Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Chaos

The Chaos
by Gerard Nolst Trenité - (1922)

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From "desire": desirable-admirable from "admire",
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation's OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You'll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You'll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it",
But it is not hard to tell
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

"Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker",
Quoth he, "than liqueur or liquor",
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn't) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don't mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don't want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you're not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don't monkey with the geyser,
Don't peel 'taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than r, ch or w.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget 'em-
Wait! I've got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess-it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won't it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying "grits"?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup...
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!


(or, an earlier unattributed publication of the poem accompanied with the Cut Spelling alternate orthography)

Monday, November 29, 2010

NYT Interactive Budget Puzzle

It really isn't so hard to balance the US budget and eliminate the deficit. That was my go at it. You don't need to go back to the policies of the Eisenhower administration or even the Clinton administration. I think the hard part comes in when you have to convince 100 Senators and 438 Congresspeople to vote for your plan. Perhaps it's also a problem that there is no single person to come up with a budget and push it through (as far as I know, it's a committee thing).

Give it a try, if you haven't done so already.

Results as tabulated in late November. The comments people made in the related article "16 Ways to Cut the Deficit" also reveal a lot more common sense than you usually hear from politicians and the illiterate man-in-the-street.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This is your TRS-80 -- emulator... in the Ubuntu Software Store. I haven't installed it. Don't worry--apparently, if you haven't got a cassette deck storage unit attached to your computer, you can store the programs that you write as .WAV files.


Mac OS X
--not just Cupertino BS--
Cupertino BSD

December 4 variation:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fixing the iPod Shuffle to act more like a proper USB mass storage audio player has a good explanation of how to fix the iPod Shuffle. It links directly to the sourceforge page of rebuild_db. It also explains why any reasonable person --such as a language student-- might find it useful to rebuild the database. I wish I had known about this sooner.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Day without Penguins... like a day without Linux -- and vice versa. I just spent an entire day and two nights locked in the s/cr/AAPL Cupertino BSD operating system, also known as MacOSX, after my Linux install got ill all of a sudden. That's about the longest time I have spent inside the Mac OS in 2010. The OS X icon previews are nice. I always liked the right-click-on-finder-window-titlebar-to-view-folder-hierarchy-and-go-up-a-level feature that appeared around 8.5 or 9.1 or something and which lives on, although there are better ways of navigating in Nautilus or Dolphin. Everything else is about the same as Linux. The Mac OS is a little like being locked into a corporate headquarters overnight, I figure. It's a successful company, and looks nice, but it doesn't feel like home, more like being in a corporate cubicle. Linux is more like being in your own home of your own design, made from a variety of prefab elements. In this analogy, Windows is a FEMA trailer, full of toxic formaldehyde and requiring powerful fans and ventilation to prevent a nosebleed, and possible death.

I don't know what was wrong in Ubuntu, but there was some glitchy window behavior, and instead of logging out and back in, I chose to restart. I think there was a kernel update or something that cued me to restart, and this may have followed the glitchiness, meaning something was not installed correctly. EFI, or rather, rEFIt, was OK, GRUB was OK, but then some text scrolled by complaining of a flaky scsi drive and dropping me into a Busybox shell, where I initially had no idea what to do. After returning from the Mac side (and running Disk Utility over there), things were basically the same, but I got a few seconds farther to an Ubuntu Studio splash screen before being asked to Repair, Continue, do something else, or More information, before that crashed and dropped me back into the shell again. This time I chose to "fsck" which did a number of repairs to inodes and whatever and allowed me to reboot into a repaired Ubuntu Lucid. I ran Update Manager immediately, and noticed one update called dmsetup addressing some bad code which the update offers to "take out back and shoot it in the head." That sounded good, so I did that. I may never know, but that could have had something to do with my system suddenly flaking. The take-away, if there is one, is to go ahead and fsck the system, if you think that might help.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Radio Streams +

There are several audio players and managers in Linux which function as alternatives to iTunes. I started off using the default application (for Ubuntu) Rhythmbox but later switched to Banshee as Rhythmbox had a few unacceptable problems: not transferring tracks to an iPod on occasion, not downloading podcasts on occasion, and not playing music on occasion. I have also tried Amarok, Exaile, Songbird, and a few other minor ones but all of these failed to support iPods, podcasts, or my computer's audio. I need iPod support because I have a few iPods around and probably will for a long time, although the mass-storage USB is a much better way than the closed iTunes-managed corporate podware which crAAPL grants its devotees.

