Thursday, September 30, 2004


I have to say, I used to get excited over sports. I used to sit on the edge of my seat, jumping at every near-goal, closely follow the seasons and tournaments..

But nothing got me as excited as watching John Kerry tear George W. Bush apart, piece by poisoned piece, using only facts and good argument.

There is no question that Kerry won this debate, but that goes without saying, Kerry's never lost a debate. Bush might have been able to wriggle out of incriminating himself against someone like Gore, but Kerry was simply relentless. Even when he looked like he was being soft, and polite and deferential to the office of the president, he was actually just being graceful about carving up this fraud that's been leading the US for the last 4 years.

The killer line: "George Bush is just offering us more of the same". Kerry doesn't normally do sound bytes well when he's just talking in a stump speech, people say he's too long-winded. But when he has a target in front of him, his old skills as a prosecutor comes out in full force. Kerr put away mafia bosses in hs old career, and goes about destroying Bush's credibility with exactly as much skill and finesse.

By al - 11:51 p.m. | (12) comments | Post a Comment

Back from Beijing

Well, sadly enough I am back from Beijing...and all I can say is I am definitely teaching in the wroooooong country.

The people were great, the food was incredible and the shopping was retarded! I have graduated from novice haggler to expert was like an intensive training experience...

Some guy on my tour bought PS2 games out of some 18 year old's bedroom and I spent waaaaaay more money than anticipated...

But I had an amazing time and I acutally climbed the Great Wall...(still can't walk, but m'eh......)

Here is a pic of dave and I in Tian an men Square...

and here's my attempt at diplomatic relations.....

By chantal - 1:01 a.m. | (8) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Shoulda been a test pilot...

Awesome. 1 more to go. I'm sure Rutan and company could do without the barrel rolls, but boy does that add an element of excitement. I'm well aware of the risks and sacrifices these guys make and my hats off to them. Besides, you don't get progress by staying on the ground. I'd want to hang in there til the 100km mark too. Wheeeee!

Note to canuck teams: make with the rocket.

By TVT - 3:26 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Cure for Nintendo Thumb

I thought Dance Dance Revolution was supposed to be the answer to staying indoors? Genre-busting indeed.

Hmmmmm now if Tecmo developed it and it had a personal trainer with a giant rack, 'user definable physics' and an intricate 'rest system', then I'd be interested. ^_^ Oh and deathmatch and online play. Yeah, that's the ticket.

By TVT - 10:20 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

As requested by al II

Binnie style stuffed potatoes.
Set Oven to 400 C
Two Baked potatoes
spaghetti sauce, best if it is home made, but store bought will do in a pinch
Cheese, Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano are my preferred.

Split open the bake potatoes and scoop out some of the insides, place next to the potatoes. Fill holes with spaghetti sauce, mix in potato that was scooped out.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 6-7 minutes.

Allow to cool 2-3 minutes and serve.


By Sabrina - 10:27 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Article Dump - ADD Edition

Baghdad Year Zero by Naomi Klein — Normally Harper's doean't put their articles online so this is a bit of a treat.

Of Human Bondage by Robin Blackburn — (The Nation.) Putting the Haitian revolution in it's proper place in history.

Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web — (MIT Technology Review) I'm now grudgingly starting to admit that such a thing might be possible.

The Anti Monument — (The Walrus) Korean artist Do-Ho Suh brings the statue down from the pedestal

Hu Done It — (The Economist) A pretty good explanation of what the heck just happened in the Chinese government that no one seemed to notice.

By al - 8:46 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Ten things I like doing and ten things I don't like doing

Hey there. Just for the hell of it.

There is a pile of things in this world I like to do and a pile more I don't like doing.

The things I like doing.

1 driving, especially on the highway when the road is snaky and I have a standard to play with. Standards are so much better than automatics.

2. Walking out side when it is a really nice fall day, and you can smell the autumn in the air. I love the smell one gets when it is close to harvest time.

3. Eating freshly harvested vegetables and fruit. There is no point in the year that food is so sweet as the day you harvest it.

4. Wrapping my self in a warm sweater and going outside to watch the sun set with all the colors of the sky are bright.

5. Baking treats. There is no doubt that I love to make cookies and cakes and pies. I love making treats and having other people enjoy them.

6. Testing the treats when they come out of the oven. I rarely wait for things to get cool enough to try them.

7. Sign the bottom of my experiment book. Which means the experiment is done and I can move on to the next challenge

8. Eating soup, especially home made. Home made soups is by far superior to can soup.

9. Dancing. I can dance to anything. I have proven that over and over again. I enjoy going crazy on the dance floor and I don't care what people thing. Plus I still love clogging and step dancing which I learned in my adolescence

10 Grocery shopping and Christmas shopping by myself. I can do the shopping and my thinking without people bothering me to hurry up or slow down. It really is the best way to go.

Things that I dislike doing.

1. Getting caught in a crowd. I always get nervous if there are too many people around. I need at least 3 cm on all sides.

2. Sleeping until my alarm goes off. F#@K that thing scares me when it goes off and it is usually 10 am before my heart slows down.

3. Driving behind tourist. PEI is small and congested enough, but when you through in a few thousand tourist who have no idea where they are going it just makes it worse.

4. Vacuuming.

5. Smelling freshly chard flesh. You meat eater actually think that smell nice????

6. Being asked to say something in French when people find out I can speak the language. What do you want me to day?

7. Hearing bad news.

8. Watching the news, especially American....See above

9. Listening to any kind of alarm or beepy sound.

10. Writing a thesis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Sabrina - 5:27 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Taking Advantage of an Internet Explorer Bad Behavior

I just noticed a fun side-effect of the fact that Internet Explorer un-coolly keeps TCP connections open after making an HTTP request. This is a nightmare for server administrators because it increases the load on web servers compared with getting a lot of requsts from non-IE browsers.

But my last post contains a remote image, which links to an interview with James Wolcott on a page that contains the picture I assholishly hotlinked. But because there is an open TCP connection to that server from loading the image, clicking on it will bring up the page much faster than normally, since the connection has already been made. Just a funny observation, I still don't think IE should do this.

By al - 3:44 p.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

James Wolcott Blog

OK, so the rest of you can quit blogging now and just go read James Wolcott's blog. If you don't know who James Wolcott is, you probably aren't a media-obsessed, cynical American pop-culture dork. But I won't hold it against you.

Wolcott is basically the only reason why I still bother glancing at Vanity Fair (also known as the people who are still paying Christopher Hitchens to drink himself to death and write about it). His book reviews for the New York Review of Books are just as entertaining as the books themselves, especially if he hates them. No one spits poison like Wolcott, precisely why I love him so much. (confession: I've only actually read like 3 books in that review list, but I can extrapolate and sound like I know what I'm talking about.)

Here's an article from 1996 where he rips apart TV talk shows' attempt at looking respectable, “Talking Trash.”

Oh, and this is the part where I blockquote an entire blog post because most of you are all too lazy to click the link, not believing me when I say something is good. This one's about Law & Order:
New Guy in Town
Posted by James Wolcott

I'm not sure how it does it, but Dennis Farina's thick black-and-white mop of hair manages to upstage everything around it. As the new detective on Law and Order, replacing Jerry Ohrbach's venerable Lenny, Farina dominated his first scene on the show just by sticking his head in the door. I've liked Farina ever since Crime Story--he has the "up" energy of a slick gambler who's had a good day--and he got into the swing of L&O so fast and easy that ten minutes into the season debut you were no longer wondering what the loss of Ohrbach might cost the series.

But last night's season debut also pointed up a chronic problem with L&O that has persisted unaddressed for years, not that it seems to matter (given the show's durable ratings and franchise status in reruns). Which is: the "Order" half is so much better--wittier, twistier--than the "Law" half. Episode after episode fractures at the finish, leaving you slightly dissastisfied at having invested so much interest in the outcome. Last night's episode involved Abu Ghraib and brought the Iraq war home all wrapped up in a murder case, which the lawyers then proceeded to muddle.

Part of the problem is that the "Law" casting is so stiff compared to the cop procedural stuff. Sam Waterston has been doing his high-sniffy rectitudinous grandstanding for so long it's as if he expects some soft of Atticus Finch statue; Elisabeth Rohm is no worse than Angie Harmon, but no better; and Fred Thompson is a pompous pork chop whose cliched Southern homilies wouldn't be listened to seriously for ten seconds in NY (whereas Steven Hill, with his crusty cut-the-crap irritability and desire to get out of the office before bad news could follow, was the authentic article).

