December, 2007: 28 posts.

Rub Our Noses In It (Steven King on the Media)

From Q&A: Talking with Stephen King in Time Magazine.

Do you actually think Britney and Lindsay should be on our cover?
Yeah, I do.

Sort of a, ‘This is what the media’s actually interested it, so let’s just put it out there’ thing?
I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy. We’ve switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics — trying to play a serious part in the world — to a culture that’s really entertainment-based. I mean, I know people who can tell you who won the last four seasons on American Idol and they don’t know who their f—— Representatives are.

But you’ve been well in the public eye for decades now. Is it pretty blatant how much worse it’s gotten?
It’s worse every year. And the guy says to me — the Nightline guy — I didn’t get the guy’s name. Granted, I haven’t been feeling real well and it was a long day of interviews. But he said to me, “If we didn’t cover cultural things, we wouldn’t be covering you and The Mist, and promoting the movie.” And I’m like, “Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan aren’t cultural.” They aren’t political. They’re economic only in the mildest sense of the word. In fact, if I had to pick somebody, some celebrity who has had some impact this year, some sort of echo in the larger American life, I would say Hannah Montana. That whole issue of online ticket sales and scalping fascinates me. There are [legitimate] issues there about the Internet, so that actually does seem to have some cultural significance. But Britney? Britney Spears is just trailer trash. That’s all. I mean, I don’t mean to be pejorative. But you observe her behavior for the past five years and you say, “Here’s a lady who can’t take care of her kids, she can’t take care of herself, she has no retirement fund, everything that she gets runs right through her hands.” And yet, you know and I know that if you go to those sites that tell you what the most blogged-about things on the Internet are, it’s Britney, it’s Lindsay. So I think it would be terrific [to have them as TIME Persons of the Year]. There would be such a scream from the American reading public, sure. But at the same time, it’s time for somebody to discuss the difference between real news and fake news.

(via Open Culture)

Joe2 bowls 137; Oblivious

Went bowling yesterday with co-workers, it was pretty fun. I bowled a 137, a 130, and a 114 which put me third among the 12 folks bowling.

Joe2 (that's me)

My head is feeling better too. It’s all good.

The song in my head which I was unable a good copy of from either on iTunes, Amazon MP3 store, or via skreemr is Oblivious by Aztec Camera. Meanwhile, YouTube does not disappoint.

Particularly the line “I see you crying and I want to kill your friends”.

Oblivious / Roddy Frame

Stuck in my head like a stone in my shoe is the song Oblivious by Aztec Camera. Here’s a live recording by Roddy Frame, then the awesome lyrics.

Aztec Camera / Oblivious

from the mountain tops
down to the sunny street
a different drum is playing a different kind of beat
it’s like a mystery
that never ends
I see you crying and i want to kill your friends

I hear your footsteps in the street
…it won’t be long before we meet
it’s obvious
just count me in and count me out and I’ll be waiting for the shout

met Mo and she’s okay
said no one really changed
got different badges but they wear them just the same
down by the ballroom
I recognized
that flaming fountain in those kindred caring eyes

I hear your footsteps in the street
…it won’t be long before we meet
it’s obvious
just count me in and count me out and I’ll be waiting for the shout

I hope it haunts me ’til I’m hopeless
I hope it hits you when you go
and sometimes on the edge of sleeping
it rises up to let me know it’s not so deep I’m not so slow

I hear your footsteps in the street
…it won’t be long before we meet
it’s obvious
just count me in and count me out and I’ll be waiting for the shout

they’re calling all the shots
they’ll call and say they phoned
they’ll call us lonely when we’re really just alone
and like a funny film
it’s kinda cute
they’ve bought the bullets and there’s no one left to shoot

I hear your footsteps in the street
…it won’t be long before we meet
it’s obvious
just count me in and count me out and I’ll be waiting for the shout


Backstory: Last Tuesday, Leah drove with Alison and Tony (my niece and her husband) back to Utah, where they will go to school. They were great houseguests and their soups will be missed. So last week Leah was hanging out with Robin and the Armstrongs. I stayed back and worked. On Friday I flew to Utah, Saturday hung out in Utah, yesterday drove the 750 or so miles from Salt Lake City to LAX, then LAX to home in Moorpark.

