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Interesting little tidbit on Ralph Nader's potential candidacy and encouraging him not to run (ralphdontrun.net). I was living in New York at the time of the 2000 election, and I recall the time was absolutely astounding. Everyone on every street corner was talking about it. But not in any kind of panicked way; it was just the only topic of conversation for about 2 weeks. I'm not exaggerating, you'd get in a cab and the drivers would ask you how many counties is Florida had been counted at that hour. People wrote little applications to parse the CNN website and ping every time there was an update. But it's funny, the website above is absolutely correct. It would have been a landslide (not necessarily of popular votes, but certainly of electoral votes) if Nader had not run. I'd be surprised if he was able to pull even 1/3 as many votes this time as he did last time, because the people that voted for him last time are so likely to be Bush haters, and are much more concerned with electability than issues. That said, I would not at all be surprised to see Bush win again, in that the Bush White House is one of the most electoral savvy I've ever seen.

Not that I think this is going to affect me either way. I'm just a cynic.

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Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

-- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

This is absolutely amazing poetry. I feel like a fraud for even posting it.

Have I already mentioned how depressing it is that all the great thoughts have already been thought? And how all the great words have already been spoken? On the other hand, if everyone thought that, I suppose nothing would ever be done. One of the most depressing things for me is when you come to what you feel is some brilliant conclusion and discover someone years ago already discovered it. It's not the discovery of the older work that's depressing; it's the deflation after you realize your thought has no unique value whatsoever. It always makes me feel like I should become a historian before I try any original thought.

As a note, I have never experienced the other side of this scenario, where I have thought something I thought was old and discovered no one else had ever thought of it; it's possible the opposite scenario is just as depressing. If I was really smart, I would take the fact that someone had already looked at the problem and all the mental power they spent coming up with a conclusion as directional advice. E.g. If there's a big X on the ground and hundreds of shovel marks in the middle, you are encouraged not to spend any time digging right where the X is, but can instead try to use some other solution. But if everyone thought that way, then there would be no shovel marks on the red X! Ah paradoxes. They go round and round until you stop and say "Ah paradoxes. They go round and round until..."

Oh, by the way, The Strokes are amazing. Stop whatever you're doing and go buy their albums.

D

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Man I hate carrying around cash. This (Credit on your key ring) may be my solution. The only problem here is that every store on earth is going to have to upgrade their point-of-sale machines in order to support this. Have fun using it in 20 years.

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Just wanted to let everyone know I've published a link to my Atom Feed, which will let you read the blog in Outlook without having to get mail, and use the excellent Newsgator I mentioned earlier. It's over there on the side (for those reading this in email or via feed, you'll have to go to the site to see it; though I suppose if you're reading this by feed, you don't need to go to the site at all).

D

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This past weekend was Valentine's Day. The particularly interesting part for me is that since I'm not seeing anyone seriously right now, I completely forgot it. Actually, that's not exactly true. My google toolbar changed to hearts, my bug tracker changed to roses and candy hearts, and there were notifications all over the front of my miscellaneous websites. But basically, I just didn't pay attention to any of the signs and Sunday rolls around and I realize that yesterday was Valentine's Day.

What really struck me about this was the concept of shared consciousness and what it’s like to be completely outside it. For example, I remember listening to a story during Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR right after the last Seinfeld was aired. A guy called up and they were asking him questions about the episode and he had missed the episode to watch the Red Wings in a playoff game. Millions upon millions of people were present to some occurrence (in this case something trivial like the last episode of a TV series) and this individual was completely outside that. I felt a little like that on Sunday. It seems like so much of our society works towards getting everyone to do one thing at any one time, and when you’re outside that, an enormous amount of the mental and emotional energy of the populous goes completely missed by you. Then, when everyone is talking or discussing it, you have no opinion on the matter. Not that it’s a bad thing, just that’s what is.

The one advantage to this, I think, is that you really get to take a fairly objective look at what’s going on. For the Seinfeld guy, he could look around and see the absurdity (or not) of millions of people sitting down to watch a show. For me, it was thinking about all the heartfelt exchanges that happened the previous day, and how I was a part of none of them. This is not depressing for me; it’s just kind of interesting.

D

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Nothing of great import today (is there ever anything of great import?). I've joined orkut, thanks to a friend of mine, and the concept is definitely interesting. I messed around with Friendster for a while, but it was so slow it was absurd to use. The concept, for me, is a wonderful one; basically it allows what were formerly passive networks to be actively processed by people. For dating, it's great in that A: you know your friend knows this person and B: your friends no longer have to actively answer the question "Do you have any single friends". However, I wonder how well this will work for non-dating scenarios. Like could I get a VC contact through this? The other question is how skewed is the sample. Are only computer geeks (myself included) going to be the one who log in? There was a great article on this, and other online dating tools, in the New York Times Magazine a while ago; I have yet to see any payoff however. My dates seem to only be acquired the old fashion way... by making an ass of myself. Email me if you'd like to be my "friend" (on orkut or otherwise, I suppose).

