Sunday, June 29, 2003

Tomb Raider, Angel of Darkness

Yes, the controls in this game are very frustrating at first and hard to get used to. It takes at least a solid hour of play to figure them out. But here's the most important tip: you must use the right analog stick to manually move the camera! Once you get the hang of this, the game becomes playable and fun.

Painting of the day

Painting of the day: Isabel Samaras' Birth of Ginger, which is Boticelli's Birth of Venus redone with a Gilligan's Island theme. (via Sugar-n-Spicy)

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Boston 2, Philadelphia 2 (WUSA Soccer)

Philadelphia knew that a key to this game would be stopping Boston forward Maren Meinert. Meinert had come off of a great performance for the World team in the All-Star game, and had scored on Philadelphia before. So Philadelphia's rookie defender Rachel Kruze got the job of shadowing Meinert all over the field. This tactic worked very well. Meinert did not score a goal and was not particularly effective in creating chances.

At the other end of the field, Boston's defense could not stop Philadelphia star forward Marinette Pichon. Pichon scored both goals for the Charge.

Though it will not show up in game highlights -- which usually consist of great goals and spectacular saves -- what a player does away from the ball can be a deciding factor in the game. Philadelphia's Lorrie Fair positions herself so well on defense that she always seems to be at the right place at the right time to have the ball "coincidentally" drop at her feet. There is no official statistic for this, but if there were, I'd guess Fair would be among the league leaders. She also made a beautiful long pass from midfield all the way to Pichon in the penalty area, which resulted in the Charge's second goal.

Boston substitute Ragnhild Gulbrandsen came on late in the game to score the tying goal in the final minutes.
The Save A Planet blog has a very interesting way of looking at environmental issues.
This morning I went for my first motorcycle ride since my big crash. I took the Suzuki SV650s out and rode around the neighborhood. It felt good to be on two wheels again. My right hand can now operate the throttle and brake, but it still feels pretty stiff so I didn't ride for too long.

On a hot summer day, if you ride a motorcycle or drive a convertible along Highway 30, you feel the temperature change radically as you occasionally enter pockets of much cooler air. What is happening, I think, is that cooler air from up in the shady, heavily forested hills descends, following the contours of ravines and valleys, until it finds an "exit" where it can spill out over the road. Passing through the warm and cold zones, it's like you are feeling a topographic map of the hills above, represented as temperature.

I did not ride there today, but riding around reminded me of doing this last summer. That ride also features a view of the St. Johns Bridge.
Kevin from WizBang (my favorite news-oriented blog) interviewed me for Good Morning Blogosphere this morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A simple trick

Instead of searching Google for something try using "something" blog as your search words. Curious about which bloggers like kung pao shrimp? Google for "kung pao shrimp" blog and find this blog, among others.

Who has been talking to cats?

What has changed people's lives?

Who got kissed?

Who found a nickel?

What makes them happy?

What happened behind the library?

I came up with this technique because I realized that lists of most popular blogs don't help me very much. I have found no correlation between how many hits a blog gets and how much it interests me. I need new ways to find blogs to assimilate.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Blogger Tips

Note: I have completely changed my Blogger template since I wrote this article. I think the tips listed here still work, but my site looks different now.

Many Blogger users have emailed me to ask how I achieve various effects on my blogs. I am not an expert on blogging, but I will share what I've learned. I am fairly experienced with HTML, and I still found it frustrating at first to edit my Blogger template. Here are some of the "tricks."

How to list your archives

The technique for doing this has recently changed in the newest version of Blogger. To list your archives, edit your Blogger Template and put this code in where you want the archives list to appear.

<a href='<$BlogArchiveLink$>'><$BlogArchiveName$></a>

Titles for your articles

In Blogger, go to Settings / Formatting and set Show Title Field to "Yes." Now add this section before the body of your post:

<div class="articletitle">

I surround the title in a named div element so I can use CSS to control the look of the title. CSS is much too complicated to explain here, so go to the online tutorial.

Creating a Byline

The byline names the author and the time of the post. Some people use the time of the post as their Permalink (see below), but I prefer to separate them. You can create a byline by putting this after the post area of your Blogger Template:
   <span class="byline">posted by <$BlogItemAuthorNickname$> at <$BlogItemDateTime$></span>

I surround the byline with a named span element so I can control the look of the byline with CSS.

How to create Permalinks

Permalinks allow other bloggers to link directly to a specific article on your blog. They are an essential feature of a blog! A lot of the blogs I've been to have non-functional permalinks. Often I want to link to a post because it is great material, but I don't because the permalink doesn't work. (Of course, some people's writing is so good that I link to the site anyway.)