I’m way behind on phone calls with a few colleagues. I will catch up today and tomorrow.

I’m late mentioning this, but the security requirements doled out by the Transportation Security Agency are mindless and stupid and arbitrary. I don’t even think about them anymore. Put my shoes in a bin? Okay, fine. Keep my paperwork in my hand? Okay. Hand carry my bag over to the security screeners? Okay. Bah.

Southwest Airlines is more like a bus than an airline. I actually kind of like that.

I arrived to snowfall, and impressive driving by Dooce and co-piloting by Chuck and Leahpeah. I was happy to arrive safely, and even happier to end the night with conversation and a nightcap. Then, precious sleep.

Incidentally, this is what happens to the aggregate traffic on my hosting account when Leah gets Dooced. In case you can’t tell that’s about a quadrupling of our aggregate bandwidth usage. Luckily, we could sustain that. But if we have more growth like that I’ll need to look at another upgrade. Still, Leah’s site has stayed up like a champ.


The rings Leah made look just as good in person. Does she have a future in lapidary arts and jewelry-making? Who can say? She is a person who takes to creative projects with aplomb and seemingly, with ease. I’m not sure if she’d call it easy. But she paints, takes photos, draws, watercolors, sews, knits, makes jewelry, beads and those are just the ones off the top of my head!

Saturday we hung out with Los tres Armstrongs and had a lovely time. Included, much talk of Disney Princesses and Dora the Explorer and her friends and wondrous chilling out. Then, sushi with adult conversation. Nothing Jon Deal has to say in this post is true except maybe the participants, but it was nice meeting him and his wife. I got kudos for driving in snow. Bah, I’ve driven in snow before! I’m a big boy! I can do it! Mooooooooooooom! But seriously, it felt pretty manly to man a snow scraper for the first time in years.

Sunday the pioneer children drove and drove and drove. It was a good trip once we got through the weather in Salt Lake City and southward. Leah was happy once we hit about St. George. No snow on the ground, we washed the car, we gassed up, we bought drive-thru tater tots.

Sidenote: If Leah is going to order at a drive-thru, the order is going to get wrong. It doesn’t matter who does the talking (me) — they are apt to “forget” we said “tater tots” and think we said “french fries.” Also, fry sauce and mints!

Then we drove, and then we almost got by Las Vegas (good only as the place we got married) but then I had to urinate, and at the stop I chose, the AM/PM Mini Mart and Gas Station was CLOSED. Like, concrete barricades. Like, shut down. And yes, we had just seen the sign off the highway saying “AM/PM MINI MART NEXT EXIT: Last Chance to Pee!” I am not making that up. That’s a true fact, and yet, they were closed. Then we escaped, but not before making a left turn to get back on the freeway, and diligently following the the dotted white line for the turn lane onto the service road for the freeway. Problem: Leah suddenly saying “Uh, those headlights are pointed in our direction.” I said, “uh, yes they are” — then I changed lanes as far right as possible. That dotted line was representing Las Vegas, and that’s when we realized that LAS VEGAS WAS TRYING TO KILL US. We politely declined and got gas and relived ourselves and got coffee in Primm, Nevada. That’s when we realized that we don’t like Nevada at all, whatsoever. I don’t think it likes us either.

Then we came further south on the 15 to the 10 so we could go to LAX, and I don’t remember the 10 freeway being so complicated. About every 10 minutes I was choosing to stay on the 10 and this required lane changes, at least that’s how it felt. I was not impressed. Eventually, after 12 hours of driving, we got home, and collapsed in heaps.

Now, the workweek begins!

