Stuff with Buzz


Depressing Lottery Simulator


Using this terrific Mega Millions Lottery Simulator I was able to simulate playing the lottery for 10 years. I spent $1040 and I won $73. They are right. That is depressing.

Incredibly Depressing Mega Millions Lottery Simulator!

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Words of the Day: Cosmeceutical and Nutricosmetics

"Cosmeceuticals represent the marriage of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Examples of products typically labeled as cosmeceuticals include anti-aging creams and moisturizers. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with biologically active ingredients purporting to have medical or drug-like benefits. Dermatological research suggests that the bioactive ingredients used in cosmeceuticals do indeed have benefits beyond the traditional moisturizer (e.g., Chen et al., 2005[1]; Zettersten, Ghadially, Feingold, Crumrine, & Elias, 1997[2]). However, despite the reports of benefits from some cosmeceutical products, the term cosmeceutical remains a marketing term, as there are no requirements to prove that the products actually live up to their claims. Therefore it is up to the consumer to decide whether these claims are valid and worth the cost. An important distinction lies in the delivery method. The "cosmeceutical" label applies only to products applied topically, such as creams, lotions, and ointments. Products which are similar in perceived benefits but ingested orally are known as nutricosmetics."

Source Wikipedia

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Tron: Legacy!

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Animal Control Removes Copperhead from my brother's basement

This is the video that goes with the copperhead photo that my brother took. Lesson of this story, Maryland has computer literate poisonous snakes.

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Yikes! Cool video. I'm now afraid to use my computer.

Posted by: John Krumm at July 2, 2010 5:37 PM

Snakes on a UPS


My brother who lives in Maryland, went down into the basement to use his computer this weekend. When he sat down he caught some movement from the corner of his eye and jumped back. It turns out it was a good thing that he jumped back because a copperhead snake (poisonous) was warming itself on his UPS power supply.

The animal control officer came out and skeptically asked my brother who identified it as a copperhead. He looked back, realizing that the officer was questioning his snake skillz and said "I did".

The officer went down into the basement, took a look and said, "Yup, that's a copperhead".

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Nike "Write The Future" Ad

Nike world cup ad. Pretty cool once you figure out what the heck is going on.

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Context-Aware Paintbrush from Adobe

This is pretty amazing

"I've gone ahead and selected this Tea Party protester and then I hit delete. You can see Context Aware fill has replace the protester with a really nice diverse crowd image having a constructive dialog instead. If I go ahead and select the Capitol Building and hit delete it puts in a picture of the Kremlin. And now if I just wave the cursor over the dump-gulls eating fries from that food cart you can see that Context-Aware fill has put in some really nice peace doves dismantling IEDs in the foreground. All done. Now we are ready to give this to our client."

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Starbucks must give me MORE!!!!

supersize me

I must have more and more Starbucks coffee!!!! I used to think starbucks was the 2nd worst coffee in the world. Now I must reorder the worst coffees in the world 1) Navy coffee 2) Sam's Club Coffee 3) Starbucks coffee

"In hopes of recapturing the "bigger is always better" spirit of the previous decade, Starbucks has reportedly been test-marketing a new cup size that allows customers to guzzle 32 ounces of its iced beverages in one fell swoop. Called the "Trenta," it could provide the caffeine-needy with more than enough caffeine to power through their increasingly stressful days, or at least an hour or two of them." from The Coffee Wars Will Not End Until America Is A Shaking Heap Of Overstimulation | The Awl

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9 things I’ll never do again with social media

The Orange County Register

“I promise I will never again talk about something that I’m really grieving about on social media. People have a tendency to be flippant and make jokes out of things that can be very serious.. mostly because they don’t know what else to say.” — Donald Patterson,

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UCI Flavor of the Day

UCI headline UC Irvine Feature: Social media

"UCI's Donald Patterson discusses the good and bad, current role and future of social media"

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7 fixes for social media’s faults - Lansner on Real Estate : The Orange County Register “A new word to describe a relationship on a social network rather than ‘Friend’” — Donald Patterson,

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13 resolutions for social media in 2010

Social Sunday logo

The Orange County Register
#1. “To shut off my mobile social media when I am with the people I care about. I want to experience my life without worrying about what I’m going to say about it.” – Don Patterson,

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More love from the O.C. Register

Social Sunday logo

"Q. What will be the social media surprise of 2010?"

"A. Growing number of things which aren’t strictly people on your buddy lists. Suddenly I think we will see people friending their laundromat to see when machines are available, the roads they use to watch traffic, and groups of their friends at once. The latter will be interesting because you will only see updates when all of your friends agree.” – Don Patterson,

The rest of the article is here

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Blondie - We Three Kings Music Video (2009)

This is awesome

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Props to Rick Warren

Major props for Rick Warren for navigating this tricky act of speaking out for compassion and justice without compromising his beliefs. It takes courage and vision to find a third way.

Rick Warren - Letter To The Pastors of Uganda from Dr. Rick Warren

"We are all familiar with Edmund Burke's insight that, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." That is why I'm sharing my heart with you today. As an American pastor, it is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations, but it IS my role to speak out on moral issues. It is my role to shepherd other pastors who look to me for guidance, and it is my role to correct lies, errors, and false reports when others associate my name with a law that I had nothing to do with, completely oppose, and vigorously condemn. I am referring to the pending law under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament, known as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill."

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Somethings wrong with the economy

America's soul is lost, collapse inevitable Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch
"But for Wall Street and American capitalism, use your gut. You know something's very wrong: A year ago "too-greedy-to-fail" banks were insolvent, in a near-death experience. Now, magically they're back to business as usual, arrogant, pocketing outrageous bonuses while Main Street sacrifices, and unemployment and foreclosures continue rising as tight credit, inflation, skyrocketing Federal debt killing taxpayers. "

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The dollar is dying

I know these are crazy people, but they are creating a multi-national currency primarily to replace the dollar. It is just a matter of time before the rest of the world does this too.

AFP: Latam leftists agree on new currency, sanction Honduras Nine countries of ALBA, a leftist bloc conceived by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, met Friday in Bolivia where they vowed to press ahead with a new currency for intra-regional trade to replace the US dollar.

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Welcome to the Dark Side

Social Sunday logo

The dark side of social networking -

"Here’s some advice from Dr. Donald Patterson — director of the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction at UCI and the CTO of, a social networking site — about pondering the dark side of social networking."

"Consider how the software will use your location and whether or not you are making yourself vulnerable by letting people know where you are — or where you aren’t — before giving software permission to use your location information."

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usaa logo

Just to reiterate USAA is totally beawesome. I just used my iPhone to deposit a check. Someone wrote me a check then I used USAA's app to take a photo of the check. The app uploaded it and credited it to my account in about 10 seconds. It worked better than the system they have for depositing checks using a scanner. After the process finished, I tore up the check. Makes the check itself seem almost silly.

