Half excellence, half crap, all the flavor

writers blog

newsy sorta things

use.perl or die;
Daily Rotten
Ars Technica
Electronic Frontier Foundation

other places in no special order

Crummy: The Site
new f.*ing techniques

particularly informative on particular topics

Urban Legend Reference Pages

cold storage: ARCHIVES

Found a blog in New Zealand that doesn't seem to be about anything yet. I'll stay tuned.

Oh, and I just signed up at Great Minds Working, a site that I believe is attempting to be for AI research what use.perl; is for Perl. Chao only knows whether I'll have anything useful to contribute.

Did I mention that occasionally our spy agencies do crazy dumb shit?

  posted by Gregory @ 2:56 PM


Hey, what do you get when you combine

  • the juvenile male need to obsess about female sexual organs
  • high technology

Huh? Bet you never expected someone to create a PantsCam! At least, not anybody but a porn star.

If Alison does sell this sort of technology to a porn star, trust that their site would quickly become a huge draw. Alison's got herself quite a technology here.

  posted by Gregory @ 2:54 PM


Oh, and here's another reason it's important to take all of your antibiotics: apparently bacterial colonies can communicate in order to help preserve failing colonies.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:15 PM

Must remember to investigate Jarl a bit.

I got _Programming Jabber_ and now I'm really curious as to what sort of villainy I could come up with using Jabber. One dumb idea I had was a chat client where you made a trusted connection with one other person, based on a rock-solid authentication scheme. Every person they have a connection with shows up in your list, but they show up with a lower trust rating. Every person those people have in their lists shows up, but with an even lower trust rating.

Clearly, this wouldn't be helpful for a business (where identities could be verified through, presumably, some easier system) but it hearkens back to the days of trust certificates. I don't know yet if this is even remotely feasible.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:32 AM

Gotta get a resume together. Gotta talk to my friends who have already managed to secure geek jobs, see if they need other people where they're working. Gotta get some decent clothes out of the mass that is my laundry and pound the pavement.

I should free-associate a big list of things that might work on a resume and then move from there.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:21 AM

First up: Kudos to the Russians. They're deploying a solar sail, and it's about time someone did.

Second: Quantum Cryptography, here at last!

All we need now are shiny silver suits and jetpacks to go to work with and I won't be so disappointed about not having them two years ago, In The Year 2000.

I went to Sears and purchased a Craftsman Rotary Tool, the one-speed model, plus an engraver bit. It came with a few others, but I need to perform a few tests with the engraver bit and a piece of scrap hematite to see just what kind of result is achieved, and how protected my eyeballs need to be (I'm thinking safety goggles). I've had bits of metal in my eyes before, and the resulting trip to the ER was not a very pleasant one, IMHO.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:57 AM

These days, Google's one of my best friends. A friend I'm just starting to love is the Internet Archive, formerly known as the Wayback Machine. You put in a URL, it checks if it has any copies indexed, and if it does it gives you the option of which date you want to look at. Kind of like a flash-frozen version, without pictures (usually).

The Archive is trying to stay afloat, and trying to convince Congress not to extend copyright, just like Eldritch Press. Did I mention that Openlaw's got updates on the hearing status and a forum?

  posted by Gregory @ 5:04 AM


I remember reading (maybe a year ago) about the results of a study on incompetence.

The study divided people into groups based on competence within a domain (according to an expert within that domain) and then tested how competent they thought they were.

Four divisions existed (we'll call them Incompetent, Competent, Really Competent, and Super Competent: I, C, RC, and SC for short). Within those divisions, C people tended to think they were C, RC thought they were RC or I, and SCs tended to know they were competent. The interesting results were in the I division, where people tended to think they were SC.

What's that mean?

Two things. First, people need better strategies for determining their competency than current tests and their results on them. Right now, some people walk around not realizing they're really, really bad at things.

Second, if I'm incompetent, there's a good chance I don't know it.

Where am I going with this?

I need to get a job this summer. Over school I could skate by on the VA checks I get due to my father's various injuries; however, after this semester I won't be able to do that. Ideally, I would get a job where I could put some Perl to some data and get paid.

Ideally. But I live in Maine, the epicenter of anti-hope, the non-tech of the world. Kentucky makes the place look downright modern, but it isn't. It's maybe fifteen years behind the tech curve. People here are just getting on the cellphone bandwagon.

If I look for a job here, these people are going to look for prior experience, a degree, or samples of work. I have none of the above; I've been doing the school thing, and the school thing has been kicking my ass.

It's not impossible. There's the faint, faint chance that I could get a paid internship over the summer if I really try. But this brings out my worry, the one that goes: "What if this thing's way over your head? What if you fail miserably at this job? What then?"

But I definately don't want to go back to (what used to be) envisioNet, and I'd like to not go back to Subway either.

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

--Anais Nin

  posted by Gregory @ 4:08 PM


NEW! On ABC! It's "Self-Inflicted"! The game show where high calibers and high rollers mix freely!

" the TEN MILLION DOLLAR grand prize...we're going to shoot you in the abdomen. We have hospital staff in the room, ready to work on you. Your estimated odds of death are 1 in 15. Are you ready?"

"I'm ready, Alex."



"...after this break, we'll show you how Christine did..."

  posted by Gregory @ 2:36 PM

Now, homeowners will laud the attempted murder of a toilet paper prankster.

The attorney was charged with aggravated assault involving a deadly weapon, later reduced to a misdemeanor charge. He was sentenced to two years on probation.