Oh, also, Chuck and Leta and Jon and Dooce are every bit as charming as you might suppose. We are glad of their generous hospitality. Also, the conversations about hosting, WordPress, Drupal and whatnot were awesome. I think Leah likes using the cameras of others, too:

Leah shoots with Doocecam

I had a great weekend. I am very tired.

Week, here I come!

I have no Xbox

But now I have a gamertag:

Working in the games business, as I do by dint of working for a game company, it’s become sort of sad that I don’t have one.

Even sadder though, is that I’m unlikely to add anything to it anytime soon.

Quote of the Day

“put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry”


Leah and Joe, a Bit Tired

I really like the photo, but we do look a bit worn out. I do like it very much though. Dooce takes some great photos. This photo was from Friday night, pretty late.

Dooce Daily Photo: 12/12/2007: Leah and Joe

Movable Type Open Source

Movable Type went open source yesterday, and I don’t care. Too little, too late. A long time ago, it seemed like MT was the way to put together a blog. It was free for personal use, it was good, it was used by heavyweights of blogging. But I could never get past two things: the first was the fact that the license was not actually open source, not a BSD license, not a GPL license, just “you can use it and it’s free.” Well, I did use it at one job I had many years ago, giving a set of internal developers blogs to keep track of their stuff. I also experimented with installs over the years, but for this blog I went with Blogger initially, and eventually, in 2004, I went with WordPress. The second thing I could not get over was the way comments were handled in MT. I have no idea if it’s still the case that commenting in MT spawns new processes for the Perl interpreter with each comment, but I do know that messages like this one, with people complaining about the performance of MT, are nothing new. Meanwhile, WordPress has superseded MT as the blogging software of choice. It’s not without problems, but the license makes it completely hackable, and I can modify and redistribute whatever hacks I make as much as possible.

Something that’s been important to me since I started blogging was that my site would be portable, forever and ever. Anything with a restrictive license or that puts me in a position to be beholden forever is a nonstarter. I use flickr, sure, but there are options to export everything from flickr, which I take advantage of. I think it’s time to think about a mechanism to export entries from twitter, too. Despite it being so ephemeral, I’d like to capture that stuff too and move it out should I choose to.

Youth Pastor Joe

So at work some of the guys, notably Jukebox JT, have started referring to me as “Youth Pastor Joe” — presumably it’s about my being generally non-confrontational, even-tempered, and diplomatic. They mentioned I should have a public-access TV show and issue helpful messages to the kids today. It’s pretty funny stuff, actually.

Youth Pastor Joe has a nice ring, no? I don’t mind being poked fun of, really. Not if it’s for being a congenial guy.

Flickr Pro Stats Showed Me Uses of My Images

So Flickr Pro users now have access to stats, also announced on the flickr blog on the amounts of traffic they get, and where that traffic comes from. One of the first things I saw was a post on Valleywag that uses an old image from my Amiga Pictures set, here’s another old link to my
amiga set, and another:


Most of my images are licensed under a Creative Commons license, and it’s fun to see where these are used. For example, the Wikipedia article “Book” includes a photo of mine of Kali Kirk at the San Diego City College Learning Resource Center, which was taken for the technical writing class Leah and I took at City College in San Diego several years ago. I mentioned it in a blog post back in 2004. And actually, that image was one that I recieved a note from someone from The Pirate Party about using in a poster back in 2006. I never heard anything more about that though. This is the image:

San Diego City College Learning Resources Center -- retrieve a book -- featuring kali

Two silly ones pulled in from, recent: 1 and 2:



Here’s a usage of this image from a post in Hebrew. Interesting, but I wonder what the article is saying? I tried Google Translate and Babelfish and don’t see any machine Hebrew to English translators. What’s up with Hebrew? Is it harder to machine translate than, say Arabic or Chinese or Korean or Japanese? Or is it simply a less popular language?

Man With A Gun, 1988

More great work from flickr. I’m impressed. We use it to print family photos and get prints at Target, excellent service. Unrelated, but I thought I’d mention it since I’m all warm and fuzzy and enthusiastic about the service today.

