12/30/2003

12-30-03 - 3

12-30-03

Fucking dumb broken TiVo software. I want to watch Law & Order. I have a season pass. Hmm.. there are no epsiodes recorded. Why not? Hmm.. Law & Order is on right now (it's always on) and nothing is being taped!? Why not? Hmm.. it's in my Season Pass list, everything looks good. When I View Upcoming episodes, only 1 of the 30 have a record symbol. WTF !? I cancel the season pass and get it again. Ok, now everything looks proper. This is a problem I've known about for a while, it's incredibly frustrating. What makes it even more frustrating is that manipulating your record list takes like several seconds per click, and it's very very annoying. With proper software it would be instantaneous. And don't tell me it's the hardware - even if they put a 1 MHz CPU in the thing (which is slower than you can even buy these days), that would be plenty fast so that all the clicks would be instantaneous (all the fancy video interface shite would have to go, though).

God damn you bad programmers out there! This is what many managers don't understand. Programmers are not interchangeable. The guys who wrote Windows Media Player - they're shite! The guys who wrote the TiVo software - shite! If I was in charge of a team that was making junk like this, I'd be ashamed, and we'd be in there working 24/7 to fix it, but really we never would have written such shite in the first place. This is not difficult stuff, it doesn't require some amazing algorithms, it's just a matter of doing your job somewhat competently. The worst thing is that these packages do have some bits of very good code down in the internals, but the UI and installers and database management and high level stuff is just so bad it hides that.

The TiVo box "We're Sorry.. This might take a minute" should be changed to "We're sorry.. we fucking suck at programming; we were only taught Java in college, we think we're 3lit3 haxors, but we can't code a linked list, and we don't even know what a tree is, we drive BMW's and think Linux is cool."

12-30-03 - 2

12-30-03

Dating and serious relationships are so incredibly different, it's amazing that the one turns into the other. Sort of like a caterpillar and butterfly, though often the other way round.

12-30-03 - 1

12-30-03

Is my love for Kids In the Hall based solely on their cool theme song?

What's worse - snot hanging from your nose, or snot wiped on your t-shirt? I am faced with this classic dilemma almost daily.

Playing the Game of Life with my family, we encountered an interesting game theory problem. Here it is boiled down - ten players each has a card numbered from 1 to 10 (one of each). They are initially distributed in order, eg. the first player has #1, etc. The game has ten turns (each person goes once). On each turn, first *everyone* collects chips equal to the number on their card. Next, the person whose turn it is may exchange their card with any other card (if they like). Play proceed clockwise through all the players. So, what is the optimal strategy? The naive strategy is to always take #10. The problem with that is the next player will then just take it from you! So, player 1 should do something more like take #7. My brother guesses there's no equilibrium, but he seems to be no fan of game theory.

I can't do math in my head quickly & correctly any more; I used to be able to jump several steps, you know like if you had a problem that goes A-B-C-D, I could just go A..D, you know? Just see the answer. My younger brothers make fun of me. Ha! They too will grow old and feeble-minded soon!

12/29/2003

12-29-03 - 1

12-29-03

My Christmas trip has gotten me addicted to slovenly short-term pleasures : I play online poker while watching TV, eating desserts, and drinking booze. Arg, it makes me feel sick, but it feels so good!

Cleverness gets you 99% of the way very quickly. The problem is that when you take the fast clever approach, that last 1% is very difficult. For example, in Physics, you can almost write down the answer to most problems based on symmetry and conservation and knowing the basic terms and proportionalities that must be involved. The trouble with this is that you're missing the constant factor in front, and to get it you've got to go do all the full careful work.

12/27/2003

12-27-03 - 2

12-27-03

I got my brother James the video games XIII ("Thirteen") and KotOR for Christmas. Funny comments overheard as he's playing are - "this game is cool, but I don't care about any Star Wars stories" (as he skips the cinematics in KotOR); "yeah, this game is almost as tedious as Half-Life" (says a friend watching James play a semi-cinematic segment of XIII); James also frequently complained about any way that XIII differed from Halo or Counter-Strike, and about the lack of checkpoints.

I dig XIII. The toon rendering style is cool; I love the little windows they show when you get a head-shot, and they pop up sometimes at surprising times, like when you toss a grenade into an enemy fox-hole. The music is perfect, and the cinematics are gorgeous, and the story isn't in sultingly bad like most games. The weapons are nicely balanced, they feel good, require skill, and each has strengths and weaknesses. It has a lot of annoying gameplay glitches - we died or lost various times and were left going "what the fuck happened?" or "why didn't that work?"; another few months of polish would have been good.

12-27-03 - 1

12-27-03

What did our troops die for in Iraq? Apparently it was the right for our country to work on the reconstruction.

When you cleverly dodge your taxes by taking business expenses instead of pay (or using any number of shelters), you are basically screwing the poor. When the rich don't pay their share, the result is that taxes must be higher overall, so the non-rich are forced to make up the difference. Any rich liberal who brags about how cleverly they got their tax payments down to 20% is quite a hypocrite. However, everyone does it, so why not me too? Of course the same thing goes for any tax cuts for the rich; proportionately, that screws the poor. There's no such thing as "it's good for me and it doesn't hurt anyone else". When you reduce your share, that increases others share (proportionately, which is all that matters).

The real defining characteristic of the social environment in the 00 decade (this decade has no real name yet) is the strong formation of "scene" groups,and the fact that all of them are snoby, elitist, unaccepting, cliquey, exclusionary, etc. All the characteristics of the "preppy" crowd in the 90's have been adopted by every scene in the 00's. The so-called punk scene, the retro-ironic scene, the hipsters the emo kids, and the ever-present frat crowd, all of them are fashion-oriented, superficial, condescending, etc. There's no real anti-clique movement, like grunge was for a while in the 90's (before it became a clique of its own), or like the true hippies were, etc. I dub this the "scene" generation, and you are all "scenesters".

Verb. Hit the after-xmas sales. Scanned: Express, GAP, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters. Depressing - are these the only places that exist to shop? They're all so bland and typical and boring. Of course you can hit the little boutiques too, but 1) they're mainly for women and 2) they're pricey. Back to the thrift stores I go... oh, and I refuse to shop anywhere that sells skater or surf wear, Dickies, or Von Dutch. I prefer a prep to a fake rebel - at least a prep is honest about wanting to fit in and impress people.

12/26/2003

12-26-03 - 1

12-26-03

Most tech people who aren't business-savvy plan too far ahead. In my experience, there's a certain type of smart tech person who is willfully uninterested in practical matters that they feel shouldn't exist, but do. These people tend to plan to minimize the total long-term work for themselves. That's an extremely bad way to plan. I've been thinking about cross-platform recently. It's not secret that Oddworld is currently Xbox- exclusive, but of course we won't stay that way forever. Maybe we'll just go to Xbox2 when the time comes, or who knows what other platform we'll wind up on. So, how do we prepare for that? Our imaginary techie would make the entire engine cross-platform, abstracted, data-driven. That's huge mistake. My approach - completely ignore the future (for now). Make an Xbox-only engine, make it damn good. When the time comes to deal with another platform, deal with it then. Of course the time frame is important, I'm not considering going cross-platform any time very soon. All your great plans for the future will come to nothing unless your current game is damn good. I see all these startup game companies that are building the "coolest 3d engine ever" which they'll use in "all their future titles". Of course, they don't even finish one, or if they do, it's a bad game. Guess what, that "cool 3d engine" (which was probably crap anyway) goes in the garbage. Better to make your current game good.

12/24/2003

12-24-03 - 2

12-24-03

Sean Connery is the only decent Bond. He has an amazing rough sexuality which he exudes without ever being crude or forceful. He's my role model for dating - don't say anything crass, just be charming and polite while saying "I will make love to you in the alley on our way out" with your eyes.

12-24-03 - 1

12-24-03

My family's been playing Munch a bit in the last few days. They never played it when it came out, and it's been interesting to see them play now. It's been my chance to see it clearly too, since I was tainted close to development. Some things I've seen -