There are two parts to a permalink, the Link Anchor, which is the spot in your site that the permalink takes you to and the Hyperlink, which is the section the user clicks on to go to the Permalink. Edit your Blogger Template and place the Link Anchor section right before the Title of your blog post. The Anchor should be before the title of the post so that the title will show up when the user navigates to the article using the permalink. The Link Anchor section looks like this:
   <a name="<$BlogItemNumber$>"></a>

Next you need to create the Hyperlink part of the permalink. Most bloggers put this at the very end of the post. At the end of the post part of your template, put in the Hyperlink like this:
   <a href="<$BlogItemArchiveFileName$>#<$BlogItemNumber$>">(permalink)</a>

Adding a horizontal line as a separator

If you want a horizontal line separating your posts, like I have on my Matrix Essays site, then add this after your permalink hyperlink:
   <hr />

<br />

Putting it all together

The complete <Blogger /> section of my site (except for the reader comments part) looks like this, in case you just want to copy and paste the whole thing:

<!---- DAY TITLE -->
<div class="date">

<a name="<$BlogItemNumber$>"></a>

<!---- ARTICLE TITLE --->
<div class="articletitle">

<!---- POSTS ---->
<div class="posts">

<!---- BYLINE --->
<span class="byline">posted by <$BlogItemAuthorNickname$> at <$BlogItemDateTime$>
<a href="<$BlogItemArchiveFileName$>#<$BlogItemNumber$>">(permalink)</a>
<br />
<br />

Adding comments for reader feedback

If you want your readers to be able to leave comments, you'll have to add a comments service like backblog or squawkbox. Sign up with one of these services and follow their instructions. They both work with Blogger.

Note: Since I wrote this article, Blogger has added their own commenting system. I now use the Blogger comment feature, and it works great.

Getting more hits

This one is easy. Write about sex, and you will get more hits.

But maybe you don't want to do that. Maybe you want more people to read your insights about non-sexual topics. There are various tricks for getting hits, but they all ultimately involve tricking people into going to your site when it doesn't really contain what they are looking for. Do you really want a lot of hits from people who will be disappointed about having wasted their time? Or do you want a smaller number of "quality" hits from interesting people? To get quality hits, write original material that offers your own unique perspective, and become the Blorg.

Don't put "weird stuff" inside tables

If you use an HTML table to lay out your site with multiple columns, and you also have a control like a hit counter or any other unusual thing, do not put the unusual thing inside the table! There was (and may still be) a bug in Blogger that would randomly ruin your template if you did this. It took me many hours of frustration to figure out what was happening. Put "weird stuff" either before the table or after it. I always put my hit counters at the very bottom of the page, below the table.

Adding a hit counter

I recommend GoStats. Put it outside the tables :-)

The Mozilla Curse

If you use Mozilla as your browser (and it's a great browser, you should use it just for the popup-blocking), then never, never accidentally type a single quote where you meant to type a double quote inside a hyperlink tag. If you do this, your post will become un-editable with Mozilla, even in "safe mode," and you'll have to use IE to fix it.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The Fast and the Flamed

In today's World Superbike race in San Marino, one of the bikes burst into flames shortly after taking off for the warm up lap before the race. The rider quickly "abandoned ship" and jumped off the bike while it was still moving! The motorcycle continued on without him, crashing into the wall and sending a wall of flame up near where the front row of spectators were sitting. I could see spectators fanning the smoke away with their programs, leading me to wonder, "what ever happened to running away?"

Saturday, June 21, 2003


Trish-Y writes about leather:
[. . .] leather is like eyeliner to the eye, garlic to the bread, that extra zero to your paycheck. It suddenly makes everything interesting - it polishes you up, adjusts your hair, pushes you out the door and gives you a knowing wink. I'm not expecting you home tonight, it whispers as you swish out into the night. That's leather.

Order of the Phoenix

Last night I went to my local independent bookstore, Annie Bloom's in Portland, for the Harry Potter release party at midnight. I wanted to see the "scene" and take some pictures. The store handed out numbered tickets to mark people's order. I got there at around 11pm and was given the number 76. By midnight there were several hundred people there. A lot of people dressed up for the occasion. Some were dressed as witches or wizards, others wore bathrobes or pajamas and carried brooms. The candy store next door to the bookstore had stayed open late, so I bought some truffles and hot chocolate to enjoy while I waited.

