 Thirty-two posts

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!

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.

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.

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.

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→

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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!

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