Archives for: January 2006

21st Century Austin Healey?

posted by graham on 06.01.30 at 09:12, null, Cars, Leave a comment Permalink


posted by collin on 06.01.23 at 15:06, nonsense, news, random, Leave a comment Permalink


University of Florida employees have to pledge that they're having sex with their domestic partners before qualifying for benefits under a new health care plan at the university.

The partners of homosexual and heterosexual employees are eligible for coverage under UF's plan, which will take effect in February. The enrollment process began this month, and some employees have expressed concern about an affidavit that requires a pledge of sexual activity.

...In addition to declaring joint financial obligations, prospective enrollees must "have been in a non-platonic relationship for the preceding 12 months," according to the affidavit.

Three Cheeses

posted by ben on 06.01.22 at 16:30, null, food, 1 comment Permalink

Junpier Grove Farm, Buche (has a piece of straw sticking out of it and smells amazing) from Redmond Oregon
Rollingstone Chevre (goat cheese wrapped in grape leaves, soaked in brandy) from Parma Idaho
Delice de France Grand Camembert (from that country that's bad at killing people)

Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
Buche: Tasty, despite my initial impression that it was bland. I suggest taking out the piece of straw when you serve it. It's much easier to cut that way.
Chevre: Good with my yummy Rosette de Lyon salami. Grape leaves and brandy don't seem to add much IMHO.
Camembert: Good with salmon and pepper. Pretty brie-like. What's the difference? I dunno.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 00:28

iPAQ not so useless after all

posted by graham on 06.01.22 at 04:54, music, Toys, 5 comments Permalink

As I struggle to write this from an HP iPaq 6515, I am listening to KEXP's 32k mobile stream.
Now who's idea was it to leave out a headphone jack in this thing's design?

Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
I think it has one on the bottom.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 06:42
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
I want a Newton.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 09:17
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
I'm not sure what the jack on the bottom is, but it's not 1/8".
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 16:54
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
Newton? OK... sure.

So I have the HP headset headphones now (the nicer Samsungs didn't play in both ears, which I don't understand), and the max volume is a 3 or 4 out of 10, but being able to listen to KEXP 24/7 is the sort of thing I could get used to.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 02:02
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
Fixed the volume... I'm a moron.
Permalink 01/30/06 @ 09:15

Which Frame Should I Use?

posted by graham on 06.01.21 at 00:07, random, Bicycles, 1 comment Permalink

It's definately a better frame, but is the LeMond too regular, do you think?

Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
I kinda like the Lotus. Doesn't the LeMond have big brazed on deraileur cable tensioner doohickies on the down tube? Kinda breaks up the clean lines of a fixy. Maybe a 1x8 setup? Or... You could make little led blinkers that fit in the tensioners. You might be able to turn the threaded tensioner part into a switch. And blue led's. That would be cool. And you should paint it, red glitter.
Permalink 01/21/06 @ 10:33

Comment from: Brian [Visitor] Email ·
Implausible but entertaining.
Permalink 01/21/06 @ 17:42
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·

"I say implausible because the narrator commits at least two glaring errors building a space elevator. One hopes the real deal would have had such errors excised by sanity check."

-Brian Dunbar

Since engineers never make hilariously disastrous mistakes ... I thought the unrealistic part was Blue Origin building a viable interplanetary space ship.

Permalink 01/21/06 @ 18:09
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] Email ·
I didn't say that engineers never make mistakes, only that your character made some that would not make their way into a finished design.
Permalink 01/21/06 @ 22:50
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
you seem like a nice fellow, but this is the part where I chant "Tacoma Narrows Tacoma Narrows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows..."

or maybe that stuff about Oppenheimer and friends wondering if the first atomic bomb would start the Earth's atmosphere on fire... yeah, engineers are characteristally moral sorts...
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 02:25
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
I can't really find the designers of the Tacoma Narrows at fault for not checking the bridge's natural frequency in a crosswind. It always seemed like such a freak occurrence to me.
If we're talking about hilariously disastrous, I'm sure the French deserve at least an honorable mention.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 05:15
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·

Here you go:

Honorable Mention: The French for the Maginot Line, possibly the most inept military structure ever devised (Which I guess is in many ways a good thing. Hooray for a culture that's better at getting drunk and making baguettes and art than killing people).