  • It's very difficult for people involved with production to see the product with any clarity. The only people who really saw the game clearly were the MS guys (Phil, Andrew, Jesse, Troy, Steve, Chris) that came in late to help us. Everyone at Oddworld was seeing something other than what was in the actual product.
  • My sister thought the voices and characters were great. However, they really weren't played up well. I could tell from her reactions that if the humor and character just kept going strong, she would have been laughing and loving it. Instead, once you see the characters for a few seconds, the novelty is over, and they don't give you anything to keep you interested. There could have been a lot more variations and little moments that really played up the characters and humor more.
  • Wow, the controls just *suck*. This is a hard one, since I did a lot of the code on the basic motion and controls. The movement is twitchy and hard to control. The jump button frequently doesn't respond when you hit it. The jump itself is way too fast. This is something that Phil Teschner and Jon Blow argued about strongly during development, and I agreed. I tried to do a little work to improve the jump button response, but it just wasn't a priority, and the game ended up being un-responsive and full of latency.
  • Overloaded A button. Everyone in my family is horribly frustrated by this. You try to sneak up behind a Slig and pick him up. You hit A and jump instead, which alerts him and blows the whole thing. Munch is getting smacked and you want to use a vendo; you hit A and jump instead, or zap a fuzzle cage, etc.
  • Tap/Hold on the buttons giving you two different actions. I thought this was a good idea, and it feels just fine to me, because I know how to do it. The rest of my family, however, is totally confused by it. My little brother thought that holding was always a stronger version of tapping, so holding was always better. This is probably because that's actually true for "Hello"/"All of ya" and because you often need to hold down the jump button to make it actually do it.
  • The graphics kind of blow. The Snoozer and some of the other characters look good, but the backgrounds just look really flat, almost semi-cardboard-cutout looking. The fake lighting model and texturing and low poly counts and such are just no good. The artists believe that they can make things look great with polys and textures, but it's just not true. You need dynamic lighting and consistent imaging to really make a world look 3d, rounded, responsive, real. It's the difference between a virtual world and a diorama.
  • Not enough of what's fun. We love playing the Snoozer. We kind of like the crane. We enjoy throwing bombs. We like the races in the wheel-chair, like Paramite run and Brewery To Be. These things occur far too rarely.
  • Too much of what's tedious. Doing the same task over and over, like picking up Mudokons and throwing them somewhere - that's very tedious. Because the controls and jumping are so bad, any kind of jumping puzzle is horrible. Many people at Oddworld took this to mean that "jumping puzzles aren't fun". No - they're fine in Mario, Crash, Jak, etc. They're bad in Munch because the control and the puzzles are rot.
  • Basic misunderstanding of the core mechanics. Two major things in Munch are just horribly broken - the two player respawning with the egg, and the spooce ball. The spooce ball can kill any enemy, just because depossessing kills them. This makes all enemies trivial, since you can regrow shrubs to get your spooceball at any time. Also, the egg respawning means you can never die, and it lets you teleport around the level. If you can get one of your guys across the level to another egg spawner, you can just kill off the other one and this lets you teleport your buddy. This lets you bypass lots of puzzles. These things would have been ok if they'd been understood better. I know from being there that up until very late, we wanted Munch to be more of a persistent world. It was only realized very late that everything had to respawn, it had to be more of a true puzzle game with set puzzles that reset themselves and force you to take them on as a whole. The puzzle model is fine, it's awesome in Klonoa or Heart of Darkness, but it's something you really have to embrace and understand in your game design.
  • My little brother says it's obvious the game was not play-tested enough. To quote - "I know why you guys didn't play-test enough, cuz you had to make launch, but most games don't, and they have no excuse".
  • My sister wanted to know if I did any of the voices. I could tell that I would be more famous in her eyes for doing a voice that I was for being (co-) lead programmer on the game. I think this is true for most people in the world.
  • The story's just totally incoherent and feels tacked on. (this is true of most games).
  • There's no climax to the game. As you go from level to level it just feels like one after another, there's no building excitement or the feeling that one level is harder or more exciting than the last.
  • The other big thing I noticed was how much trouble my sister had. Just controlling the characters was something she had to learn, it wasn't intuitive at all. All the things that the hardcore player finds frustrating were absolutely crucial to her (like all the signs and shamans and popup screens and such). There's really a huge gulf between hardcore players and casual players, and it seems to me almost impossible to make a game that both can enjoy. You'd have to make the game very configurable, where many things were optional and there were quite different play styles possible. Which brings me to the next point -
  • Always make your controls configurable. Just because you think you came up with a great scheme, don't lock it in. In the case of Munch, we put the camera on the DPad; it should have been on the right stick. If the controls were configurable, the players could have fixed that mistake themselves.

12/20/2003

12-20-03 - 1

12-20-03

Freaking Joel on Software is a bunch of plattitudes and truisms and the bastard is famous.

I think the modern ironic-rock, tongue-in-cheek 70's style is totally pretentious and condescending, but I like it anyway. It rocks.

Dave at work described some incredibly complicated scheme for short-selling stock. Here's my scheme - you make a contract with someone that goes like this - at the end of the short period, you will buy the stock at the market price at that time, and sell it to them for the price at the beginning of the short. Very simple. If the stock goes down, you make money equal to the difference in price. If the stock goes up, they make money similarly. Why in the world is this system not used?

12/10/2003

12-10-03 - 2

12-10-03

Our country's entire concept of crime prevention doesn't work on terrorists. We try to prevent crime by punishing criminals, trying to scare would-be criminals with the death penalty and such - look, if you do wrong, think of the consequences. These techniques are very poor against criminals in general (this has been statistically proven; harsher penalties do not reduce crime rates), but especially poor against someone as desperate and determined as a terrorist. Our other major technique is trying to capture them before the fact. This is marred by constant mistakes because it's very hard to exactly identify terrorists. The result is that we end up disturbing the lives of the people and killing many innocents, which of course just increases resentment towards us and breeds more terrorists.

12-10-03 - 1

12-10-03

Architecture is almost too powerful an art form. You can make a painting or a photograph that is uncomfortable, sad, bleak, grotesque, sickening. Sure, it may be moving when you look at it, but you can simply look away, and return to the space you're in. When you go into a physical space that makes you feel that way, it sneaks up on you, and then creeps into you, and you feel it from the inside, and you can't escape it - you have to leave. Because of this, the emotional palette of architecture has been limitted to positives - cozy, grand, impressive, elegant, cheery, quiant, etc. We had a brief expansion with Bauhaus and the International style, where a slightly broader palette of positives was introduced - pure, starkly beautiful - though there was something bad about the beginning of the modern period, which was that some architects started making buildings that appealed to critics instead of spaces that could be felt by the average people who were in them. Spaces should be visceral things which are felt at a base level by anyone with a sensitive spine and tingling hairs on the back of their neck (probing the air like antenae). They should not be things you have to ponder and compare to previous works, think of their allegorical meaning, their symbolism or message, that's intellectual snobbery and masturbation.

11/29/2003

11-29-03 - 1

11-29-03

Government involvement in marriage is ridiculous. It should be a private agreement between two people, which is optionally encoded in a legal contract (essentially what current marriage is). We should remove special legal status for married couples, special tax breaks, etc. it is not the business of the government to be involved in encouraging people to have good Christian lives. Strange how conservatives claim to be so "Laissez-faire" and yet want the government to be involved in subsidizing big business and people who behave like good Christians. In fact, I would say that current laws are a violation of the separation of church & state, since marriage is really a very religious institution, and the various forms of marriage differ greatly from one religion to another. Traditional monogamous marriage is a very Christian thing, and outlawing other forms is very discriminatory.

11/19/2003

11-19-03 - 2

11-19-03

I finally watched the Nova on String Theory, since I'm home sick for the day. Horrendous, and not just for someone who knows some physics, but just horrendous in general. Four hours and almost totally devoid of information, very repetetive and insultingly simplified. I think that any smart person who doesn't know physics would have felt the same way. When I watch the Novas on other fields, biology, chemistry, etc. I find them to be too simple, lacking in depth. There's also a way that programs like that could talk to multiple levels at the same time; just toss out a little bit of more advanced stuff once in a while and you'll keep the higher level people occupied. In fact, the program was very un-compelling. String Theory is really magical and amazing stuff; when I learned it, it sent shivers down my spine, literally, the things that come together to make it possible are just astounding - the magical cancellations of the infinities, the dimensions and symmetry groups, the fact that it just so happens that the Standard Model is found inside the only possible string theory, it is like the theory was meant to be - and that's why people have stuck with it through so many difficulties. The show gave none of that impression, really.

There is no good description of quantum mechanics for the lay person. I bet I could write one. Quantum mechanics is definitely correct; even if it's not the way the universe works, it's correct as a model. That is, even if the universe works in some other unknown way, QM is still correct as a predictive model. In fact, under some philosophies of science, all you can ever do is form a predictive model. That is, let's say we did have a "Theory of Everything" - let's say String Theory worked out and explained everything. Now, is the universe actually made of strings? Who knows! In fact, what does it mean to say "actually made of" ? All we can say is that string theory is an incredibly good *model* of the universe. We can say that the model of the universe acting as strings predicts the same thing that actually occurs. I think that even many scientists fail to grasp this and believe that when they work with strings, it means the universe is actually made of strings. That's ok, it's a form of religion, and it helps to make thought clearer.

Quantum mechanics requires you to visualize branching amplitude trees, state overlaps and collapses, probability amplitude spreading and coupling and forming conditional probabilities, etc. Even plain probability is very difficult and paradoxical to most people, amplitudes (square roots of probabilities) are even more bizarre, and the idea that the universe works this way is just incomprehensible to most.

11-19-03 - 1

11-19-03

Green leaf lettuce is the lowest form of lettuce. Boston is better, Butter, Romaine, even Red Leaf & Iceberg have more character.

I've had a bit of an epiphany about manipulation. Yes, sure, there is lots of manipulation and lying in the world, but there's also this idea of "helping people do what they really want to do". Most people won't do what they really want to. If you just ask someone "do you want to go to the lake and go skinny-dipping?", they might love to, but they can't say yes for various reasons. You need to help them to be able to say what they really want to say. This "help" often takes the same forms as manipulation. Manipulation of course is getting people to agree to something they don't really want to, and the techniques are very similar. I'm learning that I need to help people along.

I went to Vegas last weekend. It was a good time (it was also pretty damn expensive). It's my first time going, so part of the purpose was just to check it out, see the spectacle and whatnot. We went out dancing and clubbing, that was good, there are some definite nice clubs in Vegas. I dig dressing up in my fly gear and talking to the ladies, and there was some really interesting people-watching. The whole seedy-Vegas-slot-machine thing is really disgusting, as is the way everyone is trying to take all your money all the time; I hate being around so many people who live off tips, it brings out greed and pettiness and just a nasty side of humanity; I'm pretty disgusted by the whole Disney-land aspect of the really fake casinos too. I like the old-school classy joints that don't really have much of a theme; even if they're starting to decay a little bit, that doesn't bug me, I don't really like things to be sparkling brand new. I'd like to go back some time in the summer when it's hot, so I can spend all day at a nice pool, and all night in dance clubs, and maybe hit the blackjack a tiny bit. I played some poker in Vegas, but playing ring games just isn't that much fun for me. It is a big thrill when you win a big pot, so it's fun to sit down and play enough to do that, you get a big adrenaline rush, your hands shake, etc. Proper poker in a casino is like work. I played some blackjack, and that was more fun; some of the tables were rotten boring, but on the last day we got a fun table, mainly we made it fun ourselves, and we were winning money and hooting and it was all good. After the trip I felt hung over and smokey and un-fit and drained. Time for a cleansing.

My grandpa died a little while ago, and now I get paid by his life insurance. It sucks. Every month I get a reminder in the mail that my grandpa is gone.

11/11/2003

11-11-03 - 1

11-11-03

What really sucks is being smart enough to realize how things should be done, but not skilled enough to actually do them that way.