Why do I get the feeling that if this same attorney were to have a gun pointed at him, the person who did that would already be serving their 20-year sentence for various charges?

Regardless of the point that LAWYERS RULE THE LEGAL SYSTEM, it should be noted that this guy wasn't multiply targeted, was at no threat to life and limb, etc. Quite literally, he reacted with a firearm and assault to something that most people react to with legal action. Doesn't that sound familiar -- reaction without thought, behaviors outside the law?

Hey, you're probably thinking what I was thinking...that this guy probably toilet papered a few houses in his day. Probably got in some fistfights, too -- and would be willing to defend the viewpoint that "fistfights are more honorable than toilet paper".

Ten bucks says he has no verbal response to that.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:46 PM

I found out that Tate has linked my little home page from his links; I happened to per-use the rest of his pages and found out he's working on installing an MP3 player in his car. Believe it or not, I think it's a good idea; hell, who knows, Tate's company might be the primary producer of them in ten years or something. (Plus I'd love to do something like this for my own car. Well, my own next car.)

  posted by Gregory @ 12:53 PM

Yesterday, due to the SOTF's pain from impacted smart-teeth, we went to the local ER for walk-in care. We walked out two "didn't get anything done" hours later, with a scrip for Vicodin and a scrip for penicillen. Whee.

I realize this is no fun for her, but it's already happened to me, and I'm doing just fine. Of course, I'm getting increasingly phobic of medicinal situations, so that may not be from fortitude.

Got home, went to sleep, woke up, brought Laura to work, and immediately downstairs neighbor asked if I could bring her daughter to school. Sure. Load up, bring her daughter to school. Downstairs neighbor would like to know if I could possibly bring her to the bank so she can cash her check.

This is a reasonable request -- she does pay me forty dollars a week, quite a chunk of her current income, so I agree -- and the minute we leave, it turns out that she still has to pick up one check, that we have to go to each check's issuing bank, and that she's also got to rent a table from a local rental place.

The minute I get home and drop downstairs neighbor off, Laura has called from work, and she'd like to fill her scrips. Reasonable, again. I load up again, pick her up, get her scrips filled, drop her back off at work, and go home.

There is a message waiting for me on the machine. Her work has just let her go home early.

Now, I know for a fact that the "managers" at her store are in fact brain-damaged chimpanzees, I've known this since I've known her, but this is a new low. I load up, I get Laura again, and bring her home.

Upshot: I got nothing done in five hours except waste gas and notch a few more miles off my car's ever-shortening lifespan.

That's today's frustration. NBD, in the long run, but I punched a few cinder-block walls at her work when nobody was looking, just to release tension. I like when the world is churning and I can watch it happen; I hate when I'm churning and the world's watching me. Mostly I just hate wasting an entire morning on crap that all feels like Somebody Else's Problem.

And in important news, you might notice, near the bottom of the page, a little multicolored graphic. It's Site Meter, so be warned -- your actions here have been recorded. :P

  posted by Gregory @ 11:51 AM


  posted by Gregory @ 10:09 AM


One of my friends who sends me one or two forwards a month sent me an email once which was written by one of those people; the ones that send you the angel things, or the ones that send you the "little kid saw God" things. It was (no shit) a spam that extolled the virtues of the spammers, explaining that they didn't have a lot of time in their lives but felt like the targets would find it funny/poignant/whatever.

I don't send used greeting cards around. I don't photocopy old love letters I sent to people years back and send them anew with the name changed. There isn't a replacement for thoughtfulness, and even if there was one, it sure as hell wouldn't be the "forward" button.

I have a new idea. An awful idea. A mean, harsh idea. I hope someone less nice than I takes this idea and runs with it.

The program is installed and monitors incoming email. You can flag specific messages as spam, or individual senders, or anybody with the last name "Gillespie", or whatever. It just monitors what's coming in at first.

Once a certain proscribed limit has been reached, it goes off.

I have two ideas for how the bomb can explode. One is that it keeps Markov stats for the mail coming in, and generates a chain of random spammyness, sending different pseudospams to those people constantly. Another is that it learns the bounce technique; each email they send, it finds ten different spams (from your mail) and sends those back in thanks. People who send you five get fifty. People who send you two get twenty.

When they email you after this happens, and complain, the program automatically sends back a form letter that reads like this:

Dear *name of chucklehead*
I'm sorry! You sent me something so (funny|interesting|heartwarming) that I just HAD to send you these!

After that limit has been reached and the bomb goes off, it stays in "off" mode. Every time they send to you, and it fits the criteria, they get back a lot more. This would stop spamily pretty quick, I think. With the Markov chainer, it would be better, because they couldn't be sure that the spam was one they'd read; the subject line would probably be different. Markov chaining takes resources, though; that's why the random-spam would be better.

Anybody who wants to make this thing has my express permission. I don't know enough about SMTP or POP or anything to do this. Anybody with design suggestions can send those too; I may someday have the know-how to do this myself.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:07 AM

SQL! How cool is that shit?

I'm just starting with it but I love it to death. Neat stuff, neat stuff, neat stuff. (It's a little bit of a bonus that Access generates this stuff, but I know SQL's got more to it than just Microsoft backing.)

  posted by Gregory @ 9:18 AM

I try to be a compassionate human being. I do my best in life to find any loss unfortunate, should it be a mouse or an insect or a person.