Permalink 01/22/06 @ 05:55
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
Oppenheimer an engineer? I wouldn't call Oppenheimer an engineer. Not to disparage the work engineers do, but fundamental research isn't engineering even if it does result in a "device." And you mention the "igniting the atomosphere" possibility. From wikipedia:
When Teller put forward the remote possibility that the bomb would generate enough heat to ignite the atmosphere (an event that was soon shown to be impossible by Bethe), Oppenheimer nevertheless was concerned enough to meet up with Arthur Compton in Michigan to discuss the situation.

Which really isn't a case of "Let's build this thing and not think about the consiquences." Case in point is the famous Vishnu [I always thought it was Shiva] quote [same wikipedia article]:
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that one way or another."

A little less poetic than if he just said it...
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 09:44
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] Email ·
you seem like a nice fellow

I think I am. I have my days.

but this is the part where I chant "Tacoma Narrows

Duly noted. Things happen and stuff breaks - we know this. The trick is to not get so full of yourself (from an institutional perspective).

engineers are characteristally moral sorts.

What does morality have to do with making sure your bridge doesn't fall down? You might be confusing technical competence with morality. Or are you saying that people have a moral obligation to prevent their creations from harming others? I'll agree with that.

The French for the Maginot Line, possibly the most inept military structure ever devised

The Maginot Line wasn't a structure but a series of border forts and redoubts; a way of thinking if you will. The French did a wonderful job of preparing to re-fight WW I. Note that the line did it's job - it wasn't defeated in battle, but had to be abandond when those wily Germans prepared to fight WW II and drove around it.

(Which I guess is in many ways a good thing. Hooray for a culture that's better at getting drunk and making baguettes and art than killing people).

Well yes - until a culture that is good at applying force shows up. Creating art and making wine is important - so is having the ability to protect your wine makers and artists from those who would kill them. Takes all kinds.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 10:58
Comment from: Joe Julian [Visitor] Email ·
Let's give the french some credit. They didn't just roll over and die during WWII. They fought fiercely and were even given credit in letters to Berlin by the Germans. Their leadership and strategists were to blame, not the men on the ground.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 11:25
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
With regard to Tacoma Narrows... Anticipating things like your bridge becoming a wing and attempting to take off is exactly what engineering is about. If you don't do that, you aren't really doing engineering, but just kind of building stuff.

Oppenheimer starting the world on fire... so, yeah, he was a physicist doing engineering. I'd say that makes him an engineer. The point is that they knew the world starting on fire was a possibility and they set the damn thing off anyway. Doesn't that astound you?

What does morality have with making sure your bridge doesn't fall down? This is where that miserable ethics in engineering class comes in... The O rings and the shuttle... they knew they were leaky. But, the engineers working on the part of the project didn't think it was a problem if they leaked some. So, instead of fixing their problem they ignored it. Yes, there was some paperwork filed, but nothing came of it until pieces of Challenger were falling from the sky. So morality is very important. To be a good engineer, you must tirelessly eliminate any mistakes from your work and try to anticipate how it might interact with the work of others to cause other problems.

About the killing... it does not take all kinds. If there were none of the killing kind then there wouldn't have been a world war.

But, assuming that killing people with guns is a laudable thing, a moment for the brave French resistance of WWII... the brave French resistance who waited until the Americans had landing at Normandy, and then waited a little longer to make sure the Americans were staying in France before emerging from their Paris sewers to fight bravely in a war that was already won. Ah, let's remember the noble Vichy regime and their tireless human rights work. And if all that doesn't warm your heart, remember warmly that at least the French didn't string up a bunch of concentration camp escapees... possibly because they never had the opportunity.

People aren't evil exactly, but they are cowards... and continental europe during the 30s and 40s is a largely undiluted example of that. People were very good at not seeing the evil things going on around them and not speaking out against them. I only hope we haven't developed that same skill here and now.

The solution to the problems then and the problems now is not death, but the exercise of free speech. Speak out against those things you consider wrong and steadfastly refuse to participate in any act which you consider wrong.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 15:03
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
So is engineering any time you create a physical device? Or does it only have to have a use outside the lab? Or is it defined by the intent of the builder/designer [more generic terms]? Is it engineering if the device is created with an intended use outside of the lab? Is it determined by economics? After writing these nonrhetorical questions [come on somebody, give me an answer] I'm less sure of which definition I would support. Which one are you using?