11/06/2003

11-6-03 - 1

11-6-03

People think about what they deal with daily, not what they're interested in. I have lots of thoughts about games; I don't real give a rat's ass about games, but I have lots of great ideas for how to do them better. If I worked at a toaster factory, I'd be writing papers on how to improve toasters. I always chuckle when I see some guy who's got a patent on something like "method for vibrational damping of corn syrup injection in snack cakes".

11/05/2003

11-5-03 - 2

11-5-03

If someone tries to hang you : first, bend your knees, try to let your weight rest in the noose, don't support yourself with your legs. Death by hanging is caused by the sudden jerk breaking the neck, not strangulation. Now, when they kick out the chair or open the trap-door, you have already got your weight in the noose, and you should be able to ease into the hang. Try to get a big breath of air right before they do it. Now, make a strangling noise and twitch a bit, then twitch your fit, then be perfectly still and play dead. Hopefully now they'll assume you're dead and either A) cut you down, or B) leave. If they leave, pull yourself up the rope with your arms. Once you have some slack, wrap your left arm in the rope tightly so you can hang your weight on it without using your muscles. Pull the noose with your right arm to get some slack into it so you can slip out.

11-5-03 - 1

11-5-03

In all traditional media, you know where you are in the experience. With books, you can feel the number of pages before and after the current, with television, you know the duration and the current time, with movies you have the convention of the standard duration. This is a major part of our experience; if a mystery starts wrapping up and you know it's only half-way done, you know there's a big twist yet to come. If on the other hand you're near the end of a book and a mystery is wrapping up, you know it's the real wrap-up, and you commit yourself to it emotionally. Now, if someone suddenly hands you another book and says "surprise, there's a second volume!" you feel betrayed, bothered that the end was held in front of you and didn't come. This happens with movies that are longer than the conventional hour and a half. When the movie keeps giving false wrap-ups and then just keeps going, we feel emotionally strung along, and we just want it to be over already. With modern electronic media, we have the occasion now to provide variable length experiences and not let the consumer know where they are or how long the experience is. This is generally a bad thing, it's disorienting to the consumer. It can sometimes be used to artful purpose to convey a sense of being lost in the story, but almost always it's done without being aware of how important this idea of knowing your position in the experience is.

11/01/2003

11-2-03 - 1

11-2-03

I'm a rugby player now, on the local SLO Rugby team. It's Division III amateur, but they're pretty serious, they went to nationals last year and plan to do it again this year. I'm a winger; it's the perfect position for me, because I'm pretty fast, but small by rugby standards (180 lbs, a mere 81 kilos), and my passing isn't very good, so winger is ideal because I mainly just take the last pass and run. I had my first real game yesterday, an exhibition match against Cal Poly (their 2nd team) to start our season. I scored a try - pretty rare for a first game. It was a beautiful team try, I take no credit - we were near their goal line and our forwards were crashing in; their defense bunched up to stop our forwards, and our scrum-half kicked the ball out to the backs; our backs charged and passed the ball down the line at a nice angle, and I was last in line, took the ball at good pace with a burst and beat the last defender to the outside. Today I'm in great pain, I took a beating all over. The worst hit was when I got tackled right in my thigh by a guy diving into me; it's given me a horrendous "charlie horse", and my whole thigh (quadricep) is like one big knot, I can barely stand on it. I'm taking aspirin, icing it, heating it, stretching, massaging, etc. I need to get it rehabilitated quickly so I can get back to training. I need to run run run and work on my skills.

10/29/2003

10-30-03 - 2

10-30-03

I'd like to make an electronica album where every song sounds smooth either as a loop, or going into the next song. What that requires basically is that the boundary of every song is basically the same, some simple beat. the goal would be to do this without it feeling repetetive or forced. Then, you could put the album on shuffle and just listen to it forever and it would always sound totally smooth and be a different experience each time. Of course even better would be to have the album sort of generated and mixed and beat-matched on the fly on your PC.

10-30-03 - 1

10-30-03

Here's a new internet project - The Political Connection Machine, kind of like GNOD or something. Have a bot that scans the net and all kinds of public records and look for things like - people owning lots of stock in companies, meetings with CEO's, people who worked closely together in the past, companies who donated to various campaigns or lobbying groups, etc. then draw the connections and graph the beautiful spider web that comes out. The purpose is not for information, it's for art. The web of lines of different thicknesses would be beautiful.

10/27/2003

10-28-03 - 1

10-28-03

I was away for the weekend and made a beautiful connection with my family; it's helped me enormously to have had that experience, and if any of you are visiting my page, I thank you. It's wonderful to be around people who love you and you can really talk to about important things, not just everyday tedium. It's kind of hard to be back to work, but also exciting to come back to my home as a different person.

10/23/2003

10-23-03 - 2

10-23-03

I despise the Yankees. They just buy anyone they want; the team is full of veterans with the best post-season stats of anyone in sports; they have no character, no pluck, no team spirit, they don't play *fun*. Compare them to the Angels last year, or the Athletics, or the Twins or the Marlins - little teams on tiny budgets that bring up talent, play team ball, and find ways to win. Hurray for the underdog! ; addendum - Marlins win! Hurrah!

10-23-03 - 1

10-23-03

Most of us live our lives like a greedy search - that is, we make improvements every day when we can, but we try to only move towards short-term better lives. This is all well and good, but "life quality" is not a linear function, so there are severe local maxima where you get stuck; that is, you get to a spot in your life where it's pretty good, but not great, but then you can't make any changes, because any change would make your life worse; you don't want to give up a lot in order to make a big improvement. This happens in everything (jobs, friends, lovers, houses) - you get something pretty good, and you don't want to give it up because to be without for a while as you search for something better is just too unbearable. If you want to reach real maxima, you have to do the same things you do in computer science to improve the greedy search - 1) Simulated Annealing type searches - basically this means randomly trying some completely different things from time to time; as you try them, you pick the one that looks most promising; over time, you reduce the randomness; so, initially you're trying things that are just totally different, then over time your search should converge and you try things that are pretty close to the maximum you've found. 2) Genetic algorithms - you can treat all the other people in the world as other genotypes that are exploring this search space; then, the driver algorithm can examine the people with the highest quality of life; you then try to "cross" some of their properties and try again; often that cross has also already been tried for you, so you don't have to try them all yourself; basically this turns into following the example of people you think have succeeded in searching the space, and perhaps combining a few.

10/19/2003

10-19-03 - 3

10-19-03

The invasion of Iraq was completely ridiculous and unjustifiable. I've written about this a lot, so if you want more details, see below. This all feels a lot like the Kafka book, "The Trial". People all around me are debating whether the sky is purple or yellow. What!? How can you even debate such a thing!? It's absurd! Of course we weren't intervening for humanitarian reasons - we did nothing when Saddam was actually killing his people, we're doing nothing in Africa as Mugabe and others continue to kill. Of course we're not trying to stop terrorism - if we were we'd make a serious effort to make peace in Palestine (instead of quite intentionally dis-engaging the peace process). Of course Saddam was not a threat - we had no evidence that he even had weapons, much less that he was plotting to use them against America (and had a chance of doing so). It's just propesterous that the Bush administration is even taken seriously, they're such insulting lies, they treat the American public like the easily manipulated morons that they are. Of course, the Bush administration does this on countless issues; they're "helping the environment" by crippling the EPA, etc.. I imagine it almost like a dare; Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Card, etc. get together and have a laugh and say "what ridiculous farce are we going to pass off as incontrovertable fact this week?".

10-19-03 - 2

10-19-03

Politicians who do economic analysis are such dumb shits. They say Indian Casinos are good for an area, because those Casinos spend millions on roads, hire local workers, buy local services, etc. Hmm.. if a Casino spends $1 million locally, it probably took in $10 million in profit. That money is coming almost entirely from lower/middle class people who live locally. What if the casino wasn't there? The people would spend their money locally. So, with no Casino, you get $10 million of local spending. So, essentially by having a Casino, you're losing $9 million. Where's that money going? To the executives of the management company running the casino, to the bankers and investors that bank-roled it, etc.

Money should be looked at like a fluid. It flows, it doesn't come out of no where, and it doesn't just disappear. It comes from people and goes to people. What you want is money to flow from outside systems to local systems. Just generating a lot of activity and exchange of money is not inherently good. If I go to my neighbor and we trade money over and over, we're not improving the economy or anyone's lives at all. When you do something like bring a Casino to town, all you're doing is creating a spigot, an outlet for the money fluid to flow to these mega-rich who operate the Casino. It's important to note here that I'm talking about Indian Casinos which draw primarily from local people, not Resort Casinos like Las Vegas which are tourist attractions and cause money to flow into the state.

Money flow and systems acts as a sort of "screw your neighbor". When you open an Indian Casino, you do create a little local flow from the neighboring community into the immediate area around the Casino. If you look at the system within a 100 mile radius, there's a net loss, as I detailed above, but the small area around the Casino gets a net bonus. Because much of politics is very selfish and small-time, we get these "net loss / local win" propositions all the time.

10-19-03 - 1

10-19-03

I've got a new LCD monitor for home; it's a Planar PX191. I've got two 22" CRT's at work, and the result is that I'm pissed off at both monitors. After looking at an LCD, the CRT's look incredibly blurry, so much so that my eyes feel strange when I look at them (CRT's are the reason I have to wear glasses). On the other hand, the LCD refresh rate is annoying (40 fps) after being used to CRTs, especially with scrolling text (like just doing "dir" in a big directory). LCDs are worthless for games. I was told that CRT's still have better brightness and contrast, but the LCD seems to have *way* more of both than any CRT I've ever had. The damn thing is sharp and bright. mush.

I'm running my LCD vertical now, rotated 90 degrees, at 1024x1280. It's quite excellent; it's wide enough to fit any reasonable line of text, and it gives me a lot more lines on the page. I'm using it for coding, and it's perfect, I get to see lots of lines, it's plenty wide, all good. I'm surprised I've never seen it before, and it makes me realize how silly the 4:3 aspect ratio is. We've just stuck to it for no particular reason all these years. I'd love to have two vertical LCD's side by side. That would be the bomb.