But, if someone has to die, why not an asshole?

  posted by Gregory @ 6:33 AM

In good news, I scored a Black Night on this quiz. :)

which "monty python and the holy grail" character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen

  posted by Gregory @ 6:20 PM


I'm collecting all the stuff I have for various rituals (just the multiple-use stuff, not the items explicitly purchased for one-shot rituals). My main problem right now is that I don't know how I'm going to turn my polished hematite chunks into runes; an electric micro-engraver came to mind, but I need something visible. I'm only an amateur craftsman, so I'm thinking of turning to paint of some sort, but that seems somehow too temporary. This is all supposed to be machine-based; it would only make sense that I would use a machine to engrave my iron ore.
Need to figure out how, though.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:05 PM

Oddly enough...

which children's storybook character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen

In other news, I'm swamped. I have a five-minute, high-pressure presentation for tomorrow as a final, and a largish chunk of work to do in one of my classes.

On the up side, we're covering binary search trees and stuff along those lines in MAT 281, but I get it. It's actually pretty easy for me so far. This is good, because it means I might do well on the final.

  posted by Gregory @ 5:13 PM

New philo blog post.

I should get another pint of Ben And Jerry's Karamel Sutra. Good, good stuff. Cores are lovely, lovely things in ice cream. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 12:48 AM


Realistically, there have always been those who sacrifice themselves to reality (the bouncers, bodyguards, police forces) so that the idealists (your artists, suburbanites, authors) can continue to function. They probably don't see it that way, but that is effectively what they do.

The problem with that is -- if there aren't any heavies to protect your interests, and you're not enough of a heavy yourself -- then you get squashed and taken over by a rival.

Now, relate this to the tech industry. The government has heavies. The media industry has heavies. The tech sector has no heavies. That, in a nutshell, is why $600 billion-a-year information-technology sector is letting itself get pushed around by the $20 billion-a-year entertainment industry.

That's right. That guy who doesn't know how to dress and talks with his mouth open, or the kid who has purple hair and swipes music all the time at his day job -- they're part of something much, much larger than pop stars and Jack "Please, Love Me" Valenti.

We just don't have heavies yet.

There are some options. The tech sector could grow a pair, but that frankly seems awful to contemplate; if the leaders of this industry become like the leaders of that industry, it'll be just as awful. We're wimps, and that's okay. Wimps are less likely to posture, less likely to whine, less likely to think we own the world.

We could hire them. This almost seems like the best plan; if we stole some of the music industry's best lobbyists and what-have-you, told them to do what it takes, and let them grind the music industry into a fine white powder, I suspect nobody would cry except Jack.

There's another option. We could let them take us over through governmental regulation. It would suck ass. Outlaws would be the only people able to do what millions do right now.

In short: Fuck the music industry. The new kid on the block (pardon my reference to five dweebs from Boston) may have let you call him names, but that may not last.

And the tech sector's in high school. The music industry is a fifth grader, fucking clown shoes.

The day all this shit is over, I sincerely hope I can put up a picture of a tombstone with the words "Music Industry R.I.H., You Fuckers Deserved It". I hope Jack Valenti is eating cat food.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:32 PM


In class. So tired. Must do homework when get home. Homework for Roper. Homework not hard.


In stupid news, I managed to lose the Zip disk I was doing Perlstuff on. Fuckledy fuck fuck.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:27 PM

She's going in late. Except for taking Laura to work, and taking downstairs neighbor to work again later for her night job, I have the rest of the day... deal with downstair neighbor's kids.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:01 AM


I don't know what's happening today. Got up at 7:30, as usual, and went downstairs.

My babysitting client is currently trying to work two jobs simultaneously, and it's not working out. She's either going in late to her day job or else not going at all.

If she doesn't go to her day job, she will still probably be going to her night job. This means I have to bring her to work, but it also means I can't take care of her kids while she's at work late.

On the up side, this gives me time to do the final for my web class.

  posted by Gregory @ 5:46 AM

Math test: Finished
Documents containing answers: Emailed
Plans to drink at home: Changed To Bowling
Rum and coke I had at bowling alley: Just Rum
Time: Fairly Late
Gotta get up: 7:00
So I need to: Sleep

  posted by Gregory @ 8:46 PM


I ended up at Wally World after picking up Laura, and because I'm easily suckered into things, I ate a hot dog for a good cause. A hot dog that was grilled and came with sauteed onions, I might note.

My body hates me. My stomach is giving me the kind of guilt trip my mother could only dream of. "Onions?! Onions, plus filthy ground-up animal, after most of a package of bacon and most of a carton of eggs? YOU expect to live to 200? Ha! Medical science couldn't keep your arteries from crawling out your ass before you're forty!"

Math, right. Math test. That and Karamel Sutra.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:10 PM


Oh, about the eggs: I ate ten eggs today. I have no idea why. I made a (sort of) normal breakfast of three strips of bacon and three fried eggs, which is much heavier than what I'm used to; but I slurped it all down, no problem, and felt like more.

Six more strips of bacon and seven eggs later, I'm wondering when my body's finally going to say, no, no, stop, for fuck's sake, quit, but it hasn't happened. As such, I'm trying to take my mind off food so I don't polish off the whole package of bacon in one day.

As for the eggs...I have plenty of eggs. :D

I'm also, desperately, trying to finish a discrete math quiz and test. The quiz and test are proving that they are quite a tag-team opponent; I've never been so frustrated with math that I hit myself on the head before, but it happened half an hour ago.