My point about Oppenheimer was that he seems to have been acutely aware of the consequences of his actions, or at least the ones he could imagine. You mention "burning the world" as you have before, which really begs the question: When do you trust that your model of the physical world is accurate enough for the application to place your faith in the cold hard purity of mathematical proof? Or when is the model not trustworthy?

I know that wikipedia isn't the greatest source but, "showing it was impossible" says to me: "Given this well-tested model of thermodynamics, the energy densities produced by an uncontrolled fission reaction and other conditions are not sufficient to ignite the atmosphere." I freely admit that my argument isn't well supported by good sources, but yours isn't either. Show me a paper, maybe I'll understand it though probably not.

And for those that don't know Ben [I should start charging you for PR work], he is some what of a francophile. So his viewpoint is a little more complicated than "teh French 5uX0r." For whatever that's worth.

Does anyone find it amusing that this fairly long discussion started with a little piece of science fiction? And come on, grey goo? Not that it's not an entertaining story.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 22:55
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
He thought the world might start on fire. He might not have believed it likely, but he though it possible and lit the bomb up anyway. And people say I'm sociopathic.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 00:29
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] Email ·
Oppenheimer starting the world on fire... so, yeah, he was a physicist doing engineering. I'd say that makes him an engineer

No - it make Oppenheimer was what he was - the director. The head cheese. The guy in charge. But not an engineer.

The point is that they knew the world starting on fire was a possibility and they set the damn thing off anyway. Doesn't that astound you?

Did you read the bit that said "an event that was soon shown to be impossible by Bethe" ?

But, assuming that killing people with guns is a laudable thing

The situation is rather more complex than that, of course. But yes - killing people with guns (or swords, slingshots or arrows) is a laudable thing if the alternative is extinction of your race, culture or country.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 06:42
Comment from: marco [Member] Email ·
Ben wrote:

People were very good at not seeing the evil things going on around them and not speaking out against them. I only hope we haven't developed that same skill here and now.

Some possibly evil things:
1) Torturing people to try to get information out of them.
2) Laying waste to an entire city to try to clear it of insurgents.
3) Secretly listening in on conversations of innocent people in the hopes that they might be talking to terrorists, without any regard for its legality or independent oversight.
4) Bombing houses with civilians in them in the hopes of also killing a high-level terrorist.
5) Detaining a person indefinitely and denying him/her the right to defend himself/herself in a trial.
Permalink 01/25/06 @ 12:18


posted by ben on 06.01.19 at 22:14, null, pictures, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

Cafe Paloma. 8pm ish. 93 Yesler. Free jazz, cheap wine, coffee and it's more fun than you.

Edit: Thursdays... forgot that part.

touch you touch you

posted by ben on 06.01.18 at 23:23, art, art, Leave a comment Permalink
-Henry Miller, "Bubu"

posted by ben on 06.01.18 at 03:19, null, null, Leave a comment Permalink

Critique of Any Sort of Reason

posted by ben on 06.01.18 at 00:07, kittens, random, Leave a comment Permalink

The measure of a man is not how quickly he can dig himself out of a hole his words have gotten him into, but how thinly he can slice a ripe beefsteak tomato while singing along to "Working Class Hero." I am a great man.


One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

-Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Steven Pinker is an ass.

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 20:20, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

I've had this argument for a long time that there may be differences between the way men and women think, but that those differences are so insignificant that they don't account for the lack of women in the sciences and we certainly shouldn't model our society (or education) on them regardless of their statistical significance. So, reading this made me happy.

jerry springer in print

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 19:48, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

This appears to be the equivalent of Avi for destitute black youth. At least, I hope it's for the youth. God help us if it's for adults, because the writing reminds me of Avi and Gary Paulsen with lots of drugs, hoes, car and a very blunt allusion to Rakim. Yay. Steal this book... Pulp it and use the result to print Wright, Baldwin and Hurston and give that to the young black youth. And maybe through some Avi and a few copies of Hatchet in the pulper while you're at it.

via gothamist (which I realize there is no good reason for me to read)

part II: the other half of the species

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 17:59, null, fetishizing intellect and beauty, Leave a comment Permalink

Left to right: Ezra Pound, Martin Amis, Langston Hughes and Spalding Gray alias Gary Spalding

There's a Welsh pub in St. Louis called Dressel's (think chips and rarebit) with walls covered in portraits of great writers. The walls look like the blog does right now. These people all have a certain look about them. I almost miss St. Louis.

the beautiful people, the beautiful people

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 17:37, null, fetishizing intellect and beauty, Leave a comment Permalink

From left to right: Dame Jean Iris Murdoch, Louise Erdrich, Hannah Arendt, Doroth Parker, Virginia Woolf, Colette

Notice how Dorothy Parker's the only one smiling.

