Codex Alera

A very good friend of mine recently sent me the entire 6-book series Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. I had recently read Butcher’s newest book The Aeronaut’s Windlass and really enjoyed it, and I’m a long-time fan of his Dresden Files series. Hell, I even follow him on twitter. I say all of that to be up front about the fact that I’m predisposed to liking Butcher’s work. It’s a bit odd that I hadn’t gotten around to reading the Codex Alera series before, actually.

Fantasy Books

A good friend of mine was recently looking for some recommandations for fantasy books for her husband to read over an upcoming long weekend. I was happy to help and after quite a bit of back and forth (the library she was at was… lacking) she had a few books and was good to go. In the interest of helping out anyone in a similar situation, here’s the list of books that I recommended, along with some short blurbs about each to help you with your summer reading.

Stand By for Space Available

Earlier this year my Mom was asked to write down a story of a memorable road trip that our family went on. She immediately delegated the task to my Dad, proving that she’s the one I got my brains from. So, here is the story of how we went from Okinawa to Idaho and back for summer vacation, way back in 1986, in my Dad’s words. Oh, and The Commandant is what my Dad calls my Mom, for obvious reasons.

Intro to Cloud Foundry and Bosh Part 3

For the third (and probably final) part of this series, we’re going to setup a MySQL database and make it available on our Cloud Foundry instance as a service that webapps can use. After all, being able to push webapps to CF is neat, but without a database backend, it’s not really super useful. And we’re going with MySQL instead of something like PostgreSQL because, well, that’s what I got working first.

Intro to Cloud Foundry and BOSH, part 2

When last we were here, I was giving a broad overview of Cloud Foundry and BOSH, comparing them to Heroku and other PaaS’s. Today, we’re going to go over spinning up a Cloud Foundry instance from scratch, all on your handy local laptop. These instructions assume you are using OS X, though it should work for any platform that bosh-lite runs on. In fact, this tutorial closely follows the bosh-lite documentation, but is more tailored to beginners.

Intro to Cloud Foundry and BOSH

I’ve started looking into Cloud Foundry and BOSH for work, and something that I’ve noticed is a lack of “mid-range” documentation. It’s quite possible I’m blind, but I’ve seen a lot of 30,000’ things (“Cloud Foundry will accelerate your velocity!“) and some great docs for the people who already know what they’re talking about (“The Director uses the CPI to tell the IaaS to launch a VM”) but I haven’t seen any introductions written with an eye towards someone who is not a PaaS expert, but is also not a manager.

When should I use technology <X>?

You shouldn’t. Oh, was that answer too short? I’ll expand. When setting up a new webservice, datacenter, or anything beyond a toy weekend knockaround project, the generic answer to “Should I use <foo>?” is always “No!”. That’s because if you don’t know with an absolute certainty that you need it, you don’t need it. This goes for anything from job queueing systems to the latest NoSQL hotness to, well, pretty much anything with the word “distributed” in it.

Creating a Debian rescue usb drive in Mac OS X

This guide will get you a USB stick running debian that you can use to boot into rescue mode. Well, you could also use it to install from, but that’s not what I care about. Do the following, while modifying the version string to whatever the latest release is in the second url (both places!): cd ~ wget wget Procure a USB stick, at least 1GB in size Plug it in.

Fast, clean, lightweight blogging

Now, I’m not exactly a shining example of actual blogging - I get distracted by real life way too easily. However, on the technical side, I think I have a fairly good setup. Here is how you would duplicate it. I assume barebones linux knowledge and the ability to read carefully. Get a server. You can get a free account from Amazon’s AWS and even a free instance for a year (a “micro” in their parlance, which is more than sufficient for a small blogging platform).

Tor Gets a Clue

Just a quick note that Tor, a genre-heavy imprint of Macmillan, will start releasing their titles without DRM. As someone who has books that are locked into Kindle, iBooks, and even the Nook, this is fantastic news. A good take on this is available from Charlie Stross.

Mariano Rivera

To quote Charlie Daniels, he’s best there ever was. And, he’s still going…

The McGurk Effect

Amazing. An illusion that works even if you know how it works. Freaky. And another reason to not trust eye witnesses!

Extreme Schooling

In Russia. Growing up, I wanted to do something like this with my kids, and Brenda and I have talked about living abroad for a year or two. But it’s a hard thing, and it took a lot of courage for Clifford Levy and his wife to actually do. Watch the video, too.

Wonderfully bad analogies

I’ve seen this around plenty of times before, always credited to unintentionally bad high school students. Well, let’s set the record straight. It was actually a contest by the Washington Post. All the originals are here. And I think they’re even funnier, knowing (as I always figured before) that someone came up with them deliberately.


This website is the future. And I love living in it.

The Name of the Wind

It was brought to my attention that I had not formally recommended my favorite book of the last decade, The Name of the Wind, on this blog. There. I’ve now recommended my favorite book of the last decade. The second book of the planned trilogy, The Wise Man’s Fear is already out, and it equally awesome. Both of them reward multiple readings with wow moments and insights, especially when you realize that Patrick Rothfuss actually knows what he’s doing.