Speaking of unhealthy food...Ben And Jerry have these new flavors where there's a goo core to the pint of ice cream. I got Karamel Sutra, which has a thick core of caramel. God, does it. I stuck a spoon in and stirred the middle. There's enough caramel to almost put me off caramel.


  posted by Gregory @ 12:22 PM

Reggie Reno's It Never Rains, something of a companion narrative to ADHD, the strip he'd been doing before, definately provides a glimpse into a mentality some of us could never reach. (Which, it should be understood, is a good thing.) I find myself surprised at roughly every turn; it never, not once, occurred to me to purchase awful meat products for the sake of revenge or in order to take action pranking other people.

I admit I'm abnormal, but I'm always surprised to find there's things I just didn't think of doing.

See, I have three cartons of eggs in my fridge right now. I will most likely eat them over the course of...

(counts on fingers)

...the next three days. But now I realize I could just as easily create a fried egg piece of art on top of some yuppie's car once the heat starts up this summer.

I consider this a valuable insight -- mostly because I need range as a writer -- but also because, what the hell, I might actually end up needing to prank someone someday. You just never know.

I like Reggie's stuff anyway. ADHD is really funny, and INR is funny too, but it's complex funny, funny mixed with seeming nostalgia and blenderized childishness. It's a good read, too.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:17 PM

How many times does a police force lie before they get some sort of spanking?

I ask because apparently there's a large chunk of Columbine evidence being withheld from public scrutiny. That's nice -- I'm sure some politeness filter is the reason -- but each time they release some stuff, they claim that it's the last, that's it, no more.

And then they release something else.

It borders on lying. Hell, scratch that, it's as close as you can get to officially lying without being held accountable.

The maps are interesting, too, actually. Apparently the police managed to get bullets very close to some students, large amounts of physical evidence remain to be identified, and a large cluster of witnesses have not been publicly identified either.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:24 PM


Seriously interesting: A research project in New Mexico wants to model biological immune systems for computer security. It's not such a crazy idea, really.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:35 PM

Read the saga of U.K. Das.

They're trying to build a Perl desktop environment. Why not a Doom OS? Hell, there's work being done in that direction already. Why not?

Eventually, as time went on, people would build skins and geography (can't really call it level-building, because it's not supposed to fit within a linear framework) to trade around, customizing their "home world".

  posted by Gregory @ 11:35 AM

I guess you really can't tell what people will do with a new technology

  posted by Gregory @ 10:29 AM

I am feeling great nostalgia for _Shadowrun_, mostly because of the Denver Data Haven that existed within the SR universe.

It was a secure dumping ground, a place you could back up important data that you wanted to keep a copy of somewhere physically remote from you; it was a message system, where secure messages could be left for others, and it was self-policed, watched over by a handful of key players, perhaps thirty underlings, and a host of software devices that acted as guards, researchers, etc. It was also a hyperreal virtual reality (because it was part of the Matrix of Shadowrun, an equivalent to the modern Net today if it had a neural VR feed.) A cross between the Wayback Machine, Slashdot, and Doom, if you will.

It was a neat place to read about, and it would be a neat reality were it a feasible thing. It isn't, though. Not quite yet.

Now I'm wondering about the possibility of using hacked Doom code to build a login system that hooks you to a database backend of user-modifiable content, which would also be accessible through a Slashlike web interface.


  posted by Gregory @ 10:19 AM

Okay. I found a link to...shit, I promised myself I wasn't gonna cry...I found a picture of the first hard drive ever created. It's hard to tell what's in the picture, so read the caption carefully.

Miniaturization is a beautiful thing. Goddamn I love technology.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:56 AM

It's been a rough start to the morning. I still have to finish those exams because I ended up occupied with other, less important things yesterday. In the words of the immortal John Cleese: "This parrot is no more."

Wait, I had an appropriate quote, really...hang on. Shit. It's gone.

Anyway, the further rough of the morning includes Andy, my teacher friend, calling me up yesterday and discussing the Hole from yesterday because (he claimed) his fingers were tired from constant Net action. Heh. Lookit my endurance! I can Net for DAYS at a time!

Also -- and I'm not totally sure of this yet, partly because of my memory problem -- I seem to have misinterpreted Anil Dash's intent. One of my posts had a link to one of his, and it was concerning weblogs as journalism.

Hang on. Checking...okay. I remember writing this:

I find it odd that someone's just come to the conclusion that weblogs are journalism. By definition, they're journalism, since they're journals. But yeah, I get the point.

...I think my thrust was surprise at people just coming to that conclusion, when it could have easily been arrived at six months ago, and not necessarily agreement that blogs are or are not journalism. I do apologize to Anil, however; it's not the best link to indicate what he thought on the matter. As such, here's a better link.

Now that those things have been said, I do have a few thoughts on the matter.

Who's heard the phrase "horseless carriage"? It refers to a car. It referred to a car before the word "car" could refer to something that had a self-contained engine and was steerable by passengers (car was once a word used to refer to part of a railway train, y'know). They became "automobiles" at some point, because people realized that these were not horseless carriages, they were something completely different.

The only reason the word "email" will remain a standard for ages is because it's easy to say. "Horseless carriage" was not easy to say. "Automobile" was easier. "Car" easier still.

"Officeless constant electronic newspaper" is both inaccurate (as "horseless carriage" could literally be taken as a carriage, sitting in place, with no mechanism for movement at all) and incorrect, in the sense that blogs aren't meant to be newspapers.