The crowd was friendly, with a lot of people striking up conversations with strangers about the books. Some of the people near me had come from the other side of Portland because they thought that the crowd here would be better, with more adults.

When my real digital camera had run out of batteries, I started taking pictures with my Sony Clie. This attracted the attention of some other Harry Potter fans, and I gave them a demo of the Clie and explained its features. I should be a Clie salesman.

While I was still waiting to get in and get my book, I saw some kids come out of the store with their copies. They stood against the wall, opened the book, and immediately turned to the last page to see how it ended! Some in the crowd didn't want to know the ending, but they wanted a hint. "What's the last word?" they asked, and the kids yelled out "wake!" I checked, and "wake" is indeed the last word in the novel. But I haven't read any more than that yet, so I don't know what it might mean.

It was cool to see so many people excited about a book.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Feeding on Jessica Lynch

"Jessica Lynch is an American hero. Key word: American. That means she belongs to us. We need her. We need her goodness, and her newness. We need to feed upon her life force so that we, too, can live."

"Steven, that makes us sound like parasites!"

"No, no Jon, not at all. It's like a remora or a lamprey. We just need to latch on to her jugular and keep on sucking until her soul is as dry as a crouton."

"That's a parasite."

"No Jon, a parasite feeds off the living. We don't care if the host lives or dies. We're just as happy to feed off of decomposing flesh. Technically, that makes us saprophytes."

-- The Daily Show

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

We are Blorg

Eve at The Swamp writes, "WE ARE BLORG. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE." This reminds me of something I've been meaning to write about for quite a while.

People seem fixated on the question of whether blogging is journalism, and what kind of journalism it might be, and which rules apply. The people who mention this the most tend to be journalists, though, and as journalists they naturally view nearly anything involving information as some new form of journalism. And graphic designers see the Web as a new place to practice graphic design. Accountants probably blog their credits and debits and think blogging is "the new accounting." They all miss what really lurks within the blogosphere.

Blogging turns humans into The Borg. In a good way.

According to Wikipedia:
Borg are humanoids that are enhanced with cybernetic implants, giving them improved mental and physical abilities. The minds of all Borg are connected via implants to a hive, a collective mind, orchestrated by the Borg Queen. According to a Borg in one episode, they only seek to "improve the quality of life in the universe" and add to their own perfection.

Yes, a collective mind. The people on my blogroll are like my Borg Collective. And if I am on someone's blogroll, then I am one unit in that person's Collective. We share our thoughts, we add to each other's thoughts, we improve the quality of life on the Web. We add to each other's perfection.

Sites like technorati allow us to find out who links to us. This informs us that we have been assimilated, and also allows a Collective to form spontaneously without any formal invitations or complicated joining procedure.

How do we feel when we visit a site in our Collective and the site is down? Do we not feel a bit of a strange panic, almost like a vital part of ourselves has gone missing? Like we went over to a friend's house and he or she had moved away without telling anyone? This feels so different from our experience when some other site -- a commercial site, or any site not part of our Collective -- fails to respond.

A Blorg Collective interaction has some unusual properties. We never know exactly who we are talking to, or when -- an old message from months ago may draw a response today, as if completing a sentence spoken only seconds ago. We may not know why someone assimilated us into their Collective, only that they did. And the next contributor may be someone we have never heard from before.

Unlike newsgroups or message boards, which are topic-centric, blogs are person-centric. We may initially find out about a blog because of a Google search on a topic, but we assimilate the person, not the topic. Some blogs like snarkfest have multiple authors, forming a Collective all on one site.

The Blorg brings out our cooperative nature in a way that many other formats on the Net do not. We generally link to things we like, things of value, things of interest. We usually find it to be too much trouble to link to things that annoy us, especially because bloggers perceive a link as a reward of sorts. (There have been proposals to create new kinds of hyperlinks that carry the opposite meaning, a sort of "I'm linking to this because I hate it" semantic. I hope this never happens! The current system very subtly encourages benevolence by not providing a very effective mechanism for meanness.)

Welcome to the hive mind. You will be assimilated, and you will assimilate, and you will be the Borg Queen of your own Collective. Resistance is futile.
". . . military manuals with their cartoon based approach are far more effective in engaging the reader than the pedagogical techniques employed by most college textbooks. The military is more advanced in its pedagogical technique than the university system, which is really rather amusing, and I think it is due to the greater pretentiousness of universities in this matter." -- Hans Reiser, in a Slashdot interview about the ReiserFS file system.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


Gardening would be more fun if it were more like Pokemon. You'd grow some plants, your friends would grow some plants, then you'd have the plants fight each other in exciting tournament battles:

MOLLIE sends out HYDRANGEA (Lv. 5)

TOM sends out DAY LILY (Lv 4.)