One funny thing about LCD's is how it brings out all the quirks in Windows and the GUI. Any drawing that's not anti-aliased stands out like a sore thumb. Any refresh that's not double-buffered flashes like mad. There's also tons of funny stipple in windows, lots of shading that's alternative on/off pixels. On a CRT, that just looks like half-toning, but on an LCD, it has texture, you actually see the on/off pixels.

10/17/2003

10-17-03 - 1

10-17-03

This is some of the best beer in the world - Affligem

10/16/2003

10-16-03 - 3

10-16-03

It's crazy to me how far ahead the Amiga was back in the day. I long for its sweet fast GUI - instant full-window drags, never a slow refresh, on a 7 MHz CPU for gods sakes! On my 3 GHZ CPU in a damn win-tel box I can see my screen flicker and my icons refresh one by one and windows struggles to draw them. Apps started up blazing fast on my poor Amy, which had 512K of RAM, and a CPU almost 1000 times slower!! The Amy's GUI (BOOPSI) architecture was sweet and fast and extensible; the task-swapping and multi-threading was awesome, unmatched in any OS; the task-swap was literally like 10 clocks, totally pre-emptive. Well written apps would never ever have a GUI stall. The extensive device layer was just awesome; you could map virtual named drives to any location or function, such as COM: , LPT:, HTTP: , XPK: (a compressor), RAM: (a ram disk), etc. Funny people even made SCREEN: devices so you could copy files to the screen, etc. The Amy Screen system was rocking; it let you run multiple apps *in different video modes* simultaneously - and let you instantly switch between them, and even see multiple of them at much!! This was faccilitated by the Copper GPU which was able to switch video modes during a horizontal sync, so you could have totally separate screens across horizontal break lines. I miss programming for the sweet little Amy; I knew her elegant OS and loved it; I wanted to memorize the RKRM (ROM Kernel Reference Manual) and be a master of the many co-pro's. It's too bad I was so young then, I would have loved to work on games on the Amy, it would have been a fun time of simplicity, low-to-the-bone, groovy goodness.

Which reminds me of a huge software engineering rant - for fucks sake, all you bad bad programmers : your GUI should be on a thread, and it should be very high priority; it should just process clicks and run the basic GUI functions; your GUI should *always* be blazing fast and responsive, even if you're doing some major computation or IO or whatever in the background.

10-16-03 - 2

10-16-03

I think my kitties have poision oak on their fur, I'm scared to pet them. They're going crazy cuz they want love so bad, but I don't want to touch them. I need to bathe them, but man is that a tough ordeal. Bathing cats is something you need a partner to do, and it thoroughly tests your rapore with each other - you must be in sync, work well as a team, give & take orders, be strong, sacrifice yourself for the good of the two, etc.

10-16-03 - 1

10-16-03

My letter to the NYT from a few weeks ago:

The October 4 editorial "Sound-Biting the Deficit" suggests that Tom DeLay and the Republican Congress are engaging in disingenuous politicking by simultaneously pushing for tax cuts and a balanced budget amendment. The reality may be far more sinister : if a balanced budget amendment were passed and the Bush tax cuts were made permanent (as the president is advocating), Congress would be constitutionally required to severely cut government programs. This would provide the excuse to dismantle Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security which "starve the beast" Republicans dream of. Unfortunately, "balanced budget" and "low taxes" are both phrases which the average American voter seems unable to resist.

10/05/2003

10-5-03 - 1

10-5-03

In order to be a famous sports player, you can't be too workman-like. If you just dominate and give your team big leads and win games, you will be celebrated, but you won't be a thing of legend. The real legends are inconsistent, emotional, fickle, they don't put in their best effort until the last minute and then they save the day. These guys lead their teams to great comebacks, and that's what people remember. Nobody tells stories of the game when you were in the lead the whole time - they want stories of amazing last-minute comebacks. They way you do that is by first screwing up. This is why John Elway and Brett Favre are celebrated quarterbacks - they both kind of suck, they throw lots of picks early in the game and usually start badly, but they have a well of reserves of great play that they can turn on at the last minute and run the "two minute drill" beautifully.

The same is true of employees. If you just go to work every day and do a good job, management doesn't notice you. If, on the other hand, you thoroughly screw things up and then put in an amazing effort to save things, you're a big hero. This isn't so much a fault of management as it is the fact that people who do unusual things get noticed more than poor shlubs who just do their best and don't stand out.

10/02/2003

10-2-03 - 1

10-2-03

Parenting is tricky. Not all the silly logistic crap that comedians talk about, but the way you are psychologically sculpting another human being. So many of your little actions can have profound affects on your child's whole life. You come home from work, you're tired, you just want some peace, your daughter tries to show you a drawing she made, and you yell at her and tell her to get out of the room. Uh oh, she's shy and insecure for life.

One tough issue is what to do with kids who don't want to do anything. Most kids are too "cool" for lots of activities. The question then is whether to let them do nothing or to force them to go to soccer practice, piano lessons, whatever. Often if you force them it will make them hate that activity just because they were being made to do it.

Another tough issue is how to react to your child's success. Obviously you want to encourage success, applaud them when they get good grades, etc. but it's very easy for this to be interpretted by the child as "you're only loved when you do well". This leads to obsessive perfectionism. Much of parenting seems like a tricky tight-rope walk : make your child feel like they're the center of the world - but not too much!! Of course, it's not that hard if you just truly love and respect your child and treat them as another human being, and if you treat all people well, but such parents do not exist.

People who molest children or look at child pornography, I just can't understand at all. They must have some missing circuit that disconnects how their actions affect others. I mean, think of how they're fucking up that child - how could they do that to another human being? I suppose the same is true for rapists - there's just some depraved indifference to how your actions are ruining someone else, or perhaps even an intentional desire to fuck up someone else's life. The scary thing is that if you add up the child molestors and child pornographers and rapists (including "date rape"), you have *at least* 10% of the male population. This is not some crazy fringe, they're your neighbors and coworkers.

9/30/2003

9-30-03 - 1

9-30-03

How in the fuck can you look me in the eye and tell me that marijuana should be illegal, but guns should be legal? Oh yes, it might be good fun for you to blow away deer with your 50-caliber, or shoot at beer cans with your semi-automatic, but guns are fucking deadly weapons, unlike marijuana which never hurt anybody. This one just amazes me. Oh yes, marijuana leads to violence and drug dealers - um, guess what, guns lead to violence and deaths, directly! Get a fucking clue, America!


My kitty Potemkin is so sweet and nice, but he's kind of clumsy. He also rather smells, he needs a bath now but he always gets kind of stinky for a cat. He gets freaked out easily and jumps away from me and claws me. The result is that I don't really like him to sit on my lap. I also have a kitty Kaya who I usually call Little One, who is graceful and beautiful and I love him to sit with me. Poor Potemkin, I know he has a good heart, but I'd rather spend my little bit of time with the spritely and charming Kaya.

If this was a poem and not a web rant, the metaphor wouldn't need to be pointed out.


We should go back to a terminal model for notebooks. I want a powerful desktop at home and at work, and a little terminal notebook on WiFi that can talk to both to them. It could have a medium sized disk and no peripherals, just a good screen, decent CPU and RAM. It's mainly a data transfer box and a way to be able to type text & code while sitting on the couch or whatever. They could sell for like $600 with a pretty good 15" TFT LCD.

9/25/2003

9-25-03 - 1

9-25-03

The conservative anti-tax crusade is destroying America. It sure feels like a vast conspiracy. They're lying to and mis-leading the American public about the way government spends and the ability to cut. The people (being badly educated by under-funded public education systems) are easily fooled into thinking "taxes bad, money good". The result is the starvation of government, which will cause it to horrendously implode. Seriously, this is not about "cutting fat" - you cannot make up $1 trillion by cutting fat - you have cut real services, like education, welfare, social security, medicare. The vast majority of these are services which help the less-fortunate to survive and improve in life. Instead, these people are going to be forced into a service class.

Which leads to be a big problem I see - America is headed for the shitter. Our government is going to shit, which means our education system is going to shit. America is the most productive economy in the world because of education. Our education system has led to the internet boom, telecom, genetics, etc. etc. Furthermore, people in mid-level jobs, like technicians, engineers, etc. are being forced out of the middle class, no longer able to buy homes, send their children to college, etc. Already things like low-level computer programming jobs are moving out of this country. All these middle-range jobs will be gone, because it's too expensive to do them here, they'll be done in the up & coming countries of the world. America will shift to a work-force of ultra-wealthy high end managers (who are usually managing a work-force that's primarily overseas), and another segment that is below the poverty line, doing the gardening and cooking and service work to maintain the high end. Sure, there will be a small middle segment of people who entertain the high end, but the vast skilled middle of manufacturing and production and technology will be gone. Eventually this will destroy America's entreprenuerial pool as well. People who have good ideas and make startups come from the middle segment; entrepreneurs are by definition people who haven't run a company before, people who aren't yet in the upper echelon, who got skilled by actually working in some field and now are starting a company from that skill. In the future these mid-level skilled people will be in India, China, Korea, etc. not America.

How could we prevent this? I'm not sure if we can. With the massive misleading and ambivalence of the American public, the callow puppet masters will have their way. It's not even clear what the solution is. Clearly we need to keep a strong support system in place, we must shore up education, make it the best education system in the world; offer cheap college to anyone who gets good grades, offer small classes and adequate funding in public schools, etc.