I recently misplaced the (2005?) 1st-generation Shuffle that never seemed to die, so I went to a second or third generation clippy Shuffle Emerald(?) that someone else didn't need. My needs are simple: just to be able to play 3-6 hours of podcasts and some music every day during my commutes. Banshee doesn't recognize it, so I've switched back to Rhythmbox. Rhythmbox seems to be working better than before, so far, although some podcasts seem to go offline much of the time.

One thing I noticed when I was giving Exaile a spin again was the excellent selection of internet radio stations. Because they are pre-installed in Exaile, you tend to use them. I decided to add some radio stations to the poor selection that pre-exists in Rhythmbox. Here are the URLs I added, in rough order from higher bitrates to lower. I can't stand commercials, so I selected mostly public and college radio.



WGBH Boston


64kbps - Boston's NPR news source



WKCR Columbia University NY

In addition to those, I am still looking into these:

Soma FM - 19 unique channels

That's beginning to be too much choice.

One of the best places to search is Shoutcast.

Shoutcast - "39,740 free internet radio stations"

If you don't find what you are looking for there, try radio-locator, which lets you search by city, zip-code, country, format (genre), or call letters.


Update: Rhythmbox still sucks. "...could not parse the feed contents..." Banshee chocked on the iPod mb229 a few more times but finally rebuilt the database without crashing and now is good. Banshee wins.
Here's another way to rebuild the (Shuffle) database.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ubuntu Upgrades

Recently Linux visitors to my site seem to outnumber Mac visitors, sometimes by 2 to 1. Ten percent of visitors are from Japan (at the moment), so those LXers are not just me re-loading my own page. I really do think there could be a stampede to Linux in the form of Google's Chrome OS. I'd like to see Chrome pass Mac OS and get alot of attention in the process, bursting Steve's bubble. I expect that it has a fairly good chance of doing that and becoming a phenomenon similar to what they've done with Android. This might make a major dent in the Microsoft monopoly or Win-Mac duopoly.

I recently upgraded two machines to Ubuntu 10.04.1. I hadn't made the change earlier because Lucid came out in late April, several weeks into the first semester of the new school year in Japan. And since I immediately went on vacation in August, I didn't have a chance to install until late August. The exception is the Asus Eee 4G, my most expendable computer and therefore a test bed, which has had Xubuntu 10.04 on the SSD and Ubuntu 10.04 on the SD card and which performed excellently as a vacation computer, within the limitations of the 7" screen and a slow processor. That's a configuration I can recommend; I usually boot the SD Ubuntu rather than the Xubuntu option.

The two others were the Asus 1000HE and the Apple Mac Mini. I upgraded the 1000HE through the Update Manager (Preferences>Update Manager>Distribution Upgrade). That seemed to go well, but afterwards the computer had devolved into the Netbook Edition that it had begun as long ago when I first made it dual-boot. I despise the Netbook Edition since it uses space less efficiently than regular Ubuntu. However, it was a deformed and disfigured Netbook Edition, with a stub menu and nothing there. I was able to add an item to the menu and restart it. I found that the solution is to select a GNOME session at startup, not Netbook Edition, and then use Synaptic to remove all Netbook Edition packages so it can only boot as GNOME or something equally reasonable at startup. If Lucid is stable on this machine I may be able to stick with that for a few years. Some Skype test calls were a little dodgy at first; I'll have to check some real calls to see if audio is really OK.

I was a little worried about the Mac Mini since the install seems rather fragile, and after rEFIt hands the boot off to GRUB2, it all took about 5-7 minutes to re-boot. Of course, you could go months between reboots. I usually log out and log back in if something appears glitchy. Sometimes it froze during bootup and I worried that it was lost. I used an Ubuntu Studio DVD for this upgrade. It went very well, although it didn't seem to transform from Edubuntu to Ubuntu Studio as I had thought it would. Perhaps only packages relevant to Edubuntu were upgraded from the DVD as one source, the rest from the internet. Performance has improved: the Mac Mini goes to sleep and the on/off/sleep light pulses gently as it does as a Mac, Bluetooth is working perfectly now where it didn't before (or maybe I was just doing it wrong before?), and that troublesome bootup is now about 2-3 minutes, slightly long but better than some Windows machines I use in universities and perhaps just about par for the Linux-on-a-Mac course.