DAY LILY takes 4 damage!
. . .

DAY LILY attacks using ORANGE ZEST!

DAY LILY hits!

HYDRANGEA resists the effects!
. . .
"In elective monarchies, the vacancy of the throne is a moment big with danger and mischief." -- History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

I love Gibbon's writing style.

Monday, June 16, 2003

My father: "Are you taking orders?"

Waitress: "Well, I'm sure not giving them!"

Sunday, June 15, 2003

U.S. 5, Ireland 0 (Women's Soccer)

The U.S. attackers used superior speed and deceptive moves to pick apart the Irish defense, producing a goal in the first 2 minutes of play and a 3-0 lead in the first 20 minutes or so. I was impressed by the play of Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne, who made at least a half dozen quick, acrobatic saves. Without Byrne in goal, the final score could easily have been 10-0.

Sadly, American Heather O'Reilly suffered a broken leg after colliding with Byrne in the process of scoring the game's first goal. The replays convinced me that Byrne had made a fair play for the ball, and if anything it was O'Reilly who rushed in without regard for her own safety.

Mia Hamm came in during the second half and showed off her magic. She has a huge variety of moves, and has an amazing way of faking a pass and then launching a wicked long-range shot instead. I've never seen any other soccer player do this quite so well. The shot just seems to come out of nowhere. In this game, the shot barely missed, but she made up for it later with a close-range goal.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

I went to the Portland Japanese Garden today. There had been a power failure, so the waterfall that normally flows into the Koi pond was not running. This gave the pond an unusually silent quality, but also allowed me to hear sounds that normally would have been masked by the waterfall. For the first time, I could hear the koi eating.

I used GIMP to darken the water and perform other enhancements.


A post at Breaching the Web asks:
Do you ever get tired of hearing your own voice? I've been doing so much talking at work lately (meetings, formal and informal have suddenly taken over my life) that I can't stand to hear myself talk once I get home.

I used to have the opposite problem. At an early job of mine, I worked in almost total silence. I was working on some technical stuff by myself, and so except for a "good morning" or a "see you later," I wouldn't say a word to anyone the whole day! After months of this, I found that I had gotten somewhat "out of practice" with talking, and if I talked for more than a few minutes I would get a sore throat.
Find blogs by region at The Pepys Project.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Primate Sex

A small but noticeable portion of this site's traffic comes from those searching for "monkey sex" (a phrase I tend to associate with a line from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) or, as some searchers quaintly express it, "sex with monkey." I assume that most of these searches must originate from serious researchers seeking to expand their knowledge of primatology. So, as a public service, I will provide some basic information and links to online resources for further study.

In the study of primate sexuality, one of the most interesting examples is that of the bonobo, also known as the Pygmy Chimpanzee. Dr. Susan Block calls these animals "the horniest apes on earth" and explains that the "highly sexed females are also far more likely to initiate sex with the males than any other great ape females (including humans!)" (link)

Bonobo society, in which females are dominant, centers around sex. Some speculate that the use of sex to solve problems causes bonobos to be one of the least violent primates. According to Dr. Block, bonobos "tend to resolve any conflicts they might have by mounting each other or engaging in oral or manual sex" (link). Bonobos have sex often, usually several times a day.

Douglas Foster writes:
Sex patterns among bonobos also reveal remarkable patterns of behavior. Bonobos engage in carefree erotic exchanges of unusual frequency and form. Face-to-face mating was once considered a distinctly human activity, but male and female bonobos often use the "missionary position," according to field studies and captive animal observation in zoos around the world. Bonobos also engage in polymorphous pleasures, including erotic rubbing between females, penis fencing among males, cross-generational sex play, group eroticism, and French kissing.

"The bonobo is a sexual Olympian," writes Natalie Angier in Woman, An Intimate Geography. "Males, females, old, callow, no matter — it’s sex, grope, hump, genito-genital rub-a-dub-dubbing, all the day long." (link)

Bonobos also engage in lesbian sex, as this article by Frans B. M. de Waal, originally published in Scientific American, explains:
Perhaps the bonobo's most typical sexual pattern, undocumented in any other primate, is genito-genital rubbing (or GG rubbing) between adult females. One female facing another clings with arms and legs to a partner that, standing on both hands and feet, lifts her off the ground. The two females then rub their genital swellings laterally together, emitting grins and squeals that probably reflect orgasmic experiences.