The very real, very enormous difference of these things is that journalism has a tendency to be applied to large-appeal media. You don't see news stories like this in real newspapers, because if you did, people who didn't personally know the target of the story would not give a warm crap.

This is small-appeal. If you really, really had to, you could mentally apply a scale, looking for numbers, and say that if a newspaper were written by less than ten whole people for a target audience of less than four hundred, it's officially a BLOG.

Or, more realistically, you could realize that scale's not the point. After you get down to a certain atomic level, the word doesn't really apply. Blogs are (usually) meant to target so few people that the word "journalism" becomes far too inaccurate.

We need a new word. Oh, hey! We've got one.

In other news, the music industry is saying, "I told you so!" I'm pretty sure most people's reactions to the music industry woes are the same: "Yeah, we knew that. Ha!"

Honestly, why does the music industry think it's going to get sympathy from people? I have real trouble feeling anything but contempt for the overrated middlemen. You can't have both: Will it be the Music, or the Industry? I vote music.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:59 AM

Andy has bitched that -- although the flaws in the modern American educational system are as glaring as headlights -- that I personally don't have a better plan. Perhaps not. But the Hole In The Wall sounds like a vast improvement, frankly, over our current system of producing dronish, destroyed teachers. Bizarrely enough, it turns out that you don't have to scare kids into learning if you're not an asshole!

Re: Assholery...hey, you, the one telling your kids in the supermarket how they're embarrassing you? I have half a mind to hit you with something. It's not rocket science: If you are petulant, whiny, and attempt to enforce your "rule" through scare tactics, why do you think your children behave like oppressed dissidents? Because. They. ARE. You're a pathetic dictator, and your kids know it.

Go find a nice place to die and leave your children to be raised by wolves or pandas or something.

  posted by Gregory @ 2:09 PM


A quick quote from Alice...

Those who speak of relaxing with a cup of tea have never had real is like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.

Perhaps not quite a shot of adrenaline, but King Cole tea is quite strong, more so than Lipton. So a cup of that, combined with 1.5 liters of Dew, combined with half of a Great One at Dunkin' wonder I can't sleep. :\

  posted by Gregory @ 11:21 PM


And, finally, I can only hope for the best...I just set up my slashdot account.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:42 PM

And now, to fulfill Fifty/Fifty's required obvious news duties, we present a few items from various sources.

Hey, it scares me that binge drinking can damage your brain. Had I known this, I never would have taken my first drink of alcohol. The really weird part is that there's a warning on every single bottle, usually about birth defects or general health risks or whatever. It's like alcohol is bad for you! I know it isn't; I keep up with all those stories about red wine and all. Still, this gives one pause.

In further obvious news, the U.S. Patent office has been binge drinking, because they've definately got some problems. They issued a patent for swinging sideways on a swing. I vote either brain damage or else nobody in the Patent Office had ever heard of a swing, likely since they seem to be the type barred from swing-play by larger, cruder specimens of human children.

Oh, and PDAs are going to be more powerful in the future. I figured they'd just stop improving them after a while, instead of trying to make them as powerful as desktop machines. I mean, why bother?

  posted by Gregory @ 10:05 PM

And now, to fulfill Fifty/Fifty's required weird science duties we present a few items, all from Rotten News.

(One of the things I love about Rotten News is how reading it reminds one of the first time they read the GURPS supplement _Illuminati_.)

First off, the ants have it -- greater lumps of social organization, that is. Apparently Europe's sporting quite an ant colony these days, one that's thousands of miles long. Perhaps the world will finally recognize that Europeans hold the world record for polite behavior: Even their insects work together for a common goal. ;)

Second, apparently chemistry books aren't always right. Apparently the pentamethylcyclopentadienyl cation was synthesized. (Boy, who didn't see that coming?)

Lastly, reading too much has officially become what school officials like to call "a problem", when what they're thinking is "a problem we can convince a doctor to drug the shit out of". Lovely. Next up: Hypercognition, which is easily picked up on when a child can outsmart the adults paid to be smarter than it, knows more than their parents, and does more intelligent things than the rest of their class. Hypercognition is a severe disability, leading to social anxiety (by those without it), lack of clumsy injuries, and low bullshit tolerance...but there's a new drug, Duhmassderest, which promises to prevent understanding, limit intellectual behavior, and prevent thinking during the medically established "non-thinking" years (0-18), during which most students experience blissful unawareness.

  posted by Gregory @ 9:42 PM

Okay, sure, Gord is funny. And certainly the Gord seems sharp as a tack. The only thing I can take difference with is Gord's attitude towards the lesser creatures walking the earth in human guise, the Willfully Ignorant. Certainly, the Willfully Immoral get what they deserve on these pages, and I've certainly been just as unkind to the W.I. in the past.

I don't know. I just imagine a huge lynch mob comprised of stupid, angry, evil people. I'm paranoid, though.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:54 AM


I'm not going to tell you what I scored on the Freak or Comprehensive DDR Personality Test. I just recommend you take 'em, 'sall.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:22 PM


I could just sing about this -- Disney might get its ass handed to it soon over Winnie The Frickin' Pooh. My life is just getting better and better. :) If this becomes Real Wide News, perhaps Disney's pretty little image will be irreparably tarnished. Considering what the slimeballs who run it did to something innovative (yeah, I'll admit it, Walt Disney's work was innovation), I say they can't possibly end up poor or disreputable enough.

  posted by Gregory @ 3:09 PM


By the way -- I don't mean to repeat something to the point of cloying fanboyishness, but thank you, thank you, and thank you again, gnat. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 8:59 PM


Um...hi, my name is Greg.