The bigger problem is that all of the forensic info gathered in the first half seems to get tossed in the second, as we're subjected to civics lectures and speechy arguments that wouldn't persuade a jury if it weren't for the poignant swelling music accompanying them on the soundtrack. There was one keen visual bit of correspondence last night, however, which cut through the windbaggery. When Ron Silver, playing the defense lawyer, described how the prisoner at Abu Ghraib had a broomstick shoved in his rectum, the camera cut to a black juror, and the viewer had the same thought the juror must have had: Abner Louima. Very few shows are able to practice such telepathy.

09.23.04 12:53PM · LINK ·

By al - 1:16 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, September 27, 2004

Money can't buy happiness

From boing boing:

Money can't buy happiness

A new scientific study reveals that (shocker!) a nation's economic fortitude is not as tied to the well-being of its citizens as previous believed. The results of the study--prepared by researchers at the University of Illinois and University of Pennsylvania--appeared in the latest issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
"It has been assumed that money increases well-being and, although money can be measured with exactitude, it is an inexact surrogate to the actual well-being of a nation. In a 1985 survey, respondents from the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans and the Maasai of East Africa were almost equally satisfied and ranked relatively high in well-being. The Maasai are a traditional herding people who have no electricity or running water and live in huts made of dung. It follows, that economic development and personal income must not account for the happiness that they are so often linked to."
Instead, the authors propose that a population's "engagement, purpose and meaning, optimism and trust, and positive and negative emotions in specific areas such as work life and social relationships" should be considered when measuring the strength of a nation. Link

By al - 8:25 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Home for the Weekend

Spent the weekend at home. Not that living at my sister's place is awkward or anything, as she is the one I get along best with. It's just nicer being well. . . home. Everything is arranged how I want it, I don't have to worry about bothering other people, asking if I can borrow this, if I'm in anyone's way, plus I have the INTERNET! Oh, and sleeping in your own bed is really nice too :-)

Weekend highlights: played hockey, worked on the computers, played D&D, worked on the cars, played more D&D, cleaned the house, and played more hockey.

Selling a house is a pain, even when you have an agent. Keeping the house in a presentable condition is both tedious and time-consuming. Especially when you don't spend that much time at home to start with, it's seems like such a waste of time. making sure everything is put away, neatly placed, vacuuming, washing floors, cleaning the washrooms. . . it's a lot of work especially for just me.

I start getting a paycheck soon and looking at my account balance I should have enough cash to fix up the Legacy, something I've been putting off for quite a while now. Although I can fit my hockey gear in the Celica, I'd much rather be throwing it into the Legacy. Fixing it is going to be a chore. Not too sure how I'm going to get it to a garage to get fixed as I'm in Moncton during the week and most places are closed during the weekend. I could drive it down to a garage in Moncton, but then I'd be without a car for a while. I guess I'll think of something. In the meantime, it's back to work.

By Ming - 1:15 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

History in the making (again)

My money's on Paul Allen's toy. I'm sure the Wright fellas would be proud.

By TVT - 10:52 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Cooking for Engineers

Steve Gilliard linked to this blog from a post this weekend, and I've been going all through it and wanting to try a bunch of the recipes. The site is exactly as the title implies, with detailed directoins and an analytical approach to cooking, so one feels a little 'safer' trying out the various creations. Recipes that caught my attention were Sauteed Zucchini with Mushrooms, Corn Fritters and Garlic Roasted Potatoes. It also has very thorough background articles on things like maple syrup grades and freezing meats.

The author has a unique format for presenting recipes which makes CSS tables do things I'd never seen before, and makes a very concise summary of what to do in which order and which phases of the recipe require which ingredients. (though it doesn't quite look right in FireFox.. stupid microsoft proprietary standards..) I almost regret saying that an engineer presented information more helpfully, but there you go.

Link: Cooking for Engineers.

By al - 8:47 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

The Sad Goat Questionnaire

Stolen from amyt. Meme-type questions and answers in comments.

By al - 7:52 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

The Control Room

Just finished watching The Control Room on Newsworld (blogged here) last night. It gives a look inside the newsroom of Al Jazeera television and how they covered the US invasion of Iraq.

On balance I'd say that, from what I had seen of their coverage, it wasn't the highest quality all of the time, however, they did show a lot of footage that the US mainstream media never touched.

The US Department of Defense kept denouncing Al Jazeera as an anti-American propaganda network. However the Saudi Arabian government also regularly denounces the network for showing things it doesn't want shown to its own people. They are funded by a Qatari prince who wanted to create an independent Arabic news channel, and who seems to have left them alone to produce the news as they see fit. Control Room mainly focuses on the producer of the war coverage, who formerly worked for BBC World News, so they also have top-quality journalistic pedigree there, though also their share of inexperienced people.

One part of the film showed the US secretary of defense Rumsfeld on television denouncing Al Jazeera for not being proper journalists, while at the same time they showed the producer berating an interview producer for booking an American anti-war radical on the news program, saying that it is opinion and not news and doesn't belong on the news. Not something you'd likely hear as being a problem in a place like CNN, and as Outfoxed showed, such tactics are par for the course for the Fox news channel.

They also extensively interview the American military liaison, a young soldier named Joshua Rushing, who's job was to provide the US government's point of view to Al Jazeera's viewers. At first he was expectedly pro-American, and criticized Al Jazeera for showing pictures which he said would make the US look like monsters. But one of the most compelling moments of the film was him saying that normally when Al Jazeera showed pictures of bombing victims he would feel bad but go on about his day as normal. However one day they showed footage of a room full of dead US soldiers lying on the ground and he said he was sick to his stomach for the rest of the day, and that it finally hit home that this is how most Arabs watching will feel when they see the rest of the footage of war victims. He said it made him hate war to realize this, not something one would expect to hear from a soldier, especially one trained in media relations.

Perhaps part of the reason why US coverage is so far removed from what's happening on the ground is that they simply aren't capable of sending a camera man out of the 'safe zone' in Baghdad without putting him or her in serious danger, and for aesthetic reasons might be reluctant to rely too heavily on external footage. But that's where they should put seeking the truth ahead of their production quality concerns, remembering what they're actually supposed to be for.

Perhaps as a business required to make a profit CNN simply doesn't want to repel too many viewers, and perhaps Al Jazeera is showing inflammatory pictures to draw an audience (though they're less dependent on commercial revenue..) In the end, though, the fact that one side of the world gets one version of events and the other side of the world gets another is the reason why the US is going to have a long hard time getting anywhere in the Middle East colonialism they seem to have found themselves in.

By al - 6:40 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I'm starting my own telco.

TunaPhone. See the thing about Asia is it's bustling; people everywhere. So anytime we went out as a group it'd take forever to regroup. Solution: Walkie Talkies!

FRS radios kick ass. I got some cheap Audiovox units from Wal-Mart. They've got a 3km range. I only started using em cause my friend has a set for trips and they use them at rallies and autocrosses. Handy little devices.

I'll beat VinaPhone at their own game. Maybe I'll get some GMRS units with a 13km range and have that as the 'long distance' plan. :) The best part about FRS is pothole warnings and pig detection. But I'm not hardcore enough to go installing a CB into the car though. Besides, truckers are a weird lot.

That's a Ten-Four, Kemosabe.

By TVT - 1:34 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, September 25, 2004

“You put a brownie in my cloning machine, didn't you?”

OK, so I'm very disappointed in all of you for not telling me that Aqua Teen Hunger Force existed. I seriously could have been happy these last two years. Just because I don't own a TV doesn't mean I should be kept in the dark about these things.

I don't think I've ever actually laughed so hard that my throat constricted and I got cramps in my neck and was nearly unable to breathe. So naturally I immediately hit amazon and ordered vol. 1 and 2 of the DVDs. If I actually do end up dying laughing it won't be a bad way to go.

I fully realize I am outing myself as totally behind the times here, but then I also recently re-discovered Dinosaur Jr., and quite frankly, living n a time warp isn't so bad. Loyal readers of this blog will remember that Tetris is, of course, still the best video game. But every now and then I do have to make room for a new thing to start paying attention to. And, having not updated this blog in like, a day, and not having any stories about drug dealers across the hall to tell you about, I decided to blog about what I just saw on TV.