Bonobos may have a lot of sex, but encounters are short by human standards, with "the average copulation lasting 13 seconds." (link) And whereas humans seem to prefer to go out to dinner first and have sex afterwards, bonobos reverse the order of this, apparently to defuse the tension surrounding competition over food. But it isn't just the presence of food that instigates sex among bonobos. It is also the presence of, well, just about anything. De Waal explains:
[. . .] anything, not just food, that arouses the interest of more than one bonobo at a time tends to result in sexual contact. If two bonobos approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box.

I picture a bonobo looking over at the zookeeper and making gestures meaning, "Hey! Throw another one of those carboard boxes in here!"

Further reading:

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Heh, Palace Princess tricked me. When I read someone's writing I often wonder what the author's voice sounds like. I try to imagine it, and I am often very, very wrong. I still remember the first time I heard William Gibson speak -- from his novels I expected something like a California surfer voice. Not at all. Anyway, Princess had an "audioblog" post and I thought "aha, now I will find out what she sounds like." But the post turned out to be music.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

My favorite sign shows the wheelchair symbol and then the words "Enter Through Kaboom." To me it sounds like some kind of cryptic warning about land mines, or evokes disturbing images of wheelchair users spontaneously combusting, but actually Kaboom is the name of the store next door.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Heh heh, now I've done it. Ever since I wrote this, the site has been getting hits from Google searches like "trinity and persephone kissing," "neo and trinity having sex," and perhaps most disturbing of all, "sex with monkey."

Sunday, June 08, 2003

When my hand hurts, I feel kind of like this.

There's a great set of "photos of the year" here.

The Bike Pile

Walking in downtown Portland, OR, I saw this pile of a dozen bicycles all stacked up and all locked to a single post. I have seen the bike pile a few other times, too, but I don't understand it. Who does this, and why? I imagine some "bicycle gang" of a dozen kids who all ride into downtown together and create this bike sculpture.

I have certainly seen public sculptures that I did not like as much as this unofficial one.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Blog crossover madness

Over at my Matrix Essays site I've put up my latest parody, No One Can Tell You (What The Chronic Is), in which I examine what Matrix: Reloaded would be like if it were a gangsta rap video.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The Secret to Pleasing Women

Last night my girlfriend called me "the ultimate guy." What did I do to deserve this acclaim? Was it my fast motorcycles, my good looks, my larger-than-average vocabulary? No, my friends, I'll tell you the secret, and on this blog you won't even have to pay $19.95 to find out. She said this because I watched Guys and Dolls with her and totally enjoyed it. You see, the secret to pleasing women is to like musicals.

Now, you guys out there may be thinking, "like musicals? How can I do that? Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just become a rock star or buy a really expensive car?" Well, if you believe in yourself and stick with my patented principles, you'll be there in no time.

Principle 1: Start slow, and go at your own pace

Don't try to be a hero by jumping right into high degree-of-difficulty shows like My Fair Lady or Fiddler on the Roof right off the bat. Start off with something easier for guys to relate to, like Moulin Rouge or Rocky Horror, or even Tommy. Once you gain more experience, you can work up to the harder stuff.

Principle 2: Remember what musicals are really about

You may be surprised to learn this, but musicals actually cover some very guy-friendly themes, such as sex, drugs, and violence. Miss Saigon is about hookers and war. The Music Man is about a con artist trying to hook up with a hot girl. West Side Story is about gangs and sex. The Producers is about con artists, Nazis, and sex with coworkers. Porgy and Bess is about murderers and crazy drug dealers, and Chicago is a girls-in-prison story about killer showgirls. If you think about it, musicals have virtually the same content as gangsta rap, but with different music.

Even the older musicals that seem so proper and square on the surface are really about sex -- lots and lots of sex -- they just tried to hide it barely below the surface to sneak it past the censors. But we all know what the characters are really thinking.

Principle 3: Concentrate on the words

The lyrics to most musicals are insanely clever, like rap songs with actual melodies. If you don't like the melody at first, just say the words to yourself in your head until you appreciate the rhymes and the structure.


Study this secret well; it just might change your life.
There is now a Geisha Barbie. Well, "Barbie Princess of Japan" officially. What I want to know is, will there be a Yakuza Ken?

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I want to make a bumper sticker that says: CHERISH MEDIOCRITY.

Monday, June 02, 2003