Weird headline of the day: AUG 30
Weird headline of the day: [Karl Malone] will own, operate monster truck team, drive when he can. What?
Weird headline of the day: [Karl Malone] will own, operate monster truck team, drive when he can. What?
(on the left) When I was back home visiting my mom a few weeks ago, we took a trip to Crystal Cave. I took a quick photo of these wee stalactites.
(on the right) Driving home from our caving adventure, we noticed that rural Wisconsin has some ridiculously high street numbers.
The folks responsible for The Smoking Gun are putting out a book called The Smoking Gun : A Dossier of Secret, Surprising, and Salacious Documents. Some of my favorite Smoking Gun files are Wisconsin's Licentious Plates, D.A. Clears Martha: A Good Thing?, The Trouser Press and Some Memorable FBI Memos.
HomeSite's spellchecker suggests "kitties", "kowtowed", "katie", "kited", or "kites" as possible suggestions for the misspelled "kottke". Eudora suggests "kettle", "knotted", "knotter", "cotter", "gotten", or "kitten" while MS Word wants to replace it with "kettle", "kittle", "kotuku", "kitten", "knotted", or "mottle".
Let's Bowl is my new favorite TV show (catch it Sunday nights on Comedy Central). The show is basically The People's Court with bowling: two people settle their disagreements at the alley...whoever wins the game wins the dispute. The best part is that the whole thing is filmed in Minnesota (at Stardust Lanes, where I took a sign picture for the Minneapolis Sign Project) and the you-betcha contestants vie for prizes like snowmobiles, pop-up campers, and a 1/3 of a side of beef. Real good, then.
Good common sense essay from Cory Doctorow on the problems with metadata: Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia. It's definitely hard for people see the value of metadata. Basically it boils down to us monkeys telling robots what to do in robot language**...and why the hell should we do that? I wanna talk to robots in English, dammit...or better yet, the robots should know what I want from them before I tell them.
An addendum to point #3 of Metacrap could be that human-generated metadata (monkey to robot) might not work too well, but computer-generated metadata (robot to robot) is fairly useful. (Of course, at some point a human has to tell the computer what metadata to generate, but there's gotta be a line drawn somewhere.)
** This whole monkey-robot-as-it-relates-to-metadata-and-XML thing is all Matt Haughey's idea. He was going to write an essay on it, but didn't, so I'm using the idea here because it's too good to sit in Matt's brain uncommunicated to the world at large. Or something.
(Sigh. This is the part of the entry where I lament the lack of discussion system for kottke.org because I would like to hear what you all think about this. None of the discussion systems out there right now fits my needs for one reason or another. Hopefully I will have one up in the next month or two.)
I like all of the movies on this Best Indie Films 1999-2000 list, but I'm pretty sure that most (if not all) of the films on the list are major studio releases rather than independent films.
Sometimes you have to fool yourself to get anything done.
(on the left) The dahlia is quickly becoming my favorite flower, replacing...um...well, I don't know that I had a favorite flower prior to this. Hang on, I take that back...whatever the heck this thing is is my favorite flower. The dahlia is a close second.
(on the right) Meg and I stumbled upon a deserted monument in Golden Gate Park a few weeks back. It was erected in memory of America's WWI veterans, and I don't think it's been seen since. It's a really nice monument though, with hundreds of names carved into a natural shaped stone.
I've been informed by several helpful readers the whatever-the-heck-this-thing-is flower is actually a lotus seed pod, the part of the lotus that remains when the flower falls off. So, it seems that the dahlia is my favorite flower and the lotus seed pod is my favorite pod. Glad we got that sorted out.
Paul! How dare you try to take any of the credit for changing our creative landscape and having a profound effect on our culture. For shame!
Heather has turned us all into a bunch of slobbering automatons, snapping away mindlessly with our cameras every time we see something shiny. Meg and I caught ourselves in the reflection of a bell in Nantucket last weekend. Mmmm...shiny.
Grant sent along word that Xootr is evolving into a "personal transportation company, with a focus on small electric vehicles" and is having a Xootr kick scooter fire sale. $79 for a really nifty scooter, not one those trendy crap Razors you can get at Sharper Image (blech).
Openlog, a collaborative weblog I started awhile ago, is still kicking, but has pretty much become a wall on which graffiti is scrawled.
Waiting for Guffman is out on DVD. One of my favorite comedies of the past few years, along with Office Space, Rushmore, Election, and Trekkies.
Fun Flash movie about evil software pirate Meg A. Byte, who looks suspiciously like Meg B. Hourihan:
"Meg sees nothing wrong with pirating software until she accidentially downloads an evil virus that steals her design portfolio." Oh, the humanity!