By al - 11:58 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Sim Stew

A sizeable percentage of my bookmarked blogs have, as their last entry, a reference to the Sims 2. It's going to be like that twilight zone episode with the guy yelling down empty streets "where did everybody go??" soon.

By al - 6:30 a.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, September 24, 2004

Dave's got an axe.

Mighta had other narcotics in his system but I only ever thought it gave you the munchies.

By TVT - 4:20 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment


A well written article on the subject of porn, pipebombs, playstation and parenting.

By TVT - 2:33 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

George Lucas comes into your house and smashes your X-Box

From boingboing:

Lucas put malicious Xbox trojan on Star Wars DVD

The new Star Wars bonus DVD erases elements of your Xbox's firmware without informing you or giving you a chance to decline. This is apparently deliberate, as part of an "anti-piracy" effort aimed at punishing people who play the Star Wars DVD bonus disk in a modded Xbox.

The 'StarWars Trilogy DVD' (video/movie DVD) has an 'Extra Special Features Disc'. If you try to launch this on your Xbox it will automaticly update your dashboard ... NO confirmation will be asked. The bonus disc has extra features including a documentary on the star wars saga, footage from the making of all three films and a preview demo of the new 'StarWars Battlefront' Xbox game (that's why there's a default.xbe, dashupdate.xbe and update.xbe on the disc).

This information can be important for some people with older bioses (booting xboxdash.xbe), people using exploits or simply those who don't want their dash upgraded.

Link (via Gizmodo) posted by Cory Doctorow at 02:45:57 AM permalink |

By al - 10:53 a.m. | (11) comments | Post a Comment

That's nuthin, I can hear pudding.

That's it. I'm bringing my puppy George back with me.

By TVT - 10:08 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

“Wholly Without Merit”

... My favourite legal phrase. Basically means the petitionner is full of it and wasting the court's time. It was used in one of the dissenting opinions of the US Supreme Court in the 2000 Bush v. Gore case which decided the election.

From MetaFilter comes this interesting article: The Path to Florida A long Vanity Fair article (part one and part two, both PDFs) about the experiences and reactions of US Supreme Court clerks during the 2000 election and Bush v. Gore [PDFs hosted at SCOTUSblog; via Intel Dump]

Which brings me to the decision of the court itself, which as far as I can tell, was taken by a straw poll of the judges who then went off and wrote the concurrence and dissent respectively. They don't even agree on whether the court should have even heard the case.

The dissenting opinions in Bush v. Gore are actually quite readable and concise.

Stevens - This one even contains the phrase "wholly without merit."

Souter -- "The State Supreme Court was therefore required to define it, and in doing that the court looked to another election statute, §101.5614(5), dealing with damaged or defective ballots, which contains a provision that no vote shall be disregarded “if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter as determined by a canvassing board.” The court read that objective of looking to the voter’s intent as indicating that the legislature probably meant “legal vote” to mean a vote recorded on a ballot indicating what the voter intended."

Ginsberg -- "Surely the Constitution does not call upon us to pay more respect to a federal administrative agency’s construction of federal law than to a state high court’s interpretation of its own state’s law."

Breyer -- "Despite the reminder that this case involves “an election for the President of the United States,” ante, at 1 (Rehnquist, C. J., concurring), no preeminent legal concern, or practical concern related to legal questions, required this Court to hear this case, let alone to issue a stay that stopped Florida’s recount process in its tracks."

Being a law clerk in the US Supreme Court while all this was happening would likely have been the ultimate disillusioning experience for any optimistic young lawyer lucky enough to catch a glimpse of how the system works at its highest and most refined level.

By al - 8:06 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

No children shall die today

I am in a great mood! I only teach for 3 hours today ...then I leave for Beijing tomorrow morning, and I will have 5 days of children-free experiences...

And just in time too...I now understand why so many teachers burn out...this is a highly stressful job at times...and to go longer than a month without some sort of vacation, break, change in routine or snowday is cruel and unusual punishment.

By chantal - 2:41 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Makin a list, checkin it twice.

I browsed through my Transformers and videogame collection earlier. I evicted some stuff that doesn't appeal to me anymore, all in preparation for a 2nd tour of duty if I get to go back in December. Already I hear them chanting, my lil cousins, nieces, and nephews.

"Is Slanty Claus really coming Mommy? Is he? Huh? Is he?", they'll no doubt inquire. Their calls will not go unanswered this year for I shall come dashing through the clouds in my Airbus A330, Super Nintendo in tow. On Mario! On Megatron! On Gundam! On Virtual Vixen! Whoops, scratch that last one.

Nay. Fret not my plastic friends. Though your journey from near-mint to misfit toy be fraught with peril, you will be given a more caring, nurturing home and *gasp* you might actually get played with! You will have fought the good fight my robotic soldiers. Tis indeed a good day to die. *sniff* Til all are one!

By TVT - 1:27 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

“Offshoring of Jobs Big Benefit for Canada”

An interesting article in the Globe and Mail, Link, that says that the current trend of jobs moving out of the US is actually having a positive effect for the Canadian job market. Especially for things like call centres, but also for other businesses, for whom Canada is a known quantity as opposed to justhanding your company's future to a software house in India that you might never have even visited.

G&M is being gay and making you register, so I'll post the story as a comment. And they can all go to hell.

By al - 10:53 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment


Keen. Also neat how stuff works in cycles. The magnetic field is declining and will flip the poles yet again. Then you've got your ice ages, hurricane cycle, sunspot cycle, volcanic cycle, the list goes on. Ah yes, the life cycle, which I'm at a point to ponder all this stuff. :)

By TVT - 9:39 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

“Red Truth, Blue Truth”

There's longish, committee-written ad on CNNs website (and I think from Time magazine) called “Red Truth, Blue Truth” which does do a good job of summing up the essential creepiness underlying the political debate in the US, where there are only two sides to every issue, and you seem to have to pick one side and by God stick to it. And if you do, you get taken care of, with your own set of facts and explanations for every story provided to you through media channels with the same viewpoint as you who won't bother you with facts if they don't serve the ultimate purpose of getting their guy in power.

When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched its ads claiming that Kerry had embellished his war record, the accusations fell on fertile soil. Quite apart from Red America, in the purple enclaves of Missouri and Ohio, there were plenty of voters who would hear the charges on cable or online and believe there was something to them. Only 29% of voters in last week's New York Times/CBS poll think Kerry is telling the entire truth about his Vietnam service, and 49% think he's mostly truthful but hiding something.

But back in the Blue World the Kerry team inhabited, the "larger truth" was that it was outrageous for a President and a Vice President who supported the Vietnam War but didn't fight in it to stand by while their surrogates questioned Kerry's service. Even if the charges were coming from an independent group of veterans, the Kerry camp thought it could rely on the mainstream media to police the situation and inform voters that they were false. Kerry adviser Bob Shrum, says a Democratic strategist, "kept telling Kerry over and over, 'We don't need to respond. It's only a $170,000 ad buy. Nobody will hear it.'"

But Shrum was assuming that the old order was still in place, not realizing that old media and their insurgent competitors are locked in an asymmetrical conflict, with one set of outlets following the traditional conventions of neutrality and balanced coverage and the other not.

So when the talk shows began covering the charges, they adhered to those conventions and gave equal time to those leveling the attacks and the Kerry representatives disputing them. "Every credible news organization knocked down their allegations," moans a Democratic strategist as if that mattered.

"They didn't understand what was going on," Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi says of the Kerry team. "It was almost like, 'That's not true, so we don't need to respond.' That's the trap they fell into. They just got the big wake-up call that it doesn't work that way anymore."

The real irony is, of course, that most of the policy positions of the US Democratic party fall somewhere to the right of our Conservative party, and the two US parties are seen as being closer together ideologically than other political systems in the rest of the world. Yet thanks to the two-party system, the opposition to each other is actually much stronger than the animosity between political parties here or in Europe.