The Road Not Taken

How the Republicans fail at governing. Written by a long-time conservative Republican. Of course, the multitude of ways the Democrats fail at governing make me even more angry…

Debt Ceiling

Doves, Hawks, and Owls. And in a separate piece, Five Myths about the Debt Ceiling. Both worth reading.

Religion is Awesome!

I love the sense of morality it brings to our every day lives. Actually, this reminds me of a long-running argument I’ve had with my father. Apparently, if someone does something wrong, but they profess to be a Christian, that’s because they aren’t actually Christian and their actions shouldn’t reflect poorly on Christianity. Fair enough. However, it turns out Islam can’t be a religion of peace, because look at those Muslim’s that aren’t peaceful!

"Fair and Balanced"

Let me know when the head of CBS publicly says it’s his mission in life to get a Democrat elected, and then we’ll talk about bias in the media.

Buster Keaton

Was a genius. If you’ve never watched the old silent comedians, or think it’s all just throwing pies at people, run - don’t walk - to watch some Buster Keaton.

Illegal Aliens

They’re everywhere! Alternate title: “Illegal Aliens: Not just for moving pipe anymore”.

Larger than Life

I was taller than average while growing up, and it made a few things awkward or uncomfortable. But I had nothing on these guys. An article that answers the question, “What happens to former 7’-plus NBA players?”

Love Wins

Hell yes, I’m a New Yorker. Although, my other reaction is ‘finally’.

Magic with iPods

Of a sort. Very impressive timing skills, but only a little of what would traditionally be called even sleight-of-hand.

An inescapable network of mutuality

Slacktivist in fine form. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you don’t already read Fred Clark via RSS or whatever–if you’re relying on me to send you to him–then you’re missing out on some very fine thoughts on religion and politics. Though Fred and I obviously disagree on some fundamental things (such as the reality of a god) I’m never not edified.

Minnesota Pastor is an Idiot

Not really news, right? Actually, my first reaction to that article was how strange it is that here, in 2011, we have chaplains for state legislatures. As the guy says in his prayer, it’s “non-denominational” - i.e., it’s a prayer for all kinds of Christians. They also play both kinds of music - country and western.

The Lion and the Ox

Gorgeous animation from Russia. The motion of the lion and the solidity of the ox are fantastic.

One in Twenty

That’s the number of people that got a job from McDonald’s at their recent “Hiring Day”. But surely, if you’re unemployed right now, that’s just because you’re lazy and won’t even take a burger-flipping job.

Spider vs. Ant

Just watch it. Make sure to watch all the way to the end - it’s only 90 seconds long.

TV on the Radio / Dear Science

Although they just released Nine Types Of Light, I haven’t listened to that album enough to pass judgement (so far I like it). However, I wanted to direct your attention to their previous studio album from 2008, Dear Science. Dear Science, in a word, is a masterpiece. From the opening pounding rhythms of Halfway Home to the closing triumphant strains of Lover’s Day, it makes me grin. Big, stupid face-splitting grins.

David Frum and Compassionate Conservatism

David Frum, leading libertarian demagogue of the 80’s and 90’s, on the Paul Ryan budget, compassionate conservatism, and moving beyond the welfare state. In seven parts, but each part is really short.

So Sad

I link to a lot of “Justice System Gone Wrong” sort of stuff (because there’s a lot to link to), but this isn’t that. A harrowing look at a bad situation all around.

Why We're Fat

I’m considering a low-carb diet. Which, as someone who loves bread as much as I do, is a fairly big step.

Mariano Rivera

15 games into the season, with seven saves under his belt. ERA of 0.00. There is no longer doubt that he is the best closer in baseball, and probably the best there ever will be. Fantastic.

311 and data mining

Very interesting article about what calls to 311 show about New Yorkers, as well as things that the local government can do when they have that wealth of info.

Space Stasis

Neal Stephenson on space static. The reason why we use rockets to get stuff into orbit, and why that probably won’t change anytime soon.

Classical Pop n' Lock

If I don’t see this on the next season of So You Think You Can Dance, I’ll be surprised and disappointed.

Ten Sexy Ladies

Reviews the Dressing Room at Old Navy. I think Joshua Allen might be my favorite new writer.

Sharia Law!

Is the new boogie man. Find out what it actually means! Be more informed than any Tea Party member!

Defense of Marriage Act and the US Justice Dept.

Slacktivist’s take on the latest news. And yes, I’m linking to Slacktivist again. He’s my token Christian blogger - I link to him to show that I’m open-minded, even though he believes in stuff that I think is nonsense. That he writes clearly and convincingly about politics, religion, and morality is a nice bonus.

Never talk to the police

Ever, ever, ever. Not when you’re in the right. Not when you’re sure that being cooperative and reasonable will clear things up. Don’t let your kid talk to them. Just don’t do it. And yes, that story is obviously police overreacting. But that’s the point. Unless your lawyer is present, pretend you’re a prisoner of war. Except you’re a POW that doesn’t even have to give name, rank, and serial number.