Best MUNI ride ever this morning. The driver announced the underground stops in a singsong way, adding little philosophical nuggets onto the end of each one. "The only way to make a good friend is to be a good friend" was one snippet of wisdom, and when he announced the Montgomery stop, he said something about the Financial District and that if we were watching the stock market today, the only stock that could result in happiness was the one with the five-letter symbol SMILE. As I was exiting the train, I caught quite a few people SMILEing, a rare sight indeed on the MUNI.
I'll be out of town for a few days and won't be updating my site until next Tuesday.
I don't know what it is about people and animal sounds lately. One of the three women having lunch near me today was barking like a wounded seal every minute or so. I couldn't quite figure out if she was doing it for comedic effect or if she was just laughing.
If you do any sort of Web or software development, I would encourage you to read The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks. It's over 25 years old and most of the technology it talks about is beyond obsolete, but that's OK because it's not a book about technology...it's about people and management and information flow and all the other non-technological aspects of software development. Brooks goes beyond describing any specific process, instead giving us a roadmap (a pattern, if you will) for the development of a process that fits the specific needs of a company or team. Some salient points from the book:
- The mythical man-month: "The second fallacious thought mode is expressed in the very unit of effort used in estimating and scheduling: the man-month. Cost does indeed vary as the product of the number of men and the number of months. Progress does not. Hence the man-month as a unit for measuring the size of a job is a dangerous and deceptive myth. It implies that men and months are interchangeable."
- The other main point Brooks makes is that large software projects are fundamentally different than small projects, and for them to succeed, a sizable effort needs to be made to preserve the conceptual integrity of the end product by whatever means necessary.
"Would you like to attend some of Televisions' biggest events? Well, Seatfiller.com provides audiences for many of these events. And if you have what it takes to be a part of our audience teams, you could find yourself in the front row one of these galas."
I observed a woman meowing into her cell phone yesterday. Not just a couple meows, but a 15-20 second conversation conducted entirely with meows. To my knowledge, there was no purring involved.
A couple more snippets of old writing:
What I want to know is, where do Iranians get the US flags they are always burning? Someone over there must be earning a good living selling flags over there.
Tom posted 25 things you need to keep in mind if you write a newspaper column by Keith Waterhouse and suggested that they apply to weblogs as well. Very interesting stuff...especially points #2, 5, 12, 16, 19, and 24.
My entry yesterday about old writing prompted a few people to post some of their old (and often bad....their words, not mine!) writing online:
- Thomas @ grabbingsand.com
- on freewill vs determinism by Paul from PsuedoFamous
- Tom's confessional diary of his teenage years
- Michael from SignalStation
- Mena @ dollarshort.org (and Prismacolor Madness)
- John's Freshman English Journal
- Julie's diary from 1994/95
- Meg recounts her late teenage journals
- Derek's blast from the past
"It was a Technicolor nightmare and she was her own Ted Turner, responsible for the unnecessary destruction of a once sparkling white wall."
Thanks to Michael for sending along an article by Malcolm Gladwell tangentially related to my concentration/relaxation thoughts from yesterday: The Art of Failure.
I took a Diaries and Journals class in college my junior year during the winter term. As part of the class, we had to read several diaries and keep one ourselves for the duration of the course. Until I started writing daily on kottke.org, that was my only experience with journal/diary keeping, save one.
When I went off to grad school after college, I decided to start writing down all the little ideas I had during the day, whether they were any good or not (this is all starting to sound very familiar). For some reason, most of my ideas involved movie plots and characters. Being a paranoid freak, I password protected the WordPerfect document I was using to store all these thoughts. After a few weeks, I lost interest in the activity, forgot the password, and archived the file in a directory far, far away.
A few months ago, I ran across this file (ideas.wpd), amazed that I hadn't deleted it long ago. Having forgotten the password and tossed my copy of WordPerfect, I downloaded a WP password cracker (the password was "postage") and found a cheap copy of WP thanks to an online pal. Here are some of the entries from that document with some annotations in italics. Try not to laugh too hard:
- concentration and relaxation: two seemingly different things that when put together, allows one to perform exceedingly difficult tasks easily. Not exactly true, but close enough.
- man walks through cemetaries looking for names for the characters in his book I misspelled "cemeteries", but I did recently hear that authors actually do this.
- commercials today are so demeaning to the american public; makes us look stupid, lazy, uncouth. i'm not above poking a little fun at things, but it has gone too far. damn mtv. I think I used to be a little more earnest than I am now. Settle down there, kiddo.
- do people really check the top of a snapple bottle to see if it is up or not? i think they do not. Wow, Snapple. That's good material right there. Deep, deep stuff.