While the so-called “red truth” relies on wild conspiracy theories about the UN acting in consort with a cadre of gays and intellectuals and libertine Hollywood and New York types (they're at least usually smart enough not to directly name the Jews anymore..) controlling the media and undermining everything good about America, and have accused the mainstream media of being liberally biased for decades now, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. (where were the pictures of what was really going on in Iraq on ABC or CNN? They weren't there.) the “blue truth” might be more along the lines of Michael Moore's pontification about constant war leading to an undemocratic, hierarchical society. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, we saw greedy people starting a war so they could steal oil. No need to elaborate further on their motivations, it was enough that they were doing it to realize they were dangerous.

I had a political science professor in 4th year who told a story of what life in Austria was like in the 1950s. People were so bitterly divided politically that they couldn't even stand looking at each other. You had socialist bicycle clubs and People's Party bicycle clubs (brush up on your Austrian political history here.) and of course the requisite two newspapers, and two sets of the truth. In Austria at least the super-scary authoritarian white supremacist party, also known as the Freedom Party, has at least, with its 5% share of the popular vote, provided a reminder of who the real extremists are. While in the US, for lack of any alternative, and with third parties like Perot actually being more centrist, they take to seeing each other as the extremists across the aisle.

Then again, if you ask an Albertan what he thinks of Maritimers you might see that we aren't above our own petty divisiveness either.

By al - 5:37 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Low carb claims not allowed

I heard this on the radio. Canada is pushing for new food labels, which will detail what is in the food we eat. However contrary to my least favorite fad diet, the low carbohydrate claims will not be allowed on those labels.

By Sabrina - 7:31 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Happy endings

Today while I was sitting at my desk one of the other chemist came in to the office and proclaimed in Loud unhappy voice.

"Some one has taken my bike. Joke is funny now give it back"

The office filled with chemist was rather surprised. No one there had done it. Then the message came from down in production some one had take a bike that belonged to one of the workers down stairs too.

The day progressed slowly after that, then about 2:30 pm, the cops show up at our little facility. The gentleman who had lost his bike and saw two kids one with his and one that looked like the other missing bike.

Happily the teenage thieves were carried off by the cops. Last I heard charges were going to be laid.

By Sabrina - 5:32 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

God Hates Bush Voters

Any questions?

via MetaFilter.

... Here are the actual paths overlayed on a red/blue map not quite as clean-cut, but still, I think I'm going to not complain about winter so much, given the alternative of hurricaines.

By al - 4:52 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

The next level

Just when you thought you've seen everything. Also, dammit, why didn't I think of selling that? *bingo* Lighted steering wheels.

By TVT - 3:03 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Back in Moncton

It's been a while, but it's nice to be working again. Started the new job on Monday here in Moncton and it's a bit strange. I think it's going to take me a while to get used to the new environment. Last time I lived here, Moncton and I didn't exactly part of good terms. Moncton supposedly cleaned up it's water problems, but scars run deep :-p For those that remember, I was running water from Fredericton to Moncton on a weekly basis. I guess somethings don't change. Last time I was in Moncton during the week for work and in Fredericton on the weekends. This time around, I'll be heading to the house on Island on the weekends instead. Not having high speed internet at home sucks though. It's like crack. . . highly addictive and withdrawl's well. . . you get the picture. Doesn't help that the modem in the laptop completely crashes my system when I try to disconnect. 56K sucks regardless, but it's better than nothing.

Work's sounds like it's going to be interesting. I've been busy reading documentation over the past few days, but it sounds like I'll be thrown into a project real soon.

Sorta torn on selling the house. I love the Island, I want to stay and having a house there keeps me sorta there. Then again, I miss having my gear with me. Right now, it sorta feels like I'm on another field trip. It's not like I'm driving back to a hotel after work, but my sister's house isn't my house.

Anyways, I'll post more later.

By Ming - 1:31 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Scheme is Awesome

Scheme is still one of my favourite programming languages. This ask.metafilter thread is turning out to be the best collection of Scheme learning resources I've seen. Stealing some of the links:Just to illustrate how awesome scheme is, here's a quick sort implementaiton that is much more elegant and intuitive than anything in an imperative language like C:
(define merge

(lambda (ls-1 ls-2)
(let loop ((rest-1 ls-1)
(rest-2 ls-2)
(merged '()))
(cond ((null? rest-1) (revappend merged rest-2))
((null? rest-2) (revappend merged rest-1))
(else (let ((first-1 (car rest-1))
(first-2 (car rest-2)))
(if (< first-2 first-1)
(loop rest-1 (cdr rest-2) (cons first-2 merged))
(loop (cdr rest-1) rest-2 (cons first-1 merged)))))))))

(define revappend
(lambda (ls-1 ls-2)
(if (null? ls-1)
(revappend (cdr ls-1) (cons (car ls-1) ls-2)))))
Basically everything in Scheme is a function, so the if, loop, etc. are all actually functions with the conditions and executable code as parameters to the function. This structure makes it simpler to mathematically prove various properties of algorithms implemented in Sheme and other functional languages.

By al - 10:49 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Elvis Costello Tells the FBI to Go to Hell

This is awesome:
Elvis Costello on Anti-Piracy
Looks like the venerable Mr. Costello doesn't like the FBI talking about what you can do with his discs once you buy them. Check out the statement above the warning on the back cover for his latest disc
Full-sized picture of album cover here.

via boing boing.

By al - 10:06 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Spinning in His Grave

The following was written in 1944 by one of Franklin Roosevelt's vice-presidents, Henry D. Wallace: Link.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."


" If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. ... They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead."

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book "It Can't Happen Here." And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler. These events all, no doubt, colored Vice President Wallace's thinking when he wrote:

" Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases."

In a comment prescient of George W. Bush's recent suggestion that civilization itself is at risk because of gays, Wallace continued:

" The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination..."

Fucking 1944. Americans have some of the smartest, most prescient thinkers amongst them, they're just not respected or listened to. But hey, American Idol is on.. boy I hpoe [insert stupid WASPy name here] gets to the next round!

By al - 8:01 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Poison, poison, a tasty fish

I tasted some weird fruits and veggies in Nam and I just found the english name of one - Mangosteen. They're not all that great tasting. There was a bitter green fruit that was sort of like a lime only harder in texture. I don't know the name of it but it was great with salt. Good thing I didn't eat akees.

By TVT - 11:31 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


Speaking of “Democracy Now!,” the host of the show, Amy Goodman, wrote a book that just came out a few months ago, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media that Love Them. I've just ordered the book, and based on the reviews and hearing her talk about it it looks like the most honest and most stinging rebuke of the way the current news media works not in the best interests of its audience, but rather works in consort with whoever pays the advertizing bills. Goodman is wha one would call a ‘real reporter’, one who goes after the truth of a story no matter what, one who doesn't let politicians slide because of their party (she totally ripped into Bill Clinton on her show one time when he called in.) and who doesn't put other people in danger moreso than herself. She was the person who broke the story of the massacres in East Timor, just about the only North American reporter who was even there, and certainly the only one doing more than delivering only surface-scratching reporting about what they could see from their hotel rooms.

Anyway, I just noticed that there is a free sample chapter of Goodman's book available online for free titled “Blowback” which I read last night, and I have to say it's the best, most consise roundup of the actions perpetrated by the US government over the last few decades and their connection to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, as well as what the scene was like on the ground in lower Manhattan for the few days after the attacks. Democracy Now! was the closest news organization to the World Trade Center site at the time, as instead of evacuating like everyone was ordered to do, they slept on the floor of their old firehouse studio so they could stay and report on what's going on.

Link: Blowback.

USA! USA! . . . USA?

A few days after the Twin Towers fell, President Bush came to Ground Zero. I watched as a chilling cheer went up around him: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chanted the crowd in unison. Among those who set up this Ground Zero photo op-a defining moment in Bush's presidency-was Jim Wilkinson, who went on to become the media point man in Qatar spinning the Jessica Lynch story and was then appointed communications czar of the 2004 Republican National Convention.

I don't think rallying around the flag is the answer to what happened on September 11. The answer is a global community united against terror, determined to rout it out wherever it originates- including the White House and the Pentagon.

The answer is institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), where people who commit crimes against humanity can be tried. But who is the primary force opposing this court? The United States. A reluctant President Clinton waited until the last moment to sign the treaty to recognize the authority of the ICC. Then Bush came in and unsigned the treaty. In mid-2003, Bush strong-armed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would exempt U.S. officials and soldiers from being held accountable in the same way as others around the world. And the Bush administration has pressured countries, at the risk of losing U.S. aid, to sign bilateral agreements that would prohibit them from bringing charges against U.S. citizens before an international court.

