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Under the bridge, water flows, shadow deepens, moss grows.
Under the bridge evil lies, justice weakens, innocence dies.

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2006
10:42 am - My New Website: TURTLEZERO.COM
I don't think I've mentioned it here, so here it is: VISIT TURTLEZERO.COM NOW!

This is my website where I offer my paid services as a NetLogo programmer.

NetLogo is a computer language and environment intended for deveopment of Agent Based Models. It's a great research tool, and can also be used to create models to use as teaching aids in the classroom. At TurtleZERO.com you can try out a bunch of NetLogo models I've created. (The models run as Java "applets" in your browser, so you'll need the Java plugin.)

current mood: energetic

(amuse the Troll)

10:41 am - Hot sauce gives me hiccoughs?
I take one bite of my sausage-egg-n-cheese-with-ketchup-and-hotsauce, and the moment the spicey flavors hit my throat... HEEEEKrkG! I hiccup about 5 times, then it stops. Fun!

(amuse the Troll)

Thursday, January 19th, 2006
9:56 am - Not One Dime -- Radical Campaign Finance Reform
This idea rocks.

Not One Dime

A radical plan to Abramoff-proof politics.

By James Carville and Paul Begala
( source: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0603.carville.html )

Republicans are trying to run away from the growing Abramoff scandal like the devil runs from holy water. And who can blame them? While the GOP tries lamely to pretend that the lobbying scandal is bipartisan, the truth is that the pay-for-play politics that Abramoff exemplifies has become central to the GOP's governing model, in a way it has not been for either party in decades. That's why the officials so far snared are all Republican. The House GOP Leader, Tom DeLay, is indicted and disgraced. The White House's chief procurement officer, an Abramoff ally, has also been indicted. Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham has already pleaded guilty to corruption, and the feds are said to be hot on the heels of several of his colleagues.
long article, but exciting readCollapse )
We know our plan is not perfect. Some will argue over whether the plan favors incumbents or challengers. Some will argue whether it favors Democrats or Republicans. Some will argue whether salary increases for politicians are justified.

We have our doubts as well, but if more money from the taxpayers makes it easier for politicians to agree to no money from special interests, it's a good deal.

At its core, this plan does something no one will argue with: It forever divorces the corrosive—and sometimes corrupting—effect of campaign cash from members of Congress and presidents. When American citizens look at their Congress and White House, they will say what Alexander Hamilton said to a visitor to the newly-constructed U.S. Capitol: “Here, Sir, the people govern.”

This article is adapted from Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future by James Carville and Paul Begala. Copyright © 2006 by James Carville and Paul Begala. Printed by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

(3 musings to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005
11:47 am - Holy Sabbath Day!
This is why I should not be a Christian: I would be very annoying to other Christians.
exodus 20:8-11

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

There has been a lot of arguing, over time, about what day of the week the "sabbath" falls on. For the Jewish and 7th-day Adventists, Saturday. For Catholics and many other Christians, Sunday.
But, it seems to me, that there is nothing there about *which* day is the "sabbath" day, the names of the days, or any of that. There is no heavenly-provided start-point. It would have been useful is there was something like: The moment when, on the Spring Equinox, the Full moon strikes the zenith and the North star is directly above the moon, all at the same moment, shall be the beginning of Day 1 of Year 1. And from that moment, all time shall be measured.

Well, then a little observation and calculation should let us know exactly what "day" it is.

But, there is no way to know what "day" was day "one." The calendar we use now has changed many times since this was "written," The days that we call "Sunday" may well, if one tried to count backward, have occured on day 3!

I mean, come on, most of our english days of the week are based on Nordic/Germanic/Anglo-saxon pantheon!!

Sunday = Sun's Day
Monday = Moon's day
Tuesday = Tīw's day*
Wednesday = Wodin's day
Thursday = Thor's day
Friday = Fríga's day
Saturday = Saturn's day **

1.Tīwesdæg, from the Germanic God Tīw corresponding to the Roman God Mars
2.Wódnesdæg, "Wodin's day" Wodin is the king of the gods.
3.In German: Donnerstag, literally, "Thunder's day" Thor is the son of Woden, by Jord.
4."Frígedæg" Fríga is the queen of the gods.