Defunding Kentucky

“Theoretical conservatives, but operationally liberal.” Yeah, that sounds about right.

Crazies and religion roundup

Not that I’m saying they are the same thing (Hi, almost my entire family of true believers!). Let’s see… Scientology is still a dangerous cult. Christian Reconstructionists are scary. The Huffington Post is the worst place to go for medical news and advice. Weathermen are curiously prone to mistaking weather for climate. That oughta hold you for a little while.

Tea & Crackers

Interesting look at the Tea Party movement. The bit about the Medicare-paid scooters reminds me of my Dad railing about people taking government handouts, when every one of his kids has been on the WITS program (or its equivalent) and he uses government-run health care for himself (socialism!).

Never trust the justice system

Repeat after me: never trust that the justice system works. Never talk to a cop. Never sign anything presented to you by a cop unless your lawyer has told you to. Never, ever, think that things will work themselves out because you’re a good person and surely this is all just a big mistake.

God of Cake

Another story from Hyperbole and a Half. I adore the illustrations. They make the stories complete.

Insert Coin

Coin animation. Yes, that really is stop-motion animation using coins. Hang around to the end of the video to see how it’s done. Amazing patience.

Halloween and Stranger Danger

Why yes, I am cleaning out my old list of links to post. This is an article that should be required reading for all parents that worry about their kids on Halloween.

Good Samaritans

A heartwarming story of a Good Samaritan. Would almost work as a ‘Chicken Soup’ story, if not for the cussing.

The Gifford's Shooting

A list of links that encapsulate my feelings on the political scuffle surrounding it: Sarah Palin’s morality. A quick expansion on what blood libel is. Focus on content, not tone.

Giant map of American dialects

You can spend a lot of time on this, let me tell you. And of course, the way I pronounce “cot” (to rhyme with “caught”) is the correct one. I mean, sheesh. How could it not?

More Christmas postings

Why Ricky Gervais is an atheist and a follow-up Q&A. Yes, it’s Christmas related. And no, probably not in the way you’re thinking.

Out of Sight

Beautiful. Apparently a student film, though that’s not obvious.

Stuxnet and James Bond

Real-life hackers, espionage, and nuclear weapons in Iran. Oh, and yeah - I’m back. Long vacation in South Dakota, shooting Bambi in the face.

Webcomic to read, part 1 of many

The Princess Planet. Very punny, very light. Just the thing offset a bad day. See here or here or here for a good overview of what you’re getting into.


Fascinating glimpse behind the scenes. Also, a man gets trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. Loses his mind and his job.

A piece of their mind

I know I’m old because I teared up reading this. Of course, nothing is assured. The state of their health can turn on a dime. Every day they defy the odds. So many odds. How many mothers would have done what Felicia Simms did, not terminating the pregnancy, knowing what she knew? How many families would have banded together, and stayed together, and grown stronger in a bond almost as fierce as that of the twins—ignoring, or at least absorbing, the financial hardships, judgmental stares and whispered disapprovals?

I'm Here

I loved this. It’s a half hour long, budget your time accordingly.

Mauling live oak

It’s time for great moments in now-obscure American military history; the foundation of the US Navy, and our war against France. Go read it.


Both examples they give, “EP” and “AJ”, fill me with horror.

The Falling Man

I meant to post this around 9⁄11, but, well, I didn’t. So here you go, a bit late.

I hunt

But I don’t ever see myself doing this.

Death by IM

What a bizarre story. Of course, similar stories from last century abound - using letters instead of AIM, of course.

Death by fame

I apologize for the horrific page splitting, but the NYTimes is awful. If anyone has seen the show “The Good Guys” (a decently smart-dumb parody of 70s and 80s cop shows), this is what happens in real life. Death by CNN.

The long con

I try to imagine living a lie like this, and it actually unnerves me. I would be freaking out the entire time, expecting to get caught, distrusting everyone. It sounds like a living hell.

Medical Supplies

I probably shouldn’t read articles like this. They make me so mad, they probably shorten my lifespan (and spend more time in hospitals! Irony, I am your slave).

Golden Gate Suicides

I think the pull quote from this article is this: On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”


If I was going to become a criminal, I think I would take up counterfeiting. The guys in this article made millions of dollars and are going to prison for seven years. That’s nothing!

Jaw dropping ignorance

I literally watched this video jaw agape. The sense of smug satisfaction on her face is the clincher. The absolute knowledge that she is right and the guy is wrong.

Antony and the Johnsons (Music Review, First in a series)

is my favorite band where the lead singer is a transgender gay man. And that’s not nearly the back-handed compliment that you think it is. I think his voice is truly wonderful and generally the only instrument that is needed for any given song. Listen to the tracks “Hope There’s Someone” and “For Today I Am A Boy” off of I Am A Bird Now, or “One Dove” off of “The Crying Light” to see what I mean.

