January 12, 2007


About a third of the way through this video, Stephen Colbert makes the geekiest reference I have ever heard on mainstream television. I was several years into my CS degree before I understood all the concepts in this rant:

“Computers aren’t supposed to be easy or cute, they’re supposed to be intimidating, punch-card reading, hulks of metal that take up an entire refrigerated room and force you to manually implement recursive procedures and abstract data types in Fortran 77.

I’ve been there, deep in this shit, and it is no picnic.”

– Steven Colbert

The best part is that I’m actually reading an academic paper on implementing recursive procedures, though fortran isn’t mentioned and the room I’m working in is heated as opposed to refrigerated.

January 11, 2007

you broke my heart

For those who got their hands on a Nintendo Wii, it looks like the Godfather might be an interesting title on this platform. From this interview:

“You’ll be able to throw left and right hand jabs, hooks, and uppercuts; grab enemies and throw them around with both hands; perform head-butts and neck-snaps… We had so much fun with the controller possibilities that we mo-capped a bunch of exclusive moves to fit some of the gestures we’d developed, like the open-handed smack and pistol whip.

But is there a motion available to perform the “Kiss of Death”?

January 6, 2007

it never occurred to me until now

Apparently there is a competition to find the most ridiculous warning labels. While this year’s winner warned us “DO NOT put any person in this washer”, by far my favorite was the second place entry:

gas cap warning

To see all of this year’s “winners”, you should probably try this link.

what a role model

Paul Erdös was one of the most prolific mathematicians in History, writing approximately 1,500 mathematical articles before his death in 1996. He was so prolific, in fact, that the six degrees of separation in the math world is called the Erdös number, which describes the collaborative distance between an author and Erdös.

One of my professors related that he once had the chance to speak to Erdös and had asked what the secret was to his astounding output. His response, as related by my professor, was “Speed-up drugs.”

Several friends of mine are planning on going into research and found this anecdote quite depressing and chose to interpret this as a joke. However, scanning wikipedia today I discovered Erdös proclivity for “speed-up drugs” is less than a secret:

“After 1971 he also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erd?s won the bet, but complained that mathematics had been set back by a month: ‘Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper.’ The bet won, he promptly resumed his amphetamine habit.”

So remember kids, if you’re not doing speed, you’re not living up to your potential.

January 5, 2007

mmmm, ramen

My senior year of high school my government teacher had us create a budget for how much it would cost to live on our own, we even had to go find an apartment and include rental costs. Looking back I will admit it was a valid and noble exercise, encouraging youth to open their eyes to the harsh financial situation that is the “real” world.

But the teacher was a dick and I planned on doing the minimum to get a decent grade.

The most annoying exercise was planning a food budget, mostly because you had to provide actual highlighted receipts, which were presumably taken from your parents. I managed to come up with a food budget that I didn’t have any problems living on, which consisted of 3 meals a day made entirely out of Frosted Shredded Wheat, quesadillas, frozen waffles, and soda; it came up to almost exactly $12/week. I was not stupid enough to actually follow this budget.

However, this guy was. In fact he’s stupider than me, as he went the entire month of November spending $30 dollars on food and writing about it each day. I really enjoy this entry

“I think my body finally caught onto my plans for the month; and it’s not pleased. I fealt like I had weights tied around my ankles and did a lot of staring blankly at my desk today. I think my body is just revolting against the drastic drop in calories. Everything I’ve read says it should ajust in a few more days. I didn’t really read a lot of things though.”

If you’re interested, start here, and scroll down to the bottom to start at day one.

January 3, 2007

it’s midnight, do you know where your parents are?

A friend recently claimed that his birthday, Oct. 5th, is the most common birthday in the US. While I initially didn’t believe his claim, I found an article which agrees with him:

“The average pregnancy lasts 274 days. Oct. 5, he wrote in an e-mail, is about 274 days from New Year’s Eve, the day millions of Americans are celebrating with alcohol.”

The next time I hear someone mention that their birthday is in early October, I plan to snicker knowingly.

December 30, 2006

insert sticky situation joke here

Whatever was originally envisioned when post it notes were created, I imagine it wasn’t as a protective armor for “Walt’s” unsuspecting Jaguar:

sticky situation

You can see the construction of this prank here.

happy new year from the donner party!

What Ryan describes as “a wonderfully fun trip” seems a lot more like an episode of the discovery channel’s I shouldn’t be alive:

10AM: Water is still warm, but not boiling. Bryan and I are post-holing around in the heavy snow trying to stay warm – neither of us can feel our toes. The stove flame is starting to flicker out. I crank the fuel up, only to realize it is already on full blast.. I turn off the stove and shake the fuel canister…. yup – frozen. My 4 season mix of propane, isobutane, and butane has become slush. Bryan’s 3 season mix is frozen solid.”

I often have similar experiences at movie theatres, that air conditioning can get chilly.

December 27, 2006

are you watching, rockefeller center?

While we do have parents, my sister and I aren’t exactly what one would call “children” at this point, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when our busier-than-usual parents decided to the forgo hunting down and decorating of an evergreen coniferous tree.

Refusing to let the tradition die, we decided to construct our own tree out of the only thing available to us. The following is the building of our tree in a fast-motion video:

December 23, 2006


“I’m the weirdo who wants to pay directly for the shows I watch, and what the networks are telling me (via their pricing) is that they will charge me more for profoundly restricted versions of the same content if they believe they can get away with it. No. No, in every language. I’m not a psychotic demagogue when it comes to DRM, I’m willing to tolerate it when I get what I want out of the bargain. That’s not happening here. These are versions of shows for more money with less features and zero portability.