Robot Meets Girl

I really like this set of photos, originally from Girl Vogue Korea in January 2006. They are sweet and charming and very 21st Century. If you had asked me in 1986 what I thought magazine fashion spreads for teen girls would look like in 2006, this would have been my answer. Of course, I’d have also told you that the robot would be real and functional. Well, at least we have the illusion of my supposed futurity.

Girl and Robot

Downtown Los Angeles from Griffith Park

Excellent photo by Mack Reed over on “Frigid dawn over Los Angeles”:

Mack Reed’s Photo of Downtown Los Angeles from Griffith Park Observatory

Absolutely beautiful. About ten years ago I worked downtown on the night shift at California Hospital, just a few years after that I worked as a temp at ARCO working on web pages, where I first encountered any server-side programming in a little language called Perl. Photos like these remind me of the great beauty possible in a city some consider ugly and cruel. Not me. Me, I love Los Angeles.

St. James Infirmary

There’s an entire blog devoted to the song St. James Infirmary. It’s called NO NOTES and is pretty great. It’s a testament to the power of the web to provide whole environments where fandom and obsessive scholarship can flourish. I’m a big fan of fansites. If someone has a peculiar obsession, I think that’s great.

I first heard this song song done on Saturday Night Live a jillion years ago performed by Lily Tomlin with Howard Shore and his all Nurse Band. It was such a strange song it burned into my memory. I was probably 10 or 12 years old when I first heard it (so, 1980/1982 or so) -either a rerun or in syndication. It’s from Season 1, Episode 6 of SNL, 1975.

The song is disturbing, sad, about death, but still has a braggadocio that’s really odd. I’m not crazy about the wikipedia entry for the song, but it’s interesting nonetheless. The Lily Tomlin version I can’t find an online video of, but there are some others on the ubiquitous YouTube. Here’s an animated version featuring Coco the Clown over the top of a Cab Calloway version:

And here’s the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo stage show (yes, that Oingo Boingo) covering the song, very much in homage to the Cab Calloway version:

And for yet another take, Cab again, with a more swinging version from 1964. Cab Calloway might be one of the top 10 most watchable musicians ever.

As I said, the song is disturbing. The song’s singer is talking about going down to the infirmary where her girl is on a long white table and is “so cold, so fair” — if not dead, then certainly dying. Then he says she’ll never find a sweet man like him. Then he goes into a whole section on his vanity, and how he wants to be buried. The song is sung with a very real emotion. If anything, the fact that the narrator is a cad actually confirms the reality in a way. I find it very moving.

One of the best versions is by Louis Armstrong. That’s worth seeking out. The Amazon MP3 store has it. In fact, it has 156 versions of the song.

Jelly Belly

Several weeks ago, Leah got me a jar of Jelly Bellies for work from CostCo (our houseguests had a membership and we took advantage of it for a wee little while):

Here they are yesterday, at the tail end of their existence:

Jelly Belly

I like having candy at my desk. Folks come by, they say hello, they hang out. It’s cool. Jelly Bellies are a pretty spiffy candy anyway. Yesterday while playing some Munchkin, the jar got finished. I still have some candy at my desk, leftover from the gingerbread-house making back on Thanksgiving, but it’s almost all gone. If Christmas brings more candy, I expect I’ll have even more to share at my desk.

Valentine’s Day Display in December (?!?)

Valentine's Day Display in December (?!?)

Leah and I took a trip to a local Thousand Oaks Ralphs Supermarket — freeway-close and near the intersection of Moorpark Road and Janss Road — to get some Christmas essentials — namely: colored cellophane paper, candy canes, and IBUPROFEN. And what to my wandering eyes did appear, TWO AISLES OF SEASONAL TRAPPINGS. Only, what Season? Perhaps Christmas? Perhaps New Year’s? Here we are, December 19th in the year of Our Lord, two-thousand and seven. Guess again, says the Universe. No, not Christmas. No, not two aisles of New Year’s hats and noisemakers. The reason for the Season, and a two aisle display of candy and suchlike — VALENTINE’S DAY.