Powers of Ten

A fantastic video showing the power of zooming by powers of ten. Go watch it.

Another death-row inmate exonerated

Shockingly un-shocking. But remember, according to Scalia, no innocent man has ever been executed! Another tick in the list of reasons why I’m against the death penalty.

Balloon in Space!

Videos like these make me realize that I’m a failure as a father. Why don’t I do something super-awesome-cool like this with my kids? Cuz I’m lazy, I guess.

Tiny Javascript Game

A game in 1K. The game itself isn’t that interesting, but the explanation of how he fit it all into 1K is pretty rad. This is also a nifty HTML+Javascript game. No flash! Much more fun than the first one.

Going Under

My wife has an uncle who is an anesthesiologist. I keep meaning to ask him about this article, and if it rings true to him.

The million dollar repo man

Tales of derring-do, of a guy that steals (back) from the rich, to give… well, to the rich corporation that pays him. But still! Hot wiring lear jets! Falsified flight plans! Hostages! It has it all.

Scumbags and lobbyists

But I repeat myself. This guy scores extra points for not even really working on behalf of the people he’s supposedly lobbying for.

A true Muslim hero

An antidote for those who think that merely being muslim somehow makes you a bad person. You know who I’m talking about.

Toughing it out

An interview with Vanilla Ice, mere seconds before his 15 minutes of fame was up. Filled with both schadenfreude and sympathy for the guy born Robby Van Winkle.

Girls Gone Wild

The guy behind the formerly popular “Girls Gone Wild” videos is just as sleazy as you imagined he’d be.

Real-life disaster movie

Horrifying, as you realize that this actually happened to real people. And I have a real fear of drowning in deep water. I hated the opening scenes of “Castaway”, where the plane was sinking into the ocean. That squicked me out more than most horror movies.

Bob Greene, fallen man

A very sympathetic view of a guy on the wrong side of a sex scandal. Somehow manages to make you sympathetic with someone who cheated on his wife with a 18-year old.

Stealing the Mona Lisa

Now I know where all of those cartoons from my childhood got their “art theft” plots. I mean, how many times did I see the Beagle Boys try and steal the Mona Lisa, only to be foiled by Scrooge McDuck?

Jon Stewart

A good summary of why the Daily Show is my go-to source for fair and balanced news.

Sex and money

Fred Clark, a.k.a. Slacktivist, showing in a three part series why he’s my favorite Christian blogger, and probably my favorite philosophy inclined blogger around. Also, I will be pointing anyone with a religious-based “reason” for anti-gay bigotry to these articles in the future. Either they’ll get it or they won’t - but if they can read that and still be clueless, nothing I say will get through. So - time saver!

Tabloids and respectability

A desperate attempt to make tabloids seem respectable. Instead, it just made me sad - again - at how far the “normal” papers have fallen.

The Death Penalty

Why I no longer support the death penalty, in a nutshell. Also, almost every public official, lawyer and judge connected to this case should be thrown out of office or barred for life from practicing law.

Smallpox and terrorism

Another scarily prescient article. Of course, written in 1999 there are a few things that scream “pre-9⁄11”.

A one-man drug company

These sorts of articles, when I come across them four years later, make me insatiably curious as to “how it turned out”. Did he ever get out of the business? Is he in jail now? Dead? That’s something that I like about This American Life - when they rerun an article, if it’s applicable they’ll update you as to how everyone is now. Satisfying.


Speaking of cold-war relics, here is an article about traveling across Siberia. Note that it was written in ‘97, and yet the communist aparatchiks were still in power.

Harvard's Homosexual Purge

A quick shock to the system to anyone that thinks homosexuality was “discovered” in the ‘60s. That is, the same type of person that thinks premarital sex never happened until 1969.

Pat Dollard's War on Hollywood

Even though this story was written three years ago, as far as I can tell Dollard is still a reputable (?) right-wing pundit. The movie talked about in the article has never been released.

Justice, Dominique Dunne, and television

A first-person account of a murder trial, by the father of the victim. By coincidence, I was reading this article when I learned of this other murder. Juri Kibuishi, the lady mentioned in the second paragraph, is the sister of the fantastic artist Kazu Kibuishi, author of Amulet, Copper, the Flight anthologies, and Daisy Cutter. When I was reading the article about Juri and Samuel Herr’s death, all I could think about is how much it sounded like a plot right from NCIS, Monk, or the Mentalist.

Searching for Jesus in the Gospels

An interesting overview of current scholarship on the “Jesus question”. That is, did Jesus actually exist, and if so, how much of what he’s credited with in the Gospels did he actually say or do?

Freeganism and Buffalo

I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the Freegan culture ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago, and this article talks about an enclave here in Buffalo, NY. Very interesting - and make sure to read all the way to the end.

The Marriage Cure

Anyone that wants to understand why there is a problem of unwed mothers on welfare, crime, and unemployment in the poor black community, please read this article. And anyone that thinks all you need to do is work hard to escape that life, needs to read this article. And anyone who has an ounce of human compassion in their body should probably not read this article, because you will be seriously depressed by the end.