Of course I think that Osama bin Laden and his accomplices should be tried for what happened on September 11. But when you look at where bodies have stacked up around the world-from Chile and Argentina to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and East Timor-I think Henry Kissinger should also be tried for crimes against humanity.

If we have any hope of routing out terror and breaking the cycle Of blowback, we must have a universal standard of justice.

By al - 11:15 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Pee Ess Two

Of interest to Le Duc.

By TVT - 10:08 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, September 20, 2004

Tanjobi Omedeto Sempai!!

Shu Qi. Go watch 'The Transporter' and 'So Close'. Thank me later.


By TVT - 5:56 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

The Take

On today's edition (RealVideo) of my favourite news program, ‘Democracy Now!’, they played a couple of fairly lengthy clips of a new documentary by Naomi Klein and CBC darling Avi Lewis about a labour movement in Argentina after the economic crash of 2001 where workers stayed in abandoned factories and started production again, independent of the owners who no longer saw the plants as profitable after the government stopped paying them large subsidies. But the workers in a tile factory that is shown as an example are now able to produce tile more cheaply than before, as the owner isn't taking a huge cut for himself, they are better able to feed their families, and they donate free tile to local hospitals.

The owner wants to grab his factory back, despite the fact that he is so heavily in debt from the factory that by all rights he should have lost it long ago. So now it's a matter of how much power the workers will be able to hold for themselves in a country that's one of the most corporate-friendly places around, thanks to its kowtowing to the IMF after the currency crisis.

The film isn't available yet, as it's playing at various film festivals, but I am definitely going to pick it up as soon as I can. In the mean time I'm going to keep an eye on the film's official web site, which has news updates and is keeping current on the actual situation down there, since the filmmakers are interested in the situation even after they finished the film.

Link: Workers Without Bosses — A good information resource about the worker-controlled factory phenomenon in Argentina.

By al - 1:53 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Happy Birthday Greg!

Happy Birthday Greg!

*cue seductive birthday music*

Haaaaappyyy Biiiiiiirthdaaaay Mr. ...AAAAnssssteeeey......

Haaaappy Biiiiiirthdaaay toooooo yoooouuuuuu!

*she blows you a kiss*

By chantal - 11:19 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Never Eating McNuggets Again

OK, so I finally saw Super Size Me today, on its last day at City Cinema. Despite the fact that PEI is officially the fattest province in Canada, every last person in the theatre was thin to normal sized. I don't think the right people might be getting the message. And it's a pretty powerful one, to say the least. The tone of voice of the doctor near the end who was telling him that his liver was in the same condition as a binge-drinking alcoholic sounded as if he was delivering the bad news to a terminal cancer patient.

As I've said before, I have less of a problem with McDonald's existing, nor do I have a problem with anyone making money off of others' ignorance or laziness. It's the advertizing to kids that really bothers me. One of the tidbits from the film was that if you fed your kid three meals a day all throughout their childhood, and told him or her all about the nutritional value of what he or she is eating, you would be giving them about 1000 messages in a year. During that same time they will have seen, on average, 10,000 advertizements for fast food, candy and sugary cereal. So my contention that advertizing is child abuse is reinforced.

The guy gained about 28 pounds during the month he was on the McDonald's-only diet, just under a pound per day. Now while that's for an average person's rate of metabolizing fat, there's still the matter of the 48 teaspoons of sugar in a single super-sized Coke (American size, Canadian sizes are slightly smaller. Small comfort.) , which will wreak havoc on your liver and your ability to keep a properly-regulated energy level through the day. Also, a study, put out after this film, shows that people who drink one can of cola per day on average have their chances of contracting diabetes increase by 85%. So even if you can't see the damage, it's going to be there.

Being a poor grad student for a couple of years ingrained in me the idea that I simply can't afford to eat out that often, and when I did I certainly didn't want to waste it on fast food. So I think poverty has adequately weaned me off of the desire to stuff that garbage into me. Will have to keep up my cooking now that I'm working, which will need to be a conscious effort, most likely. I wish I knew someone who liked spicy food as much as I do whom I could cook for. That always motivates me to cook well and put a little more effort into my cooking.

As for the title of this post, mcnuggets are made by a process called ‘mechanical separation,’ where the chicken, after being stripped of more usable meat, is thrown into a blender and forced through a sieve so that the ‘meat‘ and bones are turned into a fine powder. Then most of the bone material is sifted out, and what's left is a paste that can be molded into mcnugget shapes, or flattened out to make sandwich meat. There's also a danger that this method increases the risk of mad cow disease and has now been banned by the European Union.

Now I'm still not going to become a total vegetarian, since a little bit of something isn't the problem. But knowing how your food is made definitely makes you think twice about what you're putting into yourself. His promise to, if he ever has a kid, to punch him in the face every time they go past a fast food restaurant to counteract the positive feeling advertizing instills, seems like not a half bad idea in balance. At least until the little guy learns.

By al - 11:15 p.m. | (8) comments | Post a Comment

where did my post go?

Currious question. A few moments ago. I spent twenty minutes or so writng non sence stuff I wished to publish on blog. In the process I went to publish it and the only thing which has shown up is the tittle.

This post is mostly to see if there is something wrong with my postings. Mostly to make sure it is not the computer messing this up.

By Sabrina - 7:39 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

what one does when she is sick on the weekend

By Sabrina - 7:08 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

More fun doing contract work...

"Yeah, you don't want to use CF for that. I've read that PHP is the best for that sort of thing. I could rig that up in PHP for you fairly easily."

"OK, sounds good."

Next up: Learn PHP.

Why do I punish myself so?

By al - 1:39 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sharon Sharealike

Found this in my inbox. Heh. :)

Running through my head on the way home from work recently:
Top 5 things Chibi-G and The Duc would secretly like to say upon meeting Trang(but won't):(Written by Chibi-G with no input from The Duc - just using his name to make it sound better)

5. So, you like white guys?
3. Has Tuan showed you his finishing move - Orgasm At Ten Paces?
2. Haven't I seen you at
1. KAWAIII!!!!!

By TVT - 10:54 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

I Really Like Al Gore

There, I said it.

I think one of the most ill-fitting career choices of someone in the public eye was Al Gore. As an article in the New Yorker about Gore's post-vice-presidential life, ““The Wilderness Campaign”” points out, Gore is actually a very prototypical introvert. (Peter Rukavina has a blog post about this article as well.)
Even during the campaign, Gore was surrounded mainly by paid professionals, not loyalists. And, afterward, his circle, such as it was, fractured and went its own way. Unlike Clinton, who could draw on a huge pool of friends for advice, Gore lacked the gift, or the patience, for showing gratitude, for keeping in close touch. Donna Brazile complained that she had never got so much as a thank-you note for her service in 2000, and many who had worked for Gore or who had given serious money to the campaign felt the same. “He treated people poorly,” Robert Bauer, one of Gore’s aides during the Florida battle, said. “He was cold, aloof, condescending, ungrateful. There were legendary stories about how he treated people with a lack of gratitude. There is a strange character in Gore. . . . He is an isolated man.” Other aides were less harsh, saying that Gore was brusque and demanding but not unkind. Yet, once freed of the apparatus and the requirements of a political campaign, Gore really did savor his time alone, thinking, reading, writing speeches, surfing the Internet. “One thing about Gore personally is that he is an introvert,” another former aide said. “Politics was a horrible career choice for him. He should have been a college professor or a scientist or an engineer. He would have been happier. He finds dealing with other people draining. And so he has trouble keeping up his relations with people. The classical difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that if you send an introvert into a reception or an event with a hundred other people he will emerge with less energy than he had going in; an extrovert will come out of that event energized, with more energy than he had going in. Gore needs a rest after an event; Clinton would leave invigorated, because dealing with people came naturally to him.”
I can completely sympathize with this, as it is generally how I feel. Interestingly, there have been a few very definitely introverted US presidents, most notably Lincoln. Even in the age of television, Ronald Reagan, who made a career as an actor, was able to play the part of a politician like it was any other movie role. Interestingly there are quite a few actors who have introverted personalities. Perhaps related, many introverts feel like they are acting when forced to speak in public or interact in a crowd. I know I do at times, tailoring my reactions and demeanor to suit a particular set of people I'm talking to at the time. Never being ‘fake’ as it were, but simply choosing to emphasize one part of my personality over another. But that takes a great deal of energy, and I suspected for Gore, especially during the 2000 presidential campaign, that it was just too much. Hence, perhaps, his near eagerness to concede victory to Bush when it wasn't clear who the winner was. Gore seemed to just want it to be over.

