Archive for February, 2004
Two high-strangeness stories came in off the feeds today. The first: Unit of measurement elected head of standards board
Back in 1962, some fraternity at MIT used one of their pledges, Oliver Smoot, to measure the Harvard Bridge. This became part of MIT and general geek folklore, and today even Google recognizes the Smoot as a unit of measurement.
Just recently, the very same Oliver Smoot was elected to be the President of ISO, the people who define internationally the units of measurement used for, well, everything. I can’t put it better than overstated:
Is it just irony that a unit of measurement was elected to be the Grand Poobah of international standards? Or is it that Smoot has been cast into this position by that one fateful night, unable to escape his role as a measuring stick? Or perhaps he is an obsessed megalomaniac who will settle for nothing less than the Smoot being recognized as the basis for all measurement?
In any event, I’m sure his position is quite deserved, as in the past he has shown us all that he is a great ruler.
As I was still recovering from that one, this came in: For Exercise in New York Futility, Push Button.
Millions of dutiful city residents and tourists have pushed them over the years, thinking it would help speed them in their journeys. Many trusting souls might have believed they actually worked. Others, more cynical, might have suspected they were broken but pushed anyway, out of habit, or in the off chance they might bring a walk sign more quickly.
As it turns out, the cynics were right.
The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on, according to city Department of Transportation officials. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show. Any benefit from them is only imagined.
帳 – Zhang4 – Account, Tent
SBC/SNET/Yahoo! dialup and DSL users: Unable to log on to the Internet? Just today, they apparently changed, without warning, a large number of 帳號 – Zhang4 Hao4 – Account Number — Usernames. Try logging in with <username>@snet.net instead of just <username>. Your 密碼 – Mi4 Ma3 – Secret Number — Password is still the same.
In other useless debugging news, if your phone is broken, call the phone company, and if your car won’t start, drive it to a repair shop. Keyboard not found, press F11 to continue.
Push to test. <click>. Release to detonate.
This has been a public dis-service announcement from Messy-78.
On winter evenings, men gather outside a hotel in Japan’s frozen north to heat snow with an oil stove in a vinyl tent. When the powdery stuff becomes malleable, they shovel it into a mold resembling a giant cupcake tray, and stamp out 1,000 perfectly round snowballs of regulation size: no less than 2.56 inches in diameter and no more than 2.76 inches.
Here’s where you can buy the regulation practice snowballs (46g nylon covered beanbags):
1. [adj] having a play of lustrous rainbow-like colors; “an iridescent oil slick”; “nacreous (or pearlescent) clouds looking like mother-of-pearl”; “a milky opalescent (or opaline) luster”
2. [adj] consisting of or resembling mother-of-pearl
Ha, the Internet is great. That last post has sent me on an amazing Google-powered journey through Trek Trivia. Everything from “NO KILL I” to “Botany Bay?!!? OH NO!!” to “Queen to Queen’s level three”. I’ve determined what the ultimate Trek trivia question is. Anybody know this one, no cheating?
Of course everybody knows the self destruct sequence of the Enterprise, code one, one-A, two-B, zero zero zero… DESTRUCT… zero, all that stuff. Here’s the question: HOW DO YOU ABORT THE SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE?!?!? Do you know the code? What? You don’t? 8… 7…. 6…. 5… GET OUT! GET OUT OF THERE! GET OUUUUUUTTTTT!!!!!
Pop quiz! The Ships Of Star Trek. I got 7 out of 10 on this, even though it seemed like most of the questions were on Deep Space 9 or Voyager, which I never watched.
(I do have to take issue with one of the answers. The Federation class “Dreadnought” is CLEARLY documented in the original version of the Star Fleet Technical Manual, which being published in 1975, I think must be considered canonical.)
哈 – Ha1 – (sound of a laugh)
Today we have another of those magnificent obsessions. Greg Pringle has compared the Chinese (mainland and Taiwan), Japanese, and Vietnamese versions of each of the 哈利波特 – Ha1 Li4 Bo1 Te4 – Harry Potter books, and has posted pages commenting on the translations of each chapter name, riddle, song, and owl.
There’s other good stuff on his site, like this page explaining the politics of the different ways to say “week” in Chinese. And this unbelievably huge database of bird names (curious about nuthatches?).
稿 – Gao3 – Manuscript, Draft
I finally completed the first 稿子 – Gao3 Zi5 – Draft of my Seminar Paper tonight. This is good news for me, and good news for anybody who would like to see a new version of Feed on Feeds. I haven’t been working on it at all lately because of that
stupid wonderful paper.
If FoF were in better shape, I’d be less embarrassed about recommending it when people like these are talking about server side aggregators.
格 – Ge2 – Square Pattern, Frame, Line, Shelf
格子糕餅 – Ge2 Zi5 Gao1 Bing3 – Square Pattern Cake Biscuit — Waffle
Earlier this week: Republicans Accuse Kerry of Planning Dirty Campaign
The head of President Bush’s Republican Party accused Democrat John Kerry’s campaign on Thursday of planning the “dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics” in a scorched-earth bid to oust Bush in November.
Soon afterwards: KERRY FIGHTS OFF MEDIA PROBE OF RECENT ALLEGED INFIDELITY
A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.
Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.