"Hi, Greg."

My name is Greg and I...I, too, suffer from a certain social disease.

"You have to say the name, Greg."

My name is Greg, and I always carry a book with me.

See, when I was younger I always, almost always, had my nose in a book. I spent my entire study halls in the library, with a beanbag, snuggled into the fiction nook (which was really all my library could afford). It was an unthinkable thing then -- as it is now -- for me to go somewhere without a book.

I've broken myself of the habit in certain circumstances. If I go to the supermarket, it's unlikely -- now -- that I'll bring a book.

But, should someone be driving me somewhere, or if there's the remotest possibility that I'll have time to get a few lines in, I will make sure to have reading material with me. I keep a binder of all the sections of the Perl Bookshelf I've printed (perhaps equal to four chapters now, which is quite a bit of dead-tree-saving). When I got four fillings last Wednesday, that binder was lodged firmly between my knees (so it wouldn't fall while my hands clutched the arms of the chair).

Normally I carry my entire schoolbag with me. Lockers made no sense to me in high school, because I never kept anything in them; all my books traveled with me. Still do, only now they're lighter, sometimes.

I've gotten flak from people before about the fact I have reading material with me at all times. Sometimes I attribute this to the concept of "politeness" that some people ascribe to, the one that entails a set of rules about behavior with friends. "Be pleasant, and don't laugh too hard. Smile confidentially. Always have a nice clean joke."

To me, friends are people I specifically don't have to play parent with. "Ooooh, aren't we having a lovely conversation! Who's a diddy-dum-dum! Look at your rattle!" kind of talk has always put me off. I realize I'm in the minority on this, but I also have trouble seeing it any other way.

Sometimes I attribute it to the (especially in Maine) seemingly pervasive mental flaw that books have words, and words are bad. You can check for yourself if people around you have this problem; they get suckered by typos a lot. Not that they make typos a lot, just that they don't catch them. Better, ask them to read something out loud to you; if they hurry through and leave lots of words out, they probably try to avoid reading. The cause of this is usually a flawed educational system, where reading is made to be the most boring, mundane thing on Earth for many people. (I was lucky, I found erotic literature early on.)

Usually I just brush it off, but if it's someone I'm becoming acquainted with, I'll usually ask them if they're scared of books. If they're ig-nunt types, this offends their sense of pride and they claim they're not, shutting them up; if they're smarter than that and hung up on "polite", this usually provokes a discussion on polite social action.

My bookbag has...let's see, currently has four books in it, none of which are "textbooks" in the sense that they're required for class; one of which is perhaps a "textbook" in the sense that it attempts to cover a topic in a learning-conducive manner. I carry my class-books in my arm. ;)

  posted by Gregory @ 12:35 PM

The coolest thing happened to me today. (Hi, gnat!)

Here's the long and short of it: I keep Fifty/Fifty, but before Fifty/Fifty, there was (and is) my use.perl; journal. (I heartily recommend that if you are involved with that lovely programming language in some way that you get your mind's behind over there and over to the Monastery as well.) Anyway, I've been posting about Tk lately, and the book _Mastering Tk/Perl_ was suggested. gnat reads my entries (I suspect it's for laughs, because I'm not all that good at anything Perl yet) and offered me a freebie.

Now, to lots of people, that's a nice gesture. I am not lots of people. Books have been my life from the age of five on. Two of my greatest desires in life are to Write A Book and Code Really Useful Things, so programming books, as you can imagine, are the stuff of my waking intellectual wet dreams.

So to speak.

Not to mention that, for gnat, it's a freebie from the publisher; for me, it's a hot piece of Perl, a series of furtive nights reading when I should be sleeping, a cherished addition to my library, and it's being able to eat a little more on a college student's budget.

Furthermore -- and I quote:

We've got to reward your remorseless blogging somehow :-)

That's right. Blogging isn't just a good idea, it has rewards now. :)

I can't imagine a better time that this could have happened. Right when things seemed to be turning dark and the flood waters were rising, a ray of light, a sighting of high ground...

  posted by Gregory @ 4:43 PM


I find it odd that someone's just come to the conclusion that weblogs are journalism. By definition, they're journalism, since they're journals. But yeah, I get the point.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:30 PM

a large heaping helping of insecurity, if you please

I'm worried, honestly, about my job prospects this summer. One is No Job, and No Job has some up sides but the pay is problematic. Another is Microdyne, and beyond my personal feelings about the place, it really wasn't the worst job I ever had, just close. I could do it again if I had to, but I'd rather not, really. Option Three is Chasing Small Jobs, which could easily work well (some people do it for a living and only have headaches come tax time), but could easily work not so well, considering my relative lack of experience.

Fourthly, there's Possible Good Job. Chasing PGJ will take time, but imagine how I'd feel once I had enough money to pay for school, food, etc., and I was doing work I liked.

Four options. In order of likelihood, 3, 1, 2, 4. 4 and 3 could be quite likely but I'd never know it.

I guess we'll see.

  posted by Gregory @ 2:34 PM

Hey, it's not any news to me that good things come from the military. That's where a lot of funding goes. Same for the space program. Bring on the three-year-shelf-life sandwiches!

  posted by Gregory @ 11:55 AM

Finally, sensical talk concerning the copyright mess. Whatever else Marc Andreesen may have done, he's hit the nail on the head.