The UNE is a waste because you can simply set your top (and bottom) panels to auto-hide by configuring them with a right-click. This saves more space than the UNE. In addition, the UNE launcher is a huge waste of space and time. Using GNOME Main Menu, you can have a single icon in the auto-hide menubar and with a single click, drag, and release open any application. Using F11 toggles the tab I am viewing in and out of full screen view. The "Run" applet in the menu bar lets you launch an app with a few letters of its name. By comparison, the launcher of UNE requires a click (on the ever-present menubar) to bring it forward, another click to navigate to the right section, a few more clicks or scrollwheel to scroll down the list of apps (which are not the size of text but have huge space-wasting icons and the name of the app in a box!) and finally a click on the icon to launch the app which will then appear in the tiny space left available to you in UNE. Just use regular Ubuntu is my advice (or Debian or Mint or Mandriva or openSuSE...). I am not a fan of "Docks" either.

Update: Not only does sleep work, bluetooth work, and bootup go faster, "Restart" works properly now, too. In 9.10, I had shutdown but restart went to darkness requiring physically powering off. There have been a few new Linux kernel updates and thus a few restarts recently. It takes about 1 minute 15 seconds from selecting "Restart" until the EFI/rEFIt/BootCamp stuff goes away and GRUB comes into the scene, then one minute to my Login screen and about 30 seconds (?) more after that. I guess it's OK. Anyway, there is much better support for the 2009 Mac Mini in Lucid than in Karmic.

Eels: Tomorrow Morning

I ran across this new interview with E about a week ago.

Tomorrow Morning is something to look forward to. By the way, Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives has become available again on YouTube after having been taken down sometime after I last referred to it. ("This video has been removed due to a copyright claim by the BBC.")You may want to DLHelper yourself to those mp4s before they get taken down again, because the price of buying the dvd ($40.49!) is a ridiculous price to pay for not recording it when it was broadcast on TV.

Just for the hell of it, here's an NPR interview from June 2009.

...and an official Eels video from April 2009.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Macbots and Dia Sobin have noted the passing of Mac Tonnies' birthday on August 20. Coincidentally, Mac's birthday was the launch date for the Viking 1 lander. Almost a year later, on July 25, 1976, the "Face on Mars" was photographed by the Viking Orbiter 1 as it examined possible landing sites for Viking 2.

Mac Tonnies-tagged content continues to be created on the internets despite his physical death. Below are some recent YouTube movies.

Question authority.
Empower yourself.
Seek truth.

I haven't been blogging much because I was travelling. In fact, August 20 itself was a day that partly disappeared for me as my plane crossed the international date line. However, I kept my cellphone on Tokyo time, and photos of my visit to the Science Fiction Museum (and Experience Music Project) of Seattle are all dated 2010-08-20.

Those were 2010-08-20 in Japan but this last one was 2010-08-20 in the US, the last shot I took before leaving.

Efforts are being made to name a crater on Mars for Mac Tonnies. If interested, you can join a Facebook group dedicated to it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Kujira Katsu くじらカツ

Kujira Katsu くじらカツ, or Whale Cutlets, in the cafeteria of a university where I teach. You can see the dark beefiness of the meat compared to the lighter-colored chicken cutlets on the left. The price is right. Add a ¥31 bowl of negi-tofu miso-shiru and a bowl of rice for ¥100 and you're set for under ¥400. I wouldn't order it but I have tasted whale before.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Made On A Mac with Ubuntu (& GIMP)

I don't actually recommend getting a Mac if you want to run Linux, but that's what I have. Not only because I had the legacy PowerPC architecture, which Apple barely supports anymore--although Debian and other Linux distros do, but because I wanted the small, light, cheap, quiet, Intel-powered, MacOSX-(as a fallback)-capable Mac Mini. That turns out to have been a mistake, as I virtually never boot MacOSX and the "SuperDrive" super-failed. It is quiet, however, unlike the PowerPC and its ever-roaring fan that kept us awake on the next floor unless you manually selected Sleep. For those of us who have taken this path, here is my rendition of Made on a Mac in Ubuntu, with GIMP logo optional, 216x216 and smaller. For people who want to run Linux, at the moment I'd recommend ASUS (reliability reports) and Ubuntu (userbase size, package selection, polish, and commitment to language support) as my first choices.