Crater Face

Back from a long break, we’ll start off with something sweet.

Close-up magic

This is an interesting mix of dead-simple juvenile level magic, and wow, I have no idea how that just happened. It doesn’t help that for the first couple of minutes the cameraman chooses just the right angle to give away the trick, several times.

Four Letter Words

Sent to me by my upright, former LDS missionary of a brother, too. Maybe the Navy is rubbing off on him…

A junkie's life

Every time I read about someone’s experiences using crack or heroin, I wonder what they were thinking. Nice article, but I still don’t understand.

Holocaust Deniers, and other nice folk

Or so this article would have you believe. Me, well, I’m suspicious. Also, this article is fairly old (2001) - I wonder in the tenor of those meetings have changed over the last decade.

Living in the Future

The really great future, where this sad but sweet video can be created entirely on a Nintendo DSi. Yes, literally, hand-held gaming platforms are flexible and powerful enough to animate an entire music video. How cool is that?

Fluorescent Hill, Joey, and Boy

This is a music video, of a song called “Joey” by a band called “Boy”. The music is really bad - derivative, mumbly, lacking in hooks, almost unlistenable. So I recommend you watch the video with the sound off. Because the animation is fantastic. Something about the style and design just really hits all my “I love this!” buttons. The animation was done by the studio Fluorescent Hill. I’m off to see if they have done anything else this wonderful (hopefully in service of a more deserving client).

When engineering sky scrapers goes wrong

Now this is a tale of derring-do, in a subdued Heinlein-esque “competent man” sort of way. I bet Josh read about this, when he went to engineering school, so feel free to chime in.

Vegetable Violence

Some truly vicious violence done to vegetables. I’m always interested in foley work, and this has the added benefit of being pretty funny.

The World's Greatest Con Man

Reading this article, about a con man that stole millions from billionaire heiresses, I felt more sad than anything. You’d like to think that the World’s Greatest Con Man would be a dashing rapscallion, flirting with danger, wooing hearts, and making daring getaways. No, he’s just a little man that got greedy. Living out of crappy hotels and constantly fearing that you’ll get caught and have everything crash down around you would be immensely draining.

Azzam the American

Speaking of home-grown terrorists, and death cults, and other creepy stuff. Anyone else think that some people, reading that article, will come away with the idea that we must ban death metal, as it’s obviously corrupting our youth?

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man

This video is a live-action version of the story of the Tin Man (from the books, not the MGM movie). It’s interesting mostly in that it illustrates a problem I’ve noticed with a lot of amateur ‘shorts’. The cinematography is nice, the costumes are great, the story is good (I’m a big fan of the Baum books), but it still comes off as poorly done. And I place the blame squarely on the actors.

Red Family / Blue Family

A very interesting article to start your week. Do traditional “family values” create stronger or weaker families?

Eating alone

As someone who often ate alone growing up, I never had the experience this lady did. But it’s still a nice article.

Mother's Day

There are women who birth children, and then there are Mothers (via Kelly Oxford).


A decently long article by one of Stanley Kubrick’s friends, about the man himself. I don’t know if Kubrick is one of my favorite directors, per se, (I haven’t seen more than a handful of his movies) but the ones I have seen I adore beyond all reason (2001 and Dr. Strangelove, for example).


A disturbing article about people that sue their creditors rather than pay their debts. As someone who has spent the last two years paying off a house I no longer even own, I had a hard time reading this.

The Lord's Resistance Army

Yet another horrifying article about horrible things going on the world. I need to start reading things that end up with unicorns and puppydogs.

Oklahoma City Bombing

A remembrance of our own, home-grown terrorists. Having not really been politically aware in the mid-90s, I don’t know if the comparisons people make between the modern day Tea Party’s fringe elements and the political climate back then are apt. But I fear that they are.

Al Jazeera English (AJE) - The Most Hated Name in News

After reading this article about Al Jazeera, I was inspired to add AJE to my RSS feeds. It’s only been a couple of days, but so far I haven’t noticed any particular anti-American bias. I’m also seeing that there is a lot more going on in the world than I had previously noticed. We’ll see how long I keep up with it, though.

The Itch

Try reading this article about itching, phantom limb pain, and our brains, without having random itches all over your body. Even while reading that what you’re feeling is all in your head, you can’t but scratch.

Myths over Miami

A fascinating, horrible, and beautiful story about the myths that spring up in the homeless children population of Miami.

Mother Earth, Mother Board, and Instapaper

I came across a link to a 44,000 word “essay” by Neal Stephenson about laying a cable called FLAG from England to Japan. I had read the article before, probably a decade or so ago (it came out in 1996) but reread it on a lark. It’s just as interesting now as it was then, if not even more so. For one thing, I understand a lot more of the article nowadays.