My eyes goggled, I went stiff from shock. I pointed this out to Leah. She was stunned. I snapped a photo so I could chronicle this sign of the times in a blog post.

Greetings America! You’re crazy!

Happy Anniversary, Leahpeah

As of today, three years married for me and Mrs. Leahpeah. It’s been, and continues to be, a pleasure. I have a real partner and someone I learn from and who learns from me every day. What a gift from the Universe.

All my love,


Back From San Diego

Had a great time, and we’re wiped out. Here are some vaguely representative photos via a fuzzy phone camera.

This is Leah and Me at a very unflattering angle listening to my Uncle Lee sing at a local church service (Lutheran) he sounded great!

Christmas eve 2007

And here’s the same uncle and my aunt singing on Christmas Day:

Christmas day.

And here’s a cousin (Mike) and my Grandma (Jean) and the new in-training puppy (Toby):

Mike, Grandma and new dog Toby

That’s all I have for photos. I also have a drawing I did as the basis of an ornament for some friends of ours who happen to love Linux and the Ocean. I did it in pen, then a brush pen, then embellished in PhotoShop. Leah and colored the final product with crayons. That’s right, we were kicking it like 2nd Grade, baby!

Turtle and Tux

Right now, 9:56pm on Christmas Day in the Year of Our Lord 2007, I want to sleep now.

I bid you peace.

No Thanks, Hopelessness

John Scalzi writes a rather moving and rational answer to the eternal questions of “is that all there is?” and “why bother?”

I have to say, it tracks with many of my own philosophies:

Whatever: Reader Request Week 2007 : The Inevitable Blackness That Will Engulf Us All
With the exception of the very last of these, theres not that much to be done about it; the universe is not notably sympathetic to our cries that we should be special and eternal. Its nice you feel that way, the universe is telling us, but one day Im going to end and Im going to take you with me. Once you wrap your brain around this simple and unalterable fact — the fact that not even the universe is getting out of here alive — the rest of it comes pretty easy. And you realize that to some extent worrying about enduring when your genome will dissolve, your planet will dry up, your sun will engulf your home and every single thing that ever was in the universe will randomly pop out of existence, a particle at a time, is a little silly. This frees you to stop freaking out about what will happen in the future and focus on what the hells going on now.

And I say, life’s a gift. Never mind who from, necessarily. Rock out and have a great day!

Happy Holidays!

I like how this animation screwed with my expectations. Supernifty!

Video Killed The Radio Star

Something I missed not being in San Diego. Excellent, inspiring, beautiful cover of the one-hit-wonder. The date on the YouTube video is 2006. The band “The Wrong Trousers” is active on their myspace: via Waxy, where many good things come from

Rain, can’t drive in.

So the lore in Los Angeles is that people in Los Angeles can’t drive in the rain. It feels so true, everyone says it. Even I say it, and I have lived in enough places to know that things are the same all over.

Anyway, one of my favorite blogs, Militant Angeleno did some research and that research has resulted in the post: Militant Angeleno: Raining, Blaming, Maintaining, Hydroplaning. The upshot, people all over claim their fellow citizens can’t drive. It’s not unique to Los Angeles in the least. I find myself quite surprised.

The Militant will now provide a (by no means comprehensive) list of sites and blogs from around the country, via his Militant research, which declare the drivers of their respective locales (including some known for frequent precipitation) as people who “Can’t drive in the rain.”

Richmond, VA




Roanoke, VA

The Bay Area

The Bay Area again


Austin, TX (look out, Virginia, you got competition!)

Central Alabama

South Carolina, Alaska, Canada and New York


The South

Hawai’i (A state which is home to the world’s rainiest place)

Springfield, VA (Way to go, Virginia!)

and finally…


Ronald McDonald

Originally uploaded by Bill Rini

Bill Rini was in Thailand for Christmas and took a lot of great photos. but I really like this one of a statue of Ronald McDonald with his hands in what I think might be a Buddhist greeting.

Different cultures are different!