What happened to the Drop Shadow I added to the Ubuntu logo, I don't know... either it disappeared when I saved it as a png instead of a jpg, or I forgot to save that particular change. So be it.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Karoshi (?) may not be the best name for a school-oriented Linux distribution, imho. Teachers do work hard, but I'm not sure if the creators didn't do their research or were deliberately being ironic. Karoshi is also the name of a game that came out in 2008.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Legalize Arizona

A check of the relevant papers has determined that Arizona entered the United States illegally. The state has been returned to Mexico.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Revisiting Constructed Languages

I took a constructed language walkabout today, reading about the USA in constructed languages:

Mergu'e (Lojban)
That's almost 100% unintelligible words.

Statos Unite de America (Interlingua)
That's almost 100% intelligible to any educated westerner.

Unionita Stati di Amerika, abreviata Usa, (Ido)
Ido is an offspring of Esperanto--and an improvement. Notice it's now the "Wikipedio".

Unuiĝintaj Ŝtatoj de Ameriko (=Usono) (Esperanto)
Diacritics suck. Who needs 'em? (It's the "Vikipedio")
And too much inflection. I want an isolating language.
Sorry, Esperanto. It's a shame.

Unionati States de Amerika (Novial)
(It's the WikipediE)

Lamerikän (Volapük)
(In the Vükiped)

Lojban is really going to have an uphill struggle.
Lojban picture dictionary: (pixra liste loi gismu)

I like the ideas of Lojban in principle (when reading about it), but in practice (when reading in it), I'm more inclined to favor Interlingua after a brief tour of the constructed languages wikipedia pages for Mergu'e, also known as Statos Unite de America, Unionita Stati di Amerika, Unuiĝintaj Ŝtatoj de Ameriko, Unionati States de Amerika, and Lamerikän.

A lot of linguistic cruft is disposed of with the principle that if one language doesn't have it (a linguistic feature) then Interlingua doesn't need it. It must be 5 times easier than learning Spanish. I wish they could teach that to kids in elementary school as a prelude to going on to Spanish or French or something else.

Interlingua could be a good language for the EU. They can't always provide a translation for every document in every language but an Interlingua version could be a neutral compromise.

Lojban has been criticized as Procrustean, re-inventing the wheel of the language corpus from the most commonly co-occurring phonemes of Chinese, English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and Hindi/Urdu, and as a result producing words unintelligible to any speaker.

The reason I was thinking about this was because of a new constructed language which I read about: ROILA, the RObot Interaction LAnguage.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The flow just won't stop:-(

As thousands of sea birds, endangered turtles, fish, and wildlife of all kinds lay dying in a sea of oil, millions of Americans were disappointed today to see the live video feed showing that the valve work has failed to stop the flow of blood to Dick Cheney's brain.

"Paul the Octopus" vs "Sarah Palin"

Paul the Octopus is currently leading Sarah Palin in the polls for the preferred Republican Presidential candidate in 2012. Voters are weighing doubts about the candidate's eligibility for the office and a suspected foreign place of birth with the possibility that the other candidate's brain is a sac of water. The creature's "brain", or water-filled sac, is believed to help propel the creature through the surrounding media.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The lyrics as well as I can make out:

Paul the Octopus
by Aiden Ajar

I'm just a cephalopod
I'm only 2 years old
oh--but I'm the 8 legged oracle
or so I'm told

oh wonderful octopus
you're the great prophet of our time
we need a leader to reveal us truth
if I feed you mussels will you please be mine?

all attention will be on your tank
we'll base our lives on the way you behave
be our master, be our saviour
most of all be our slave

I'm just a cephalopod
I've never even seen a tv
oh you think that I control your destiny
oh I don't even know I live in Germany

oh terrible octopus
you're the worst mollusk of our time
we needed you to reveal us truth
--well, I suppose you did but we do not like the truth--
we hold you responsible
off with your tentacles
I will eat you
I will eat you
I will eat you

I'm just a cephalopod
I don't even know what FIFA is!
don't barbecue me
don't cut me into pieces
don't crucify me
I never asked to be your jesus...

(edited 2010¤07·16°)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Carry On My Hayward Son

Hayward (as in Tony) sounds a little like "wayward". It makes a guy think...