You're so pretty when you don't smile.

posted by ben on 06.01.15 at 17:10, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

Bearded men often have cuntlike mouths; perhaps that is why they so love to eat pussy; it is like kissing themselves in a mirror.

-Erica Jong, Any Woman's Blues, pg. 60

I found that wonderful picture of her here. It's actually a fairly interesting blog too.

Ira just said...

posted by collin on 06.01.14 at 12:38, math, nonsense, math, random, Leave a comment Permalink
"Because when math fails, what do you have left but pure faith?"

-Ira Glass on This American Life [that is on the radio right now]

holding your damned salmon baskin robbins cone

posted by ben on 06.01.13 at 22:49, null, food, books, Leave a comment Permalink

The crepe is a lost art in America. Thought it may not be an art on the high order of puff pastry, it's a great vehicle for all kinds of ingredients nevertheless, and it is an excellent way to make leftovers elegant. We seem to have completely abandoned it, which to me is a culinary sin.

-Thomas Keller, Bouchon, pg 199

There is a god.

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 23:43, coffee, coffee, rant, food, seattle, 6 comments Permalink

The other night I walked up to Capitol Hill wearing my fluffy locally manufactured jacket in the never ending rain, intending to go to Victrola, sort of hoping to find Nate and duel, but not really, and mostly to go to the nice little Boulderesque grocery next to Victrola... and I found something more satisfying than brutally killing an old friend of mine: enchilada sauce.

Comment from: Toy Vano [Visitor] Email
I enjoy wasting valuable time reading your blog.
Permalink 01/13/06 @ 15:26
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
That's very kind of you, whoever you are.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 02:47
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
Oooo, I had no idea they made that. I am very hungry. I just found out they have an online store, but it's a little pricey. Fine, I can't add.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 12:40
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
$56.95/12 = $4.75 a bottle with shipping.

I think that's about right for a bottle of the best salsa ever.
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 15:57
Comment from: nate [Member] Email ·
Permalink 01/17/06 @ 15:07
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
I just ordered two dozen bottles of goodness...
Permalink 01/18/06 @ 00:16

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 23:23, null, on writing, 3 comments Permalink

In a doomed effort to be more like JWZ:

Dear Lazyweb,

What makes a Romantic a Romantic? Are they romantic? Is there something concise to be said? And don't tell me it has something to do with the date because it can't be the defining trait of a movement. This is where all you people with formal liberal arts educations get to gloat...

Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
I thought that to be a Romantic you had to champion the beauty and importance human nature. The movement started as a reaction to the enlightenment of the French Revolution, which valued scientific progress and man's reason above all else. King's dead (good) but everything spiraled into the bloodbath of the French Revolution (bad).
Percy Shelley (ugly man in portrait) wrote Prometheus Unbound. Prometheus is released and creates some Utopia with his light of humanity. Mary Shelley (ugly woman in portrait) wrote Frankestein. See Dr. Frankenstein ignored some sort of natural human essence when he used science to make his creature so bad stuff has to happen.
Maybe I'm wrong. They were all into bigamy and incest too, if you find that Romantic.

Who's the guy in the center?
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 15:55
Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
Clearly, Mary Shelley looks like a ghoul, but I think Percy looks reasonably handsome. Keats is in the middle. He's a Romantic, I think...

I had some rambling, incoherent argument about the quality of human souls and the Romantic's objectification of great souls. Shenni had enough sense to tell me I made no sense. One of my neighbors has been carrying around some Tennyson, but he couldn't enlighten me.

I'm not sure you're allowed to respond to this post as math is only technically in the liberal arts.

I want Romantics to be romanticizing something... surely the name came from their romantic notions about humanity or nature or something.