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South Coast Plaza has an iPod Vending Machine


Okay, so I don't get out much, but last night I was at South Coast Plaza and stumbled across this iPod vending machine. I had heard that such things existed before, but I didn't think I would run into one unless I was in an alley in Japan. It turns out that there is one in Macy's.

It is iPod branded, but has Sony and other other company products in it also. There is one screen in the upper left with marketing videos running in a loop and a touch screen on the right for picking your gadget.

There was clearly a security concern as there was a special video camera watching it and it was in the middle of a Macy's, not in an alley in Japan.

So now, if it is too much trouble to get your iPod from the Apple Store 50 feet away, you can use the vending machine instead.

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Introduction to quub ォ quub:stream

I'm totally excited about my startup company that launched yesterday. Limited public beta for the first 10,000 people!

Introduction to quub from on Vimeo.

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Did you Know?

This is a cool video. I don't know what to do with all the stats and data that are in it. I don't know how to act on it or who to tell about it. Therefore I am blogging it. May it not be lost to the ether b/c I have mentioned it here:

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TechNewsWorld quoted me

Technology News: Social Networking: Twitter and the Future of Discourse, Part 1 "If Twitter finds the need to charge for their services, the 89 percent tweeting for fun are going to find that it's not worth it and will go somewhere else," says Patterson. "This will reduce Twitter's value to the self-promoters and corporations alike. Together with the financial challenge, this suggests that Twitter will have to have a radically new kind of business model to survive."

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Word of the Day: Gastropub

Photo courtesy of urbanbohemian

While poking about on the internets tonight I discovered a new word, "Gastropub". My Father's Office is a gastropub. The Crow Bar is a gastropub. All the cool hang-outs are now gastropubs

The Dictionary thing on my computer clues me in:

"gastropub |ˈgastrəˌpəb|
noun Brit.
a pub that specializes in serving high-quality food. ORIGIN 1990s: blend of gastronomy and pub."

You learn a little something every day.

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MIT Tech Review Love: "Wireless Detectors for Dementia"

Technology Review: Wireless Detectors for Dementia

Wireless Detectors for Dementia

"Donald Patterson, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, says that the USF approach is more straightforward that those designed to monitor complex activities. "The more you get into the straight biological measurements . . . the easier it becomes," he says."

The hotter something is the less you should touch it.

I think my press skills are greatly increasing.

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"Bugger": Nate and I are into it

I'm always happy to expand my lexicon of things I can say instead of swearing. My current favorite is "asinine". I'm using this word instead of saying that something is "gay" or "retarded". Both of the latter words are things that I've developed a bad habit of using - what I want to say and what they communicate are not aligned. Asinine, however, has much better parity. It sound erudite and like you are swearing all in one.

Nate was kind enough to remind me that I can also say "bugger" if necessary, or tell someone to "bugger off" Perhaps this is highly offensive in Ireland/Australia? Don't know. Don't care. It's great for California.

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I predict white wall bike tires are the next cool thing

bike tires
Photo courtesy of Photochiel

I predict white wall bike tires are going to be cool very soon.

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Posted by: Nate at April 16, 2008 4:15 AM

Books that {high/low} SAT scorers read

High SAT books

Someone at CalTech looked at correlations between the most popular books at various colleges (according to Facebook) and then looked at the average SAT score at that college to see which books are correlated with high SATs and which books are correlated with low SATs . The high SAT books are on the left. The low SAT books are on the right. The results are from here.

Low SAT books

One of the first things I noticed on these lists was that reading "The Holy Bible" indicates that you aren't very bright. In fact, if you look at the data closer (not here but on the original site) it appears that calling the Bible, "The Holy Bible," indicates you aren't at a place with high SAT scores. If instead, you call the Bible, "the Bible" , then it is likely that your institution has much higher SAT scores. Furthermore, in the full list there are a number of Biblical exigeses that also correlate with high SAT scores.

So an interpretation that is a little bit of a stretch would be: people who read the Bible and don't do much to try and understand it tend to have lower SAT scores. But if you think about that for a second, that really has nothing to do with the Bible. If you don't try and understand things you're never going to get smarter.

But the real question is how many have *I* read. On the left I've read "Freakanomics" and "Catch 22". "Atlas Shrugged" is on my pile of to-read books. On the right I've read "Fahrenheit 451" and I suppose, "The Holy Bible".

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Statistical Portrait of UCI


The UC Irvine Office of Institutional Research released an interesting statistical portrait of UCI on 9/24/2007. Here is one of the highlight graphs which compares the number of undergraduate applicants vs. undergraduate admissions. The drastic increase in applicants is probably a combination of effects: high school students are applying to more schools and UCI is increasing in stature.

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Richard Stallman at UCI

11022007209.jpg 11022007207.jpg 11022007206.jpg

I got to see Richard Stallman speak today at UCI. He is the founder of the free software movement (FSF) which has completely changed the landscape of software programming. In my opinion his work on the GPL has caused the computer software ecosystem to advance by leaps and bounds. It is at the expense of people being able to make money off of writing software, but has created an industry in software support services.

Stallman comes across like a quintessential computer programmer. Crazy facial hair and all. His presentation reminds me about how fine the line is between homelessness and brilliance.

The biggest takeaway point that I got from his speech was the observation that software patents are only hurting small software developers. Small software developers may patent their work, but they cannot go after say, an IBM, for using their patent because IBM will turn around and sue the small software developer for one of any of tens of thousands of patents which cover parts of what the small software developer is doing. So the small developer is forced to sign a cross-license agreement which gives IBM the ability to compete with the exact same technology. So in effect the patent system has actually served to create a paperwork drill which ends up invalidating the threat of software patents, but only for the large companies which hold patents.

This was just another great opportunity that I've had in the last two years. It's curious that going to Cornell I got to be exposed to lots of political leaders. In contrast being at UCI has allowed me to be exposed to lots of technological leaders: Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, and now Richard Stallman. It is another good day to be a professor in Southern California.

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Cory Doctorow, Net Neutrality, and I

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of duncandavidson

Cory Doctorow, known for many things but notably an author on, spoke here at UCI today. No one had any questions for him, so I spoke up and got to have a decent dialog with him about Net Neutrality.

Cory clearly is for net neutrality which, in a nutshell, means that all packets are delivered with equal effort by the people who control the internet (ISPs and communications companies like AT&T, QWest, etc.) without regard for their origin, their destination or their content.

In principle, I agree that this would be a nice world to live in, but the point that I tried to make is that net neutrality is a red herring. There is no such thing currently in our Internet. Businesses, and other organizations, for which getting packets to and from destinations is critical to their livelihood already spend an enormous amount of effort to get their packets delivered faster. This is done through buying better engineering solutions (putting their content closer to their consumers on fat pipes), as well as through reciprocal agreements with other organizations (I will pay you to guarantee that my packets get through preferentially as a quality of service agreement).

What the ISPs are suggesting by "breaking net neutrality" or in their terms "deregulating the Internet" is to actually degrade your traffic unless you pay them money to deliver content at full speed. Now to be clear, both ends of a connection, a consumer and a web site, for example, are already paying to connect to the Internet. What the ISPs are proposing is an additional charge to get a "good" connection to the Internet which is a "not degraded" connection now.