Medicare and Social Security are very hard problems. Clearly the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are raping the American tax-payer, and our government is protecting them. All over the world, governments are trying to force our pharma companies to sell their drugs for only small profits, and our government is viciously defending them by doing things like cutting off funding to organizations that demand reasonable prices for drugs. Social Security may be even worse. Life expectancy keeps going up, and birth rate is going down. We will have more and more non-working old people that can't support themselves. Due to our morality code, we won't just let them die, so we'll spend a fortune keeping them alive to 100, 120, 150. Japan will face this crisis well before us; by 2020 their population will be 50% non-working elderly. This is a major world-wide disaster for the developed nations, and clearly can't be sustained. Medical advances that prolong life are a big disaster. The elderly do clearly have more discretionary money than they need. Social Security should be cut down to a minimum. A lot of semi-intelligent people say "look at all the money in social security - if that was invested properly it would return a huge amount!". Um, no. The first problem with that is that the payout to the elderly is *much* bigger than the interest earnable on the principle; thus the money we pay to social security cannot go into savings to accrue interest, it must go directly to paying current recipients of social security. The second problem is that the # of recipients of social security is growing faster than the number of payers. Thus the drain on the balance is ever growing, and there's no way you could invest it and pay off the needs from interest. The money paid into social security simply cannot sit long enough to be invested and accrue any interest.

9/21/2003

9-21-03 - 4

9-21-03

Terrel Owens is severly over-rated. He's okay, but he's a mediocre to poor catcher. People are blown away by his Adonis-like physique, and they forget how often he drops easy passes. There are a lot of better receivers, like Marvis Harrison of the Colts and Eric Moulds of the Bills. Randy Moss is similarly over-rated. So are all the "physical" quarterbacks - Daunte Cullpepper, Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick, etc.

9-21-03 - 3

9-21-03

I think there's a very easy way to make money betting on sports - bet the spread, and always bet against the team in the major market or with the biggest stars. These teams are over-rated and over-bet, so all you have to do is bet against them on the spread. Their team may win the game, but you win the spread. This works because of the principles I outlined earlier in these rants. If you do this, you should bet near the end of the week, after the common man has had a chance to influence the line. The only problem with this is the "rake" or "vig" that the house takes, which will destroy your margin.

9-21-03 - 2

9-21-03

I've never met anyone who thinks about money wisely in their daily life. They conserve money foolishly and spend it ridiculously. For example, people consider paying $20 to join our Poker game too much. But is it? You'll play for 4-5 hours, and you do have some chance of winning. For a good player, that actually makes the game free, because you win often enough that your average cost is $0, but the silly people still see it as "costing $20". Even for a bad player, maybe it costs $15. That's $15 for several hours of fun, much cheaper than buying a video game, for example. People will buy cheap products that are a little cheaper, but much lower quality, like poor meat, store brand Macaroni & Cheese, generic tires for their car, etc. All the savings from that add up to like $500/yr and make a big difference in quality of life. On the other hand, they go out a lot and get glasses of wine at restaurants for $7/glass, when you can get a whole bottle for $4 ! Again, that would be fine if you're doing it because you really enjoy the experience, but you do have to realize it's a big cost and that's a huge chunk of your entertainment budget.

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make is spending a lot of time to make very little or save very little. For example, people will spend weeks shopping around trying to find the best price on a TV. In the end they might save $100 because of this. But they spent 10 hours looking at all the different stores! That means they only saved $10/hour, which is good if they're making minimum wage, but if your salary is much more than that, you're wasting time. This becomes especially pointed once your salary is very high. For example, an execute making $100/hour or more should do almost nothing to save money outside of work. All you should do is work or enjoy yourself. You should not mow your own lawn, clip coupons, shop around, etc. (unless you enjoy those things). If you feel up to doing some work to make some money, you should work for your job. At some point you shouldn't even drive yourself to work, you should get a driver and a laptop and work on your commute (again, unless you enjoy the drive).

There's an awesome Smith's song about the death of a pop star, and how the record company releases compilation albums as soon as he dies, and how they have a party and are so glad he's dead -- I think of this as I see all the Johnny Cash albums come out. Damn, I can't remember the name of the song!

9-21-03 - 1

9-21-03

I have a big problem with the Jewish establishment. I'm sure I'll be lambasted as being "anti-semitic" for saying that, and that's exactly my problem. The Jewish establishment has become the most defensive reactionary group in the world these days. If you say anything criticizing the practice of Jews, Zionists, or Israel, you are an "anti-semite" and it's defamatory and it must be stopped. One recent strong example of this was when Harvard's President, Larry Summers, criticized several of his professors for supporting Palestine. Many Jews believe that any support of "Political Islam" is a form of anti-semitism. This is ridiculous and reactionary. Jews will deny that there is a massive Jewish control network, but of course there is! They claim that the idea that "Jews run Hollywood" or "Jews run Wall Street" is ridiculous, but again - of course they do! Not so much anymore, but they still have influence far beyond their numbers. Jews largely started Hollywood and Wall Street and still have huge influence and power there. Furthermore, Jews have massive influence on the American government, as evidenced by our extremely friendly support of Israel, beyond anything that's politically reasonable. Jews also are in extreme positions of power in the major liberal media outlets, which leads to very little anti-Israel news getting out (and if it did, a huge outcry of anti-semitism would shut it down). The "anti-semitism" card is worse now than the sexist or racist card was a few years ago, it's the remaining tool of extreme political-correctness, one that they take incredible seriously. Now, of course I believe that real anti-semitism is horrible, just like real racism, real sexism, etc. but anti-Zionism or anti-Israeli dialog is NOT anti-semitism. I can think that the political actions of Israel are horrible without having anything against Judaism. Now, what about Mel Gibson's movie? He's being attacked as an anti-semite for portraying Jews capturing and killing Jesus Christ. This is somewhat complicated because it seems Mel Gibson actually is an anti-semite who should rightly be dragged through the mud. *However* so far as I can tell, there's nothing anti-semitic about his movie, he's simply showing the facts - the Jews did (with the Romans) capture and kill Jesus Christ, they considered him a heretic. Even prior to Gibson flying off the handle he was being lambasted as anti-semitic for showing the facts. That's ridiculous. The same thing happens when someone writes an article about the Israeli government firing on Palestinian children, bull-dozing apartment complexes, driving the Palestinians into poverty, enforcing curfews, treating the Palestinians just like Jews in a Ghetto. Those are just the facts, but it creates a wave of cries of "anti-semite", just like cries of "communist!" or "witch!".

9/20/2003

9-20-03 - 2

9-20-03

I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday, so I'm stuck just moping around the house. I watched all 3 Godfather movies (for the first time). The first two are good, if a little slow and sappy. Coppola makes better wine than movies. Anyway, it's really funny to watch Al Pacino change between the first two movies and the third. In the first two, his character is pretty quiet, reserved, and Pacino shows a variety of emotions. By the time the third movie was filmed, Pacino was becoming his "hoo-ha" character, always bellowing, always over-acting. Pacino's bellowing gesticulating self was good in the Dick Tracy movie. I kept imagining that while watching Godfather III. Sofia Coppola was horrendous in GF3 and now she's way over-rated as a director (Virgin Suicides was pretentious crap).

9-20-03 - 1

9-20-03

Fucking BlockBuster. Every time I go there they screw me over and I swear I'll never go back, then I have to go back for something and they screw me again. The biggest screw was in Houston one time I rented some movies and then returned them to a different BlockBuster location by accident. I didn't realize what had happened until the first location sent me a bill for like $150.00 for lost movies. I called over and over and waited on hold and cursed and they gave me all this shit about how they couldn't track the movies at the other location, etc; eventually, it got straightened out.

I can't stand TV news. On all channels it's dominated by media talking heads making predictions about things they don't know. Show me journalists talking about the recent *past* , not the *future* so they can actually give me facts which I can learn from !!

Did President Bush lie about the case for invading Iraq? Of course! The administration all along wanted to topple Saddam Hussein, wanted to establish a base in the Middle East, etc. It had nothing to do with the war on terror on weapons of mass destruction. I just cannot fucking believe that this is even a matter of debate. There were these reported "links to Al Qaeda" that Bush quoted which the administration had to admit were backed by little to no evidence. Furthermore, if we really cared about Al Qaeda, we'd be doing more work in Afghanistan & Pakistan!! In reality we don't *want* to catch Osama bin Laden, because if we did catch him the public's support for the Bush war games would die down. The other reason for invading Iraq was these Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now, first of all, the evidence for them was very weak, second they weas no evidence they were an impending threat to the US, third, there are countless more dangerous countries with worse weapons, fourth, *we* gave them those weapons, fifth, even if all of what the administration said was true, that still doesn't give us the right to invade a sovereign power and take out their government without the support of the international security. Now, about these WMD's. Yes, I believe that the CIA had some hints that Saddam had them. But what did Bush say? He said that Iraq *HAS* WMD's, not "We have some possibly correct intelligence which loosely links Saddam to WMD's". Just as a topic for you to consider, recall that in the days before 9/11 the CIA was seeing a lot of intelligence indicating that there would be a massive terrorist attack using commercial airliners. This intelligence was not acted upon because there was not sufficient evidence indicating that it was accurate, and the CIA said something like "we receive lots of information about terrorist attacks, and very little of it is accurate, so we can't create hysteria over every bit of 'chatter' we see". So, based on chatter we can't protect our country, but we can invade Iraq. Draw your own conclusions.

9/07/2003

9-07-03 - 3

9-07-03

Charles Shaw is the wine for the semi-intelligent; the thing that really gets me about it is people who drink it think they're so clever. Hey, don't be insulted, that's better than most of the world, which isn't even doing as well as you. Charles Shaw costs $1.99/bottle and tastes very plain, no bite, no complexity, no depth, but drinkable. Good for sangria. Certainly some uses of it are good - sangria, big parties, stuff like that. For most purposes - why would you drink $1.99 wine when you can get quite excellent wine for $3.99 or $4.99 ? Those two dollars are just not a very good savings. Now some people have learned that Charles Shaw is made by Franzia, and they've stopped liking it. Yes, of course that kind of information changes the taste; expensive wine tastes better if you know it's expensive. Side information like that really does affect the senses, it's a complicated thing; art looks better if you know it's made by a famous artist, etc. Anyway, the Franzia thing should be no surprise, most of the wine in the world is made by a few mega-corporations which just put different labels and prices on their product; the major wine groups make everything from box wine to $100/bottle stuff, but they try their damndest to hide it. Go get yourself a bottle of the Bear's Lair Cabernet at Trader Joe's for $3.99 or a bottle of anything by Montes (I think they're Argentinian) for $4.99 at "Cost Plus" aka "World Market". There's no reason to ever spend more than $8.99 on a bottle of wine if you're not a real connosieur. "connosieur" is French for "one who knows". And it's "know" in the "experience of the world" sense, not the "book-knowledge logical reasoning" sense.