Of course, I still think that large media's dead in five years, but if they'd like to stay afloat for a while, what he recommends is probably the best way to do it.

  posted by Gregory @ 9:02 PM


Well, I'm glad someone finally noticed.

Do you have Superpowers??

I took the Paragon Powers Test and tested positive for

  posted by Gregory @ 2:32 PM

Beyond all belief, folks, a purposefully deaf baby was had by a couple somewhat recently. It's hard to imagine what one can say about this, really, because it's such an easy target.

I improperly identify some shades of green as red and vice versa. It's a condition called Daltonism, after a physicist named Dalton. Would I enforce this upon other human beings? No. Not in a million years. These things hash out for reasons, and I don't think it's anybody's job -- parents or not -- to ensure that their child is born with some specific set of traits.

They had another kid, who came out with hearing in one ear. They're not giving him a hearing aid in the other, claiming that they want to leave it up to him when he gets older.

I wonder why their first baby didn't get such a choice.

The problem, of course, isn't that it's a lesbian couple, or that they're deaf, or anything like that -- it's the assumption made by parents the world over that they own their children, not that they are their guardians. There is a difference, and it's the difference between a police state and a police force -- one is totalitarian, and one acts in the best interests of the people they protect. Note that doesn't include "infringe on the rights of", or "force into a situation just like their own".

The word parents is all too often synonymous in the minds of parents with "owner". Somebody needs to slap these people around a little bit, or -- better -- just ship them off and hand their children to someone civilized.

I suppose, however, that that is a slippery slope.

  posted by Gregory @ 2:31 PM

I should mention my copious Monty Python purchases of late; I got _Monty Python Live!_ and was very happy with it. The VHS copy of their Hollywood Bowl appearance was mono, very dark, etc., and the DVD version was cleaned up and stereo-ized and such. Vast improvement.

It's occurred to me lately that A: I am buying more movies than I used to and B: I never buy VHS anymore. Also, I realized I don't buy regular DVDs; I look specifically for things with commentary, interviews, alternate endings, deleted scenes, etc., because I like them so much.

Perhaps my little dream of writing a movie isn't so far out of reach as I thought. My worry was that I didn't know enough (and didn't have the intestinal fortitude necessary to learn enough) about film; maybe I'm more interested in it than I thought.

I've been feeling generally crappy all the time now. Laura claims it's because I don't write any more. Perhaps she's right.

I can't help but think that I stopped writing because of the Enormous Break Up some months back, though. I'm not really sure how to get back into the writing thing.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:35 PM


I can't really explain just what the hell happened to me over the weekend. Suffice to say that, within the space of 72 hours or so, I

  • Got a babysitting job
  • Caught something with a 48-hour incubation period
  • Took my SOTF to the doctor for her asthma
  • Had a wisdom tooth attempt to push out

The combined result of all these things was that I am now being checked out by Social Services, mucus is draining from my nose like a leaky faucet, and I'm weeks late on homework that was merely days late last week. I don't have my logic languages report done, I haven't kept up with use.perl or the Monastery, and I'm way the fuck overdue for a nice, long sleep.

I'm considering quitting the first job I've had in about six months four days after I agreed to it.

I'll give it another weekend, and if I don't get any homework or Perlwork or Motherwork done, I'm quitting, and I have a good reason to.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:22 PM


In light of recent stupid legal proceedings resulting from an unfortunate death, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and several cable channels are being sued to add advisories concerning the addictiveness of television.

"These people know it's addictive. They make it that way. It's like they're trying to keep your attention or something-oooh! Shiny things!" Eric Walker, plaintiff, was quoted as saying. He went on:

"Uh, these, um, TV, addictive. TV's addictive and they know it-butterflies!" Eric frolicked for several minutes until this reporter was able to calm him down. After some warm milk and cake, Eric seemed more willing to speak out against this grave corporate-sponsored drug trade.

"It's just like smoking or something, really. You watch TV, and a show ends, but then there's a commercial, so if you want to see the whole commercial you have to keep watching. It's not like people can just get up and leave the TV or turn it off or something."

All four networks declined to comment, citing that they had just "pissed themselves laughing so hard".

  posted by Gregory @ 8:04 AM


Awwww...could everyone be really, really nice to the user? He's ascairt of all them machines.

All right, that's a little extreme. He's whining about the word 'users'. It's like referring to hated relatives as "mammals", really -- it's just about the nicest thing that can be said sometimes.

(Oooo, good T-Shirt idea. "'user' is a four-letter word" Probably been done already, though.)

Anyway, he says that

Or call them staff, customers, investors, sales reps, journalists, consumers, students, senior citizens … When you name them you create focus for why you are doing what you are doing. You make things more human.

The phrase 'user-friendly' should never have had to be invented. It implies that technology is inherently hostile and that a new discipline – usability – had to be invented to make it friendlier. After all, we don't refer to cars as 'driver-friendly.' We don't refer to bicycles as 'cyclist-friendly.' We don't refer to chairs as 'bum-friendly.'

Deep in the heart of much technology is an antipathy and contempt for people. Many computer pioneers saw people as inherently stupid, with computers having a logical purity. The view was that science and technology should strive to replace and automate the things that people did.