Clearly this would suck. But my position is that this is already the de facto condition now and so talking about net neutrality is rhetoric which aligns you with activists or corporations but does little to shine light on inequity.

My position is that we should let the ISPs do whatever they want in terms of charging consumers and here's why: If an average individual can't get their Google Video to play at home, they generally regard it as a fact of life created by their physical location and they also probably blame themselves for incompetence or a lack of a decent computer. If it became widely known that companies were degrading traffic or offering "premium" services they would begin to wonder if the problem wasn't the ISPs instead of their own problem.

Very quickly, other companies would emerge which would offer better service. In order to prove that they offer better service they would have to develop a method of measuring the service - something which doesn't exist now (or exists in some simple ways). There would be a shake out as the quality of various companies' ISP service could suddenly be measured and made transparent. At this stage, all of the current back room deals and investment in infrastructure would be clear and their would be a feedback loop created for under served, but high paying customers to get a better network. The end result would be *more* equality than what currently exists.

So to summarize my position:

  1. Net Neutrality doesn't really exist now, there is discrimination on the Internet, but we can't see it.
  2. But it could be worse.
  3. ISPs want to make it worse explicitly.
  4. If they make it worse there will be an incentive for new companies to prove they are better.
  5. This will cause the creation of metrics which measure service to prove they are better.
  6. Now the previously hidden discrimination will be made clear and customers who pay the same amount will get the same service

Cory countered with two points. The first was that allowing the market to work it out like this will cause a lot of people to get hurt before it gets better. Second, he pointed out that in the short term, the ISPs will make a lot of money by overcharging their customers and that this is going to be made by exploiting a monopoly granted to them by the government in the form of rights-of-way for their wiring.

I don't believe either of these points are strong enough to warrant legislating net neutrality. We currently have no way of measuring whether or not the Internet is actually neutral - there may be a lot of people getting hurt now that we don't now about. Secondly although the ISPs will make money off of the public resource which is embodied in the rights-of-way granted to their cable, wireless technologies are making those rights of way decreasingly valuable as time goes on. So even if they were at one time a great gift to communication companies on the public's back, the public is increasingly unable to monetize that same resource any more.

My prediction is that this fight is going to disappear because it's already lost. The net is not neutral any more. There was never any law saying it had to be. Let it go. We would be better off finding a way to publicly and objectively analyze the service from different providers.

Cory was a good speaker and a nice guy. Getting to have a public debate with him is one of the great joys of being a professor.

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Two movies

Two movies I would see if I had lots of time and free babysitting:
Into Great Silence: Trailer
Amazing Grace: Trailer

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Amazing Grace


This movie, Amazing Grace, looks awesome. It's the true story of the events surrounding the abolition of slavery in England. It draws on the life stories of John Newton the slave trader who penned the song, "Amazing Grace", and William Wilberforce the abolitionist politician who pushed to outlaw the slave trade in England. For all the mistakes Christians have made in history, this is a story about which we should be very very proud.

What's really cool is that it doesn't end with the story. The movie is promoting a movement called "The Amazing Change" campaign which aims to eradicate slavery in the modern world. One of the many things Christians should be all over.

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TD Ameritrade Flashlight


I've been a customer of TD Waterhouse then TD Ameritrade for several years. In that time I grew increasingly unhappy with their services. There were tons of nickel-and-dime-you-to-death fees and assorted issues getting things to work right. Not everything was bad. They had good support for online trading. Oh, except for that day when I couldn't log in. That was the moment when I realized that I needed to change brokerages. Not being able to trade on a moment's notice is really bad in today's world. I even heard a news report that said that the electronic exchanges now view 10 seconds as too much delay in one's ability to act on information.

So, I am switching all my services to USAA, which I've blogged about before. They do a good job at almost everything they do.

In a bizarre attempt to make me a happy customer once again, TD Ameritrade just sent me a combination flashlight and multi-way screwdriver kit. This is very confusing to me. Maybe it's a metaphor and I'm supposed to fix the login problems with their website, because that's what would make me a happy customer again.

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Shaun of the Dead

What better way to await the arrival of one's offspring than by watching a zombie comedy? We saw "Shaun of the Dead" last weekend. I really thought it was great. Most of the pregnant people in the room were grossed out. Basic premise: British slacker and friends fight off zombie hordes.

Although most of the time the Focus on the Family's public face bothers me, they have a really good movie review site called, "Plugged In Online", which in the review of the movie makes the following comments:

"In the end, though, Shuan isn’t really about zombies. It doesn’t reveal how the zombie infestation started, and it doesn’t offer any sci-fi fixes to the problem. Instead, the story is always about Shaun’s struggle to be more than a zombie himself. Writer/star Simon Pegg told, 'In our film, if they're anything, [the zombies] stand in for apathy, and urban living, and becoming ... an anonymous automaton in a collective, where you don't have any identity.”"

Mars Hill also has a good film and theology deconstruction of the movie, here.


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Pat Roberston Update


Aaahhh... Pat Robertson. I have a soft spot in my blog heart for ridiculing everything P.R. does. (See here).

In this, his latest stunt on CNN, Pat warns us of a terrorist attack in late 2007 that will kill lots of people. Yawn, it's a scary possibility, but hardly that big of a revelation and honestly, that's like saying there is going to be a tornado which hits a trailer park this year.

More importantly are the following interesting tidbits from the article:

"In 2005, Robertson predicted that Bush would have victory after victory in his second term. He said Social Security reform proposals would be approved and Bush would nominate conservative judges to federal courts.

Lawmakers confirmed Bush's 2005 nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. But the president's Social Security initiative was stalled.

'I have a relatively good track record,' he said. 'Sometimes I miss.' "

Let's juxtapose that against the Bible:

"21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Duet. 18:21-22)

So if he's ever wrong you can safely blow him off. Therefore, you can blow off everything P.R. says.

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Duet 13:1-3)

If he's right about there being a terrorist attack in 2007 and he tells you to follow some other Gospel, then you can safely blow him off.

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 1 Timothy 4:3

So let's throw some politics into the fray: Our political media establishment needs someone to create drama as opposed to truth. P.R. is a terrific gear for the machine. The entire political establishment, especially the Republicans, benefits by creating fear of terrorists. Fear of terrorism strengthens supports for more surveillance, more war, more manipulation, more profit, and more control. So they gather P.R. around themselves to hear what they want to hear, so that he says what they want said. Instead of hearing what Jesus has to say over and over and over again, "Do not be afraid" here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Among other places.

End rant

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The Republicans do not try to "gather PR around themselves". As you have noticed, he has garnered far more negative attention of which they want no part, than positive in the past 5 or so years. They used to for sure, but no longer. When he actually makes sense, and for whatever reason it's relevant, both parties are after him. But that's rare. In practice, the D's use him far more than the R's because he such a nut- they try and paint him across all non-D's. The R's will rally around Jerry Falwell from time-to-time, but that's thin ice. Of course the D's have courted him as well. Dr. Dobson has replaced PR in the republican camp, but he's not as obtuse, ignorant or loud as PR.