Not winning by a larger margin in 2000 was certainly Gore's fault, for not trusting himself enough to speak his mind more freely. And not playing into the claims of the Nader crowd that there was no difference between the two major parties by trying to campaign in a way that tried to appeal to the political centre.

Ironically, while Nader took advantage of the Green Party in the 2000 election, Gore was actually a more passionate and knowledgeable environmentalist than Nader ever was. Gore even wrote a book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, about the environment and sustainable development. Imagine having a US president who's solution to rising oil prices might include more than simply invading some Middle-Eastern country. Yet he wouldn't talk about what was really important to him during the elections, thanks to the advice of his political advisors.

I'm fearing that the same thing is happening to John Kerry this go around, but that's for another post.

The best part about the New Yorker article is the link to the song “Al Gore Lives on My Street.” Very funny stuff.

Here's Gore's speech to New York University back in June about the Iraq war: Link. (realplayer)

By al - 10:43 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, September 17, 2004

Russia: The Quntessential False Democracy

A vote for democracy, Putin-style: [] — A good article summarizing the ways Putin has manipulated the media and the electoral mechanisms to hold on to power in Russia.

Lately Putin has tried to centralize fedaral power in the Kremlin. Now that Russia is a pro-business capitalist state they've become a parody of the old Soviet characterization of corrupt American imperialism.

Update: Steve Gilliard just wrote a blurb in his excellent blog about the same subject: Who Says There are No More Czars?

By al - 2:54 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

"We Lost" It's over.

By al - 7:02 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


The Larger Background

Totalitarian regimes of the 20th century failed for a simple reason: they relied on the appearance of unity. Fascism comes from the Latin root word fascis roughly referring to a bundle of twigs bound together. It was this complete unity that Mussolini championed and envisioned when he was trying to turn the newly united Italy into a powerful nation worthy of its geographical affinity to ancient Rome. Any opposition in fascist Italy, and later Nazi Germany, was quickly and brutally suppressed. (Nazism, it should be noted, is not strictly fascism, as it centered around a pan-racial ascendancy, while Italian fascism was purely concerned with the nation state. Nazism was like Communism in that it relied heavily on a version of the future where everything would be in its proper place, but in the mean time some drastic steps would be necessary to reach the goal. Fascism was purely intended as a way to unite people's efforts behind creating a strong state.)

All it took was for the facade of the powerful government to be pierced, for a little crack to show the true weakness of the machine, and suddenly Benito and his wife were hanging from a gas station and all that had been built up was instantly dismantled.

More modern totalitarian states saw the theatre of elections every now and then as a way of showing how strong and popular the leader was. 99% of the electorate voting to re-elect the leader was the norm, that was the margin by which Saddam was re-elected in the last 'election' held in Iraq before the invasion and occupation.

But people knew that what they were living in was not a democracy. They knew that they had no rights and no power as individuals, and adapted to live within the system, but the entropic forces which exert themselves to bring down such a system are so constant that it requires near total control of the populace (hence, totalitarian) as in North Korea, for the leader to stay in power.

Everyone in Soviet Russia who read Pravda (lit. truth) knew that what they were reading was not the truth.

These systems have reached the limit, the experiment is all but over, and is a failure. I am defining success or failure here in terms of a party seeking to seize and hold on to power for as long as possible. The twenty-first century brings a more subtle, but potentially more dangerous and definitely more profitable route to power, by subverting democracy itself while preserving all of the institutions and mechanisms that were built to guard the government from those who would destroy it. Keep the courts intact, and only interfere in certain key cases; keep an elected legislature, but rig and gerrymander the districts so you can all but predict the result based on demographics; and weight rural votes more heavily than urban, largely non-white votes; and finally, exercise influence over the media, but preserve the appearance of journalism.

Fox News Channel

This is where Fox News comes in. It's run by a former political campaign strategist for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr., and regularly trumpets the Republican party line each day. Through 'message control', i.e., a single, short memo sent to all employees each morning, an overriding theme is set for that day's news coverage. (All of this is documented in the book Outfoxed and shown in the film) The film shows Fox News Channel, as well as the local Fox Channel affiliates (which we can watch here) essentially have no journalistic integrity when covering news stories. They are, for all intents and purposed, a 24-hour-a-day infomecial for a single political party.

The Accomplices, and the True Crime

However, Fox News's existence isn't what is at the heart of the disease affecting American democracy. Rather, it's the other news channels which fail to point out the obvious about Fox, and instead try to imitate it to gain more viewers. The failure of American television news can be traced to the moment when network executives decided that news broadcasts should be profitable. Before that TV stations took pride in the quality of their news coverage. No one expected the nightly news to make money on its own. But as commercial interests prevailed over journalistic ones in the US's newsrooms, ratings became the goal rather than truth.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war, not a single major news source gave comparable coverage to anti-war views as they did to pro-war stories and guests. Despite the fact that only around half of Americans at the time supported the Iraq war, this view was nowhere to be found on television, or in most daily newspapers. They tyranny of the simple dictated that people don't want to think too hard, or be presented with a depressing story that might make them want to change the channel. So flag-waving and nationalism (disguised as patriotism) became an easy way to keep a fairly large chunk of the viewership tuned in and watching ads.

Every developed country on Earth has a national public news broadcast except the United States. The FCC, originally charged with allowing TV networks to use the public's airwaves (radio frequency is still considered part of the commons, like rivers and streams and parks, and thus 'owned' by the public) which mandated that TV channels serve the public by offering news coverage.

Over the years this has withered away and the US is left with a profit-driven oligopoly of 5 corporations which control nearly everything you see and hear in the US media. The dirty secret of all of them is that, while they may all compete for viewers, they all benefit from a pro-corporate, anti-populist, anti-labour message reaching the viewers.

The illusion of false choice will give people the impression that they have some control. A TV viewer who thinks Fox is terrible and decides to watch CNN instead is not getting a fundamentally different product, it's simply a little less overt. It's like being given the choice between Coke or Pepsi to give to your baby. You might research the two and come to the conclusion that Pepsi is better for your baby, but in the end it's all garbage.

I have lost nearly all respect for CNN over the years. Seeing how they played up the first Iraq war as a kid I could tell that something wasn't right.

Thank God You're Canadian

Fortunately we have the CBC here, and while it has a definite pro-establishment bent to it, that's still not nearly as disastrous as seeing what has happened to the ability of the average American to stay informed about the world. The consequence is, however, that the private TV networks in Canada have to measure themselves by the standard that the CBC sets.

Fox News applied to the CRTC to be allowed onto Canadian cable carriers (they were denied not for political reasons but because there were already 2 other networks in the same space). But, as was pointed out in a column in the Globe and Mail, Fox News, Not Here Yet, But Already Hilarious, when people have a standard by which to compare their nonsense it simply comes off as farcical. And nothing got the Fox News crew madder than the thought that we were laughing at them, always true of an insecure bully.

Link: OutFoxed home page and resources.

(ps. You can get Outfoxed off of suprnova, and it's definitely worth watching to see the diseased core of the rotting American republic.)

By al - 4:20 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dilbert's Salary Theorem

Dilbert's "Salary Theorem" states that "Engineers and scientists can never
earn as much as business executives and sales people."

This theorem can now be supported by a mathematical equation based on the
following two postulates:

As every engineer knows:
Power = Work / Time

Knowledge = Power
Time = Money
Knowledge = Work/Money.

Solving for Money, we get:

Money = Work / Knowledge.

Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity, regardless of
the amount of work done.

Conclusion: The less you know, the more you make.

By al - 3:08 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Dorky home movies, yay!

Encoded some clips for your viewing pleasure. Much thanks to The Duc for hosting.

My lovely wife.
My cute puppy.
On our way to Saigon.

You'll need to install Xvid if the movies don't play. Enjoy.

