Friday, August 25, 2006

I'm Back

In Japan again with my family. Our pineal glands are adjusting their melatonin secretions and we expect to recover locally appropriate circadian rhythms soon. Meanwhile, one is up at 1 A.M., another at 3 A.M., and the others at 5 A.M. Five is actually reasonable since the sun is up at that time. Another little-known advantage is that you can also catch the last hour of All Things Considered here on a regular clock-radio at that time, with no need to subscribe to the podcast.

Aside from the jet-lag and weather adjustments, I found out that the 2 batteries I have for my PowerBook may burst into flame in a few rare cases and need to be replaced. Even if it doesn't crash, it burns. It's a Sony. I mean "The batteries are Sonys." Maybe Apple should use a more reputable manufacturer like Samsung or LG next time. At least I can wait for the replacements to be delivered and then send in the old ones. This (getting 2 new replacement batteries) could actually be a good thing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nontanoshippa のんたのしっぽ 第1話

Japanese video of the day.

You'll need to see the conclusion(?) in part two:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

All that killin' and rapin' makes our boys hungry

I'm in Vancouver. It is a light non-accumulating precipitation kind of day, when the rain keeps falling but the sidewalk never gets wet, somehow. Light jackets and unbrellas optional.

Today has been a nightmare come true for the purveyors and marketers of american-style grilled chicken wings everywhere.

Update: It turned into real rain.
I wonder if the 21st century will be remembered as the century of religious wars. The Islamofascist Parties of Gods versus the Christofascist One-nation Undergod and the Judeofascist Chosen People (not Korea). If so, can I be frozen and woken up next century? Maybe I should stick around and join in with my own Twenty Three Thousand Armed Buddhas, the Guerilla Armies of the Goddless, or the Definitely Maybe Usually Agnostics Liberation Front. My present strategy is to sit it out and let the crazies kill each other, but will they kill all of us?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rio Karma (and the POS Seal of Disapproval)

I liked Rio's MP3 CD players. They were cheap and you could load a dozen albums on one disk. Bulky, though. When I wanted a smaller (than CD) MP3 player, about 3 years ago, I got the Rio Karma. I hated all the DRM in iPods and the control freak mother attitude embedded in Apple's iTunes system, which is still not up to the SoundJam MP standard of 2000 C. E. Rio could share files using a Java application, it acted as a server on the network, and it was endlessly configurable. I chose it over an iRiver I was considering.

Later, I was given an iPod shuffle and I never looked back. The DRM is annoying and stupid, since you can only sync it with one computer, but I try to deal with that. I have been given a Nano, too, that I am saving to use for photos or something else later, since the low-budget shuffle is still working fine for me.

These photos show what happens to a Karma after 3 years. The battery swells up and bursts the case open. I dissected it to find that out. It doesn't hold a charge, either, in case you wondered, and freezes up when run off the wall current. It is truly a POS, unless you like your electronics engineered to last one or two years rather than a more reasonable length of time.

Rio has gone out of the mp3 player business, so you won't be buying one. I wonder how iPods will age. They certainly have been built to last -- all summer long-- as the saying goes.

God told me to do it! (a short message from your personal savior)

Feeling angry at the crazies who are saying that God tells them to kill babies? Well, I am, too, and although these are not aimed specifically at the "parties of gods" and partygoers in their various manifestations, they do help to remind you to regard with skepticism those people who claim they hear God, see God, or are God's organization on Earth. (Thanks, Erik.)

11th and C

In 1981 I lived in Manhattan at the corner of 11th and Avenue C, at 649 E. 11th Street, on the top floor of a walk-up. The building apparently pre-dated the invention of the elevator. I had a corner room with a good view of the World Trade Center over the burned-out building across the street. The building had a spray-painted black plexiglass door with an peephole area that had been scratched clean with a razor blade. The dealers kept a doorman there, another guy on the street next to a barrel of burning wood scraps or trash, and another guy at the corner as a lookout. A couple of flights up the stairs they would be dealing, mostly junk, and sometimes the dealers let the customers shoot up there, candle, spoon, the whole works.

Why was I there? I was bored of the midwestern small university town and shocked by the murder of John Lennon and election of actor Ronnie Reagan. New-York based punk rock musicians and leftist political philosophies may have influenced my choice to be there. Cost-wise, there was a sharp devaluation from 1st Ave. to Avenue A and then down to C that made it extremely affordable to venture farther east, about a 75 or 80% discount over 2 or 3 blocks, if you wanted to live in Manhattan rather than Queens or Brooklyn.

The neighborhood was mostly Spanish-speaking Puerto-Ricans, poor native New Yorkers, and small numbers of artists, musicians, and punks. I shared the living room with my friend, Pete. I separated my room with a California Republic flag I had found outside a suburban San Diego police station, and slept under an American flag from the same source. Sorry, officers. Youthful indiscretion. Statute of limitations is expired, isn't it?

