Monday, August 31, 2009


How did we have so many Sci-Fi and Bureaucracy Mondays and miss writing about the Douglas Adam's game Bureaucracy? It came out in 1987 so its doubtful you can get a copy and/or run it on your current machine (the faster cpu might actually make it an efficient Bureaucracy and as Clean Gene warned us, the last thing you want is an efficient bureaucracy). To make up for that I found you some description and screen shots, so you can just pretend you're playing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Agent Simmons says "Ooh. Nokias are real nasty."

This month Fast Company is telling us about Nokia's plans to take over the world in their cover article Nokia Rocks the World: The Phone King's Plan to Redefine Its Business. Take it over and charge us all rent, mind you.

While reading the article I kept finding myself caught between finding cool things in their plan and then wondering whether their business model was downright evil. Alright, maybe evil is a bit strong (no doubt fueled by their description of the VP as "a cross between an Andy Warhol mystic and James Bond villain"), but a giggling enthusiasm for charging farmers in India $1 per month for a cell phone internet app that can help them with weather predictions and market prices seems a little sadistic somehow... because I imagine that is a very steep price for them. When I searched for the average income of an Indian farmer I came across this blog post from Devinder Sharma that cited it at 2,115 Rs in 2003 (that would be $43.28 American at current exchange rates). Could it be much more now? I doubt it. While trying to find a good source there were plenty of articles talking about the impoverished conditions of the Indian farmer, including one article that talked about increased suicide rates. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm trying to imagine spending more than a quarter of my income on a cell phone app (I assume the cost of the cell phone and plan is not included in that). Do I think it would be awesome for everyone in the world to have access to everything through the wonder of inexpensive phones and internet access? Yes I do. I'm just not sure that it can always be a profit thing.

Meanwhile, Fast Company is crazy good, so if you haven't read it consider this to be your sign that you should. It's like the Wired for business. If you don't read Wired either then get on that! Sheesh...

Bing! It's God and Cheese

Thought we would try out Bing! for God and Cheese Day, with some good results. First, something that seems like the best God/Cheese combo yet.
God's Country Creamery
An excerpt of their cheese descriptions will leave you with a craving. They open with "our Gouda has a melt-in-your-mouth, buttery texture and a pleasantly mellow flavor." Yes, I will send you all my money please-give-me-some-cheese. And I guess their graphic is pointing out that if happy cows make happy milk, imagine what our cows do since they are snuggled from infancy.
Then, some entertainment.
Milk-based product of the gods
"Adam milked God while he was sleeping..." claims the Uncylopedia. "Since then other gods have been milked by daring adventurers called milketeers adding to the variety of god-cheese available." Beware, the article goes downhill from there in terms of good taste...

More Geek Chic

The monkeys at ThinkGeek are always coming up with more things that we want in our Geek Abodes. Nothing says "Geek Interior Design" like decorating with light.
LED Panel
Glowing Coaster
LED Faucet Lights
LED Shower Lights

Of course, your Geek Look wouldn't be complete without one of these, but I assume if you're reading this you already own one.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Story Time: Cake

Having just put a cake in the oven I am reminded of a story. Back around '90 I was going to school full time and working a few part time jobs. Our chemistry professor had an annual "Chemistry Picnic" and asked for people to bring various dishes. I volunteered for cake.

It couldn't be just any old cake, you know. I was young, energetic, and loved to bake. So I made a plan for a giant Table of Elements Cake. Four 13X9 sheet cakes put together, frosted in buttercream, with a colored-gel table of elements in blue and red. It was going to be awesome.

Now, with a plan like that it doesn't matter how you approach it - it's going to take a good bit of time. Going to school full time and working a few mall jobs takes up a lot of time, so of course it pressed into sleeping time to get this done.

Here's the funny bit.

About four in the morning it suddenly occurred to me: I could have used a mix. Yes, I was making all four cakes from scratch as well as the four batches of buttercream frosting. My Mom is an excellent cook/baker and I had learned at her elbow so it had never crossed my mind to use a mix. I looked around the slightly flour-dusted kitchen and realized that this was one time that a mix probably would have been alright. (She had also bred into me a certain snobbiness about the idea of using cake mixes.)

Now I am not quite so young and energetic and I tend to use a mix more often than not (what just went into the oven was Betty Crocker Carrot Cake and some of her Cream Cheese Frosting is ready for when it cools). I can still do some mean scratch baking but tend to do that around the holidays when we have some time off and a good reason to give most of it away.

The good news was that the chemistry professor was old enough (70 or so at that time) to know the difference between mix and scratch, with a preference for the later. Unfortunately, it didn't count towards my grade...

The Wee Folk

If you have an interest in the Good People, check out Faerie Magazine and The Faerie Magazine Blog.

via OTIS

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just Need to Add a "Poker Playing" Version

Few things have made me laugh as hard as these pictures... Alien vs. Predator.

It's the little things like how the Predator holds his snifter and the Alien holds his cigarette that really put these over the top.