Carry On My Hayward Son
(adopted from KANSAS)

Carry on my Hayward son(-of-a-bitch)
There'll "BP" when you are done
Stop the gushing leaking oil
Don't you spill no more

Once I sank below the noise and confusion
"Beyond Petroleum" was just an illusion
I was drilling ever deeper
But I drilled too deep

Killed eleven on the rig in the fire
Burned alive to help our stock price go higher
I hear the voices when I'm drilling
I can hear them say

Carry on my Hayward son(-of-a-bitch)
There'll "BP" when you are done
Stop the gushing leaking oil
Don't you spill no more

Tried the Top Hat and the Junk Shot and Top Kill
Lied to everyone about how much we spill
"Boot on your neck!" said Salazar
but his balls are in our jar.

On a stormy sea of moving emulsion
Nauseated by oceanic revulsion
I try to hide it with dispersent
But I hear the voices say

Carry on my Hayward son(-of-a-bitch)
There'll "BP" when you are done
Stop the gushing leaking oil
Don't you spill no more


Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, it's the fault of the vendor
Blowout preventer from Transocean
Halliburton's concrete plug

Carry on my Hayward son(-of-a-bitch)
There'll "BP" when you are done
Stop the gushing leaking oil
Don't you spill (don't you spill no more)

The original lyrics are not irrelevant to the situation, either.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say


Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
It surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say


Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
The center lights around your vanity
But surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry (don't you cry no more)

Monday, May 31, 2010

BP-irates of the Caribbean

BP-irates of the Caribbean: "Dead Man's Deepwater Horizon" -- coming soon to a coastline near you!

Update: Perfectionism kicked in; I wasn't happy with kwik'n'dirty version and edited it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Kevin, the Koncerned Kommuter

Another annoying entry in the
series, not only because the kid could be listening to his lectures, but the drunk salariman or group of three housewives are usually the ones shouting to talk louder than the volume of a noisy train, which makes it doubly difficult to hear anything on earbuds. Nobody says a word to them -- it's a noisy train, after all-- but harrassing people for the whisper of noise that might escape from their earbuds in the seconds stopping at the station is encouraged. It's bizarre, but at least someone broke Kevin's leg again last month.
I think the music-lover may be misinterpreting Kevin as an oversensitive victim, when he's just digging out some ear wax in his spare time.
The campaign seems to be running out of ideas, recycling the same nonsense, although they've gone to positive (?) behaviors now. Try people who sneeze all over others without covering their mouths, and the ones who pick their noses and flick it onto other passengers? Maybe it's not good manners to attack the retarded, though.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Malware Warning from Big Brother Google

I visited my own site and found it was blocked as containing a link to malware on theforeigner.

I didn't want to be bullied by Google into blocking sites that may not be evil. However, the diagnostic site at Google does have evidence of evil at theforeigner. That doesn't necessarily mean that theforeigner were the perps or had any knowledge of it, but I removed the links from my sidebar. I rarely visit the sites that are in my sidebar anyway.

Happy surfing!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

De-Macify your Ubuntu!

The new Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" Linux distribution went with the undemocratic decision to move the Menu, Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons from the right to the left! This may be good for Mac users, but having already broken my 15-year-old Mac habit, I prefer to keep the buttons on the right. I won't be upgrading my OS right away anyway, as everything is working well now, but eventually I will switch to 10.04. When I do so, I will immediately move the buttons back to the right using gconf-editor as explained at UbuStu and How-to Geek, among other places. I do think Ubuntu has damaged their standing with this move. It's put me off a little bit. I think many users will migrate downstream to Mint or upstream to Debian. I have been considering Debian, in particular Skolelinux to replace Edubuntu. I've also been considering a more multimedia-oriented distro such as Ubuntu Studio since it seems that in audio and video is where Linux fails or falls short of the ease of use of Mac, so I would like that functionality to be the best it can be and see if it can compete.

I've not upgraded the distribution, but have changed to Shiki-Dust as the window border and Breathe as the icon theme instead of Gartoon. I changed to a grassy desktop wallpaper, too.

Incidentally, the Mac Mini I am using as my main computer is a POS. The "Superdrive" doesn't work at all, with any OS, so I have attached the Buffalo branded portable CD drive that I bought to use with my ASUS 1000HE. Also, the hard drive is the only one among various drives, up to 10 years old, that shows bad blocks and may be failing. This, although I bought it last June! I was considering returning it under warranty, but I don't know how long that would take, and at least the Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB memory works OK; that's all I need. I regret that I won't be able to contribute to showing Apple's truly bad performance, but since I resolve to not buy an AAPL again, maybe that will be enough. It has been a big mistake. It takes Linux 5 minutes to boot on this machine, and it's not dependable. I don't really need the Mac OS to fall back on as an OS, and if I did, I could have used the older 2003 and earlier PowerPCs upstairs in the PC Lounge and Museum, formerly known as the PowerPC Lounge and Museum.