By TVT - 9:28 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Upgrade Time Again

New versions of FireFox web browser and ThunderBird email client just came out today. Go download.

Get Firefox

Get Thunderbird

Also, the Mozilla SunBird project is really coming along in their development of a stand-alone calendar app using the Mozilla toolkit. Should be pretty good.

By al - 5:37 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

More fun with Volvos.

By TVT - 11:39 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

The Control Room on Newsworld

The documentary about Al Jazeera covering the invasion and occupation of Iraq will be shown on CBC newsworld on Sept. 26th, I think at 11pm Atlantic time.

Link:, Roger Ebert review.

I have not seen Al Jazeera and am in no position to comment on its accuracy. I have seen this film, however, which contains enlightening moments. Remember the TV scene when joyous Iraqis toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein after the capture of Baghdad? TV pictures on the monitors at CentCom clearly see something American audiences were not shown: The square was not filled with cheering citizens, but was completely empty, except for the small band of young men who toppled the statue.

Al Jazeera producers watch the footage with their U.S. counterparts and observe that those who are interviewed "do not have Baghdad accents." They wonder why one "happened to have the old Iraqi flag in his pocket." The implication: This was a staged event, initiated by the U.S. occupation and bought into by the U.S. media.

The movie listens in on many philosophical bull sessions between a U.S. Marine press spokesman, Lt. Josh Rushing, and an Al Jazeera producer named Hassan Ibrahim, who once worked for the BBC. Rushing defends the American line but is willing to listen to Ibrahim, who deconstructs some of the American claims (his version: "Democratize or we'll shoot you"). Some of Rushing's statements ring a little hollow today, as when he says, "The American POWs expect to be treated humanely, just like we are treating our prisoners humanely."

Mostly posting this here to remind myself, but I'd say it's definitely worth checking out from what I've read.

By al - 9:24 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


From MetaFilter:
An amazingly wide and varied site which began as a collection of articles about Autism but which has expanded to survey such varied topics as left-handedness, gender and sexual orientation, hysteria, and a fascinating collection of articles on "Neurotypical Issues." Hours and hours of material from a wide variety of viewpoints.

By al - 2:16 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Hockey Injuries

The season's just starting and I'm already injured. Being a defenceman for several years, it's not uncommon for me to get the odd puck in the back of the legs where there is no protection. Usually results in a nasty bruise and a lot of limping around for a few days. The one I got yesterday however was different. It swelled up and left a bump the size of a baseball. So, in the morning when I discovered it didn't get any better and I was reduced to crawling around the house, I was off to the emergency room. Sat and waited for 5 hours. Damn, I wish I could get that time back. Well, the brusing is nasty. . . looks like I got hit by a sledgehammer. Nothing broken though. Will be better for another round on Wednesday? I hope so.

By Ming - 1:43 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, September 13, 2004

So very disappointed I didn't make the cut. :(

By TVT - 1:06 p.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

I am sooo getting the bootleg of this.

By TVT - 9:37 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

“The Theory of Listener-Sponsored Radio”

By Lew Hill


Everyone interested in the idea of the Internet as a new, more democratic, communication medium should read this essay. It turns out the same struggle for content to poke through the commercial wall of meaningless sound is really a very old problem. And since radio is the most intimate of media, with the announcer speaking directly into your ear, the significance of seeking an honest communication between announcer and listener.
I imagine we can agree that if a sound is worth passing through the magnificent apparatus of a microphone, a transmitter, and your receiving set, it ought to convey some meaningful intelligence. There are innumerable ways of wasting time and generating nonsense, and there are also uncounted ways of making money, many of which may be pursued in broad daylight. But the elaborate machinery and the peculiar intimacy of the radio medium have better and more basic uses. The theory I want to discuss rests on two particular assumptions: first, that radio can and should be used for significant communication and art; and second, that since broadcasting is an act of communication, it ought to be subject to the same aesthetic and ethical principles as we apply to any communicative act, including the most personal. Of course we know that in American radio many obstacles stand in the way of these principles. When I have examined some of the obstacles, I shall try to indicate briefly how listener sponsorship offers a means of surmounting them.

lew hillWhat does stand in the way?

When we ask this question we usually think at once of the advertiser or of the mass audience. We feel that one or both of these demonological figures must account for the mediocrity and exploitation which on the whole signify radio in the United States. And since, as we know, no one can reform the advertiser or confer with the inscrutable mass, we are more or less accustomed to thinking of improvement as utopian.
The Pacifica Foundation, and their flagship station, KPFA in Berkeley, were founded to provide what would call “truly public radio”, as opposed to NPR which accepts corporate sponsors, or the CBC which is funded by the government. While CBC and NPR certainly produce orders of magnitude better quality radio than we find in the commercial world, there is still a compromise that takes place in the backs of the minds of every show producer who wants to please his boss, and in turn every station manager who wants to please his sponsors and / or the government official who ultimately makes the hiring decisions.

The goal of purely listener-sponsored radio was to find an answer to the question “what if you had the medium and the capabilities to produce, to the best of your abilities, the very best quality content you could?”

The former head of McDonald's Corporation recently made a $100M donation to NPR. Now, even if there were no specific strings attached to that money, do you not think that this bit of generosity won't be weighing on the conscience of the radio producer thinking about doing a story critical of the fast food industry? This is why the Pacifica foundation refuses corporate donations.

The weight then falls to the listeners themselves to directly pay for what they are receiving, only voluntarily, and only to the extent of their abilities or wishes, but it is very clear to a listener that he or she is paying for exactly what he or she is hearing, and is not merely the third-party victim of a transaction between advertizer and medium. When you made a donation to such a station, you knew that the station was acting only towards the goal of its mission statement, and not acting in a way so as to please its more influential corporate donors.

There is actually a very familiar parallel in the world of television that works on a similar model, one tat you probably hadn't thought of in this way before. HBO. While they have a much more familiar goal, they aim to make money, they do it as a one-to-one relationship between subscribers and the station. When you subscribe to HBO you are purchasing the ability to watch TV programs made by producers who simply want to make the best program they can, without worrying as much about appealing to lowest common denominator audiences or advertizer-driven demographic considerations. Shows have tighter budgets than major network shows, but actors and actresses, and directors, all know that a slightly slimmer paycheque is part of the deal when signing on to do an HBO program. In exchange they get, hopefully, uncompromized creativity.

The HBO model has even proven superior to more-well funded public broadcasters, as they don't have to answer to largely conservative, squeamish civil servants who are fearful of angry letters from citizens complaining about a naked breast that offended them so. Could CBC ever produce the Sopranos or Six Feet Under? CBC and other similar models merely exist as an attempt to offend the fewest people possible.

Bloggers are getting a bit of a free ride these days. Thanks to the generosity of Google, bloggers can publish their own content on fast servers, don't need to worry about their hosting company reaming them up the ass if they actually do write something that a lot of people want t read and their traffic for that month jumps unexpectedly. And they're nice enough to have even turned off the ads on free blogspot blogs, and given bloggers the chance to, if they choose, grab a share of advertizing revenue if they choose to allow advertizements, through the adsense program.

It is unclear how viable this is as an economic model, as Google may be simply attempting to become the market leader early on, the same idea that sunk so many dot.coms in the late 90s.

Ultimately, however, it does cost money to host a web site, and will people be willing to pay for the privilege of reading a blog? The subscription-only model won't work, because half of what makes a blog good is the cluster of sites that link to each other and send traffic back and forth. Making a commercial transaction out of this exchange of readers and thoughts would corrupt the ideal just as mathematicians jealously guarded their theorems from their colleagues in the middle ages.

The nice thing about Google ads is that they are separate from the content itself. I can write about whatever I like, and not have to clear it with the person placing an ad on my site first, purely an electronic exchange of a bit of space on a page for hosting costs. Perhaps a blogger not actually receiving money from advertizers is better because it doesn't motivate them to alter their unique content to give it more mainstream appeal.

Though Pacifica has more than its share of problems, KPFA still produces some very unique programming, and I often find myself listening online for hours at a time to their music programming. There's something to be said for the purity of motive behind Pacifica, in Canada everyone expects the government to sign a cheque before they'll produce any kind of art or performance. This engenders the idea that people wouldn't support art and other quality content if the government didn't step in and help out. But Pacifica provides at least one counter example. And HBO proves that it doesn't even have to be out of some high-minded idealism, and could simply be a better way to make money doing what you want to do.