D

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A few quickies today...

First, someone sent me a link for this software. FolderShare. VERY impressive. Allows synching of home, work and mobile PCs transparently, through firewalls. Dave like.

Second, I was turned on to Newsgator recently. I'm really impressed with this software as well. Integrates completely into Outlook and Exchange, which means you can take it on the road or where ever you want. It's worth the $30.

Third, while browsing through my new found enormous list of blogs to read as part of this Newsgator feed, I came across a great page. I find myself torn, though, because I don't just want to reference other blogs. I always find that the most interesting resources on the web are where people bring something new and interesting to the table. Like the number of bars in Seattle, or the number of steps between major landmarks in NYC. On the other hand, if you haven't seen it... It's new to you, right? Ah the dilemmas of a new medium. I think for now, I'll just reference it and quote the source. That should be fair, right? Anyhow, I miss pasta. (Courtesy of Instapundit)

D

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Just as a warning, I’m going to be talking about me in the shower in a minute. You’ve all been warned! Abandon hope, all ye who enter here …

Today I was getting ready for work, and I took a shower for the second time in roughly 9 hours. I was thinking that this is probably a waste of water, why am I in here? I had just showered after I worked out the night before; I’ve got to still be clean, right? But then I rationalized it by saying, no this is waking me up. That’s got to have some value. You know the way my mind works, and immediately I recalled the commercial from the 80’s, which I’m embarrassed to say, I not only remember the words, but the tune.
Coast, the scent opens your eyes
Coast lather, and you re-aliii-iize
That Coast is the way, to make you feel alive!
Coast, feel alive with Coast!
For some reason, it finally struck me how absurd this entire advertising slogan is. Are you kidding? A bar of soap is going to make you feel alive? Um, ok!

Ok, so the scary thing for me is not that I remembered this slogan, but that in my old age I’ve turned into some Andy Rooney want-to-be. I am now the type of person who actually listens to the absurd words in a song or slogan and realizes how absurd they are. It’s a bit funny, because the whole ignorance is bliss thing really comes into effect. I was so much more tolerant of TV when I didn’t pay attention to these details. What do you think it is about growing older that would actually turn you into this crotchety old complainy person? Here’s to reversing the aging process…

D

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Well I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone, but 50% of me is a huge nerd! How about you?. Actually, maybe it does come as a bit of a surprise, considering it's only 50% of me :) I'm going to discuss these questions below... so click through if you want to take the test before I discuss them.


1. The shards of...

My Answer: No idea
Answer: Narsil
Response: Uh, shards?


2. Who is NOT a member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

My A: Sherlock Holmes
A: Sherlock Holmes
R: I based this totally on the tv commercials I saw for this movie. Kind of cool that Captain Nemo is in there. Who's Alan Quatermain?

3. CMOS stands for:

My A: Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor
A: Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor
R: I don't know when I learned this, but I did :)

4. Green-skinned love slaves come from the planet:

My A: Betelgeuse
A: Orion
R: I thought this came from the wonderful game "Leather Goddess of Phobos" by Infocom, but, reflecting on it now, it probably came from a part in HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy that I don't remember.

5. I've just started up a game of CounterStrike 1.5. I'm on CT, the map is de_dust2. In the buy menu I hit 1-3. The weapon I’m buying is a(n):

My A: Pump shotgun
A: Deagle
R: Wouldn't you think that the first column would have basic weapons like a shotgun? Eh, never played CS. And do they really change by level?

6. You want to overclock your Athlon XP 3200+ up to 2.5 ghz. Given that a the default 3200 runs at 2.2 Ghz by default (11.0 clock multiplier, 200mhz FSB), which multiplier / FSB combination would most likely work the best?

My A: 15.0, 186 mhz
A: 12.0, 209 mhz
R: Funny about this, I actually had this very conversation earlier in the day, as I'm currently in the process of building my new home machine. Funny, I still got it wrong. Very wrong.

7. The Zeroth Law of Robotics states that:

My A: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.
A: No robot may harm humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
R: So close! I think this comes from Issac Asimov's I, Robot, but I've never read it. I probably absorbed this through reading slashdot, or some such.

8. 40,000 years from now these are all Temples of the Imperial Officio Assassinorum, except for...

My A: No idea what I put
A: Beil-Tan
R: What?