We furnished the place with stuff off the streets: a sofa with a broken leg, artificial christmas tree, plaster madonna with broken-off head, a chest of drawers. Yes, we carried this stuff up 8 flights of stairs. I turned 18 while I was there. When we got sick of some furniture, like the chest of drawers, we would wait for the street below to get really quiet late at night, and then hurl it out the window.

We would sometimes be asked to show our "tracks" before being let in, and have to tell the doorman that we lived there. There was never any violence, as I remember. There was crime; when the dealers were not there we usually got broken into. Occasionally someone in the neighborhood would try to hold us up with a knife.

I never ventured far from Manhattan in the year I was there. The farthest I went was probably Jones beach and inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I was an avid urban hiker already then, walked all over the city, through the Bowery and Chinatown down to Wall Street and Battery Park, through midtown and to Central Park. From 11th to Central Park is really too far, though.

Within a year, it was clear that I wasn't going anywhere, and didn't have much more to learn from this place. I thought NYC would always push me down, too many rich and too many poor. The clincher came when the building caught fire, twice. The first time we discovered it in the apartment under ours. The second time alot of the doors were broken in with axes, windows were broken as people got onto the fire escapes, and some of the slate steps collapsed. Some of the steps were then holes, which you could step over, but some of the landings also collapsed, which made going up or down 8 flights pretty weird, as you had to hold onto the railing and swing your body 180 degrees over a huge drop. Then I think they cut off the water, so you had to visit friends just to bathe, and most of the residents went on a rent strike and were demanding that repairs be made. I didn't stick around to see how it all turned out. I stayed at my girlfriend's until I could go back to university, where I was still an honors student from the 4.0 GPA I somehow got in my first semester. I got this new idea that maybe getting a loan to go to university really was better than working for minimum wage and living in a slum. (I tend to learn by doing. I got to feel it in my gut.) Within less than a year, I had moved on to Los Angeles, but that is another story.

The reason for this story? I have never been back to New York since I left in 1981. I have wanted to see a picture of that neighborhood for a long time, if I can't go there. I decided to google up 649 East 11th Street for the first time in… maybe ever, and googled 647 instead. Why did I do that? Somehow "647" has a stronger trace in the universal mind matrix, I guess. I then discovered that there is now a Japanese sake bar called Kasadela on the site next to where I lived. Kasadera means Umbrella Temple, and it is a temple-town on the Tokaido near Nagoya. I also learned that the musical Rent is supposed to take place at 11th and B, and that Dustin Hoffman, Jane Curtin, and the Black Liberation Army have a history on Eleventh Street. (Not all together as part of the same incident, though. They all lived there.) I found some decent pictures of the restaurant interior and exterior here. Although they don't have sushi, they do have grilled eel over rice, Unagi-don on the menu! I want that and plenty of sake to wash it down. Unfortunately, I am 11 (or 13) time zones away. If I am in the neighborhood, I will stop in.

"The Alphabet" had a pejorative sound in those days. We called it the Lower East Side and sometimes Loisada(?). "Alphabet City" seems to have decent connotations now (but what do I know). It is a major mental hurdle to imagine the neighborhood has changed that much. We were the pioneers, I guess. The few, the proud, the idiots.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Two Things with Wings

DARPA has Lockheed Martin building "spy seeds".

Yellow-jacket nests the size of a Chevy. Bees evolve mega-cities. Sweet home Alabama.

Via Aberrant News

Blogs, news, and bookmarks

I neglected to mention that the US Senate still has to approve DOPA, so contact a Sedator to undo what your Reprehensible has tried to do. This legislation would block up the system of tubes known as the internets.

I see that the Indian blog blackout was reported by BoingBoing a few weeks ago, on the 17th, by the BBC on the 19th, and by, for example, the Financial Express on the 24th of July. OK, so I am a little out of the loop. I've been getting my news from CNN, from Wolf Blitzkrieg's Situationist Room, Anderson Cooper's 360 Degree VR, or something like that. So, whatever happened with the blog block anyway? Everybody found a hack or workaround by now? I will look into it.

What has changed with my news sourcing is that I now trust blogs more than the other (slipstream and cashstream) media. I wouldn't have said that a year ago. The seeds of doubt were planted by Jayson Blair, Judith Miller, and Bob Woodward (implicated in the Plame affair), reporters at the reputable(?) newspapers of the NYT and the Washington Post. The media reaction to Stephen Colbert's speech at the Nationalist Press Klub cemented my growing inclinations to withhold trust. Also note above in the preceding paragraph how the blogs report news before the cash-stream media does. A blogger is just your personal choice(s) of editor, among other things (columnist, diarist, essayist, unpaid volunteer, writer, correspondent, etc.).

I trust blogs more than other media, but I don't necessarily read many blogs. The few blogs I have sidebarred(?) here are ones to which I want to return, sorta like a bookmark. I have this time-consuming thing called a job, and then a family, too. One of my favorite blogs, ThisModernWorld, I only get to every ten weeks or so, then go back to read the last ten comic strips. Funny how "Tom" wasn't political at all back when I knew him in the 80s, but is actually a little too political, for my tastes, this last… decade or so.