Whitman's an Existentialist, not a Romantic, right? But he championed beauty and the importance of human nature or something vaguely like that. So what's the difference?
Permalink 01/14/06 @ 16:05
Comment from: Shenni [Visitor] Email ·
Prometheus got himself into trouble for showing the humans how to make fire, he taught them the alphabet, invented art as far as they were concerned, et cetera, essentially creating a culture and a more advanced model of society for them to live in. This was in direct defiance of Zeus, who called the humans a primitive species (which they were, pre-Prometheus) and wanted to wait out their extinction by way of wild boar or blowing themselves up.

Existentialism = philosophy.
Romanticism = time period. Historical movement.
Whitman = both. He called himself a Romantic realist, which is what Ayn Rand ended up calling herself too, although that was a while later.

Romanticism was mostly about getting away from society and the church (which was corrupt and bad) and going into nature, where God was. Savage people in unexploited countries being better humans than us for not understanding how civilization works. Innocence, nature, bla bla bla.
Victorianism is much more fun.
Permalink 01/17/06 @ 14:15

Cafe Paloma

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 22:56, coffee, coffee, art, food, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

Cafe Paloma, the odd Turkish cafe or wine bar below me, has a jazz duo on Thursdays that covers a bunch of Davis and Coltrane classics. They're really pretty good. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Next week I'll take a picture.

Cafe Paloma. Jazz. 8-10PM. Thursday. 93 Yesler, Seattle.

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 12:17, rant, on writing, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

Outside my local coffee shop, they’re cutting a hole in the sidewalk with one of those saws for cement. As this is a civil engineering project requiring an enormous degree of oversight, there are five people in neon suits involved.

So, an insane homeless person wanders by… well several actually… but one was twitching his hands in the way the insane homeless people here do and for some reason this particular man elicited the sympathy of one of the workers… no doubt a kind man.

And he took him inside, sat him down, and asked the barista to help him. Not too surprisingly, she didn’t want any of it. What’s she going to do? Nurse him back to health? Find him a home? She called him an ambulance. So, an ambulance is going to pick up the homeless man and… what? What’s the point? …one act of hypocritical concern and then what? The EMTs will show up and? Take him to the hospital where they will nurse him back to health? Sure, I believe that.

So I left, not wanting to see this dreadful farce play out. I am hypocritical in the good sense: I have ideals I cannot possibly live up to. I admit that and sometimes I try. When I perform a kind act, it is because it is right, not out of selfish motivation or fear of how others will perceive me. Today I saw the other kind of hypocrisy: seemingly kind acts performed solely to mollify public opinion. I hate it. The vanity of it… the lack of feeling or humanity.

Walking home, with this tirade forming, it turned on me. They always do. Books. I read books. Great piles of books. When I hear one of those well intentioned rants against pornography (as opposed to the eww, it’s profane variety), it usually has something about how the pornographer's subject is dehumanized. So, pornography takes the human and makes it less human. Novels take personal experience and attempt to construct something human from a pile of vague recollections. They both arrive at the same place, a construction that is almost real, but is missing something crucial.

what a name

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 00:43, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

My life--my real life--started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds. My friend Linny would snort and convey the kind of multipronged disgust I rely on her to convey. One prong of feminist disgust at the whole idea of changing a woman's life, even though, as things turned out, the man himself was more the harbinger of change than the change itself. Another prong of disgust for the inaccuracy of saying my life begain after thirty-one years of living it. And the final prong being a kind of general disgust for the way people turn moments in their lives into movie moments.

-Marisa de los Santos, Love Walked In, pg 1

beautiful people tied to the floor

posted by ben on 06.01.12 at 00:13, television, television, Leave a comment Permalink

The last few episodes of Battlestar have been horribly disturbing, but the writing and acting just get better.

I had an argument with Anwar and Collin when we in high school that those spots of light in eyes are necessary, sufficient indicators of intellect, humor and beauty.

...and everyone goes to EXT2

posted by ben on 06.01.11 at 23:59, null, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

"Pricing for this license is $0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per licensee. Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft."

-FAT File System Technology License

I know real news sources are covering this, but wow.