I don’t want to be so strident. At first, I thought that content holders weren’t taking the tectonic potential of these services seriously. I now believe it’s just the opposite.  Looking at their model, it’s almost engineered to make digital delivery the least appealing option.”

-Jerry Holkins, from here.

As someone who is outraged at the poor service and embarrassing quality present with my only current option for television, I would love to be able to pay to download high definition content and get rid of cable all together. I would in fact cherish it and declare the day on which it ocurred to be a high holy day in whatever religion I found to be most amicable to the ideaBut by making the prices as ridiculous as they have at $5-$6 per one hour show, they’ve completetely excluded a vast majority of those interested.  Watching two programs a week would already cost you more than the hundreds of channels of 24 hour programming available through the competition.

December 22, 2006

i think the toothbrush had more to do with it than the pill


bless this tool!


Google’s new patent search is the most fun I’ve had on the internet since napster closed down. Checkout a technical description of a Ouija board, pocket protector, or electric guitar.
But if you really want your mind blown, check out this patent.

all silent drive train for sneaking up on cats

“Manufacturers are getting better at building cars that are fast and good- looking, not some tree-hugging penalty box,” says Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend Magazine.
-From the Christian Science Monitor

Is it too late to ask for a Tesla Roadster for Xmas? An all electric sports car with a 4 second 0-60 time , 300 mile range, and style-by-Lotus good looks sounds like a great gift for that aspiring file-system hacker in your family.

December 19, 2006

well i’ll be a parrot’s cousin

Science News Online reports:

“People with generally positive outlooks show greater resistance to developing colds than do individuals who rarely revel in upbeat feelings, a new investigation finds.”

In unrelated news, it was recently discovered that being sick all the time “sucks”, and that 80% of chronically sick people were found to be “generally pessimistic”.

December 16, 2006

i want to be a fisherman

With finals complete, Derek felt an insatiable need to play Guitar Hero, so we called up Seth, got some controllers together and prepared to rock. The following is the two of us playing “John The Fisherman” by Primus. I’m on bass, which proved arduous. The retarded look on my face indicates I am having fun. You’re gonna have to trust me on this one.

UPDATE: I do realize it’s not exactly titillating to watch people play guitar hero and that except for about 30 seconds before the end where I bring our game crashing down it’s probably not even worth pressing play. The reasons I put it up relate much more to the technology I used to bring it to you, the reader. First I recorded the video with my new digital camera, then I edited the video down with Kino on linux, and finally I figured out how to get videos onto google video and embed them into this webpage.

It’s not so much the content of the video that’s exciting so much as the fact that it’s there.

don’t forget the ransom money

While reading up on the federal tax income tax code over at irs.gov I found sources of income the average American might not remember to report. And remember, if you lie on your federal taxes, you go to jail:

  • Illegal income. Illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.
  • Kickbacks. You must include kickbacks, side commissions, push money, or similar payments you receive in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if from your self-employment activity.
  • Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.
  • Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.
  • Pulitzer, Nobel, and similar prizes. If you were awarded a prize in recognition of accomplishments in religious, charitable, scientific, artistic, educational, literary, or civic fields, you generally must include the value of the prize in your income.

Illegal Income, kickbacks, and bribes are one thing, but would the IRS really nail a guy for not paying taxes on his Nobel Peace Prize?

as dangerous as the battlestar galactic missle launcher?

I was relaxing after finals reading about the 10 most dangerous play things of all time, cruising past the lawn darts and the Atomic Engergy Lab, when I discovered something interesting:

Sky Dancers, quite possibly one of the sweetest toys my sister ever received, was added to the list because “over 150 children fell prey to Sky Dancer’s helicopter-blade arms and erratic ‘Oh-Jesus-it’s-chasing-me!’ flying patterns. Injuries included scratched corneas and temporary blindness, mild concussions, broken ribs and teeth, and facial lacerations that required stitches.”

I remember my sister and I playing with this toy all the time and being especially careless. I’m lucky I wasn’t disemboweled.

December 14, 2006

it’s possible i might have made up lexophilia

In reading a 25 page excerpt from a Benjamin Barber book, I have again been confronted with the untethered skill with which this man owns the dictionary. His vocabulary is ridiculous, so much so that I decided to write down every word I had to look up in an effort to document this savage display of lexophilia. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I probably should have known a few of these, but after stumbling upon “panglossian” I was disoriented to the point where I would have been lucky to recognize my own name.

Ze words:

It’s worth noting that the spell checker I am using doesn’t recognize three of these words; I’ll leave it to the reader as an exercise to determine which three.

December 9, 2006

oh em gee, ponies

omg, ponies!Before I met Ben, I hadn’t considered there might exist a group of individuals who hold the stern belief that it is both right and good to judge a book by it’s cover. These cold-hearted bastards use the title “Graphic Designer” and when I offhandedly suggested they look a little deeper and evaluate the actual text in a given work they suggested that I take a long read on some well traveled rail tracks.

Given this, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that someone would have a best o’ 2006 list for book covers. Though I don’t have the asthetic sense to second guess any choices made with regards to art, in the category of best title I’m casting my vote for “Abandon the Old in Tokyo.”

December 5, 2006

quote of the moment

“There are not many operating systems that anyone has ever described as ‘fun’. Indeed, the friction and labor of development under most other environments has been aptly compared to kicking a dead whale down the beach.”

– Eric S. Raymond, from  The Art of UNIX Programming

December 4, 2006

my bad

Me: I tried to draw once, but a tsunami killed a couple hundred thousand people the next day so I decided I had better stop.

ug: holy shit, that was you?!

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