Not As Young As We Used To Be

There was a time when I could whip a three-bedroom place into shape for company within a few hours. Its important to keep track of when those days end because it can have a severe scheduling impact. After being unsuccessful in our evening attempt to achieve "good enough for company" (which means I will need to ask for a half day off tomorrow on short notice) I tried to think how long it has been since my halcyon white cyclone days. Answer: twelve years. Granted, as little as two years ago preparing for the arrival of some cousins included painting two rooms and the porch, but we spaced that out over at least a week. It doesn't hold a candle to the time we received our truckload of household furniture on Thursday and had the house ready for company Saturday morning. Without taking Friday off. Oh, youth. Where have you gone?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheezy News Network

We need to come up with a new phrase that indicates when a cable news network has gone over the edge. When a sitcom collapses it is called "jumping the shark." When it's a classic movie series it is called "nuking the fridge" (something I would like to retroactively apply to Phantom Menace, by the way). And now with CNN coming up with shows like "Just Sayin'" and "What the..." (not to mention the cancer that is known as Lou Dobbs) we have to find a way write them off in pop cultural shorthand... in some way that is less lame than their own segment titles. Have they been taken over by 13 year olds? What's going on?

As background you should know that I was a huge fan of CNN when it started back in the early 80s. I loved Bernard Shaw's gravitas. I loved keeping up with international events. My only complaint was that eventually the news recycled because at ten years old I was happy to sit down and watch that channel all day long but when they started the cycle over again it harshed my curiosity.

It's possible that the classic purpose of CNN has become outdated - namely 24-hour NEWS. If people are really migrating to FoxNews and MSNBC then they don't want news they want opinion (specifically opinions that support their own and, you know, "An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it." ~Jef Mallett). It's like another era of yellow journalism. Pulitzer vs. Hearst has been replaced with Murdoch vs. well, I guess, Soros.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Infinite Monkey Theorem (or "What's the Deal with Twitter, Anyway?")

When it comes to technology these days it isn't just "have and have nots," there are also "do and do nots." When I mention something like Twitter the "do nots" usually ask, "What's the deal with Twitter, anyway?" They confide that they can't figure out what it is for or how it works or why anyone would want spend time on it anyway. This innocent and earnest confusion on their part has made me think more deeply about something that was previously just entertainment.

My conclusion is that Twitter is basically an enormous test of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. I mean, that's not what we each individually THINK we are doing. We are mostly amusing ourselves by posting stray thoughts and becoming a voyeur of other's stray thoughts. But with approximately six million monkeys pounding away at the keyboards - intersecting, overlapping, scaffolding, and weaving - we will sooner or later come up with the 21st century answer to Shakespeare. The question is whether we will recognize it when it happens. Because although we've built a machine of almost infinite potential, each tweeter has a very finite perspective.

You define your Twitter experience based on who you choose to "follow." Mine is defined by comedians, geeks, writers, and liberals. Basically I want to chuckle and see the thoughts of people who agree with me. It's like extending my friendship circle using my Blackberry and recent tweets often drop into my real life conversations. So although Jim Gaffigan didn't know it, he might as well have been standing in the coffee shop with us on Friday when he commented, "Biting into a chocolate chip cookie and realizing it's an oatmeal raisin cookie is kind of like finding out she's a dude."

Now that I'm done with this exploration of the tweetdom I'm going to tweet the link, which will display in the Twitter feed on my blog, thus creating a perfect circle and swallowing the universe. Sorry about that. For more info on Twitter, try checking out the Wiki entry.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

King of Pop? Apparently More Like Pharaoh of Pop!

We've often speculated that Elvis escaped to the stars (or Route 66... same thing) but now we have proof that Michael Jackson escaped through time. It's good to know that he didn't die he just traveled back to Egypt to rule as an eternal Boy King. Go see the evidence in Chicago. (Pics and articles on NBC, the Telegraph, and Chicago Sun Times.)

Story via J. W. Ocker of O.T.I.S.

Update: amusing review by The Inquisitr.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside (Shiver)

Tonight I had the privilege of attending Maggie Stiefvater's book launch party for "Shiver" in Williamsburg. Who is Maggie, you ask? Soon you will know because "Shiver" is expected to premier at #9 on the New York Times best seller list next week. It is a Young Adult (YA) novel with romance and werewolves. Yes, you read that right, romance and werewolves. From the two chapter reading that Maggie did tonight it promises to be even more enchanting than her previous books about homicidal fairies. (Yes, homicidal fairies. That series starts with the book "Lament.")

In person Maggie is delightfully enthusiastic and engaging, so this is definitely an author that I can recommend going out of your way to meet. She will be at Dragon Con if you are headed that way. Or you can check in at her blog for other appearances. We got the CD version to listen to on the way home so you will have to wait a few days for a full review. But the first two chapters were great.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Keep Doing What You've Done, Keep Getting What You've Got

It occurs to me, as I take the dogs out for the fifth time today (they get spoiled on weekends), that life has settled into a predictable and none too beloved pattern. Not that I have a bad life. But I'm more about impulse than routine, so having years go by with little variation is driving me oh-so-slightly crazy. And at this point I do have to look around and say, "Really? Is this all there is?" Because nothing is what I would have predicted and is all far, far less glamorous than I would have hoped. Not that I wanted to be a rock star or anything. Just something other than horrifyingly ordinary.

Must be time to shake things up...