This is the wierd one. All the days in Latin are planets (or rather, Gods), and only this one persists. Many of the Norse beings in this list have Roman counterparts (e.g. Mars = Tiw), and some say that Saturn is similar to Loki. Now, the "last" day of the week is sacred to Loki, but the Norse (perhaps wisely thinking it would not be a good thing to dedicate a whole day to Loki, the Trickster Giant) called this day Laugurdæg, "Wash day"

So, Since we don't really know *what* day is *really* the exact, actual "seventh day", I think it best if everyone just agrees that what is being said in exodus 20:8-11 is this: Work as hard as you like, but take a day of rest (and contemplation, perhaps) at least one day in seven."

(amuse the Troll)

Monday, September 19th, 2005
9:28 pm - Now I'm *sure* to use the US Post Office
Today (Monday, Sept. 19, 2005) I got in the mail a mailing from the USPS. "Memo to Mailers", a glossy, full-color magazine-lette that's all about how everyone should use the TOTALLY AWESOME US Post Office for everything. Boost Sales. Provide Great Customer Service. Enjoy Fast Deployment.

Let me write that again.


On the back, the side visible when it was folded in stacks awaiting delivery, is all about National Postal Customer Day. (!!!) "'Celebrating Postal Customer Councils -- America's Partnership' Featuring keynote address by [the Postmaster General] Can't make it? You can watch on DISH Network's channel 9601."

O.K., forget about the USPS appearing to believe that a significant number of its customers have access to "DISH Network."

Remember this:
Date of the Event:
Sept, 14, 2005

Advert arrived:
Sept, 19, 2005

Yes. The ad that is all about how great, and efficient, and reliable the Post Office is, the ad that assures you (a potential customer) that the Post Office will make *you* look good to *your* customers, arrived 5 days after the event it was announcing. It should have arrived 3 to 5 days before the event. More if they expected people to actually show up.

So, the advertisement meant to show the reliability of the USPS was delivered 8 days LATE.

Funny old world, isn't it?

Link: http://usps.com/nationalpcc

(1 musing to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

10:26 am - Arrr! Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!
Shiver ye timbers over ter the offical page, smartly, ye scurvy dogs!


(amuse the Troll)

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005
12:32 pm - My Letter to ING Customer Service
ING has just announced to me that they have bought into PINGuard technology.

When you need to enter your numeric PIN, a graphic is displayed showing the keypad. Next to each number is a Latin capital letter. You can either click the numbers, or click in the entry field, then enter the letters that correspond to the numbers. The letters change every time. Sounds secure, huh? Also inconvenient. That muscle-memoried PIN you always use... now you have to actually remember it, and translate it, and hunt on the keyboard for it... and.. not so secure, actually.

Here's my letter to ING Sales and Service about it:

Dear ING,

I really wish you hadn't bothered with PINGuard. It's stupid.

I presume that keyloggers have been confirmed to be so much a threat that the problems with this style of security can be ignored?

While "PIN Guard" may thwart keyloggers, it enhances the success of over-the-shoulder PIN spying, as following a mouse as it clicks buttons is far easier than observing key entry. Also, the PIN Guard interface makes it impossible for a blind user to use the website without help! By disconnecting and randomizing the numbers from the keyboard, ING becomes impossible to use with screen-reader software! And since putting the translations (ie C=1 K=2, etc) into the webpage meta-data for use by screen-readers would defeat the whole purpose of the scrambling in the first place...

I'm sorry, I'm sure some executive thought PIN Guard was really flashy and pretty and gee-whiz so secure, and I'm sure you paid lots of money to license the patents and reprogram your web interfaces, and all... but I really wish you hadn't.

Here's another thought: If a black hat can install a keylogger, what's to keep that same blackhat from installing a program that identifies sites that use PINGuard technology, monitors mouseclicks, captures the button images, and uses OCR techniques to find the letters and numbers in those images, then uses that info to translate the code? If I can think of it, I'm sure the blackhats will. You will then have spent a lot of time and money on a "security" device that will be obsolete against the specific threat it was designed for, in a matter of months, if it is not already obsolete.

~~GregorTroll, ING Customer

(amuse the Troll)

Friday, September 9th, 2005
10:39 am - iDJ--Dual iPod Docking station and mixer!
I saw this totally cool thing in a catalog while looking over the shoulder of some dude on the trolley:


It's a dual iPod docking station/mixer /crossfader/controller/upload station ... it seems almost too cool for words. A digital DJ's wildest wet dream.

It even has a little spindle hole in the bottom, in case the only place for it in the booth is on top of the unused turntable!

iDJ iPod Docking station--click for larger imageiDJ iPod Docking station rear view--click for larger image

current mood: aquisitive

(6 musings to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

Thursday, September 8th, 2005
5:19 pm - Lego company being humorless
Go to http://www.legos.com

Instead of simply being redirected to www.lego.com, you first get scolded by Lego trademark lawyers for misusing the lego trademark. Uh! This IP madness is... madness.