Posted by: Nate at January 11, 2007 10:39 AM

Real Estate Fact

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of jon|k

Fact of the day: 2.6% of the homes for sale near us are affordable by people who make the median income. Median income is $78K! More info on CNN.

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Roomba Accelerometer


Learn how to control your roomba with the accelerometers in a Mac.

Click on image for link to video tutorial.

Thanks Charles!

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The Roomba seems too cool to be true. Can you vouch for this? (And I even think this accelerometor thing is cool too)

Posted by: Nate at December 21, 2006 3:41 AM

mmm.... I'm torn. I can't believe that's a very good vacuum as the whole Dustbuster class of vacuums kind of stink. This thing is a Dustbuster on wheels. However, CostCo is selling them and they don't sell much junk. I have a friend that has one and he is pretty unpassionate about it. He says it scares the cat.

Posted by: DJP3 at December 21, 2006 9:08 AM

Middle East Conquest


Click on the image on the left for a great 90-second Flash-based infographic about who has conquered the Middle East over the last 5000 years. In particular it puts the rhetoric about Christian Crusaders into perspective.

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Home Prices Update


Let's review: I live in Orange County. I am therefore obsessed with real estate. I did not buy a house a year ago because the real estate agents were talking crazy talk. Now I am vindicated. Thank Jesus I didn't jump into the fray.

More info from infographic at CNN by clicking on the image on the left.

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Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of mezzoblue

Check out the last drink on the Algonquin Hotel's signature bar menu

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The last I had heard, nobody had ordered this drink, although there had been some interest.

Posted by: Nate at December 15, 2006 3:48 AM

News Aggregators (Updated)

Pulp Fiction Icon

A news aggregator is a program that is a little bit like an email reader program, but instead of reading emails, it lets you read headlines. The headlines are provided by lots of different sites in the form of RSS feeds. For example, the BBC news, Wired News, and most blogging software provide RSS feeds. Once a site has an RSS feed, and you have a news aggregator, if you want to keep up to date on news from lots of different sources (some of which might not be "news" in the traditional sense, but rather updates of any form), you fire up your news aggregator. It goes onto the web and collects all the new headlines and lets you scan them quickly. As you scan them you get a quick summary of the story and if you want the full story, then you click on the headline and a browser opens to the original site. This is much more efficient than checking every web site you are interested in continually. Speed-surfing...

Here is a site with lots of links to RSS feeds

Click on the image on the left to get Pulp Fiction or Pulp Fiction Lite (my preferred news aggregator), an RSS Aggregator.

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The Babykeeper


You either want this badly, or you don't have children:

" The Babykeeper by Mommysentials, LLC :: Infant carrier style seat for Moms on the go

The BabykeeperTM is a patent pending infant carrier style seat, that hangs from the stall wall in most public restrooms, and can also be used in many public fitting rooms."

And for the record "Dad's on the go", so to speak, need one too.

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Smells like smoke


It smells like smoke all over Irvine this morning. It reminded me of commuting in Japan this morning. The sunset was beautiful as a result. Click on the image on the left for the CNN photo gallery of firefighting photos.

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Google announces video ads


Coming soon to a blog near you... Google announces that they are going to start running video ads in their banners. (Like the one on the side here). Unlike other ads, though, users have to start them. Video ads for the masses, at last.

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The most expensive sandwich in the world


From UK retailer Selfridges & Co. comes this very expensive sandwich, which I would be happy to eat for you.

"This sandwich has been created to offer a truly gourmet experience. Each sandwich contains rare Wagyu beef, the finest fresh duck foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper and mustard confit with English plum tomatoes in a sour dough bread."

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The Gospel of Judas

Photo courtesy of nicholasbarlow1

"An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so."

From: 'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years - New York Times

Is this a big deal? I guess it's news from the perspective that it does suggest that there was, as there is now, a diversity of faith in 300AD. That sort of explodes the nostalgic thinking that the "olden days were better," which permeates a lot of our modern American (and Christian) thinking (the 1950's ideal for example or the "early church" ideal).

But from a theological perspective it's not new. The idea of the Gnostics - that physical and spiritual are separate and different, bad and good, respectively - is an old persistent deviation from what Jesus taught. Other books of the canonical Bible put forward theological defenses of Gnosticism earlier than 300AD. The gnostic idea still is with us today, I believe it is the reason why there is "Christian radio" vs "radio" and "Christian bookstores" rather than just "bookstores". The Christian stamp has to be put on something physical that is inherently bad (according to gnostic tradition) before we can embrace it. In contrast the scriptures teach that creation was created uniformly "good" and warped through interaction with sinful people. The role of Jesus was to redeem people and creation, and the role of people is to accept that redemption from Jesus and follow Jesus' example in redeeming people and creation in response.

I doubt the Judas book is accurate as Judas committed suicide after betraying Jesus. An unlikely scenario given that Jesus has called you the greatest disciple. Whereas the other disciples went on to do incredible things in building the early church, Judas disappears from the record.

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The Millionaire Next Door

dollar rose
Photo courtesy of distinguish

Orange County has the third highest number of millionaires in the U.S.. We are beaten by our neighbors to the north in Los Angeles County and are being threatened by number 5 - San Diego County. No wonder houses cost so much.

Report: Number of U.S. millionaires reaches record - Mar. 28, 2006

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Probably not so coincidentally, the amount of contributions to aid-organizations and non-profits has also set records.

Posted by: Nate at March 30, 2006 8:58 AM

Crucifixion in the game Roma Victor


Roma-Victor is apparently a historical-fiction game that puts players into Rome around 180AD. It is a MMORPG like World of Warcraft. These games have a social component which makes them more fun than old-school RPGs. However, social is good and social is bad and now, when people engage in anti-social behavior, Roma-Victor will crucify them.

ROMA VICTOR:: Home of the historically authentic Roman Empire MMORPG: Crucifixion is to be used as a form of player 'ban' within the virtual world of Roma Victor, with the length of the ban reflecting the severity of the punishment. For cheating by exploiting a bug and advancing his or her character's skills unfairly, for example, a player might typically receive a seven-day ban; multiple or more serious offences will result in a longer (or even permanent) ban.

The most famous crucifixation was that of Jesus Christ. He was killed through a complicated political process which started with him offending the religious leaders at the time by claiming to be the Son of God. This was then presented to the ruling Romans who didn't find anything criminal about such a claim, but through a strange cultural process he traded sentences with a murderer and was then crucified - reflecting the greater purpose which his crucifixion served, that of trading sentences with those who ask to.

I hope that the focus on crucifixion causes players to think about what social ill Jesus committed, because there wasn't one. In fact, among the many things his crucifixtion accomplished, was exposing worthless and corrupt spiritual leadership. It would be kind of cool if your character in the game could get politically manipulated into a crucifixtion for speaking the truth.

