Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bringing Freedom And Democracy

My friend told me that one time in Japan he was approached by an older Japanese man who asked him if he could speak Japanese. My friend said yes, and then the man asked if he was an American. He answered yes again. The man then said, "Thank you for occupying my country and bringing freedom and democracy."

At this point in the story, I asked my friend whether he thought the guy was serious, or was just messing with him. He said that he seemed quite sincere. I told him he should have replied, "hey, no problem, come and occupy ours any time."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Tale of the Haunted Editor

In the last few weeks, while using the Emacs editor, I noticed that every so often, weird random errors would creep into my documents. It didn't make sense that they were just typing errors, because I would have noticed them right away, instead of much later. I began to try out different theories. Were my coworkers playing a joke, and inserting strange stuff into my files while I was away from my desk? This seemed very unlikely. Besides, it happened even when I hadn't left my desk. Was there some bug in the software? I couldn't believe that there would be such a serious bug that corrupted documents like this, that only happened to me. And I had used this software for years without a problem. Could it be trouble with my keyboard? Maybe my computer was haunted?

Today, finally, I figured out the problem. I had been using the mouse wheel to scroll around in the document, and occasionally while turning the mouse wheel I would press it a little too hard. This would result in a "middle button click" which was defined to paste whatever was in the buffer into the current point in the document. But since I was in the middle of scrolling, I would not notice the paste since it would quickly scroll off the screen. Later, when I came back to that section of the document, I would notice the problem. I redefined "middle button click" to do nothing, and the ghost in the editor was banished.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rock el Casbah

Rachid Taha does a great cover of Rock The Casbah by The Clash.

DragonQuest VIII

DragonQuest VIII. I've been playing this a lot lately. In terms of game play it is a very traditional RPG, with lots of battles, leveling-up, getting new equipment and treasure, and exploring. But I really like the way the world feels. They didn't strive for super-realism, instead it is more like an anime, but with a very lifelike quality. What you can't see from this still image is how the trees, grasses, and laundry are swaying gently in the breeze, the clouds are slowly passing, and the dog in the background is pacing around. The artistry surpasses the mere technical specifications of polygon counts and such. The music is also very good and played by a real orchestra.

The plot seems to move along at just the right speed. There aren't too many super-long cut scenes, most of them are fairly short, but just when you start to get bored with an area something new happens.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Airsoft: Taurus Millenium PT111

Though this airsoft gun seemed like a bargain at under $20, words can barely express how completely awful it is for target shooting. The gun produces a similar effect to taking a handful of airsoft BBs and drop-kicking them all over the room. If it were somehow possible for the BB to curve around and hit the shooter in the back of the head, this would be the gun that could do it. Not only that, the magazine is designed so that you have to slowly load one BB at a time instead of pouring them all in quickly, which just adds to the bother.

Instead of this, I recommend the KWC P226 which is very accurate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Portland Pilots Championship Celebration

Fans crowded into Pioneer Square at noon today to celebrate the University of Portland's winning of the NCAA national championship in women's soccer.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Do you feel lucky?

Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? Because this is, uh, one of the least powerful guns in the world. It is an airsoft gun I recently bought, it shoots plastic BBs, and it is a lot of fun for target practice in the garage or even in the living room. The BBs stick to a special target and then, after a few seconds, fall off into a collection tray. It is fairly quiet -- my cats don't even seem to notice when I shoot this in the house. It is a Sig Sauer P226 replica, made by KWC, and it has a funny sticker on the side that says, in small print, "WARNING Don't point at the creature." I had forgotten how much fun BB guns are.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jihad Carols

Gretchen ponders:

Do people even go caroling anymore? Did they ever? It's a great tradition, but in today's politically correct climate where you are no longer sure if you can even say Merry Christmas - it would seem even more dangerous to go door to door singing Christmas carols perhaps offending someone with your goodwill towards men.

Well, carolers who want to really broaden their repertoire can learn some Jihad Carols with which to entertain any terrorists in the neighborhood. Have Yourself A Merry Little Jihad is a great opener, along with Deck The Halls With Vials of Anthrax. Then you can go into the classic, All I Want For Jihad Is My Two Front Teeth, And The Utter Destruction Of Israel. This tune actually has a second, more moderate version, called All I Want For Jihad Is My Two Front Teeth, And For Israel To Withdraw To Its Pre-1967 Borders In Accordance With U.N. Resolution 242, but terrorists prefer the first one. At this point in the program, it's probably wise to lighten things up a little and close with a funny Jihad Carol like Grandma Got Martyred By An Imperialist Reindeer.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I'll Show You Mine

Here at Casa de Iron Monkey, we have a large collection of books. Too many to fit in one picture, in fact, but here is a glimpse at the "history section." Now show me yours: take a photo of your bookshelves and put it on your blog, then leave a comment so I'll know where to look. Isn't looking at people's bookshelves fun?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Portland Pilots Win NCAA Women's Soccer Title

Every once in a while in the world of soccer, something happens that can make a fan cackle with fiendish glee. Today, that happend at the beginning of the NCAA championship match between Portland and UCLA. Before the game, the ESPN2 announcers had hyped UCLA as having the nation's best defense, a defense that had not given up a single goal so far in the tournament. That sounded fairly intimidating -- at least until the game started, and Portland easily scored within the first 2 minutes. Not only was it a spectacular goal by Angie Woznuk, but it was a goal that actually made me laugh out loud. Christine Sinclair scored again for a short while later, and at that point Portland pretty much had the game in hand. The final score was 4-0.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Quote of the week

In less than a generation, though, Photoshop has almost single-handedly replaced the pleasure we once took in trompe l'oeil with paranoia. We've gone from "Oh, that fruit looks so real I could eat it!" to "Is Hillary Clinton really holding an alien baby?"

-- Kelly S. Taylor, in JLHLS