- young man, about 18-23, is caught up in a world of fantasy concerning the winning of sweepstakes, free prizes, the lottery, giveaways, etc. it's his way of looking at the world, dealing with reality, not stupid, just different...needs work. One of the many movie ideas I seemed to be filled with at the time. Coming soon to a multiplex near you, I'm sure.
- someday, the periodic table of elements will become The Mighty Table of Elemental Super Heros. Lithium: The Happy Element; Silicon, The Mightiest of the Elements; Oxygen: Everyone's Friend; Iron: The Bone Builder... Sweet Jesus, make it stop.
- life is the mayonnaise through which we squirt. This is possibly the best thing I've ever written. Ever!
Alright, alright, everyone can stop laughing now. I'm sure the stuff you all wrote in your journals years ago is just as bad (although rereading some of the stuff above, I don't know how it could be). Anyway, if you're laughing, you should post some of your old pre-Web writings. Go on, I double dog dare you! Post it on up and send me the link. (Matt, you're exempt from the double dog dare because you, for whatever reason, unleashed this onto the Web again.)
Dan Bricklin has some interesting material on his site related to the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC. There's a transcript of the staff meeting that day at Software Arts, developer of VisiCalc, and some of Dan's thoughts & recollections about his company's interactions with IBM at the time. From the latter document:
"The IBM technical people were very anxious to tell us things and very proud of their machine. As Julian tells it, to get around the secrecy restrictions during the wait, what evolved was something like this: One of us would say 'Does it have slots for plugging in accessories?', and they would reply, 'Well, a really good personal computer would have that, wouldn't it?', and we'd say 'Yes', and they'd say, 'Well, this is a very good computer.' It was very funny, but we ascertained what each side needed to know quite well."
Yahoo is doing slideshows of their news content now. Using these slideshows to read the news is a little like doing a self-guided TV newscast crossed with flipping pages in a newspaper. Like most everything that Yahoo does, it's simple and functional. An interesting new way to get the news.
This Nerdspotting photo still makes me laugh. I'm second from the right, playing the part of Sick Boy.
And about the Humans for Sale site I mentioned a few days ago...the site is most likely a "marketing" mechanism for gathering email addresses and very specific demographic information. Proceed with caution.
F/X Porn by David Foster Wallace is a quick but good read on how special effects blockbusters like T2 and Independence Day are like porno films:
"Just like hard-core cheapies, movies like 'Terminator 2' and 'Jurassic Park' aren't really 'movies' in the standard sense at all. What they really are is half a dozen or so isolated, spectacular scenes -- scenes comprising maybe twenty or thirty minutes of riveting, sensuous payoff -- strung together via another sixty to ninety minutes of flat, dead, and often hilariously insipid narrative."
No comment on Planet of the Apes other than: see above.
Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames is a remarkable short film that deals with several aspects of science and mathematics in a quick 8 minute period. It starts out with a picnic on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago and zooms out 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters. Then the view zooms back in, entering a picnicker's hand and getting down to smaller than an atomic nucleus. This film is well worth checking out if you can get you hands on it. Your local rental place is unlikely to have it, but you can rent it from Netflix or buy it from Amazon.
When I'm all sick and stuffed up, I find I can do a pretty good impression of Andre the Giant's character from A Princess Bride. "I am the Dread Pirate Roberts...."
Unbreakable, despite some minor issues here and there, was a surprisingly good movie. M. Night Shyamalan, the director and writer of both Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, is fumbling around with this film (and, to a lesser extent, The Sixth Sense), trying to find his talent sweet spot. I get the sense that if given enough room, he's going to make a really spectacular movie in the next few years.
I modified my "not recommended" links slightly. Took some links off, added a bunch more, changed the way it works a little. Apologies to anyone not using IE...you won't be able to see more than the first set of links. Anyway, for those of you that have IE, there's lots of good stuff to see and read if you drill down a little bit.
I'm also thinking of getting rid of the "media for a quiet afternoon" section because I never update it. A list of all the media I consume (with metadata) is a useful thing, but it's a pain in the ass to update.
This photo of Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George puzzles me. There's something odd about it. Well, there's not anything odd about the picture, but I feel odd when I look at it. Maybe it's because that grouping of people is so out of context these days...or that they look so gentrified almost, so adult, so grown up, so not rock starish.
Humans for Sale tells me I'm worth $2,652,404.00. How much are you worth?
Can't remember where I found this, but here's The War on Drug Wars, a photo gallery of 11 people during first-time highs on drugs ranging from crack to ecstasy.
My favorite thing about Kazaa so far: it downloaded a new version of itself not from the company's servers or download.com, but from four regular users on the Kazaa system. (BTW, Kazaa is the new Napster...now that Napster is permanently busted. Spread it around....but don't tell the RIAA.)