9. "I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis!"

My A: Zaphod Beeblebrox
A: Zaphod Beeblebrox
R: Another Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, as are all the character choices listed there.

10. I am Rygel the 16th, ________ of Hyneria.

My A: No idea what I put
A: Dominar
R: Who?

11. Twinkle is to Drizzt as:

My A: Sting is to Sam
A: Needle is to Arya
R: No idea what this is from. I guessed the Lord of the Rings relationship - weapon is to carrier, but now that I think about it, wasn't it Bilbo or Frodo who carried it?

12. ...Live long and prosper.

My A: Strength and honor...
A: Peace and long life...
R: From the vulcans... I guess this is like a challenge response kind of thing, but I can't remember ever hearing this.

13. Which does not belong?

My A: Salmon
A: Salmon
R: All the rest are used in Monty Python sketches, though I'm sure that there must be another thought for this one.

14. As you are traveling through space, your sensors detect a strange, black monolith floating nearby. Without looking, you know that it has the proportions:

My A: 1 by 4 by 9
A: 1 by 4 by 9
R: 2001, a space odyssey by Arthur Clarke and later, of course, the movie.

15. "One Ring to find them"

My A: No idea what I put
A: Ash nazg gimbatul
R: Did you know that JRR Tolkien was a linguist before he was an author? The interesting part is that he probably created these whole languages from scratch. Very impressive! Lord of the Rings Trilogy... btw.

16. Who has never been considered a prophet?

My A: Medivh
A: Mithrandir
R: Muad'dib is from Dune and was a prophet in that... the only one I know for sure. No idea what Mithrandir is from but sounds vaguely like Lord of the Rings.

17. Which cheat code is not paired with its game?

My A: No idea what I put
A: Power Overwhelming - Diablo 2
R: I very very rarely use cheat codes, so I'm never up to speed on it... that and I've only played half of those games.

18. List these Sith Lords in chronological order of their birth: Darth Sidious, Exar Kun, Darth Malak, and Kyp Durron.

My A: No idea what I put
A: Kun, Malak, Sidious, Durron
R: I got at least part of the order from Star Wars, Knights of the old Realm the video game for XBOX, but the rest I just took a stab at. I think I got it wrong.

19. Which does not belong?

My A: No idea what I put
A: Weasel
R: Where?

20. Klaatu Verata...

My A: Nictim
A: Nicto
R: Man these language ones are really hard. A couple more coming up here...

21. Who is NOT a Ghostbuster?

My A: Dr. Hawley Griffin
A: Dr. Hawley Griffin
R: Wouldn't technically the joke answer also be correct? I remember this from a misspent youth of watching this movie way too much.

22. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary abstracts of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself; although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?

My A: Because I choose to.
A: Because I choose to.
R: I assume this is from the third episode of the Matrix which I still haven't seen. Interesting thing, the Matrix was written by a couple of graduates of the Landmark Education program, and this is one of their basic tenets. That's why I guessed it.

23. What color kryptonite can permanently rob Superman of his super powers?

My A: Gold
A: Gold
R: I think I got this from the Superfriends when I was a kid. By the way, if you haven't been to Seanbaby, leave this page immediately and go there.

24. Who was not one of the Istari?

My A: No idea what I put
A: Cirdan
R: How?

25. Which character is not paired with their ship?

My A: Captain Piett, Executor
A: Talon Karrde, Lady Luck
R: Total guess, but some of them I knew. This was a real mix of Star Trek, Spaceballs, and what I would assume is Pirates of the Caribbean.

26. In a game of 2nd edition AD&D, my fighter has a THAC0 of 14. To hit an orc with an AC of 6, I must roll at least a(n):

My A: 8
A: 8
R: See above re: misspent youth. Actually, when I was going through the SAT preparation course in H.S. I remember learning about how to read answers to a question which you do not know. That almost made me move off 8. If I remember Bard's Tale correctly, you start with an AC (armor class) of 10 and count down from there. THAC0 means to hit armor class (of) 0, and then for each AC above zero, you subtract one. It just seemed obvious that someone would subtract the two and guess at 8.

27. "Success"

My A: No idea what I put
A: Qa'pla
R: I think this is Klingon, which I don't know.

28. "Well met"

My A: No idea what I put
A: Mae govannen
R: See above re: Klingon

29. In 2029, John Connor leads a valiant resistance against computer nemesis:

My A: Skynet
A: Skynet
R: This is from the Terminator series

30. The answer to life, the universe, and everything...in binary:

My A: 101010
A: 101010
R: Tough one, in that FIRST you have to know that this is from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and then you have to remember the answer (42), and THEN you have to convert 42 to binary. Tough!