9-07-03 - 2

9-07-03

I want a combined I-pod/cell phone/Palm/digital camera/voice recorder ; I want all of them to be quality and I want the whole thing to about the size of a deck of cards. I bought a Pentax Optio-S digital camera; it's 3.2 mega-pixels, smaller than a deck of cards, pretty nifty, easy to take everywhere. Carrying it and a cell phone is too much, though, I can only handle one or the other. Seems to me this combined device shouldn't be very hard. The big parts are : LCD screen, Hard disk, lens, CCD, cell antenna, chips. The storage for all the devices can just be the disk, they can all use the same CPU and the same LCD; you should really be able to make the combined device about the same size as an I-Pod, since big hard-disks already exist that are much smaller than the one in the I-Pod. I think it could be sold for about $600.

Followup - this is a start in the right direction - Motorola A920

9-07-03 - 1

9-07-03

I want to offer love and greetings and kindness to the world.

On that note, people who scream or honk at bicyclists from their cars should be killed. I want to tie them up and beat them with a household hammer until each and every one of their bones is nothing but splinters. Die in pain, you bastards.

I used to think most people were inherently shit, and fuck 'em, I don't have time for them, I was going to be one of the greatest physicists who ever lived, I didn't have time for them. My opinion of others hasn't really changed, but my opinion of myself has gone straight down the toilet, putting us more on the level, and even aside from that I want to offer smiles and friendliness to people, not scowls and coldness.

I wish Tivo had a 5-second skip. I would skip through the boring bits of shows; 5 seconds is a very long time to be bored.

9/04/2003

9-04-03 - 1

9-04-03

Still sick; drinking Robitussin (they have so many varieties now it's hard too choose! I just want the red liquid stuff!). My head is all loopy and I can't work, so I'll just ramble to the web. I miss the connection and people of Burning Man, the generosity and compassion and connection. Maybe all you wise web readers out there can help me find similar worlds? I want places where people are rewarded for being themselves and giving what they have to offer, not mocked, where people laugh together, without sarcasm. Even Burning Man didn't completely live up to that ideal, but I'm sure there are small conclaves where it is true, if even just briefly.

9/03/2003

9-03-03 - 2

9-03-03

(preamble : I know you're going to think this rant is related to my recent Burning Man trip, but it's not, it's actually a thought I've had for a long time and have expressed verbally before).

I enjoy doing various drugs ocassionally, but not in a habitual way; I like them as a perception-altering device, something that makes you experience the world in a different way. I'm very sensitive to this type of thing, even little feelings like unusual temperatures can alter my senses and give me a very different view of the world. Things like looking through binoculars, or seeing the world from a moving car or train - these things change and heighten my perceptions in a powerful way, which helps me see new things or experience new things in the world. Mind-altering drugs are particularly great because they make you *behave* differently than you normally would, which leads to different experiences and a broadening of your life. I'm not interested in permanently changing my experience of the world, I see these things as vacations from my ordinary life, which change you when you get back. Going to an exotic place has a lot of the same effect, you behave differently, see new things, and when you get back to ordinary life, you're changed because of it. I contrast this to the way most people use alcohol or nicotine or cannabis, which is just to enhance their experience of their ordinary life, to make it more pleasant, more bearable; they don't really learn anything or experience anything new because of it. That's ok too, it's just a very different thing.

9-03-03 - 1

9-03-03

I'm just back from Burning Man (and the several-day trance that followed). It was incredible. I won't write about it here.

Does our personality come from our genes or our environment? Are you a bastard because of your genetics or your parents? The funny thing about this debate is that your *self* is left entirely out of it; is there really any self, though? So, maybe you're a bastard because you choose not to think about your own actions? Why do you choose that? Because you want short-term pleasure, not work for the long-term. Why do you want that? Because your low-level pleasure responses are stronger than your will-power? Why is that? genetics or environment. This argument of reduction of the mental picture is an easy way to remove the "self" from responsibility.

8/20/2003

8-20-03 - 2

8-20-03

Thoughts on the Atkins diet - first of all, I think it's ridiculous the way everyone in America is dieting these days. I've been working out and watching my diet since I was 15, about ten years now; at first I was kind of out of place; I'd go to an aunt's for dinner and they'd make some cheesy butter-drenched thing that I would just hate to have to eat. These days when I go to an aunt's they're serving low-fat ice cream, low-carb cookies, and all manner of ridiculous food. Which brings me to another rant - if you want to eat healthy food, eat grilled fish, eat vegetables, eat natural delicious good food, don't eat chemical bizarre artificial "healthy" versions of unhealthy foods! don't eat low-carb cakes for desert and low-fat soy bacon for breakfast, have yogurt for desert and ham for breakfast!

Ok, back to Atkins. I think Atkins is a little nuts and perhaps unhealthy, but to some extent it does work. Why?

  • It's certainly true that refined sugar is very bad for you. It gives you a brief rush, then an energy crash, which makes you crave more sugar. If you don't work out very hard after having it, it's just turned into fat. It also puts your body in a metabolic (storing energy) rather than anabolic (using energy) mode.

  • It's also true that eating a lot of carbs is probably bad for you. Something like a big plate of pasta has a lot of calories in all that flour without a lot of nutrients or protein or anything else. It also provides a ton of medium-term energy which is great if you're running a marathon the next day, but not good if you're going to sit on your ass at work like most of us.

  • It's also true that fat makes you feel full, while carbs don't. Often after a dinner of carbs you'll keep snacking, while if you have a reasonable amount of fat (such as you would get from a steak or salmon), you won't.

  • I think a lot of why Atkins works for many people is incidental. That is, most people who are over-weight do a lot of snacking, and the vast majority of unhealthy snacking is on carbs - chips, cookies, sweets, bagels, etc. So, obviously if you forbid carbs, you forbid those foods, you forbid all that snacking. Thus Atkins isn't working for any magic reason, it's working because you've cut the favorite foods of all these people.

  • Another incidental issue is just that food without carbs gets kind of boring. Now I'm the first person to advocate the joys of simple grilled meats, fish, fowl, steamed veggies, etc., but if that's all you can eat every day, it gets boring, and you're not going to be too excited about eating lots of it. If you add carbs to your choices, there are a multitude of tasty goodies to temp your taste buds and entice you into eating more than you should.

  • A related issue is that it's hard to eat a ton of calories really fast without carbs. It's pretty easy to eat 1000 calories in less than half an hour if you allow carbs (start with bread, have a plate of pasta, chase with cake and ice cream). In fact, people do it all the time. You don't even feel full until you're done. Without processed starches and sugars it's hard to have such concentrated calories that you can get so quickly, so you're more likely to take enough time to feel full by the time you're over-eating like that.

  • Now, is Atkins actually a good idea? I really don't think so, but I don't have strong evidence for that. Certainly if you do go Atkins, I highly recommend a large amount of vegetables to supplement all the meat. I strongly believe in moderation when it comes to diets, and Atkins just seems too extreme. Certainly if you can't stick to it and you "fall off the wagon" from time to time, then it's not right for you. All that said, I am eating a low-carb diet these days, thought I've not cut carbs. I believe cutting processed sugar and white-flour products is far more important than cutting things like whole-wheat products.

  • The stuff Atkins says about fat being fine is a load of BS. Bacon is not healthy. Calories of any kind are going to make you fat, and animal fat is full of calories. Sure, a moderate amount of fat is not only ok, it's necessary. For men, you need about 25g of fat a day for proper testosterone production (that's why vegetarians turn into wusses: not enough fat (I'm joking)); for women, you need some fat for the soft layer under your skin, for your breasts and butt, and for proper hormone balance; hard-exercising women know how their menstrual cycle can be screwed up, that's because of hormone production going out of whack due to fatty acid defficiency.

8-20-03 - 1

8-20-03

I think the new Mac G5 is a design disaster. Yes, it's fast, but it looks like a PC, which is destroying Apple's cool branding and image which they had established with the iMac and G4 Cube and such. Update - Greg G says Apple is not going for the consumer market here, they're going for the server market, so they intentionally want the machine to look "professional" and "industrial" and all that; maybe, I still don't like it.


Tom Green is at times like a new Andy Kaufman (at other times he's just a moron, but let's not talk about that). At his best, he's making fun of his audience and the people he's interviewing. Sometimes he'll interview really trivial celebrities and just point out to them how lame what they're plugging is and make them so uncomfortable, totally ruin the flow of an interview. One of his best schticks is to do something odd or wacky, and then do it again, and again, and again, and again, the audience laughs a bit at first, then again, then the laughter peters out, and they're silent as Tom does it again and again; the audience gets uncomfortable becuse they're not sure if they're being made fun of or if this is supposed to be funny or what. Just when they're on the border of walking out, Tom will stop.


I have a real moral quandry with girls. I've always been disgusted by the objectification of girls; so many of the married men I know just talk about girls all the time, how hot Britney Spears is, etc; all these 40 year old men watching girls their daughters' age "go wild". That stuff turns my stomach. At the same time though, the attraction of the female body affects me strongly; I think in this the difference is a bit of class and discretion. If you're a married man, you shouldn't blatantly stare as the young girls walk by, and you shouldn't talk about it to the guys; it is ok if you sneak a bit of a peak, though.