I went to the customer support area and sent them this message:

Scolding your fans and customers for using "www.legos.com" instead of "www.lego.com" makes you look like humorless pratts, not fun-loving makers of toys for all ages. Fire your trademark lawyers. They probably forgot to mention that by registering and using www.legos.com you appear to be acknowledging the popular usage of using the word "legos" to mean "that body of toys consisting of tiny interlocking pieces made by the LEGO company" We've been saying to each other "Lets build legos" for decades. We, individuals and customers and fans, are not going to change that because your laywers think its a bad idea. Stop it. Stop acting like idiots.

Maybe I'll get sent some free stuff. Or maybe some hate mail. Or maybe a summons! Probably, some IP lawyer will just call me and yell at me.


current mood: amused

(1 musing to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

4:46 pm - Nowhere to go: The Clusterfuck in New Orleans

Item 0: Over 200 trapped tourists, et. al. pool $25,000 to hire several out-of-city charter buses to come get them. The buses are commandeered at the city-line and never show up. With nowhere to go, they march to the superdome.
Item 1: They are told by authorities that no more people are allowed to enter the superdome or convention center, because they are dangerous hellholes now, and no there is nowhere else.
Item 2: Having nowhere to go, they head for the local police headquarters, and decide to hang out there until help arrives.
Item 3: Police authorities tell the group to the (state-line) bridge, to catch buses waiting there.
Item 4. They go. It was a lie to get them to leave and stop embarrasing the authorities with their presense and media attention.
Item 5. What was waiting there were Mississippi police, there to *prevent* refugees from evacuating, to prevent a "superdome" situation on the other side of the bridge. Shots are fired to emphasize the gravity of the police intent.
Item 6. Having nowhere to go, refugees create a safe, functional, fragile camp in the grassy median of a highway exit, organize food and water collection, share resources, etc. The camp peaks at a population near 90, including elderly and children.
Item 7. National media attention focuses on the camp. When asked, officials say they are going to "take care of" the refugees in the camp.
Item 8. Local police arrive with helicopters, shout obsenities, and chase the refugees off their camp at gunpoint, using helicopters to create terror and blow away fragile make-shift shelters. The sheriff steals the collected food and water from the camp.
Item 9. Having no where to go, the remainder hide, from criminals and police, until eventually rescued by urban rescue teams and airlifted to Texas.
Item 10. In Texas, they are treated like the worst combination of criminals and animals.

current mood: infuriated

(3 musings to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005
1:19 pm - More Cowbell: Walken for President, 2008
Update: It's a hoax. Drat.
Christopher Walken to Run for President in 2008


No, really. The early platform statements sound promising. If he hits the right notes on choice, corporate welfare, trade, etc... I may have to join the campaign. I mean, come ON: CHRISTOPHER WALKEN!!

The next President of the United States,
Ronald "Christopher" Walken

(6 musings to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

Friday, August 5th, 2005
3:41 pm - Interaction Forum Statistics
Wow. 260 current members. 327 watchers. Not bad. Hope y'all at the con are having a great time!

(amuse the Troll)

10:37 am - Thoughts on Data Compression
Assuming we had a pseudorandom number generator that produced sufficiently random results...
And seeing as how there must/might be a sequence of pseudorandom numbers that is identical to the sequence of numbers that represent, for example, a digital music file...
If we could determine the seed value for the PRNG that produced that sequence of numbers...
We could encode the entire, arbitrarily long, file as a single, far smaller, number: the seed.

I realize that this idea contains a few technical impossibilities... like.. the implication that there is a sufficient number of unique seeds to assign/discover for every possible file, and that finding that seed would not take a transinfinite amount of time.

Here's another one: It is possible to discover a polynomial function that maps to a particular given set of points. The shorter the set, the easier it is to find the function. But... If a finite data stream of arbitrary length, like a digital music file, could be mapped to the output of some periodic or polynomial function... then the entire stream could be compressed to just the coefficients of that function, which is presumably far shorter than the stream itself... if the stream is reduced to just considering the 0s and 1s, then the function only has to map approximately, with only the x-axis crossings needing to be in the right place, to show the state transitions from 0 to 1, or something like that.