I was recently offered a Fujitsu "FMV Deskpower CE7/857"with Windows Millenium Edition still installed. I accepted it and found it readily let me install Fedora (which I rejected because it seemed like a pain to install the mp3 and dvd codecs), then MEPIS (which was better but still lacked some codecs and was ugly in a bad-kde way), and finally Xubuntu (9.10), which was attractive and worked well once I connected it, downloaded the codecs and input methods, VLC, etc, and made it into a multi-regional DVD player. The machine does have the unusual habit of randomly opening the DVD/CD tray every few hours, but this doesn't seem to disrupt playing a movie or even installing software; I simply push the button and it goes back in and resumes the movie or install. As free junk, it has better value than the Mac Mini, as it can play DVDs and happily runs any Linux you care to put on it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

¿(¡Viva la immigración!)?

Could wearing a sombrero and bandana (and growing a bushy mustache) be a viable way for Arizonans to protest state law SB1070?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hide and Seek

Stephen Hawking (not to be confused with Stephen King) says it may be best to Hide from Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.(You can still search for it, but be vewy vewy quiet.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blow away the smoke

I still hear people (but more commonly oil company commercials) saying that wind can only provide 15 or 20% of the energy society consumes. But, of course, if you scale your electrical grid up to, say, the size of the North American continent, the wind never stops blowing simultaneously over the entire continent, and there's no reason you can't get 100%, 200%, 500% of your energy needs from the wind, depending on how big you scale it up. This article supports that point, but I'm not sure how much good it will do compared to the many hours of commercial messages from the oil companies that TV viewers have seen.

"...while it comes and goes locally, at this larger scale, the wind never really stops blowing.

The researchers studied five years of wind observations during different seasons from 11 monitoring stations along the coast and developed a hypothetical "Atlantic Transmission Grid" that would string together a thin line of off-shore windmills along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Miami.

Their results show daily weather data along this experimental Atlantic Transmission Grid "yields uninterrupted power output." Such a grid would connect five-megawatt off-shore turbines such as these (pictured) off the coast of Belgium."

see also

Both of those publications are free to download in their entirety as PDFs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Macbot News

Macbots, a Mac Tonnies tribute site, is developing nicely. There was an interview on Technoccult with facilitators blazingbetta and capnmarrrrk. Mac's last book, The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us, published posthumously, is available from Anomolist books, and I haven't got it yet.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

BRL and beyond

I never used to watch Break Room Live because I listened to it. They had some good video clips that I never noticed until now.

Our poor fallen masters. Give generously.


Marc's House!


Ladybug and Lotus (though not at the same time or space)

Possible wallpapers, formatted to fit my display.

2009 photos taken with my phone. The ladybug was on the grassy hill overlooking Tokyo Bay down by the tetrapod beach at crematorium cove in Narashino in May. The lotuses were in Kyoto somewhere in a temple under some trees in a corner but I don't remember exactly.

Bluster and threat in software "patents"

Jonathan Schwartz of Sun describes getting shaken down by Bill of the Gates and Steve of the Jobs.


It's a wonderful life. Then again, it could be better. Mark Linkous = Sparklehorse = shot himself in the heart with his rifle a week ago. He was a talented musician, and I appreciated his work.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

E (Mark Oliver Everett of the Eels)

I guess I missed this April 15, 2008 set at KCRW. There are four parts.

This was a good 2005 performance of Dead of Winter from Electro-Shock Blues.

I forgot to buy E's book, Things The Grandchildren Should Know. Maybe I will now; I've been on an Amazon buying spree (relatively speaking). I'm disappointed to notice today that the BBC had YouTube pull down Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives. I never made a local copy before it disappeared. :-(


A few favorites from xkcd:

Monday, March 08, 2010

Wallpapers on DA

I am trying out DeviantArt. It has a number of annoying features, but I am trying to get used to them. Not sure how I can or will use it, but here are some desktop wallpapers based on some landscape photography from the public-domain USGS photo collection.