And, speaking of bookmarks, I have been waiting for a good free bookmark manager to come along since about 1998, by which time I had accumulated an unwieldy list of bookmarks. I expected something that would update outdated links, delete nonexistent ones, map them into some kind of semantic web of lexical analysis (maybe based on the Dewey Decimal system or some thesaurus), etc. Nothing like that ever came along, and I think everyone else has also turned to Google. Sometimes Google can't get me back to somewhere I was before, if I can't remember any uniquely aberrant words from the site, though.

The World Wide War on … blogs?

Simran reports from India that India is now blocking most popular blogging sites:

Our lovely government, the government of India has BLOCKED all,, blogs and web-sites. There are more on the list, but these are the three, that all the media is agreeing on. I am in India, and I’m confirming it.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, the House of Reprehensibles has passed (by 410-15!) DOPA, which will make it illegal for schools and libraries to allow access to blogs, wikis, and sites with editable profiles. The opposition of the American Library Association didn't seem to matter.
"This unnecessary and overly broad legislation will hinder students' ability to engage in distance learning and block library computer users from accessing a wide array of essential Internet applications including instant messaging, email, wikis and blogs," said ALA president Leslie Burger. "Under DOPA, people who use library and school computers as their primary conduits to the Internet will be unfairly blocked from accessing some of the web's most powerful emerging technologies and learning applications. As libraries are already required to block content that is "harmful to minors" under the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), DOPA is redundant and unnecessary legislation."
Some observers have noted that, as worded, this ban includes e-commerce sites such as Amazon and ebay.

You probably couldn't find a better argument against this legislation than the one offered by CBS's Larry Magid:
The bill defines social networking sites as being "offered by a commercial entity; permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information, permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users; elicits highly-personalized information from users; and enables communication among users."

That covers more than just chat and social networking and could force school and library officials to ban a wide range of sites, including and many news sites that allow for user feedback and interaction.

But even if the bill weren't overly broad, it would still be troublesome because it is the wrong – and I would argue a dangerous approach – to Internet safety.

While nearly everyone agrees that Internet predators should be "deleted," this bill doesn't address that issue. Unlike the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which the President signed into law on July 21, DOPA does nothing to strengthen penalties or increase prosecution of criminals who prey on children. Instead, it punishes the potential victims and educational institutions chartered to serve them, by denying access to interactive sites at school and libraries.

It would be like trying to protect children from being injured or killed by drunk drivers by ruling that kids can no longer walk, ride a bike or even ride in a car or bus to school.

Aside from punishing potential victims rather than the perpetrators, the bill doesn't even address the issue where it matters.

If children are going to get into trouble online, chances are it won't be at school. They'll be home, they'll be at a friend's house or they could even be completely away from adult supervision using their mobile phones. Schools and libraries are relatively protected environments where adults are never far away and, for the most part, computers are in public locations that make it difficult for users to hide what they're doing.

If anything, schools and libraries should be encouraging kids to use blogging and social networking services. They have enormous educational potential for such things as writing, interviewing, collaborative research, media literacy, and photography, but even if not used as part of a formal supervised education program, they encourage kids to communicate and reach out to others.
This affects me personally, since I have just started using blogs for students to publish, read, peer edit, and revise their writing. (Me is tea-cha, after all.) Hopefully Japan will not follow China, India, and now the United States into the black hole of internet censorship.

It's odd (or fitting?) that this move comes just as MySpace becomes the #1 internet portal in the United States. The internet is a new medium that still eludes government control. Social networking and communication are threats to the ruling elite's media control. It is predictable that they will continue to try to control this channel. Paranoid delusion number 200,608,031,538 tells me that "they" are data-mining all the e-mail and internet traffic to construct a model which will tell them where to send the death squads, if real democracy ever threatens to break out. (Is Google a CIA front?) Stand up, though! They will never be able to kill all of us!… Well, not until the mass production of robots really takes off. (Is a christo-fascist zombie man or machine?)

Gibbon arrested, charged, may seek political office

Feeding rumors of a run for the White House in '08, Hollywood actor Malik "Mal" Gibbon (a pseudonym is used to protect his privacy) has recently been arrested for DUI. Driving-under-the influence-of-alcohol arrests were also important millstones in the political careers of chimperor G. W. Bush and Vice Executioner Halliburton "Dick" Cheney. Although Mr Gibbon has no requisite record of avoiding military service, another important qualification for the post, he is suspected to be of "foreign" extraction. In recent years Americans have turned away from corrupt and incompetent home-grown kleptocrats and sought out escaped musclemen from Austrian circuses and/or actors to manage their nation's increasingly complex "innernaschnull" and "nukyular" affairs. The actor's foreignness, drunkenness, bigotedness, and heavily documented dedication to Jeezus are all factors that are causing Repugnicant Particals in the Base, the Party of God (G.O.P.) to take a closer look at the profile of this rising star.
(Pic googled from the Smoking Gun)
Update: I see that somebody of the one mind has crafted their own Mr Gibbon before I thunk it.