Evil cults

I’ve long been fascinated by the difference between “religion” and “cult”, and the oft-stated theory that a religion is a cult that happened to last longer than it’s founder. Having said all of that, this is a cult, and I brook no argument.

xkcd and color

The results from the color survey that xkcd ran. As a red/green color-blind person, it made me laugh. Warning, a little salty language in there.

Ancient history by internet standards

In the same way that going back to read science fiction from the thirties and forties is both hilarious and sad (flying cars! moon base! world peace!), this article about a 15-year old stock trader/manipulator from early 2001 is bizarre. I mean, we know how the story ends…

The Anachronism

An interesting video that I hope you watch. And after you watch it, let me know what you think of the mother’s last line.

Claire de Lune

A nice soothing video, accompanied by a very good rendition of Claire de Lune. Parts, especially in the beginning, remind me of the old winamp synesthesia plugin, or one of the more experimental Fantasia segments.

Steampunk and the French Revolution

Actually, not being a French speaker, I don’t know if this is more French Revolution or WWII French Resistance. Either way, it’s lots of steam punk. Interestingly, it looks (to my untrained eye) as if the people were drawn in one style, and everything else (the backgrounds, costumes, etc.) somehow different. Which might be my way of saying that the backgrounds and “everything else” is gorgeous, but the people are stiff, awkward, and jarringly un-lifelike.

Teabagger meltdown

I’m sure the point of this video is to make you think the woman is clinically insane (and she is), but I have almost as much dislike for the stupid, smarmy kid. Memo to the kid: the phrase “pursuit of happiness” 1) comes from the Declaration of Independence, which does not actually hold any legal weight and 2) is not followed by the phrase “so we’re going to protect you from existential problems”.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

I’m unconvinced either way on the subject of whether HFCS is “bad” for your (vs. regular sugar), but articles like this one are lending credence to the argument that this is just another consumer freak-out, similar to the “vaccines cause autism” scare. Especially when I read that the referenced Princeton study has some fairly big holes in it.

The Raven

This (very) short movie is almost exactly like what I used to fantasize/imagine as a kid. Super powers, killer robots, running through the streets, it’s all there. It’s like they took my 10-year old imagination and filmed it.

Illegal immigration...

from China, this time. It’s almost like a magic trick. Watch carefully, as your favorite idea for reducing illegal immigration is tried - and it just makes things worse! As long as people look at the opportunity to pay $30,000 to huddle in cramped boats for weeks on end, subsisting on rice and dried vegetables, all in order to work long hours bussing tables and sewing clothes, and say to themselves, “Sounds good to me!

England, Ireland, and Terrorism

Double-agents, torture, betrayal, death. It’s all there. Required reading for those that think Britain’s police force is made up of cheerful bobbies in funny hats swinging billy clubs on their appointed rounds.

General Petraeus: The Professor of War

A hagiographic article on the General. Interesting enough on it’s own, but I like how none of the politicians mentioned come out looking good. Required reading for anyone who’s ever thought that we just need to be tougher to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, or if you thought the whole Abu Ghraib scandal was overblown.

21st Century One Man Band

Like Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins, but just a little bit cooler. Warning, not suitable for those prone to epileptic seizures.

Kids these days!

Would you believe that the upcoming generation of kids is spoiled and bratty and feel entitled to things that they haven’t earned? I know! This has never happened before in the history of the world! I’m pretty sure that this is the first time old people feel that way about Kids These Days. Of course, the icing on the cake is that this is Fox and Friends accusing Mr. Rogers of being an evil man, who is (solely?) responsible for corrupting the youth.

A heart a day

What a fantastic world we live in, where I can stumble across something like this. Thanks to Irene Gallo, art director of, for the link.

Mexican immigration laws

An even-handed look at Mexican immigration law, both on the books and as it’s actually practiced. I’m sure it’s fairly obvious why I’m linking to this right now.

Greatest Commercial ever?

I had run across this before but forgot to post it. What Errol Morris calls the Greatest Commercial Ever. I’m not sure about that, but it is pretty awesome. Thanks to Kottke for reminding me of it.

Health insurance reform

An interesting article on an option to actually help cut health care costs. I mean, apart from just culling the herd with death panels, obviously.

Conspiracy theorists are crazy

And I mean that in a clinical way. Which is why it is almost never any use arguing with a creationist, a truther, a birther, a global-warming denialist, moon landing hoaxer, or an anti-stratfordian. That last link is the one I want to direct your attention to. You’ve probably heard, vaguely, that there are theories that William Shakespeare didn’t write “Shakespeare’s” plays and poems. You’ve probably not read or thought much about it.

ze frank's chillout

Ze Frank is probably best known for The Show, a very funny short video program posted Monday through Friday for an entire year, ending in March of 2007. However, he’s been doing other stuff since then, including writing a “chillout” song (i.e., a song to listen to when you need to just chill out and stop stressing). Here’s the story and the song. Tip o’ the hat to Daring Fireball for the link.

Dressing Like a Grownup

I’m rarely accused of being a sartorial masterpiece. In fact, 90% of my wardrobe consists of witty t-shirts from various webcomics that I read. However, I do, very occasionally, wear something other than jean shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. If you, too, would like to learn how to Dress Like a Grownup ™, go here.