By al - 2:51 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, September 12, 2004


I got to drive the WRX's more refined brethren Saturday. Very impressed. I'd be more impressed if I had 40K kicking around in a sock somewhere. :)

Wow. I'm not ready for this beast. I have zero willpower. Acceleration is instant and oh so gratifying. Came down from 170 on the highway and sure enough I spotted the pigs. Lucky for me I was at 115. ^_^

Fuel mileage is crap, but what do you expect from a turbo? Might replace the RS with a Legacy in 4 years. We'll see. Lots to consider. Hopefully the next iteration of the WRX has more powah.

By TVT - 10:09 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


Well since everyone's been bugging me to post. I guess I'll restore some balance to the force with my inane commentary, wanton linking, and wang. Less politics, more boobies, I always say. Let me begin by saying


Chantal, best of luck on your Asia Tour 2004. Might I add the only part of that last email I zeroed in on was "Koreans are also big into titties" -- I mean titles. :) And "stupid weegook"? Wait a sec. Don't you roundeyes call them gooks? Or was it us? Ah racial slurs are a many splendored thing. Chinks, Nips, Spics, Dutch, I love you all.

Vietnamese coffee or "cafe da" can be one of 2 flavours: shit and THE SHIT. I'm assuming they import THE SHIT variety into Korea. Now obviously, if you've had hot Viet coffee then you should demand your money back cause it'd be the equivalent of piping hot gazpacho soup. It also has a distinctly Tim Horton's connection. Meaning you can bring THE SHIT back but then when you make it here, it tastes like shit. The Mrs.'s makes a killer cuppa Charlie.

As for meeting Trang, she lives 3 hours away near Rach Gia. I could ask her to rent a tour van and head into Saigon but that costs like 100 canuck bucks round trip. Plus I'll probably get in shit with her folks for asking her to technically go meet a stranger. :) So I suggest if you'd like you could go down to Rach Gia and meet my family. I could give you the address and clear it with the locals over there beforehand. But the thing is no one in the village speaks any English so I'm not sure what it'd accomplish other than "Hi. Me roundeye. Me know Tuna. How are you?" *blank stare* "Ah good morning american consumah. We have fish." *smile*

Not that I'm discouraging you. :) Man you get to go to Angkor Wat?! How cool is that? That's the site of Street Fighter II, Tekken, and a Bon Jovi video fame. Sweet.

Chibi-G, oh I have plans for you. Big plans. ^_^

By TVT - 1:04 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, September 11, 2004

“The Real Threat of Blogs”

Douglas Rushkoff has a new post up that succinctly outlines an idea that's been chewing on the back of my brain for a while. Link.
I believe that the most dangerous thing about blogs to the status quo is that so many of them exist for reasons other than to make money. A thriving community of people who are engaged for free, to me, have a certain authority that people doing things for money don't.

Writing a book for money is always suspect. (Disclosure to all: I have written books for money and for free.) Writing it for free is very different - and might still be suspect, but for other reasons.

What made the early Internet so very threatening to the mainstream media was not just the new opinions being expressed, but the fact that people were spending hours of their lives doing something that didn't involve production or consumption in the traditional market sense. Families with Internet connections were watching an average of nine hours less commercial programming each week.
I try to keep the ‘blogging about blogging’ to a minimum, as I usually find it about as obnoxiously useless as someone phoning up someone else to talk about telephones. (My definition of what a geek is.) But the idea that there are these tens of thousands of people who spend time writing stuff, and going around reading what others wrote, largely for free, means they can't be reached by advertizers. And thus they aren't part of the traditional mold of consumer culture. There are exceptions, of course, but the idea of the Internet as a peer-based communication medium instead of yet another media-delivery mechanism is one that was slowly dying as Yahoo! and Microsoft rose to prominence in the online world and tried, via their 'portal strategy', to keep people corralled within their environments. Environments where, as Jeff Bezos says, "every page must sell".

I haven't had a TV for about two years now, so when I do watch TV I'm no longer conditioned to advertizing, and am finding the idea of someone yelling at me to buy something I don't need quite intrusive. If you really want to lose a little bit of respect for your fellow man what you should do is go talk to someone who's job is to create advertizements geared towards children. If they're good at their job, it will entail tapping into a child's lack of ability to think critically, and will plant an irrational desire in their mind. This happens to much to kids these days that we grow up thinking it's ok for someone to shout lies at you from a little box while you sit and listen.

But the fact that people are engaged in the simple act of communicating with each other, instead of consuming media, is that little sliver of light shining through the clouds that shows people the potential of what thought and communication can look like when not done through a medium who's message is simply ‘buy buy buy.’

By al - 8:31 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Top 10 Nerd Girls I've Had Crushes On

10. Cat Schwartz from TechTV
9. Lisa Loeb
8. Arundhati Roy
7. Angelina Jolie in Hackers. (OK, just kidding. Rachel Leigh Cook in Antitrust. D'oh.)
6. Wonkette - mostly the cartoon drawing, admittedly.
5. Janeane Garofalo Also the waitress at the Tap Room who looks and talks just like her.
4. Katrina Vanden Heuvel (editor of The Nation.)
3. Every short little girl with short hair and glasses whose been in one of my computer science classes.
2. All the chicks in my blogroll.
1. Tina Fey.

Hmm.. looking at that list, revise that to "bookish / smart girls". I'm afraid not everyone uses the word 'nerd' with the proper amount of reverence it deserves.

... Speaking of smart, interesting girls, Kinky Librarian is my newest blog find, check her out.

By al - 2:13 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Stupid Broken Water Pipe

Nothing better than getting up in the morning to make yourself a pot of coffee and watch F1 qualifying only to turn on the tap and have only a few drips of water come out, because apparently a bent pipe in the front yard is more important than my caffeine injection. At least I had gotten a shower already, having no coffee is bad enough, but having no coffee and being smelly would be a great deal worse.

Now I'm thinking about just how much water people use in a given day. We filled up the bathtub for the toilet tank and stuff like that, but that still doesn't cover the fact that I need water to cook pretty much anything, (no way am I cooking with bathtub water) as well as the aforementioned coffee / tea addiction.

Oh well, at least I'm not paying for the large amount of heavy equipment currently in the front yard, that would give me a lot more to worry about than not having water for a few hours.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with myself for the day that doesn't involve trying to avoid watching any sappy Sept. 11 tributes on CNN & co on TV. I've had quite enough reasons to viscerally hate George Bush without seeing the families of thousands of people who died while he went on vacation and read to 8 year olds.

By al - 10:25 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, September 10, 2004

No Magic Knight's Tours

Apparently they've solved the Magic Knight's Tours problem, using brute force. Enumerating every solution to a problem almost feels like cheating, especially if it doesn't lead to a deeper knowledge of the nature of simliar types of problems, but it's still cool.

Not surprisingly, a knight's tour is called a magic tour if the resulting arrangement of numbers forms a magic square, and a semimagic tour if the resulting arrangement of numbers is a semimagic square. It has long been known that magic knight's tours are not possible on n x n boards for n odd. It was also known that such tours are possible for all boards of size 4k x 4k for k > 2. However, while a number of semimagic knight's tours were known on the usual 8 x 8 chessboard, including those illustrated above, it was not known if any fully magic tours existed on the 8 x 8 board.

This longstanding open problem has now been settled in the negative by an exhaustive computer enumeration of all possibilities. The software for the computation was written by J. C. Meyrignac, and the website was established by Guenter Stertenbrink to distribute and collect results for all possible tours. After 61.40 CPU-days, corresponding to 138.25 days of computation at 1 GHz, the project was completed on August 5, 2003. What are the results? In addition to netting a total of 140 distinct semimagic knight's tours, the computation demonstrated for the first time that no 8 x 8 magic knight's tour is possible, thus finally laying this long-open problem to rest.

The goal of this type of research is to eventually come up with a 'perfect' game strategy. For example, a pair of researchers form the Free University of Amsterdam solved the African game 'Awari', so that if you play their sequence of moves you will win every time. Now if only a computer could make me a better backgammon player :)

Tangentially-related chess puzzle: 8 queens problem (I solved it in 2 tries.)

By al - 9:22 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

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