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Real Time People Tracking By Folksonomy


"Gawker Media has put up a Google Map that shows the realtime locations of celebrities in New York City. The Google Maps mashup is called Gawker Stalker. Users can email their sightings to a gawker address and those tips are then mapped out for other users to follow. Some are calling it the killer celeb tracking app, while others (A PR Agent was interviewed on BBC World) say that it pushes the personal privacy envelope."

Gawker Stalker
News from: Google Maps Mania

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The Origami Ultra-Mobile PC

From Joy of Tech

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$1000 Ice Cream Sundae

goldenopulencenord.jpg Got $1,000? Why Not Try a Golden Opulence Sundae?

"5 scoops of the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23K edible gold leaf, the sundae is drizzled with the world's most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porceleana, and covered with chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, which is from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela's coast. The masterpiece is suffused with exotic candied fruits from Paris, gold dragets, truffles and Marzipan Cherries. It is topped with a tiny glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its sparkling golden color. It's sweetened and infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18K gold spoon to partake in the indulgence -served with a petite mother of pearl spoon and topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel."

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Google is Running Ads in the Chicago Sun-Times!

newspaper ad from google

When will the madness end? Google has started to fill the unsold space in the Chicago Sun-Times with their own ad content. There is no apparent monetization of this for them yet, but it's clear that this is huge! Google is moving into real world advertising. ClearChannel better get ready to fight.

Sun-Times nets Google ad deal | Crain's Chicago Business

Now, in the Sun-Times, Google is running ads in proximity to relevant content. On Dec. 12, for instance, Google ads touting ticket brokers, White Sox apparel and Chicago Bears memorabilia ran in the Sports section.

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Speculation on Google PC

Photo by beezly

This is entirely speculation, but it is curiously close to reality and too juicy not to mention. Rumors are flying on the internets that Google is considering launching their own home-PC box of some sort. The most interesting part of the rumor is that they are replacing Microsoft OS with their own. It will probably leverage all the Google tools that are available online and become the home-media center, because what good is a rumor like this that doesn't center on a "home media center".

The source of this rumor appears to be a predictions for 2006 article (which used to be) located ( ",0,3503327.story")here, in the LA Times. It is far from confirmed, but dangerously believable.

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Coke launches two new "diet" cokes


I was in the grocery store the other day and saw a confusing new roll-out of a bazillion new types of "diet" Coke. Including Diet Coke (classic with nutrasweet), New Coke Zero (with nutrasweet and something else - and a new flavor), New Diet Coke with Splenda (instead of Nutrasweet), Diet Coke with Lemon, Diet Coke with Lime, Diet Caffeine Free Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke, Diet Cherry Coke. What is the world coming too - wheeze - wheeze.

Just don't forget the ad-itude:

"Diet Coke is my style. Diet Coke is my sass, it's doing what makes me happy. Diet Coke is the perfect drink to accompany my strong sense of self. So flirt, laugh, prance, dance, wiggle, giggle - do what feels good. With Diet Coke close at hand, who knows what kind of scenario I might get into!"

I'm so crazy with my Diet Coke.

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Airport Cell-Phone Parking Lot

celllot01.jpg celllot02.jpg

Seatac airport here in Seattle, just instituted this totally cool parking lot. It is called the "Cell-Phone Waiting Lot" The idea is that you go and park in this parking lot while you wait for the person who you are picking up to call you on their cell-phone. Then you zip over to "Arrivals" and pick them up.

This is great because it gets rid of people endlessly circling around the airport loop while they wait for the late plane to show up. It also reduces the burden on the cops who are always yelling at you to move your car. It also increases security by lowering traffic volumes. It gives me a place to park that isn't too far away while I wait for the phone call (In the past I hung out suspiciously in the Denny's parking lot). Anyway, it's not often that things like this get better. Here is an example of a transit thing that did get better.

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Grocery Store Wars


Here's a link to a cheese-ball parody of star wars called Grocery Store Wars. Its a viral video produced by an organic food association to draw attention to the benefits of organic food. Even though it has a hidden agenda it has some very funny puns. "Obi-Wan Cannolli" for example. (Thanks Nate)

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Transparent Laptop Screens


Click on the image on the left to see a cool slideshow of laptops that have transparent screens. They aren't really transparent, but the photographers did a funny trick where they set the background of their computer desktop as an image of the area behind the screen.

The website is called Flickr and it's the hottest thing in photo sharing right now. Basically every photo gets tagged with some phrase and you can search for all the photos in the entire repository with that tag. It enables lots of cool automated tools.

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Starbucks Delocator


Can't find a decent cup of non-corporate coffee? Try searching the Starbucks Delocator for an indy coffee house near you!

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This is interesting. Now I dislike Starbucks as much as the next fellow, but would not make an effort to frequent an anti-Starbucks unless the following criteria are met: 1) I have a major coffee jones, 2) I have extra money in my pocket and, 3) I look out the car window and I happen to see said cafe coming up on the right. Otherwise, this seems to be just an effort to digress back to the pub-friendly society of the early 20th century England.

Posted by: Nate at April 11, 2005 12:57 PM

Giant Computer Key Seat

key stool

Giant Computer Key Seat

"This unique stool is a great low-tech item for any computer geek. Insert this eye-catching seat in the dorm, game room or even an internet café . The contoured shape holds your backspace just like your finger rests in a key."

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Superfriends meet Office Space


This is an awesome selection of the Office Space movie soundtracked synced to classic Justice League of America clips. Office Space is rated "R" for a reason, so be forewarned. Nonetheless, I think its funny.

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Blakeley Alley: the new Seattle hot spot


So I just want to go on the record saying that I think that the new cool neighborhood in Seattle is becoming "Blakeley Alley" (that's my name for it). This is the area just north of University Village Mall and East of the U-District. Here is a map

It's hard to describe what makes it cool, but here goes: It is a collection of funky, independent shops like the phenomenally good University Zoka coffee shop. It is close enough to U-Village to get the benefits of having the chain retails stores, but without having to participate in the homogenization of the outdoor mall culture. There isn't a ton there yet, but there is space to grow. But on top of that, these really cool software start-ups are emerging in the area, like Omni which makes OmniGraffle and makes Visio look like old-school WordPerfect software. Another start-up is Delicious Monster, a company with a ton of buzz because of their software, "Delicious Library". To be honest, I don't get what is so cool about Delicious Library, but I won't ask or else people will think that I don't get it. Finally there is All for kids, a kids bookstore that is funky, independent and loosely affiliated to a part-time advisor of mine. The Burke-Gilman trail runs right by it and TiCycles is right there also.

Anyway there is something bubbling there. It isn't the new clubbing district. It isn't the new art disctrict, but buy a house nearby, it's going to be the the new cool place to actually live.

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Baby's got book!