And then: Actress And Anti-War Activist Jane Fonda Speaks to a crowd of Vietnam Veterans as Activist and Former Vietnam Vet John Kerry (LEFT) listens and prepares to speak next concerning the war in Vietnam (AP Photo)
But then: 1971 Photo of Kerry Doctored
As a 20-year-old photographer documenting the country’s struggle over the Vietnam War, Ken Light snapped the picture of John Kerry at a peace rally in Mineola. It captured the future senator alone at a podium, squinting into the sun.
Light did not photograph Jane Fonda on that warm June Sunday in 1971. The actress, who is reviled by many Vietnam veterans for her vocal stance against the war, did not even attend.
But when opponents of the Democratic presidential hopeful began e-mailing Light’s picture to one another four days ago, it depicted Fonda standing by Kerry’s side. The photo had been doctored.
And just today: Woman Denies Rumors of Kerry Affair
A woman who has been the subject of rumors linking her to Sen. John Kerry denied Monday that she ever had an affair with the Democratic presidential candidate.
Breaking her silence four days after the allegations surfaced on the Internet, Alexandra Polier issued a statement to The Associated Press, saying, “I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false.”
I guess what you pay for is the radiation hardening, the greater temperature range, and the higher mean time between failures? The RAD6000’s MTBF is rated at over 375,000 hours. I can find some server-grade PC motherboards rated at about 30,000 hours. I don’t even want to know what consumer stuff is rated at.
華 – Hua2 – Flowery, Showy, Magnificent, Splendid
華盛頓 – Hua2 Sheng4 Dun4 – Washington
林肯 – Lin2 Ken3 – Lincoln
十 – Shi2 – Ten
For our tenth anniversary, Jenny got me ten presents! Many of them were even actually for me.
I got her fried chicken.
情 – Qing2 – Feelings, Love, Passion
情人節 – Qing2 Ren2 Jie2 – Lover Day — Valentine’s Day
XXX OOO ♥♥♥
IT WORKS! I got a region-free DVD player the other day. It didn’t work at first, but there’s a firmware upgrade, and now I’m 100% region free. I asked Walde to bring over his most diabolically formatted DVDs to test. He produced a disc that was the “perfect storm” of DVD incompatibility: A region 2, PAL, anamorphic wide screen disc. And it played perfectly!
I believe it is every American’s patriotic duty to circumvent DVD region lockout, or any other artificial limitations put in “consumer” products. Crippled technology sucks!
If you’re interested, this player that works for me is an RJ Tech RJ3700, and we got it from Sina.com. It came with two “free” karaoke microphones. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Like I said, it didn’t work out of the box, but there’s a firmware upgrade available from the manufacturer. The instructions for how to burn the firmware to a CD were very vague, but I happened to find this set of instructions for a Polaroid player that must use the same chipset or something. I had success using the firmware provided by RJ Tech, but burned and loaded using the instructions provided by Polaroid.
災 – Zai1 – Disaster
災難! – Zai1 Nan4! – Disaster!
It doesn’t work. It almost works, but when playing widescreen movies, it stretches them out to fill the whole screen. There’s an option in the menu to turn this off, but it doesn’t do anything!
So we’re back in region 1 jail.
Looks like offshoring may be a “big issue” in 2004:
Wading into an election-year debate, President Bush’s top economist yesterday said the outsourcing of U.S. service jobs to workers overseas is good for the nation’s economy.
Shipping jobs to low-cost countries is the “latest manifestation of the gains from trade that economists have talked about” for centuries, said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Little wonder offshoring has become a red-meat issue for angry trade unionists and their supporters. After his victory in the Iowa caucuses last month, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry railed against federal tax incentives to companies that outsource jobs. “We are not going to give one benefit or one reward to any Benedict Arnold company or chief executive officer who take jobs and money overseas and stick you with the bill. That’s over,” he said.
Want to read a treatise on the 18 different types of spaces in Unicode? How about on the 16 different types of hyphens and dashes (and their line-breaking properties)? OK, maybe you DON’T want to read about those topics, but need to? Try Jukka “Yucca” Korpela’s Characters and Encodings.
There’s lots more good stuff at his site, including this page of millions of useful links and tables related to web authoring.
(via dive into mark)
日 – Ri4 – Sun, Day
日本 – Ri4 Ben3 – Sun Origin — Japan (of course, they pronounce it Nihon there)
This character is also used to write dates. February 8th would be 2月8日 (2nd moon, 8th day).
Just the other day there was this great post about Asian Acronyms. Note that not only are his posts really good, but the comments are actually insightful and interesting too. And according to GeoURL, he’s nearby, maybe in Connecticut, or Long Island. (It actuallly shows him as being in the middle of Long Island Sound. Maybe he’s in a top secret underwater language research lab, with Dick Cheney. And he probably calls him Mr. Cheeney, not Mr. Chayney.)
New research on the famous ALH84001 meteorite shows that the internal structure of the fossilized worm looking things very closely match the internal structure of real bacteria on Earth. Here’s an article about the research.
The even more amazing thing is, if this is right, life on Mars pre-dates life on Earth!
編 – Bian1 – Compile, Compose, Weave
編譯程式 – Bian1 Yi4 Chen2 Shi4 – Compile Translate Program — Compiler
組譯程式 – Zu3 Yi4 Chen2 Shi4 – Assemble Translate Program — Assembler
鏈結程式 – Lian4 Jie1 Chen2 Shi4 – Link Program — Linker