31. Spiderman's Mary Jane shares the same last name as:

My A: No idea what I put
A: Sherlock Holmes' partner
R: INTERESTING. I didn't remember this, but I was never a big Spiderman fan.

32. In standard, 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons, your 5th level ranger with a dexterity of 19 dons a suit of studded leather armor (AC 3, max dexterity bonus +5). Assuming he bears no other protection or enchantments, what is his total Armor Class?

My A: 4
A: 17
R: I think I did the following math... dexerity 19 probably gives you +2 armor class, +3 from the armor, and then maybe +1 for being 5th level. Obviously, I was very very wrong.

33. In Sluggy Freelance, what is the magic word to turn Zoe into a Camel?

My A: Shupid
A: Shupid
R: I like this comic quite a bit, as indicated by my links on the side.

34. Which pair of characters was not part of the crew of the Weatherlight, from Magic the Gathering:

My A: No idea what I put
A: Urza and Mishra
R: I've never played this... I didn't even know it had a story behind it!

35. In the original Phoenix for the TI-89, how much would it cost to buy two shield recharges, and weapon #2?

My A: No idea what I put
A: $350
R: I guarantee someone got this. I was not him. Besides, I never had a TI-89... I was an Intellivision and C64/128 man myself.

36. Who is not a character of the Warcraft universe?

My A: Lothar
A: Duriel
R: All I remember is that skit on SNL with Lothar of the hill people... I never would have thought that would have made it into a video game. I'm always so bad at remembering names from video games... on the other hand, I've never played Warcraft 3

37. In Wolfenstein 3D, you play as:

My A: Blake Stone
A: B.J. Blazkowicz
R: This is pretty funny... I actually took an educated guess at this, but I was still off... the choices were:

Blake Stone - never heard of him
B.J. Blazkowicz - never heard of him
John Anderton - Minority Report
Frank Poole - never heard of him
Carth Onasi - never heard of him
Korben Dallas - Fifth Element
The Cheat, who is not dead - Home star runner

That was pretty good.... nearly 50% elimination!

38. The Vault Dweller comes from Vault:

My A: No idea what i put
A: 13
R: I don't even know what this is.

39. This ship was built at the Utopia Planetia shipyards.

My A: Heart of Gold
A: USS Enterprise NCC-1701 D
R: The funny part here is the name sounded so ridiculous, I had to guess Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

40. The most important resource of the planet Arrakis:

My A: Spice melange
A: Spice melange
R: Dune ... again. This guy loves dune.

41. If 42 is the Answer, then the Question is...

My A: "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?"
A: "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?"
R: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy... man I loved this "trilogy".

42. In what base number system does the muliplication in the above answer (well, question) actually equal 42?

My A: base 12
A: base 13
R: Uh, I suck at math?

Ok lots of writing here... I think I'll comment later on the correlation between intelligence and having too much time on your hands. Not that I have either, that is.

D

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I did what I consider to be one of the nerdiest things last night. I still love it though, so I’m going to share. So frequently, I’ll be at home and remember that I need something, but forget to write it down or whatever. So last night, after dinner, I was in the same mall as a Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer’s, by the way, are the equivalent to a perfect combination of your local grocery store and Costco. They’re cheap, they’re fricken enormous, but they also have goods of regular sizes (see previous post about things to avoid while buying at Costco). I knew there were at least a couple things I wanted, so in I went. I proceeded, as I usually do in the grocery store, to wander up and down every aisle. A brief list of what I bought included:

• Shredder (with support for credit cards and up to 6 pages at a time!)
• Cheap slippers for my cold apartment
• Serving dish
• Ground beef
• Bottles of wine so I can seem classier than I actually am
• Tail lights for my car
• Couple of paint chip palettes

And so on. As you can see, a pretty fruitful outing! I certainly could have been more efficient than walking up and down every aisle, but it’s the only way I can feel complete.

I used to think I was the enemy of all marketers, but I have to say I’m probably the customer the most long for. First, I have no short term debt, and my only long term debt is my mortgage. Second, I do alright for myself money wise. Third, I watch and remember way too many TV ads (even with UltimateTV!). Fourth, I’m very quick to believe what people who sound like authorities say. Maybe this is changing as I get older, but I remember thinking that if someone demonstrated on TV that their detergent gets out grass stains, and _I_ have grass stains, then dammit, I’m going to buy their product! Makes sense, no? No. Or does it? It doesn’t. Nonetheless, I definitely tend to be much more brand focused than I ever thought I would be, especially after looking behind the curtain, if you will, and seeing exactly how artificial the entire concept of adding value through brand actually is. Ooo look! Something shiny!

D