This is so hilarious. I was rolling on the floor laughing. It is a spoof of "Baby's got Back", that seminal work by Sir-Mix-A-Lot, but instead of talking about girls with big butts, it's talking about girls with big books (and in particular big Bibles). I'm still laughing...

"I like big Bibles I can not lie,
You Christian brothers can't deny,
When a girl walks in with a KJV
And a bookmark in proverbs, You get stoked."

Original-original in many formats here

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Good and Bad Companies

These are the companies that Charles and Don have opinions about:
Good Companies Bad Companies

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I'm pretty sure that McDonalds has dumped Chipotle. Starbucks is definetely lousy. Good airlines would be Jetblue and Independence Air.

Posted by: Nate at February 4, 2005 12:26 PM

Twinkie Sushi


Planet Twinkie - Recipe Box

Hostess Twinkies Sushi

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The Human Clock


The Human Clock is this cool collaborative site in which people send in photos of a particular time. Like a photo of Scrabble letters spelling out "Nine Twenty-One". Then when you go to visit the website, it chooses a picture based on the current time. So it's a huge collaborative photo taking exercise to take pictures of every time in the day. Cool project:

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The Hang-Out Treehouse

entrance_sm.jpg kitchen1-sm.jpg

"These durable spheres can be hung from the trees as shown, making a treehouse. They could also be hung from any other solid objects or placed in cradles on the ground. There are four attachment points on the top of each sphere and another four anchor points on the bottom. Each of the attachment points is strong enough to carry the weight of the entire sphere and contents.  "

How cool are these!

Buy one now!

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Procrastination, the Movie


This is a great little animated movie about procrastination. I had to upload it before I could get my stuff done. I'm not sure where it came from, but there are some credits in the beginning. Download movie

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Playmobile for grown-ups (real grownups)


This is so great! It's an action figure set that lets you create your own cubicle farm. I want. I want. It even comes with stickers to create your own wierd office titles like "Domestic Marketing Processor" and "Inter Information Specialist". There is a terrific website for them also. Click here.

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Atari 2600 adventure game lives as Quake 3 level


There is a great page up at the Atari Times showing a modern adaptation of the classic Atari game "Adventure". The old version was a low-res masterpiece, in my opinion. The modern version recreates low-res in high-res!

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The Top 1000 University Library Books

Photo courtesy of fudj

The Online Computer Library Center has compiled a top 1000 list of the most widely held library books in it's member's catalogs. The complete listing can be found here: OCLC Top 1000

If the value of intellectual worth is considered on the basis of what people are willing to buy, then the top ten intellectual works published as books are:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Census
  3. Mother Goose
  4. Divine Comedy
  5. The Odyssey
  6. The Iliad
  7. Huckleberry Finn
  8. The Lord of the Rings
  9. Hamlet
  10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The academic wallets have spoken.

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Joke of today

Photo by somebonnie

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: What, you mean you don't KNOW??????

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Space Invader Shoes


This French dude has made a shoe with an imprint of an alien from the classic arcade game, "Space Invaders". When you walk on the beach you leave a trail of aliens littered on the beach. See more at the Space shop.

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The Doctor Who Radiophonatron


The BBC has created this cool website where you can mix your own Doctor Who theme song. They have lots of familiar samples including "OO-EE-OO". I never really got into Doctor Who, but it's fun to create your own mash-up with the samples.

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its fun:):D

Posted by: coolguy at October 26, 2005 4:49 AM

Minimum Wait Time at DisneyLand


There is now a company called RideMax that will plan an itinerary of DisneyLand for you. They ask you for the rides that you want to go on and then they pick a timing and ordering of the rides that minimizes the amount of time you spend in line based on historic patterns of line lengths for a particular day and hour.

It's a cool idea. If everyone used it then the lines would be much shorter everywhere in the park. But the more that people use RideMax, the less it can help. So it's a business that if successful will be worthless. Kind of like accurate stock market prediction would kill itself.

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3-D animation of Tsunami


NOAA has published a 3-D animation of the tidal wave that's killed 22,000+ people around the Indian Ocean. Watch it (in QT) here

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Nativity Set made out of Smore's

smores nativity

Order your very own nativity set made out of smore's today

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Funny ads on Google


This is a screen shot of an ad that Google displayed when I searched for tap water. Ebay, Amazon and others often put ads into Google that are generated by computer programs. This tap water ad is one of them. If you search for the word "Dead" you get an ad for "Sexy Dead Singles". Or if you search for "Famine", ebay will tell you how fun and easy it is to find famine on It's a good way to waste an hour.

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Kaya, a Virtual Model


This is a virtual actress that a small team of people put together to try and push the limits of virtual characters. It's so realistic that it is creepy. There is also a fake screen test that shows great animation skills also. It isn't completely convincing yet, her lips are a little too stiff, but it's very good. Check out the website here.

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HTML Tattoo


I'm sorry, this is just wrong.

(Stuff with Buzz) Permanent Link made 5:08 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)


Computer-guy humor is not very funny.

Posted by: Nate at December 15, 2004 12:05 PM

Sorry but that is the most perfectic thing i have ever seen at least its on ur body n not mine u will regret that 1 day.i hope you realli like it cos u av gotta live wi dat 4 da rest ov ur life

Posted by: gemma at July 4, 2005 5:23 AM

For those who score low on reading comprehension, this is not a picture of the author of this blog.

Posted by: DJP3 at July 5, 2005 9:03 AM

thats a wicked tattoo. good work

Posted by: jaie at July 31, 2005 6:07 AM

I am doing a book on typographic tattoos & trying to locate the owner of this html tattoo.

Posted by: inasaltz at August 31, 2005 6:09 AM

I don't know who has the tattoo, but here is the source for the blog entry:

Posted by: Don at September 1, 2005 8:26 AM

Okay, maybe he likes it but seriously that is weird. I hope that's fake.

Posted by: Lyndz at September 1, 2005 1:33 PM

that is a pretty stupid thing to do to your self,, i know that has no meaning and it is people like you who give's tattooing a bad sterio type.... a tattoo is suppost to mean something and it is suppost to represent your self and unless you are a computer junkie or something i dont think that tatoo has much thought ..... good luck b/c your inked forever....

Posted by: malissa m at September 4, 2005 11:19 AM

That is very creative. I think its great, and as long as you have a sence of humor that stays as long as that tat does. I personally would be proud to have something like that. But I am pretty darn proud of my fairy i have living on my back! =)

Posted by: Mandy at September 24, 2005 9:19 PM

ASCII War Techno Design Thing


Okay, so this is a flash movie that is made with ASCII art that tells the story of a war in haXor to the music of some hard-core techno group called Rammstein. Its one of those animations that seems really profound to me, but I can't exactly put my finger on why it's such a seminal thing.

Watch it here.

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Rammstein isnt techno.. its industrial/metal.

Posted by: Mouse at August 9, 2005 10:26 PM

im happy someone siad so. lol. i was expecting to see a techno group name lol but rammstein good too. ;)

Posted by: mandy at September 24, 2005 9:21 PM

Blackspot Sneakers Arrived


The Blackspot sneakers that I ordered earlier arrived yesterday and I'm trying them out today. The styling and fit is really nice. So far I'm still into them.