Healing Moral Fissures at DoD

Retired General McCaffrey’s comments about Iraq after doing an extensive weeklong visit there, including leading with leadership and common people are heartening, particularly the bit about healing the moral stance of the Department of Defense. I really like the terse, matter-of-fact style. It reminds me a bit of the style in which Dave Ramsey gives financial advice.

General McCaffrey Iraq AAR (Small Wars Journal Blog)
The leadership of Secretary Bob Gates in DOD has produced a dramatic transformation of our national security effort which under the Rumsfeld leadership was characterized by: a failing under-resourced counter-insurgency strategy; illegal DOD orders on the abuse of human rights; disrespect for the media and the Congress and the other departments of government; massive self-denial on wartime intelligence; and an internal civilian-imposed integrity problem in the Armed Forces — that punished candor, de-centralized operations, and commanders initiative.

Admiral Mullen as CJCS and Admiral Fallon as CENTCOM Commander bring hard-nosed realism and integrity of decision-making to an open and collaborative process which re-emerged as Mr. Rumsfeld left office. (Mr. Rumsfeld was an American patriot, of great personal talent, energy, experience, bureaucratic cleverness, and charisma — who operated with personal arrogance, intimidation and disrespect for the military, lack of forthright candor, avoidance of personal responsibility, and fundamental bad judgment.)

Secretary Gates has turned the situation around with little drama in a remarkable display of wisdom, integrity, and effective senior leadership of a very complex and powerful organization. General Petraeus now has the complete latitude and trust in his own Departmental senior civilian leadership to have successfully changed the command climate in the combat force in Iraq. His commanders now are empowered to act in concert with strategic guidance. They can frankly level with the media and external visitors. I heard this from many senior leaders — from three star General to Captain Company commanders.

via Thomas PM Barnett

Lovely Animation: Chinese Translation

Quiet Faith in Man

This post by Dave Segovia, who I’ve mentioned before, VINCENT, THOMAS, and ME has been knocking about in my brain for a few weeks. Much as we worry about the toxins and pollutants and sure as they do us damage, science and medicine end up tasked with correcting the wrongs, they sort of do the job. It’s especially moving, somehow, because Dave himself has had a lot of medical procedures.

A quote: “…when living in Modern America caught up with me, after fifty years accumulation of all of the above, and more, and worse, Science and Medicine bailed me out. Psychotropics, organ transplants, blood thinners, beta-blockers, new surgical breakthroughs, and a zillion more advances have and will be there when our naivete’ and ignorance catch up with us. Just do our best and have quiet faith in MAN.”

Presidential Hopefuls Can’t Help Lying

What is wrong with these clowns!?!? Sorting Truth From Campaign Fiction

Mitt Romney says he “saw” his father “march” with Martin Luther King Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani claims that he is one of the “five best-known Americans in the world.” According to John McCain, the Constitution established the United States as a “Christian nation.” Ron Paul believes that a “NAFTA superhighway” is being planned to link Mexico with Canada and undermine U.S. sovereignty.

On the other side of the political divide, Sen. Barack Obama says there are more young black males in prison than in college. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton claims she has a “definitive timetable” for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. John Edwards insists that NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — has cost Americans “millions of jobs.” Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. boasts about his experience negotiating an arms-control treaty with Leonid Brezhnev.

All those claims, made over the past four months as part of the presidential campaign, are demonstrably false.

With just four days until the Iowa caucuses, the art of embellishment and downright fibbing is alive and well in American politics. But the popularity of blogs, YouTube and information databases such as LexisNexis, along with the 24-hour news cycle, has made it easier than ever for the media and rival campaigns to spot the mistakes and exaggerations of presidential candidates.

via Paul Kedroskys’ Infectious Greed

From April

Joe and Leah by Grace Davis

I like this photo by Grace Davis very much. It’s from dinner at Olio E Limone prior to going to see Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris perform.

Happy New Year!


Random image, for a not bad year. Lovely mellow night here with the kids, in and out at parties.


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