The dreaded Job Interview

No, I’m not looking. I’m just glad that when I got the job I have now, they didn’t use any of the questions from this list.

The Soiling of Old Glory

In an article on Boston and the Tea Party, there was a reference to a shocking photograph in the 70’s during the protests about busing and integration. A little bit of googling led me to this article about the picture, The Soiling of Old Glory, and the man in it. Both articles are probably worth reading, but if you have to pick one, read the second (even though it’s written in the style of Reader’s Digest True Stories!).

Due process in the U.S.

It both frightens and saddens me that there are people that think Obama is somehow “too soft” on terrorism and terrorist suspects, when, in fact, his disregard for due process and human rights is the most Bush-like thing about his already centrist policies.

Mendelian genetics, and the value of getting things wrong

A good overview on how Mendel got almost everything wrong, and still managed to be right. Also a good example of why I read Arstechnica. They don’t constrain themselves to just covering the latest “geek news”. I like ending the day just a little smarter than I started it, and Ars helps with that.

IT Gospel vs. the facts (also, human nature)

In an article titled “Please do not change your password”, the Boston Globe talks about all the various things that IT departments force you to do that is a complete waste of time, like constantly changing your password. It’s an interesting read, but I wanted to just mention that not only are those policies a waste of time, but even the IT department knows it. If you think the guys that are enforcing those rules are, in fact, following themselves, well, you’re wrong.

Separation of Church and State

Another example of why Fred Clark is my favorite Christian blogger. We may disagree on some fundamental questions, but he is right on the important things.

Apollo 11 launch in High-Def

Best view of the launch that you can get, a 16-mm camera at the base of the pad running at 500 fps. Stunning imagery. Hat tip to Daring Fireball for the link.

Rescission is an ugly word for an ugly practice

But I wouldn’t worry about it. As one of the first commenters on this article points out, they’re happy with their coverage, so the story should have been about that. I mean, it’s not like the two ladies in the lede were happy with their coverage, right up until it was cancelled. You know, as soon as they needed it. No, I’m sure they did something wrong. They were probably bad.

Why is it...

that so much of the good short video out there is commercial? I don’t just mean professionally produced, but actually made to sell a product. I thought part of the democratization of video production, from cheap digital cams, to editing tools that run on laptops, was that we would see more good non-commercial stuff. But most of the shorts that actually affect me emotionally have a company logo at the end.

Hey there Cthulu

Your brain-ravaging, insanity-making, ancient eldritch god worshiping ballad for the day.

Ultra-marathon bike riding

I’ve never been a big fan of riding bikes. The seat is always uncomfortable, I have a hard time finding the right gear, and I hate pedaling up hills. Which makes this story even more unbelievable. This guy is (literally!) insane.

So sad

I am an American Conservative

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration.

I'm very confused right now...

How have I never heard of a show that could get James Earl Jones, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Carradine, and Tim Freaking Burton for just one episode? And, going off the opening credits, also pulled in Paul Reubens, Robin Williams, Mick Jagger, and Christopher Reeves!? I only hope that Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre lives up to it’s cast and crew, as I go off to wander through its six (6!)


This is a shibboleth. If you recognize all of these games, then you were (probably) born in the ‘70s.

Green Eggs and Ham in Jamaican patois

As some of you know, I vacationed down in Jamaica last October with my wife. It was fantastic. One of the cooler things about the trip was learning a little of the patwa. Of course, as white American tourists, us saying stuff like “No problem, mon!” in a fake Jamaican accent is pretty much the unhippest thing we could do, but we did it anyway (see: white American tourists). Anyway, all of that was just to lead up to why I got such a kick out of this.

Akira Kurosawa - 100 years old

Speaking of things that I just missed, Kurosawa turned 100 four days ago. If you aren’t familiar with his work, then boy - do I envy you. You have some mind-blowing cinematic experiences ahead of you. If you do know his movies (Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Stray Dog, Yojimbo, Rashomon, and many more), then you already know how fantastic he was. Every movie lover should own at least 5 of his movies.

Twitter: The Criterion Collection

I’m pretty late to the party on this one, but it’s still worth the link. It’s also worth waiting past the (twitter-short) credits to the very end.

Couch to 5K

Today was my second ‘run’ (really, walk/jog) in the Couch to 5K program (C25K to its friends). The basic concept is that you can go from being a couch potato to running 5k (about 3 miles) in 9 weeks. Seeing as it would take me about 9 weeks to run 5k in my current condition, I was intrigued by the premise. The basic concept is that most people try running, get very sore, see no immediate improvement, and give up.


I had this dream, when I was a kid. Not under the same circumstances, of course…

Another beautiful cartoon

Do we call them cartoons anymore? Is “animation” the right word? Does cartoon imply childishness? Anyway, here it is: I highly recommend going to the source and watching the HD version.