I'm a little confused why a sneaker called a "Blackspot" sneaker would have a white spot on them, but <sarcasm>I guess if it makes me feel good who cares if it makes sense.</sarcasm>

The basic idea of these sneakers is to provide an alternative to the Nike version of cool by creating a non-brand. The sneakers were made in an environmentally sound way with skilled well paid labor in Portugal. I think there is hemp involved also - any subversive clothing has to have hemp.

Here's more on the meme.

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The Dancing Citroen Transformer


Here is a link to a video of a Citroen car that makes like a Transformer and does a funky hip-hop-disco dance. I'm amazed at how someone could make a computer model do that.

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Motion capture?

Posted by: octavodia at August 8, 2005 5:48 PM

i love the citroen add where it changes into a funky disco dancing robot

Posted by: Rhys at August 19, 2005 2:53 AM

McDonald's Tomato McGrand


Part of McDonald's new "I'm loving it campaign" includes a Tomato McGrand sandwich being debuted in Japan. What is the most freaky of all is this commercial being aired in Japan to promote the sandwich. I think McDonald's actually has done a really good job of hitting the young Japanese market with this promo.

Cross-reference this blog post.

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Hidden Doors for your Home

HiddenDoor.jpg This is so cool. It is a company that manufactures custom bookshelves that replace doors in your home. The result is a Scooby-Doo-esque secret room. Oh for the day when I have a job with money to burn..... Website

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gingerbread.jpg A random funny video(video was removed from site) of a gingerbread man set to techno-music.

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Introducing Geek Rock

smomo.jpg I think that I have discovered a class of music that I'd like to affectionately call, "Geek Rock." I am a geek. I like it. Here is a great example: Jonathan Coulton sings the praises of IKEA. MP3.
Some of the lyrics:

"And they sell things for apartments smaller than mine
As if there were apartments smaller than mine "

Or the praises of the Mandelbrot set. MP3
Some of the lyrics:

"Mandelbrot's in heaven, at least he will be when he's dead
Right now he's still alive and teaching math at Yale "

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Why Apple is better than Windows


So here is a reason why I like Mac better than Microsoft. I bought this cool new album, "The Light of Things Hoped For" by Brave Saint Saturn (click on the image on the left to buy it). It's about as hip as I get. I pop it into my Windows box and the obnoxious Windows CD player launches and tries to go to some "partner" to get the track names and album information. Of course it fails because it is an obscure album. Does this happen on the Mac also? No. It uses the community supported database GraceNote and everything works the first time with no effort.

It's just a pain to use Windows

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U2 and iPod Vertigo Video


U2 has a new video out for their "hit" single Vertigo. It's a cool video. I like the whole iPod-video effect, but the U2 song isn't really a dance-able song, so the people in the video who are dancing with iPods don't really work for me. Nonetheless I'm waiting for the whole album to come out on the iTunes music store so that I can slurp it into my iPod.

How is it that U2 can continually be so cool? They are always fresh and edgy and pop-artistic. Someone is very talented.

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Pink 5 Jedi


This is a hilarious film-short on Atom Films about a valley girl Jedi. Favorite quotes:

"This is so cool, because they almost never let me fly"

"I sort of zoned out during the briefing"

"Why don't you talk. All the other robots talk - it's not like it's that hard."

Click on the image on the left to go to Atom Films and watch Pink 5.

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Jan Krist Rocks


Jan Krist rocks. She is a talented singer and songwriter whose music I enjoy. Sort of a folksy rock sound, although anytime I try and genre-ize music someone always comments on how badly I've done it.

Click on the image on the left to go to her website.

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Noam Chomsky


I like Noam Chomsky. He thinks about what he says. He has facts to back it up. He has a philosophy which guides his critique and he refuses to back down even when the pressure gets high. Don't be tricked into thinking he's a Democrat though...

Click on the picture on the left to go to an archive of some of his writings.

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Foosball Rocks

Bush playing foosball
President Bush playing foosball with the President of Mexico, Vincente Fox.

I heart foosball.

Foosball is becoming an addiction, fortunately I'm not the only one so it's not dysfunctional by definition.

If you're at the University of Washington, you can click on the image on the left to go to Jon Ko's foosball scheduling page to schedule a just in time foosball game. It's hot!.

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The Strangerhood Machinima


Strangerhood is a new machinima series from the guys who are making "Red vs. Blue." It is a web movie which comes out weekly and is "filmed" by playing The Sims 2 video game and recording the video. Then the video is overdubbed. Hilarity ensues. The Red vs. Blue series was/is really funny, so this looks promising.

Click on the image to go to Strangerhood's website.

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Yerba Buena


What is the deal with this "good herb"? Apparently it is the name of a variety of mint that is used in making the rum cocktail called a mojito. (Click on the image on the left to see the recipe) Why United Airlines felt like they had to subject me to 30 minutes of discussion about the mojito is beyond me. Then I saw an ad for a jazz festival featuring a band called, you guessed it "Yerba Buena". Bacardi must have paid a pretty penny to get that subtle meme put in all of our airline cattle's heads.

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Nutch logo Suddenly this open source search engine software is being mentioned everywhere. Particularly by Oren Etzioni and the KnowItAll project, but also elsewhere at the WWW2004 conference.

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Zoka Coffee House


The best coffee in the world is at Zoka coffee shop in Seattle. It is so good I beg people to send me bean from there when they visit. In addition to top-notch coffee, they have free Wi-Fi, good Dessert, and invite excellent musicians like Kenny Meeks to play.

Click on the logo to go to Zoka's site.

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PowerBook G4


It is very hard to explain why I love my PowerBook G4 to other people. It is just such a better experience than using a Windows based laptop. The graphics are smooth, the power of open source is harnassed, but the fonts friggin' work (unlike all the Linux distributions that I use) , the laptop is portable and it all just works.

I think the people who have to maintain their own equipment like the PowerBook more. It costs more upfront, but in the long run the time you save more than makes up for it. For example how long does it take a Windows PC to connect to a Wi-Fi hot spot in a coffee shop that its never been in before? 10 minutes of futzing? the Power takes about 2 seconds.

Click on the image to go to the Apple Store.

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Kenny Meeks Rocks


Kenny Meeks is the first country artist I've ever liked. He played a gig at U-Zoka in Seattle which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed. I wish I had enough disposal income to invite him to play for my friends.

Click on the image to go to his site.

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Trabant Chai Lounge

trabant.jpg Trabant is a "chai house" in the U-District of Seattle. I am working here today to check it out, to try out chai, and to use their free Wi-Fi. My analysis: Chai is expensive ($4.10 for 16 oz). There is a "scene" thing going on here, but the atmosphere is good, the chai is good and it's fun to gawk at the passer-bys... Next time I think I'll get espresso.