Ubuntu USGS "newspaper wall" by ~blues-tea-cha on deviantART

Ubuntu 2010 USGS Petroglyph by ~blues-tea-cha on deviantART

Ubuntu 2010 USGS Lohman by ~blues-tea-cha on deviantART

Friday, February 19, 2010

An Edubuntu Desktop Picture

It's not the right proportion for my screen, but it looks OK centered as opposed to zoomed. The background image is from the USGS and would be regarded as in the public domain by US taxpayers at the very least.

This photo makes a pretty good desktop, for me anyway, since it's by me from my neighborhood. It's not much different from a gradient.

In a similar vein, the cat that sat on Makuhari. These two cats are both strays/runaways/throwaways that live in the tetrablock beach near crematorium cove and the insane asylum. These are dedicated to the Year of the Tiger --almost, but not quite, a lucid lynx.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

RSS Screensaver Problem: OpenGL+NVIDIA+Compiz = X crash

Bad day simulation becomes real

There is a well-documented problem of using OpenGL with an NVIDIA video card in combination with Compiz. This is basically what I had been finding with the Mac Mini. I had a bad crash. Attempting to restart produced an "error: no such device. press any key to continue" but recovery worked. Also, I timed my slow motion bootup and it is 5 minutes 5 seconds from rEFIt to GRUB, then another minute or two to login and then the desktop.

Possible solutions are to turn off Compiz effects completely, turn off the screensaver, uninstall the OpenGL, stop using OpenGL (3D) screensavers, or stop using a random list of screensavers. I am changing back to Gnome screensaver, and setting the screensaver to Phosphor with an RSS news feed from Yahoo News, and hoping that will be stable and yet functional and informative.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Install and RSS xScreensaver update

I had to re-install Edubuntu to an external hard drive as the space in the 22GB "Boot Camp" partition quickly ran out after a few podcasts and photos were added. There was some progress as I hadn't been able to get the external USB HD to boot up previously. Most things are working the same or better, but some things are worse. Booting up from rEFIt to GRUB 2 (1.97) takes several minutes. I won't reboot very much, but something is dodgy. It must be 7-10 minutes to boot up, but I haven't timed it. At least GRUB 2 works. If there is anything Linux needs, it is a reliable boot loader that doesn't bork the systems. Speaking of Linux faults, I'm not yet satisfied with the music player, Rhythmbox. It sometimes fails to sync with the iPod, fails to download podcasts and fails to play files. I haven't found a better replacement yet. Everything else in Linux works equally well, except for sound. Work on a kinder, gentler bootloader, and sound.

But because I couldn't get Linux to boot on one day, I spent an entire day in the freedom-hating AAPL operating system. You know, the one they call MacAAPLx10.6SnowLeopard or something. After 2 months, I had forgotten how to do things and found the global menu and window buttons in the upperleft extremely annoying. Let me say a few good things about the corporate profit-centered user-abuser Mac OS: it looks good and boots nicely most of the time, it generally handles sound, music, and music players well, and, best of all, Firefox 3.6 is available! The newest Firefox looks good with the Personas personalization layer enabling you to remove that tired brushed metal skin AAPL inc has made you look at for the whole millenium or the pale Firefox look.

Instead of randomly modding the OS and forgetting what I've done, I'm carefully logging what I've done in a tableside notebook. A few things inexplicably work better now. Compiz Fusion advanced effects are not freezing the xscreensaver so are turned on and make switching apps and windows mucho conveniento. In the xscreensaver, I added a few modules to the RSS news screensaver function: Fontglide, which creates a crazed robotic news feed in various fonts gliding onto the screen and arranging themselves into words, and phosphor, which looks like someone is typing the news feed into an old green phosphor-type of monitor circa 1970 (or ????). There is another xscreensaver module called XanalogTV which simulates a broken old analog TV switching channels and simulating the rollover, static, discoloration, and other nostalgic analog TV effects. It uses the picture folder you specify (as I explained before) so choose carefully your target folder. It's eerie to see the still photos as though they were TV channels where nothing is happening. It reminded me of The Ring, actually.

There is another module which is very creative and Dada-esque but not safe for work or for family. That is the webcollage module. This one randomly grabs pictures off the web and collages them onto screen with the transparency you specify.

As always, you'll have to remove (Gnome)"Screensaver" from your Startup Applications in System--Preferences and add "xscreensaver" instead.

BTW, Jamie Zawinski is responsible for xscreensaver and many of the modules.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Character Palette Panel Applet and Ringing Home

Danke schön, Señor Gagné. That answers a lot of questions for me. The Character Palette panel applet (say fast 5 times) is now living in my top panel.