The bigger issue I've had lately is that I've been going out to the bars more; I've never really enjoyed the pick-up scene, and I've never had a "one night stand" in my life, not that I'm morally opposed to any of that, I just find it kind of disgusting, like watching "Elimidate" or one of those shows - the desperation and the manipulation just turn me off. Actually, I am morally opposed to doing things like taking home girls who are really drunk and hardly know what's going on and certainly can't resist. There's this pattern that most people go through in a night out with the bars, it goes something like this -

Early on, the groups of girls sit together and talk; the guys sit together and ogle them. Ocassionally at this point there are some forays across the breach, but usually the girls turn them back with some BS about "I'm just out with my friends"; of course what they really want is hot loving, but at this point they still are trying to be proper and not do what they really want. Everyone drinks. As it gets later, people drink and start to get crazy, the girls become exhbitionists, they want to be oggled now; the same stares they would have complained about during the day are exactly what they crave now; more than anything they want to be wanted, they want to be admired by lots of men. As it gets close to 2 (or whatever time last-call is) everyone starts to think about going home, and the people who came out to hook up don't want to go home alone. At this point the bar becomes kind of like a game of musical chairs - everyone wants to pair up so they're not left as the odd man out. Now, the girls and guys will hook up with people they would have called "dogs" to their friends earlier. Some of the pairing up here is done not because they really want to, but more because they don't want to be seen to "fail" and go home alone. Generally these people have nothing in common, usually the sex is poor (drunk sex is never good), and they don't speak to each other again. The guys feel happy afterward, proud that they succeeded in their conquest, and they want to brag about it, and their guy friends feel jealous. I don't really know how girls feel after one of these nights, I've never had an honest conversation with a girl about these things. The most disgusting thing about this all is that the guys who are experts at the pick-up/one-night thing tend to be real scum-bags. They manipulate and lie; I've known many guys who say "the secret is just to lie, lie, and lie some more"; they tend to think of girls are brainless physical objects, and just say horrible things about them and totally degrade them.

Anyway, the quandry I'm faced with is this - given that I find all this repulsive, I also find it attractive. Sure, it's a desparate meat market, but sex is great and I like to meet girls. It's a very fine line to walk, being in that world without letting your mind think terrible demeaning thoughts; I know it's not a healthy emotional environment, I wish it could be. I like to meet girls when we're both sober, it's a much better experience, but the vast majority of people won't act on their impluses unless they're inebriated; everyone dreams of just throwing caution to the wind and running away with a stranger, but faced with the chance, I have yet to meet someone who will actually do it. Part of my problem with going out is I don't know any/many guys who are womanizers but also respect women; I think that's the fine line that I try to walk - I love women, their bodies, their emotional sides, conversation, etcetera, but I also respect them and treat them as human beings, and there are actually very few people that do both. I really think that in some ways women bring the "macho man" upon themselves; guys don't naturally want to be that way, it's an act that they very consciously put on in order to hook up with girls, and the reason they do it is because it works, many girls really do go for the thing they always say they hate. The girls that don't go for the macho man are incredibly difficult to pick up in a bar, so their opinion doesn't really affect the sample. If you only consider the subset of girls which are likely to go home with you, 90% of them will go for the arrogant-demeaning-macho-bastard act.

I wonder if all the dating and reality shows on TV are contributing to the downfall of civilization? They make you feel rotten and take your mind to a place where all sorts of disgusting behavior are acceptable.


I'm thinking about buying a new car or motorcycle; I don't really need one, but I figure my youth is on the way out, and I should get a toy while I can still enjoy it, rather than waiting for my mid-life crisis; or maybe I'm just having an early mid-life crisis now? I have always done things early in my life, coding at 9, college at 15, grey hair at 22, mid-life crisis at 26, makes sense. I'll probably be in depends when I'm 30.

Anyway, the primary car under consideration is the BMW M Roadster, probably a 2000 model. If I get a motorcycle, it would be a pretty cheap cruiser, maybe something like a Japanese 800cc V-twin, used. If I get the car, I'd sell my Prelude (SH, 99). I suppose I could always do both. The M Roadster would cut into my savings quite a bit; it would cost about $15k to upgrade from the Prelude to the Roadster, which is something like 6 months of decent living without working. That's a lot of money to spend on a toy, but of course I just spent $400 on one night in LA, and could easily spend $3000 on a new computer.

8/10/2003

8-10-03 - 1

8-10-03

My oven exploded again. Every time I cook Italian sausage in wine (the only way to do it), the alcohol in the wine explodes in my oven. The first time I did it, it burned off my eye lashes. I wonder if this is common or am I doing something wrong? Maybe I shouldn't keep the lid on the pot? Update - Mama Muratori gave me some great tips; to prevent explosions, just cook on the stove-stop in a dutch oven, so the alcohol fumes can escape. She also gave me some nice recipes, the core of which is to saute' the sausage a bit first with some savories like garlic and onion before boiling in wine.


The internet is the core of computing these days. It's still woefully under-used. I want to know a good restaurant near the Bicycle Casino - how do I find that on the internet? It's a big mess. Only the most crafty of computer users (like myself and most readers of my site) can build up a repertoire of search techniques that can answer their queries; the average shlub has no hope of navigating the mess of information that is the net.

So, some ideas of how to make this better. The key is a big database of side-data which has information associated with a user id and a web site. So, for example, I would log into the net, and then there would be various queries of this database. Some examples -

Comments on web sites. At every web site, you would have a side-bar. You would be able to rate the site, and that would go into the database; you could also comment on it, ideally even insert comments ala Wiki. You would also be shown several comments. You would be shown the comments of the people that you had most highly rated (more on this later), plus a few more random ones. These comments could for example, include things like "this site sucks, use one instead".

Crucial to all this is the "network of trust". You rate other users, just by adding your friends, or by putting approvals on other peoples' comments. This way the database builds up a network, of "who do I trust", then indirectly "who do they trust", and "who do they trust twice removed", etc. Then, you can do searches like "show me a website on bicycles which is approved by someone I trust (directly or indirectly)". Obviously the strength of trust goes down by the indirection of the relationship. You could even get into "similar-taste networks" on specific topics, like so you could find web-sites on music that are highly-rated by people who you agree with *on music*. That way your trust network could be different by topic.

Then you can add nice little UI things, like whenever you go to a site, you get some links in your side-bar which are related recommended sites that your "friends" approved. You can also just play around and navigate your friends recommendations in ways like GNOD

7/03/2003

7-03-03 - 1

7-03-03

I want a silent PC. It should have no fan, but lots of power, and a smoking hot graphics card. I want it to have a giant heat-sink coming out the top of it, like soft coral ( particularly, a sea fan ). I want to be a "bespoke" manufacturer.

7/01/2003

7-01-03 - 1

7-01-03

Lisa Germano's album Slide is great. It sold 6,000 copies. I have one.
http://www.nudeasthenews.com/interviews/55

I just discovered American Analog Set. They're cool. They're playing up at SF this weekend. I'd love to go, but I don't have anyone to go with, and a four hour drive to see a band just isn't that fun alone; it would be a blast with the right company, but those kind of people are hard to find. I miss taking road trips, just taking off to nowhere in particular for no good reason, smoking in the car and buying food at gas stations.

My family (well, my mom and siblings) is in Mexico right now (Cozumel) for our first family vacation in a year or so. My brother from London came in, as did my sister from New York. I can't go because I have to deliver a damn demo at work. I'm pretty bitter about the whole thing. I briefly considered quitting this damn job, it's that important to me to see all my family together, but I want to finish this damn game ! It's so constraining to have this big commitment (this game) that I'm not in control of. It's a form of servitude; my life is not my own because my fate is tied up in this big project which is in the hands of others. It's not a good feeling.

Flash web sites are just killing me. Use plain damn HTML!!!

4/17/2003

4-17-03 - 2

4-17-03

Recent ideas that won't make me rich - 1) hair salons should have digital cameras and computers to let you preview various treatments (styles, colors, etc); you could easily rig up software now to do it all automatically so that the non-computer-savvy employees would be able to handle it. 2) a contraption for Julienne-ing. Cutting carrots fine is a damn lot of work, but makes for delicious carrots (Provencal); so, you want this like box with one open side, and a hinge at the bottom of the open side, then there's a big handle coming off the hing with a bunch of blades; imagine kind of like a dumpling maker or a garlic press, you close the handle and blades go into the box and perfectly slice whatever is inside. Then you need to be able to rotate the box 90 degrees and push the blades through again - voila, instant juliene.

4-17-03 - 1

4-17-03

The new Apple adds for applemusic are disgusting. They feel incredibly phoney, first of all, these "real people" adds make me sick, especially when the veneer is so thin I feel like the makers are almost mocking me, insulting me with how poor a job they did. I imagine them in the wings, smoking cigars and getting blow-jobs from whores and saying to each other "those dumb consumer, they'll believe anything! ha ha ha". Anyway, the next problem is this - $0.99 per song? A buck a song? What a rip-off !!! That's about the same price you pay for a real CD, but with a real CD, you get a physical product, you get liner notes, you get nice art, you get a nice carrying case, you're paying for shipping, and you're paying for the real estate of the brick and mortar store, etc. Which reminds me - Amazon's prices are a fucking jip. The idea of online shopping is that they are supposed to be saving on overhead for not maintaining thousands of local stores, and they're supposed to pass the savings on to me, and make it up in volume. But no, they're so incompetent in how they run their operation, that they have to charge me the same rip-off prices as a physical store, and still they can't turn a profit. What's a fair price for applemusic? Something more like $0.25 per song. That's closer to what the IP actually costs when you buy a CD. Of a $14 CD, something like $10 goes to the shipping, merchandiser, manufacturng, packaging, etc. About $4 goes to the publisher, and then something like $0-$1 of that goes to the artist, depending on your fame. So, if artists sold their songs directly online for $0.25, they'd actually be making more than they do with a publisher.

4/09/2003

4-09-03 - 1

4-09-03

Just now I was thinking of getting a new computer, and I realized I don't even want one. My current box is a 1 GHz box running Windows ME (god damn ME!). I could easily get a nice new computer, but the pain in the butt of getting it all set up outweighs the benefit. This made me realize two things - 1) computer upgrades really don't matter any more; I used to constantly want the next upgrade, now I really don't care. 2) it's far too hard to copy your config from one machine to another. I want my home and work machine to be almost complete copies of each other and stay in sync.