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Dubai, where the other 0.000001% live

The Palm Resort in Dubai
Click to watch the surreal promo video.

During a recent trip to England I was introduced to a disturbing new development in Dubai called "The Palm". It is an artificial reef/island made in the shape of a palm tree on which are built luxury homes, resorts, spas, theme parks and restaurants. Around the edge are reams of beach front property. It disturbs me because it is such a manufactured experience designed to create a manufactured existence, and also because it is catering to class of people who are so fabulously wealthy that their priorities become secrecy and discretion.

First of all if you are not aware of Dubai, it is a small kingdom-like place in the United Arab Emirates. I spent some time there when I was in the military and, believe it or not, it really is a nice tourist destination despite being in the heart of the Middle East. It is very cosmopolitan and has lots of high-end hotels and gourmet restaurants.

Along with being cosmopolitan, though, is a weird libertarian we-don't-ask-and-you-don't-tell ethos that comes through subtly in the video promo above. My understanding is that a very small percentage of the people that live in Dubai are citizens and if they are, they are the beneficiaries of enormous oil wealth and are mostly related to one another. The majority of the population is extremely cheap labor from India, Pakistan, etc that are allowed to stay there a short period of time (2 years maybe) before being required to leave. In fact the labor doesn't mind because they go there to make money and bring it home to their family. Cheap happy labor means everyone wins.

I also met at least one guy who worked for Sony in Dubai. He was from India and he was trying to do a great job for Sony so that they would transfer him to Canada. Then he could potentially immigrate and settle in a place other than India. This is sort of the business equivalent of the computer science escape-from-your-home-country route. The computer science route involves getting a C.S. degree in the U.S. and being such a whiz-bang-hacker-theorist-bright person that a U.S. company snaps you up immediately and you get to stay in the U.S.. Everyone but your home country wins.


So Dubai also has these extremely expensive resorts and hotels including The Burj-Al-Arab hotel. It is truly a stunning hotel. But to get a sense of what I'm trying to say about Dubai consider this: this hotel has in-room check-in, a separate reception desk at every floor, chaffeur-driven Rolls-Royce services, personal butlers and can cost $3000 a night. Everything that an extremely rich person who wants to remain discrete would need. Who are these people? Celebrities? Multi-national corporate CEO's? Rich Arab oil men/politicians? International criminals? Maybe it's all one and the same and if you care then maybe you aren't the type of person they are looking for. To their credit though they make the lifestyle look attractive.

Now enter "The Palm" development. This is billed as a place for rich expatriates to be as far away from the rest of the world as they want. But if you watch the promo video - it has this really sinister Blade-Runner-in-the-sun feel to it. Extremely high security, sunglasses, families happily playing in the surf. The undercurrent is that they need to be there because they are in danger and they are in danger because they are so fabulously wealthy and/or notorious and/or famous that they can't be out in public.

the world.jpg
Satellite image of "The Palm"
The world

And as a final note, they have a new development in the works called "The World." Same concept but shaped like a world map rather than a palm tree.

Living on an artificial island, in a world full of restaurants and entertainment, protected from all the dangers of the world where every detail is taken care of. A world pre-built to perfection. And yet nothing is organic about this existence. It didn't occur naturally. It's not authentic. It has no substance. There is no community. There is no history. There is no dirt. It is trying to erase or remake reality, but it can't really do that because it's impossible. How long before the pollution in the water makes the beaches unbearable? How long before the displaced ecology causes sea-snakes to jump in the swimming pools? How long before the cocaine use causes someone to commit suicide and someone else to get murdered? How long before the smoke from the burning oil rigs and exploding mosques gives all the kids asthma? You can't escape this broken world with wealth.

"We won't ask if you don't make a scene" - The Palm.

Update (4/25/2005): Just to clarify, for all the people who leave insulting comments to me because they think I hate Arabs, I don't. I also don't think I know everything. Read what I am saying. If you have something substantial to say I'll post your comment. Otherwise go rant on your own blog.

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Tooth Tattoos

Tooth Tattoo package

Fortunately they are temporary, but here is the latest rage for the preteen set. Tooth Tattoos!

Click on the image to go buy some!

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Adbuster Culture Jam


This is one of the adbusters commercials that no television station will air because it is counter to their interests. It is illuminating to understand what their interests are. Basically they portray themselves as purveyors of information, but in fact, their economic interests like squarely in separating you from your money in any way possible.

Click on the image to see the short commerical.

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The Blackspot Sneaker

blackspot.jpg I just bought a pair of Blackspot sneakers. These are sneakers that are being commissioned by - a pro-consumer-freedom organization somewhat affiliated with Ralph Nader.
I love the concept - basically in an effort to compete against corporate branding and consumerism run amok, Adbusters has decided to create an unbranded sneaker. It is a political and fashion statement against Nike specificallly and against corporate control of consumer freedom in general. I'm totally into subverting corporate control and unbranding things. How many brands have been forced into your mental landscape in the last 5 minutes?

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Paste Magazine

Signs of Life in Music and Culture: A cool music magazine with an even cooler compilation CD. It has excited me about finding new music again. I'm into the song Parables by Seeds and Grandaddy by A.J. Roach and American Wake by the Elders all of which I was introduced to through this magazine.

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Red Vs. Blue Machinima Series

This is a really funny animated series that is released weekly on the web. It is "filmed" by acting out scenes in the XBox game Halo. The scenes are recorded and then the writers dub voices over the recording. So the whole set is virtual and provided by a video game that never intended to be used in such a way. The technical details aside though, the guys who write it are funny - in a red-meat military guy geek humor sort of way.

Clicking on the image on the left will take you to there home page.

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Terragen Fractal Landscape Generator

Terragen is a wacked out image generation program. It renders photo-realistic landscapes based on fractals and [I assume] ray tracing. Snow, desert, vegetation, water, sky all look very real. The last time I looked at this stuff was 10 years ago and it sure has come a long way. Click on the image at the left and check out some of the galleries to see examples of what the users can do with it.

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Cool MP3 of Copyright Law Oral Argument


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a very interesting MP3 (16 MB here) of its oral argument on the appeal of a case which pit recording studios against a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing network. From the EFF's web site:

California - Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a crucial decision in support of technology innovators by declaring that distributors of the peer-to-peer software Grokster and Morpheus cannot be held liable for the infringing activities of their users. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued on behalf of Streamcast, the creator of the Morpheus software, in a case that pitted dozens of entertainment conglomerates against two small software companies. The Ninth Circuit decision is based in part on the fact that P2P networks have significant non-infringing uses, and that they can help artists earn money. The ruling is similar to the Supreme Court's decision in the 1984 Betamax case, which determined that Sony was not liable for copyright violations by users of the Betamax VCR

I'm really into primary sources. It's very interesting to evaluate the source of the CNN/blog news summaries for yourself. Unfortunately this takes time, which is in short supply, but critical thinking requires practice. This is the first time that I've ever heard a real oral argument and it's the first time I've seen one distributed as an MP3. It was good bus listening on my iPod

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