Mmmm, cheese

13 January 2004 » In Other » 18 Comments

I want one of these for my birthday.

Deja Vu All Over Again

10 January 2004 » In Other » 2 Comments

So for those of you who haven’t heard, Queen Mary 2 ocean liner – “the world’s largest, longest, tallest, grandest Ocean Liner ever! ” – is ready for christening and its mayden voyage. That’s what they said about the Titanic about a hundred years ago…

Space Missions

09 January 2004 » In Opinion » 12 Comments

From an Associated Press article:

President Bush will announce plans next week to send Americans to Mars and establish a permanent human presence on the moon.

The Mars and the Moon? Why doesn’t he concentrate on the budget deficit and other things plaguing the country? Because this is nothing but a sweeping promise in an election year, so don’t count on much happening. It just frustrates me to no end that the space exploration is still within the government’s purview. The NASA is continually underfunded and even with the funds in hand they have a high rate of failures and flops and no clear goals for the future. The rate of space development could have been so migh higher had it been more open to private companies. This is 21st century after all, it’s time to stop monopolizing the industry! That’s an election promise that could work.

Clean House?

08 January 2004 » In Me » 4 Comments

Jeremy says he hired Merry Maids to clean his slobby apartment. I’ve thought a few times about trying them or a similar service, but I have a hard time getting over the idea that some strange people will come into my apartment and have fairly uninhibited access to my personal things and possibly documents (think identity theft and all that jazz). Of course, I can and will shred sensitive documents and try to lock up the valuables, but it all comes down to evaluating how much of a crimp this might put into my lifestyle versus the benefits I gain from not having to clean the place myself.

Language Instinct

06 January 2004 » In Opinion, Tech » 5 Comments

Simon Willison writes:

Looking back on 2003, one thing really stuck out for me: I didn’t learn a new programming language. The Pragmatic Programmers recommend learning at least one new language every year. . .

One new language every year? I have to question the validity of this advice. Programming language is just a tool, after all – the important thing is the knowledge of algorithms, complexity theory, data structures, protocols, and general computer science problem solving. The differences between mainstream languages may be significant, but the commonalities are overwhelming. The same solution can be implemented in roughly the same way in most of them. Knowing a language just for its own sake reeks a bit of hubris, in my humble opinion. Being comfortable with one language in each category makes more sense: one functional (Lisp, Scheme), one object-oriented (Java, C#), one scripting (Perl, Python, PHP), and a couple of specialty ones (SQL, HTML) provide a solid base and enable you to learn similar languages quicker, if need be.

Simon is probably going to resort to learning Snobol and INTERCAL in a couple of years, but that’s his choice. 🙂

The Fat of the Land 2

06 January 2004 » In Funny » 2 Comments

The Onion rules again.

The Fat of the Land

04 January 2004 » In Rants » 14 Comments

Researches have linked obesity to… food portions. Pardon my French, but no shit, Sherlock. What’s next, cigarettes cause various diseases including cancer? Give me the grant, I’ll link reading funny stories to me inadvertently squirting out of my nose whatever I happen to be drinking at the moment.

Seriously, obesity which plagues this country is not a complicated nut to crack. Oversized portions, lack of exercise and general activity, foods high in sugar and fructose, obnoxious advertisement of junk food – they all contribute in fairly equal manner. Yes, there are genetic reasons but those are rare. And no fad diet or fat burner pills or miracle herbs will save the poor obese kids or adults. Not Atkins, not Dr. Phil, not anyone but themselves. Start moving, cut down on junk food, reduce portions, get some exercise, build up lean muscle mass and watch the pounds melt away. That’s the only recipe, buddy.

Happy 2004!

31 December 2003 » In Other » 1 Comment

Happy 2004 New Year, everybody!

Armed With an Almanac

30 December 2003 » In Rants » 6 Comments

When I saw this story on the front page of Yahoo!, I could hardly believe my eyes. To summarize:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

This is rapidly approaching the crest of ridiculous and crossing over into land of idiotic. Almanacs? Yes, the level of precipitation in Guam or who won the Emmy for best sycophant in 1962 are really dangerous facts to know. Let’s up the stakes: put the passport control at the library entrances, outlaw tourist guides (buh-bye Frommer’s, Fodor’s, and the like), immediately arrest those with Farmer’s Almanacs (weather forecasting is the domain of Homeland Security), and remove any sort of map installation that says “You are here”. That’ll stop them. They’ll think twice about picking up a copy of Webster’s too. At this point, the goverment’s efforts to stop terrorism remind me of a person who thinks a bee is about to sting them – spasmically waving hands, trying to shoo the insect away, and wreaking havoc on everything and everyone around them. Whatever will come next…

Shaky ground

22 December 2003 » In Bay Area, Work » 4 Comments

Last Friday I got moved into a new cube. I have one all to myself, finally! This morning while setting up the cube I felt the building shake gently – and being used to that from my days at FAST, where the trucks passing on route 128 regularly affected the foundational equanimity of the building – did not pay much attention to it. But, turns out it was a fairly significant earthquake in central California, near San Simeon, about 6.4 in magnitude. Wow, my first quake since moving here.

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