Strange Brouhaha

Sunday, October 30, 2005

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo, as it's colloquially known, is coming up in a couple of days. The idea is that participants will write 50,000 words or more--a complete short novel--in one month. That's a little under 1700 words a day. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be done.

I'm doin' it. Thaaaat's right. Heck, I even put the icon over on the sidebar. I'm frickin' committed.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Well, this will just lead to more illicit sex!

This morning, Slashdot linked to an article about a scientist doing research on a gene present in descendants of Black Plague survivors which confers immunity to HIV. I can't believe this research is being paid for by our tax dollars! Why, if we find a way to make people immune to HIV, that will cause them to think that having sex is okay, in much the same way that vaccinating against human papillomavirus will cause sexual promiscuity! This must be stopped! Pro-AIDS, pro-cancer followers of Emperor Bush, UNITE!

(Yes...I'm being sarcastic. An article from about the whole thing is pretty good. It quotes lunatic Tony Perkins [*a* psycho, but not *the* Psycho] by way of Fortune magazine:

...Fortune magazine features a major article highlighting the debate. They quote members of powerful Christian and right-wing lobbying organisations including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who said: "It sends the wrong message. Our concern is that this vaccine will be marketed to a segment of the population that should be getting a message about abstinence."

The article then goes on to ask "Would they have the same objections if an to an effective preventative vaccine were developed for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, or even for HIV?" I think we all know the answer to that question.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

R.I.P. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is dead. She was 92. I'm pretty sure there's a place for her in heaven. Right up front. (Sorry, I had to.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Smart rats and eBay auctions

First, here's an article from CNN about a single rat--WITH a radio collar!--evading scientists for four months in an otherwise rat-free environment.

Second, courtesy off Matt K., an awesome eBay auction for the new Madden game. The guy's commentary is right on. I've never played a Madden game that I've liked. Ever. It really sucks that Electronic Arts has the exclusive NFL license. (Well, in a way, it doesn't suck; that saves me fifty bucks because there's no way I'm buying a Madden game.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

WWII remains found in a glacier

From CNN, here's a story about pilot's remains found in a glacier. Interesting, mildly. The question that immediately came to mind is: there are still 78,000 American MIAs from WWII--where did they all go? They can't all have been washed out to sea, can they?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Are NASCAR drivers athletes?

I'm no physiologist, but despite the claims of some of the doctors in this article about how physically fit drivers are, I'd have to say "Duh, no."

That doesn't mean they're not in good shape.

That doesn't mean they don't have to have good reflexes.

That doesn't mean it isn't physically taxing to drive a race car.

But I think that the doctors are drawing the wrong conclusions from the available evidence. Would you call construction workers athletes? Miners? Firefighters? Stunt performers? Strength, agility and endurance are only part of the equation; to call drivers athletes would require calling auto racing a sport, and I'm not convinced that it is. I suppose it could be, since it's got physical exertion and competition. But when I think of "sports", I think of football, baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey, bike racing. I offer up the example of horse racing: the horses are the athletes. Not the jockeys.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Own A Bunch Of Computers

If you're looking to buy a really expensive present for someone who doesn't have enough old stuff laying around, there's an auction right now on eBay for a ton of old computer equipment, including some of the greats from the last twenty years. Some not-so-greats, too, like an Apple III.

I'll provide a link, but be forewarned that if you have a dialup connection, you will be sorry. I have DSL, and I didn't want to wait for all the pictures to load. The ones that I did see were neat. Check it out.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Aardman warehouse destroyed

The "entire history" of Aardman Animation, creators of "Wallace and Gromit", has been destroyed in a fire. The best part of the article? "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal," said Nick Park, Aardman founder and creator of "Wallace and Gromit". Nice touch of humility and perspective. Clay can be rebuilt. People can't.


General Zod, who was one of the villains in Superman II, has announced his candidacy for President. Can it be a coincidence that they've been showing the heck out of his movie over the last couple of weeks on television?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Brain twister

Check out Planarity. Based on the mathematical concept of planar graphs (there's a link to a Wikipedia article on the Planarity website), this game is pretty addictive. All you have to do is rearrange the drawings so that no two lines intersect.

I got up to level 6 before I decided I had been playing too long.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Marios. 64.

From, courtesy of Mr. Frankie Crisp, is a stunning rendition of 64 different Marios from all walks of life. The Village People Marios are pretty dang funny. (I could have done without Adolf Hitler Mario.)

For those of you that don't know, Mario is Nintendo's videogame mascot.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Travel Advice

When you call 1-800-United-1 to make a reservation on United Airlines--if that's what you do--you don't need to speak to the idiotic automated system. (My experience today: Machine: "You said 'Hartford, Connecticut'. Is that correct?" Me: "Yes." Machine: "I'm sorry, please speak the name of the airport again." Me: "Hartford, Connecticut." Machine: "Please speak the name of the airport." Me: "HARTFORD. CONNECTICUT." Machine: "I'm sorry. Please hold for a customer service representative.")

(No, we're not taking a trip.)

All you need to do, we found out, is to say "agent agent agent" when the machine pauses to let you speak. You'll be connected to a person.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Even if you have not watched a single episode of "Firefly," go see this movie.

If you are even mildly interested in writing of any kind, go see the first three or four minutes of this movie. It dispenses all of the information we need to know without needing to resort to a crawl or pages of text. If there is any justice in the world, Joss Whedon will be nominated for a double-wide buttload of writing awards based on just the first few minutes. I mean, they should teach this in screenwriting classes. (They should skip Mal's initial scene with Simon...that kind of clunked along. But River's intro and the rescue scene were awesome, as was the intro to the Parliament's operative.)

The story and plot are utterly gripping. It's space opera taken to levels it's never been taken to. It's not cerebral by any means, don't get me wrong; don't go looking for "2001" or "Blade Runner" or the Russian "Solaris." What it is is a good, solid science-fiction movie, with great action sequences, great acting, great writing.

If you're a "Buffy" fan, be sure to watch for the visual quote.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

C.J. Box

This week, I read the Joe Pickett novels by C. J. Box. There are currently five of them; the most recent, Out of Range, was published in May.

If you're not a fan of characters like Harlan Coben's Win, or Robert Crais' Joe Pike, I advise you NOT to start reading the Pickett books with Trophy Hunt or Out of Range. Start with one of the others.

I'm not a big fan of characters like Win, Pike, and Box's Nate Romanowski. Don't get me wrong; I love the heck out of all of those books, all of those authors, but the "mysterious, amoral friend who will do the dirty work for the hero" is kind of a cop-out. Note that I don't include Hawk from the Spenser novels on that list; Hawk is an amplifier for Spenser: he doesn't do things that Spenser is unable or unwilling to do.

I'll spare you the gushing about the good writing and plotting; those things are good. The books are very engaging, no matter what order you read them in. Much like Eleanor Taylor Bland, the real reason to read Box is for the characters and their relationships. (Have I mentioned Bland? She's GREAT. The plotting is average, but there's just something evocative about her writing that makes you really feel what the characters are going through.)

If you're looking for something to read, try these books out.

What's scarier than an actual spider?

Well, okay, not much is, but a twenty-million-year-old dead spider comes pretty dang close.