As long as we’re talking about Hollywood special effects, this one just hurts. Whoosh! - watch more funny videos

Stargate Studios

As far as I can tell, no link to the various TV shows of the same name. I had no idea green screening was so common for things like walking down the street. Fascinating.

2010 Olympics

So we’ve been watching the Olympics for the last few nights, and I have a few notes. 1) Not to pile on with the hate, but the compulsory section of ice dancing, that is, watching couple after couple skate to the same song with the same choreography, is atomic-wedgie painful. You know - nothing you can’t live through, but not anything you’d like to ever repeat. 2) Googling for athlete names while watching events can inadvertently be spoiler-rific.

I hadn't paid attention

to the details. All I’d heard was that some guy planted a plane in the Hudson without losing anyone. So this video was even cooler, for me. Long story short, they just released the OTA conversation between the pilot and tower.


I just noticed that my ‘video posting’ script had a bug, that caused everything on the site to look wonky. Fixed, and sorry…

Drexel Institute Ladies Rifle Team, 1925

In a lot of older pictures, the people have a certain look about them that places them in a specific time period. I’m not talking about their clothes – it’s a certain set of their face. This is one of the best examples of that phenomenon that I can think of. Wow. Tip o’ the hat to for the link.

(Not So) Stupid Pet Tricks

My dog is dumb. I mean, really, really, dumb. As a miniature toy poodle, there isn’t much room in there for brains, and it shows. This dog, though, is not dumb. Far from it…

I love Bob Newhart

Which is a good sign that I’m not as young as my age would lead you to believe. Be that as it may, here’s some relatively recent Newhart for you: If you can see this, you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript.

Cadbury commercial

I’m confused as to what this has to do with delicious caramel-filled chocolate eggs. But, I laughed.

In case you're wondering...

what to do for your mid-life crisis, here’s an idea. I believe the phrase is “freaking insane”. Tip of the hat to my dad for the link.

Speaking of Neil Gaiman

While most of his work is not for kids (the Sandman books are fairly intense, and American Gods isn’t much better), the books he does do for kids are often fantastic. And this has been further confirmed by the fact that The Graveyard Book has just won the Newbery Medal. Congrats, Neil!

Sam and Fuzzy

is an epic webcomic, that’s been running for years (7, I think). So it can be scary to jump into. But Sam Logan, the creator of Sam and Fuzzy, has announced that today is a perfect place to start reading, if you haven’t read in the past. And a S&F; is one of my all-time favorite webcomics, he definitely gets the nod. Cuz you know, I’m the Oprah of the internet.

Sad but sweet

Click on Tir Nan Og, and watch out - it starts playing automatically. For those of you who don’t know, Tír na nÓg (alternatively Tir Nan Og) is The Land of Eternal Youth {% fn_ref 1 %} in Celtic lore. It’s not just the name of your local Irish pub… {% footnotes %} {% fn Or Land of the Ever-Young %} {% endfootnotes %}

Not-so-nice article about Billy Joel

being a contemptuous artist. {% fn_ref 1 %} The theory is that Mr. Joel has nothing but contempt for his audience. The best part of the essay is the absolute - yes - contempt that he holds for Billy Joel. For example: {% blockquote %} It is a kind of mystery: Why does his music make my skin crawl in a way that other bad music doesn’t? Why is it that so many of us feel it is possible to say Billy Joel is—well—just bad, a blight upon pop music, a plague upon the airwaves more contagious than West Nile virus, a dire threat to the peacefulness of any given elevator ride, not rock ‘n’ roll but schlock ‘n’ roll?


If you haven’t read the book, well, you’re missing out. Go read everything by Neil Gaiman you can get your hands on, and stop wasting your time on this website. If you have read Coraline, then you’re probably excited (or scared) regarding the upcoming movie. Well, this is the first trailer that Neil says he likes. So without further ado If you can see this, you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript.


First, go watch this (warning: this is not funny). Make sure to select “high quality” and go full screen. Seriously, I’ll wait. Back? Okay, how fantastic was the movement? Even though the boy was barely more than a line drawing, every step, leap, and stumble was perfectly realized. Marvelous.

Wordpress is nifty...

I realize that bloggers talking about blogging is about as ‘inside-baseball’ as you can get. And using your third post ever to talk about the blogging platform you’re using is fairly hubristic, as well. But this is actually the sixth or seventh Wordpress blog that I’ve interacted with, over my career as a computer geek. I help several very nice ladies with their gardening blogs, and I’ve setup several WP instances for my sister (note that those blogs have been “discontinued”, and her blog, though Wordpress, is not run by me).

Star Wars!

Retold by someone who’s never seen it. Forwarded to me by Hava.

Sneak peek at Decemberist's new album

Apparently it’s going to be more “Decemberist-y” than their last album (The Crane Wife). You can sign up to download a “single” from the upcoming album Hazards Of Love. While it’s nice that they’re getting back to their “roots” (and I do adore Castaways and Cutouts and Picaresque), here’s a good example of why I always love The Decemberists, and probably always will: If you can see this, you have javascript disabled.