Deep in the heart of much technology is antipathy and contempt for people...unwilling to learn. This is the crucial point. You lose the 'user' designation the minute your brain shows activity and you attempt to learn something; then you become something else, usually (it would seem) a 'newbie'. See, there are good words for that level of competence. User doesn't measure ability or inability -- it indicates someone who has to be coddled, who has to be walked along through everything, who has to be shown how to do the same stupid thing again and again because they don't want to learn.

The dividing line between the willfully ignorant and the willfully intelligent has existed a long time, and if the only solution the willfully ignorant have is to complain that the word used for them is derogatory, we'll just start using the term "moron" and keep right on truckin'.

Besides, it's not like those willing to learn, even the ruthless ones, are infalliable.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:25 AM

While I'm thinking of it, I should mention that costs should be factored to include falling advertising costs if you're planning a target-audience-only customer base. After a certain point, you'll only need maintenance advertising. Consider this to make it like an exclusive club; people will be lined up to get in after a while. Media-production/sharing will come along with specific ranges of "working" critical mass, like soap bubbles: Too little soap causes surface tension that creates drops; too much reduces surface tension to the point that bubbles won't form.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:38 PM


I'm getting VERY close to my associate's degree now. Five classes, fifteen credits left to go. That will probably have to get split up between two semesters, mainly because of the summer curricula's lightweightness. Part of that is due, I suspect, to the low amount of actual faculty available; the rest is because of the perception of summer courses as filler courses, catching things you missed the first time, etc.

While it's true that I'm going to have a few courses to make up this summer (ahem), I'd really like to be able to dive into the Algorithms class that's supposed to be offered later this year. In the summer, I mean. I'd like to do it in the summer instead of the fall.

Feh. I can't express myself properly.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:06 PM

There are two directions current cybernetics research is going in; one is Kevin Warwick's self-experimentation, where a cyborg is being built piece-by-piece, and the other is the more traditional simian research, which has also had some success lately.

Where these things are going is easy to see. Assuming some form of communications could be set up -- and some form of limited wireless networking -- two people could be essentially telepathic. Sonar implants to see through walls, new eyes for people with eye damage (at first) as well as for mere nearsightedness (later, when the technology is perfected). There's no reason that -- by the time my body starts to fail, probably around my 100s -- I can't have most of it replaced with a series of self-contained machines that charge off induction from a power source under my bed while I sleep.

The only reason people my age can't live forever is because they won't; some people won't like the idea of implants, or genetic therapy, or brain transplanting, or whatever. They'll die, and I won't.

Humanity changes; the humans that don't change with it become dead rather quickly.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:23 AM

Personally, I try to save everything I write, almost anything past grocery lists. I may add things to it (apologies, retractions, clarifications), but I try not to outright remove anything.

A few times I've found some wealth of enjoyed reading gone, and I've come to understand that -- while it's something I would personally never do -- it is still the right of the author. I can get angry about it all I want, and I can be damn happy if I find copies of it somewhere (my cache, or the Web Archive), but if they don't want to hand it out to every browser that comes by, that's their prerogative.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:08 AM

It's always irritated me that people look fondly back on stupid things they've done. There's nothing wrong with laughing at your own mistakes; it's the inability to identify them as mistakes that bothers me. "Oh, yeah, back then. Boy, having sixteen kids and getting a four-year degree in liberal arts. What a way to spend your twenties."

NO, fool. The problem isn't that most people don't make enough mistakes to identify them; it's that they make them and ignore them. Apparently making mistakes has become such anathema that people don't even want to believe they've made a mistake, much less point it out in casual conversation.

I've made a million mistakes. I have millions more to make. Each time, I identify that it was A: A Screw-Up, and B: A Learning Experience. Each time, I do my damn best to make sure I don't re-screw-up the same way.

  posted by Gregory @ 9:30 AM

Hi. If you're like most people, you have a job you hate -- or at least a job that stinks in some fashion. It's a job you took because you needed to eat, and you've spent most of your life watching your little dreams, the ones you loved so much like "I'll be a writer" or "I want to paint", die slow, comatose deaths.

You come home from a stupid job. You're damn tired. Your feet hurt. You wish you could do other things, but you can't -- you have to get to bed so you can get up and do your stupid job tomorrow morning.

If this describes you -- and odds are it does -- read this interesting proposal concerning the economy, useless jobs, the power-hungry, and social whores. Better, mentally apply it to the sad sack of shit that's currently in Congress for your state.

  posted by Gregory @ 3:51 PM


Tired. At school.

Saw my father today. It's always a little weird to see my father after a while, but it's been slowly getting more normal.

I keep finding that I can describe more and more impressive things; my thoughts concerning programming are getting more complex. It's a good sign, I think. Maybe it means that I'm finally learning the advanced things I've been wanting to learn my whole life.

I managed to explain to my father -- in informal conversation -- what advantages Perl offers a person over, say, Java, or C. I showed him the statistics from _Practice Of Programming_ that indicate a runtime of .3 seconds for a C program and 1 second for a Perl program, but 150 lines of C versus 18 lines of Perl. The power is in the rapid production, and relative speed compared to other rapid-production, high-convenience languages.

Apparently very few languages have the necessary flexibility to let a person think in them; I personally would find it difficult to program in Perl if I couldn't think in Perl. I can think in HTML, but it's the way you think in Pig Latin; it's really English with a modification, instead of a different thought process. Perl actually contains numerous linguistic shortcuts, making it more like a human langauge. I can think in Perl if I try, but it's slow, plodding Perl, the kind of Perl that a novice speaks.

I want to think Perl fluently.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:19 PM

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