4/05/2003

4-06-03 - 1

4-06-03

I can't write about the war any more. It's surreal to me - I can't believe it's happening. I feel like this is some sort of Kafka story - people are doing just incredible and cruel things, so arbitrary and baffling, but it's all real, and they believe they are acting perfectly reasonably.

3/30/2003

3-31-03 - 1

3-31-03

Often when I'm alone, I wish I was with friends. Often, when I'm with friends, I wish I was alone.

3/23/2003

3-24-03 - 2

3-24-03

One of the more horrible feelings I've had since the war started is when I feel little moments of pride over the American military machine. I immediately surpress them - but for a moment there, when I see those videos of planes flying at 10,000 feet and putting cross-hairs on a specific truck and then watching it explode - a shiver goes down my spine, my hairs rise on the back of my neck, I get a slight erection, I feel awe and fear and pride over the fearsome power of the American military machine. Then I shudder and shake it off, but I know that it's only a few little microbes in my brain that prevent me from being really taken by such things. I too could be satisfied by bravado, excited by the power of being able to take the life of other men. Military men scare me, because they are like the childish violent part of me, and I know that part of me is not to be trusted.

3-24-03 - 1

3-24-03

I've been thinking about how random it is when two people get together. We have some many little encounters with other people that never go anywhere - who's to say that wasn't your "soul mate"? When you do find someone you really connect with, you think "wow, how did I find this one person in this town of millions?". But of course, you didn't really talk to all those millions. Maybe you talked to a thousand of them. So really, your lover was the best fit for you of all the thousand people you actually met. There are probably thousands more people in any major city that fit you better, just by statistics. So, the next time you look over at your lover, think "why the hell are we two together?" - probably because you both don't want to be alone, and you can tolerate each other. I'm feeling very romantic today.

3/17/2003

3-18-03 - 1

3-18-03

I want to live more like the internet. I want to talk like a blog. I am a super highway.

3/12/2003

3-13-03 - 2

3-13-03

Back from the GDC and Indie Jam. The Indie Jam was rocking. I made two games, we all had a blast, got to play the games more this year. Met new cool developers, the guys from GameLab and the wise physicist Atman Binstock. Always good to hang out with Hecker and Casey and Blow and Sean and the Ion Storm guys. I was *wasted* exhausted after the Jam, but I got better.

3-13-03 - 1

3-13-03

The other day we were talking at work, and realized that the government running a deficit is an elaborate way to pump money from the poor to the rich. (actually, more like the middle class to the ultra-rich). The deal goes like this :

When the government runs a deficit, it's covered by loans. Those loans come from various places; private individuals buying government bonds, other governments, but the vast majority comes from large financial instutions. The loans are usually in the form of something like a "Treasury Bill" (T-Bill) where the investor "buys" some amount of debt, and is gauranteed payment in some amount of time, at some return, usually something like 6% after 1 year. The reason that financial institutions buy T-Bills is because they provide profit. So, the financial instution is making money. Where did that money come from? Well, when the T-Bill term is up, the government has to pay it. They pay for it by taking more loans, and also by using their available resources. Eventually, (let's assume), the government must return to a debt-free state, so they must pay off all their loans. To do this, they have to cover not only the original loan amount, but also the interest. This basically done through taxes. The result is that taxes are being used to directly pay profit to financial institutions.

So, money is coming in from all over the populace; most of that money actually comes from the middle class. Money is going out to the financial institutions, which means it's going into the pockets of the very rich. This is relying on a funny bit of tax distribution - the very rich take in the vast majority of investment income, but the middle class pays the majority of taxes. For example, if you took all the tax income and then redistributed it based on the amount of money you had invested, the money would continuously transfer upward in the income scale, which of course is exactly what is happening all the time.

2/25/2003

2-25-03 - 1

2-25-03

The anti-war response of liberal politicians is so fucking pathetic. All they do is call for a UN resolution. All of them cave and say that if the UN approved invasion, they would support it. What does it matter if the UN approves this bloody charade? It makes it no better, no more justified, no more moral. It only means that our influence managed to coerce various other corrupt nations into approving our actions.

2/23/2003

2-23-03 - 1

2-23-03

New tunes from the used bins at BooBoos - Ikara Colt, The Catheters, Cinerama. Not bad stuff. Listened to the Derailers for a while, not quite hitting the spot. I love the country rock twang, especially old school and Elvislike the way they are, but it needs to be a little bit harder, more punk, less lounge.

2/22/2003

2-22-03 - 1

2-22-03

This is the age of ridiculous company names. We now have Agilent, Lucent, Experian, Accenture, etc. which were once respectable ordinary names like HP, AT&T, TRW, Andersen. And, as Aaron at work wisely noted, this is the age of pastel colors in computer UI. It's like those god-awful rounded cars. Give me primary colors! Give me big old companies with guys who wear short-sleeve dress shirts! Give me a big boxy Lincoln, with the shape of a cigarette pack!

2/11/2003

2-11-03 - 2

2-11-03

It strikes me that the US government is rather like a good Mafia boss. A Mafia boss is very clever; he never commits any crimes himself. He's a "legitimate businessman". If his associates happen to commit crimes, hey, he didn't want them to do it, they made that decision on their own. Just because he introduced the hitman to the gun smuggler, doesn't mean he was giving arms to killers, he didn't know what they were going to do with the guns.

I've been amused lately to see many of the things I've always considered cool becoming mainstream pop-culture. This happens all the time, but it's kind of interesting what's at work. I imagine it's because the people who grew up at the same time as me are now becoming the designers and making the decisions, so those people grew up with the same movies, the same pop stars, the Vision skate-wear, the Vans and Converse, etc. They have the same background aesthetic, the same collective subconscious, so they tend to like and design the same thing. People often think "I'm so cool, I liked that way before it became popular", well yeah, so did millions of people, including the designers who made and pushed the product. Of course, as you get older, the opposite starts to happen; the people who are similar to you start leaving the pop-culture world, getting replaced by the new generation who has grown up with something different. Then pop-culture starts to become strange and alien to you. Getting old stinks.

I did see a cool interview with Norman Mailer on Charlie Rose the other day. Best thing in the interview - Norman talked about growing old. He said that in your youth, you are constantly struggling to be something you are not - trying to "grow", be more than you can be, do things that don't come naturally. In your old age, you finally relax, you realize that you're probably not going to be anything other than what you are. You're not really "ok" with that, but you accept it, and that brings peace and clarity.

2-11-03 - 1

2-11-03

Back to Iraq - did I mention that it's completely preposterous to think that we're doing this for the benefit of the world? Why does the intellectual liberal establishment go along with it? Are they really idiots? Is it really a corrupt cadre of people in the pocket of the government (as Chomsky suggests)? It's really hard to explain without believing the worst. I'm finding it hard to read the New York Times these days - they're supposed to be liberal, but now all the articles just take this Iraq BULLSHIT so seriously.

Let's review a bit of history - these are facts - Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in 1968 by staging a coup d'etat of the semi-democratic regime. This was done with the help and support of the US Government, as is common. The US wanted a client state in the Middle East, primarily because of fear of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which they considered dangerous and hard to control. Saddam Hussein at that point already had a history of violence, having tried to assasinate the Iraqi Prime Minister in 1959. Once in power, Saddam received support and arms from the United States. Iraq was given trade priveledges by various US governments (Carter, Bush Sr.), welcomed to the white house. Both Carter and Bush called him a "great man" and such garbage. In the mean time, Saddam was busy locking up polticial opponents in Iraq, and working on a genocide of the Kurdish people. Tens of thousands of Kurds were killed with poison gas and other weapons, and much of the Kurdish population fled Iraq to Turkey (see later). In 1980, Iraq attacked Iran. This matter becomes complicated, it's not exactly clear just how involved to US government was. We initially gave and sold arms to Iraq to support them against Iran, and sent CIA agents to train their commanders. Later the whole Ollie North/Reagan thing happened and we gave arms to Iran in return for releasing the hostages. Iran suffered the much greater casualties of the two, having received much bombing from Iraq's US-supplied arsenal of missiles and poisons. Throughout this, Iraq and Saddam Hussein were our good buddy. There was no talk of "evil-doing". Finally in 1990 things went south. Famously, our government made some remarks which seemed to indicate to Hussein that we would look the other way if he invaded Kuwait. Some people find this so hard to believe that I'm forced to include a link to some of the transcript. Why then did we attack Iraq to get them out of Kuwait? That's more complicated. I estimate that it was basically because we decided that Saddam was becoming too difficult for us to control. We wanted a client state, not an independent one, so we decided to fuck with them. The primary result of the gulf war, of course, has been the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians due our destruction of infrastructure and impoverishment of the nation. In fact, during the embargo after the war, the US fought hard to keep food and medicine from getting into the country, and even when we did allow it, we made sure a large portion of it was high-priced American product. Here's a bit of history : from asia , and there's lots more if you search a bit. You have to get past all the crap from the American journalists.

Now back to a side comment. The Kurds fled Iraq into Turkey, because of US-sponsored terrorism by Saddam. Turkey, of course, has been our good friend for quite some times. We've sold them a huge amount of arms (subsidized by the American taxpayer), second only to Israel. In turn the Turkish government has been violent and oppressive. Their invasion of Cyprus was historically brutal, and to this day they lock up and torture anyone who speaks out against the government. Political prisoners are held for any length of time with no trial, or perhaps a show trial. In the mean time, the Turkish government has been going about its own slaughter of the Kurds. The US government once again is helping with the slaughter to this very day. The Kurds of course are "dangerous rebels" which must be controlled by the Turks (just like the people of East Timor were controlled by the Indonesians). We will continue to look the other way in Turkey, because we need them as a power base in the Middle East. We prefer to use them instead of improving relations with Saudi Arabia, mainly because they are less powerful, so we can control them better. Good information on Turkey and the Kurdss is a bit difficult to come buy because the oppressed are rather fanatical themselves. This seems to be a decent page . By ignoring/supporting this attrocity, our government makes it completely clear that we have no interest what-so-ever in human rights. We care only for our interests.

Better watch out, I might be taken to Guantanamo...

old rants