Even if its too hard (takes too long) to find one function for the whole file, would it be possible to find a function for just a part of the file? Say, 200 bits of coefficients for every 20000 bits of data? That'd still give a 1000:1 compression ratio! Is that feasible? Hmm.

current mood: calculating

(amuse the Troll)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005
4:44 pm - A Joke
If Asia is the Orient, and Europe is the Occident, then what is North America?

The Accident.

(amuse the Troll)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005
4:56 pm - test2

(amuse the Troll)

4:54 pm - Membership(s) for Sale: _amount_
For sale: (1,2,3) Interaction Membership(s). Asking (USD/GBP/EUR)_amount_. Reply to this post or e-mail _address_. (testing---)(testing---)(testing---)(testing---)

(amuse the Troll)

Monday, July 11th, 2005
6:25 am - Airport Patdowns--are they useful?
Question: Do ceramic knives, like the ones used in some of the 9-11 hijackings (or smaller version, if they exist) set off the metal detector? If they don't, then I'd be more likely to support a thorough patdown that if they did.


Link to FBI Concealed Weapons Guide at the Associated Press Datacenter:
(Perfectly legal 2.2 MB PDF file, from datacenter.ap.org)

Please see pages 30, 34, 35, 41, 42, 52, 60, 61, 70, for assorted "invisible" to metal detector blades, at least three of which (35, 41, 61) will fit nicely in the "secret" pocket in the underside of every pair of men's fly briefs ever made. The item will ride securely in there, though any activity that doesn't also remove the underwear.

This is a great way to slip a folding knife into a nightclub. Also a fun place to carry your cell-phone--on vibrate, of course, unless you want strangers staring at your crotch in awe and wonder.

Only a direct, firm, spread legged, yes-I-can-feel-your-soft-bits-sorry pat-down (pat-up, really) will detect something there. And women can wear men's briefs too, can't they?

The Guide has pictures, sizes, notes materials, and for many items, provides a handy sample x-ray scanner image, and notes which are "invisible" to a metal detector. If I can find it, so can any half-smart ne'er-do-wells.

From the Forward:
"In the wake of the September 11, 2001, airline hijackings the FIREARMS AND TOOLMARKS UNIT of the FBI LABORATORY has started a collection of small and easily concealed knives. This is the first installment of a continuing effort to collect and distribute information on knives that otherwise may be
dismissed as non threatening items."

This is why sane people say, "Partial or misapplied security is worse than no security. The appearance of safety leads to complacency.

Either pat me down, all the way, professionally, or don't touch me.

Knowledge is Power, Power Corrupts--Study Hard, Be Evil.

(amuse the Troll)

Friday, July 8th, 2005
12:48 pm - Anthrocon?
Hey, Whose at Anthrocon? Are any of ya thinking of visiting Shampoo's Shaft Night, tonight?


It's FOAM PARTY night, plus a fashion show (ie hot guys in tiny underpants), some sort of photo shoot, latin, 80's and hardcore music in three different dance areas, on two floors.

(1 musing to amuse the troll | amuse the Troll)

9:27 am - London Bombing Reactions: Too Late.
Boy, it sure feels different when it's a bunch of British Civilians getting blown up instead of Iraqi civilians, everybody in Israel, and assorted American military personnel, doesn't it?

I'm honestly a little sickened by all the noise being made: prayers going out, queries about "donations to help the victims", etc. in comparison to the relative silence that preceded it. I've not seeing this kind of reaction (and certainly not this kind of coverage) for bombing in Iraq, Israel, etc. We here about it that day, but no all day coverage, no international public outcry.

Are we just *numb* to it happening elsewhere, or do we simply not care when poor, brown, beleaguered people get blown up, reserving our grief and outrage for when rich, white, safe people get it? (I know, there's tons of non-whites in London, but you still get my point.)

Or is it just because Iraqis don't have enough camera phones?

No comments on this one...

current mood: sad
Tuesday, June 28th, 2005
2:14 pm - Google releases Google Earth. Earth Surrenders.
They've finally done it! Google purchased Keyhole last year. Keyhole combined satellite imagery with map data and a database of things like restaurants and stuff, to let you browse the earth. You started in space, then zoomed in. However, its ability to search sucked. You couldnlt just type in an address...

Well. Ho-lee-shiiit. Now you can. And the basic version is now free. Free.

AND it lets you overlay 3d models of the city-scape (of 38 cities) on the map.

And it has all the power of google's search engine behind it. So, now you can type in an address, or a city, and zoooom... you fly there. Type in Pizza... and all the pizza places light up.



(amuse the Troll)

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