On a completely unrelated note, as Monsieur Gagné has noted on his blog, you don't need to harbor any negative thoughts about the moon breaking up or our planet being eventually ringed with space junk. It turns out it's awfully pretty that way. Puts the moon to shame. The visual persuasion is below.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Civilization and its Discontents

I was addicted to Civ 1 but successfully overcame the addiction in the early days, knowing it was as dangerous as crack or meth. I think it was on Mac OS 8 or 9. Oddly, I continued to buy multiple editions of Civilization--but resisted playing the game. The software is still in the boxes, unopened, for OS platforms (10.2?, 10.3?) becoming obsolete now. None of that matters now, because on the Linux platform, there is FreeCiv. That's like giving free drugs to the recovering addict. Worse still, puts it out on the internet. As great and dangerous as that is, an antidote exists. The solution is as simple as the problem. Should you ever find yourself not sleeping for days on end due to ongoing disputes with Mao Zedong, Lincoln, Caesar, and/or Catherine the Great, Civilization Anonymous, or CivAnon, offers peer support and explains the dangers. If you experience any of the symptoms, see how other addicts have clawed their way back to a partial, tentative recovery.

Ubuntu User

Ubuntu User Issue #1 is available as a free download. It's 42 MB of high-quality, useful articles covering nearly 100 pages. I've already learned some new things about OpenOffice extensions and using Freemind. The only bad point is that this issue is approaching one year old, so some details about Jaunty Jackalope may be starting to go out of date in the era of Karmic Koala and with Lucid Lynx coming. If you see a newsstand issue of this, it looks like a good buy. It might be worth subscribing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up the wrong tree?

BowLingual for the iPhone will have twitter support so that your dog's thoughts can be effortlessly tweeted.

Via Asiajin via Tokyo Mango

WTF'in' around with QR-codes

I've been listening to WTF with Marc Maron, as mentioned in a previous post. I've gone through most of the backlog and have to conclude that this is a better situation for Marc in that he is producing better, more timeless and higher-quality comedy-centered content now.

I tried to integrate a QR code into the (existing WTF) show graphic, so I could learn how to use the G.I.M.P. a little more, and maybe even contribute something back to Marc.

I used the Google chart API to make a URL like this or this with error correction level H (allowing 30% of the code to go missing).
My first idea was to go with Marc's face. Hmmm. It's not great but I suppose his face would be enough to remind people what the link was for.
My second attempt was the weirdo-at-the-screendoor effect, in 2 versions. Git yer gun, Pa!

(click for full size)
It doesn't really work unless you see it at full size; the grid doesn't scale.
I tried this blue 600 pixel hippie gif because I didn't like the Huck Finn quality of the existing letters WTF.
I'm not really satisfied with any of these. All of this "code" may be out of date soon as you can apparently just point your cellphone camera at buildings and things and have them recognized.

BTW, since I was working on this in the presence of a 7-year old, WTF now stands for Where's the fish?, What's that fish?, or What's that for?

This final one looks like it wouldn't work, but it scans in very quickly.

The GIMP is better than Photoshop. It's almost the same ease of use (if you start from zero), is cheaper at 0 yen vs $700, and is guilt-free for pirates. And although I personally like the gimpy-sounding name, I would propose the next version be called "The PIMP", Photographic Image Manipulation Program, or Professional Image Manipulation Program, to satisfy the people who are uncomfortable with the name. Hell, why even wait for someone else to change the name? Change the branding yourself just for your own personal use. The Windows version should go with the WIMP as the name, and perhaps The ChIMP would be appropriate for Christians or anyone who can think of a good acronymical reason for that.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Case of the Missing Change Case: gedit vs OOo

One function that's missing from but which Microshaft Worm had is the Change Case function. I would sometimes use this to type in lower-case and later convert to Sentence case or Title Case. Although it doesn't seem to be available in OpenOffice -AFAIK, it shows up in gedit! I'm not sure if it's worth switching out of OO.o to do a tweak in gedit, but it's there. 

Note the Edit menu doesn't have this as an option as default, but open Preferences.

Select Plug-ins and then check Change Case. 

Check "Sort" too. Gotta have that.  

There's Change Case. Sentence Case is not available, but the judicious use of Title Case could function as a substitute. 

There's "Sort" -- also in the Edit menu.  

Check it out. I wonder if there aren't any similar plug-ins for OO.o.