For all your unreasonable cooling needs...

posted by ben on 06.01.11 at 23:22, null, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

I know Zalman has a new gigantic fan (CNPS9500 LED), but this Thermaltake one is vastly superior... I mean. I mean... I mean it looks like a beetle.

Thermaltake Beetle

If only Timmie suffered for another 200 pages...

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 23:38, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink
In relation to Daisy this arrangement worked as follows, and here his inability to imagine the future was of discreet assistance. If Gertrude abandoned him there would have been no need to tell her about Daisy. Indeed all sorts of things, such as his own death, might intervene to make the revelation superfluous.
-Iris Murdoch, Nuns and Soldiers, pg 202
'Oh Daisy, I've been so unhappy, it's been so awful.'
'Do you want me to console you because Gertie saw what a little rat you were? Poor little Timmie. Put your head there then. Women are for consolation, they're always the safe house. You come back to the woman you left and ask her to console you because your caper went wrong. God, we're fools. I wish I could find a better man.'
'I wish I were a better man.'
'Poor Tim, poor sinner. There, put your arms around me. Don't grieve, you're safe here.'
-Iris Murdoch, Nuns and Soldiers, pg 269

I live down there (it's very wet)

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 23:36, pictures, seattle, 1 comment Permalink
Comment from: graham [Member] Email ·
The same could be said about my room, though I'm sure you realized that already.
Permalink 01/11/06 @ 01:10

I have now lost my mind...

posted by collin on 06.01.10 at 17:11, nonsense, random, 1 comment Permalink

It is January 10th. I just tried to bring a Christmas tree into my aparment. I found it on the street. I quickly gave up.

Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·
Is there a backstory? You were going to... add it to your canoe, make it into skis, burn it in your nonfunctional gas fireplace?
Permalink 01/10/06 @ 23:29
posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 05:18, null, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

"Though it looks like one of my firends has lost his mind, so just ignore what's actually on the page."


Star Trek: The Great Society

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 03:59, art, television, television, Leave a comment Permalink

I am contemplating the death of an old friend.

-Gary Mitchell, Star Trek Episode 2, Season 1

The Great Society

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 03:57, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

...The purpose of protecting the life of our nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination, your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what it adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor...

-Lyndon B. Johnson, May 22, 1964

It's cold out there.

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 03:23, rant, pictures, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

I've been watching a homeless man die. It's been going on for a few weeks. He's new here, sitting in the rain. I'm not sure anyone lasts too long. I give him money, but it's not enough for anything. He just struggled by the Pho restaurant in the never ending rain, looking a little more hobbled than yesterday. I guess it's possible he'll make it through winter and live another year.

This loft is for sale for $825,000 in the alley where he often sleeps. The front door often opens to a view of him completely covered with a perennially damp blanket.

If we actually cared, poverty wouldn't be a problem.

Guar Gum and Brian York

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 02:45, null, null, kittens, food, Leave a comment Permalink
-Jam Designs and Nestle

I get nostalgic late at night... especially if I've been in bed for a few hours, unable to sleep, listening to New Order that makes me remember being 6.

When we lived in Colorado Springs, a special treat was something called a Banana Frost. It was a packet of God knows what that you would buy in the produce section. I'm pretty sure it was mostly sugar and an unholy amount of vanilla. The back of the packet instructed you to mix it with a banana, some milk and some ice cubes in a blender. The result was quite tasty.

At some point, it occurred to me that the packet was superfluous. Well, not superfluous entirely, but since the company that made it seems to have dropped of the face of the earth (like almost all the food I used to enjoy) it could be done without. ... You need 2 frozen bananas (it's very important to take the skins off before freezing... I found this out the hard way and ended up wasting most of several bananas trying to remove the skins with a pairing knife), milk, an unholy amount of vanilla and some blending...


posted by ben on 06.01.09 at 21:17, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

Suppose for a moment, completely hypothetically, that you were extremely bored... bored enough to take pictures of cheese... and that you left a pound of very nice Double Gloucester (what the hell is single?) in your fridge for the better part of a month. Suppose that it grew a fine mold that left it tasting like brie… cheddar like brie that is… very good cheddar like brie… Would it poison me if I were to eat it plain? Would it poison me if I placed it on rye bread with tomatoes and baked it? Would it poison me on a boat? Would it poison me if it were instead the cheese of a goat?

All City Coffee

posted by ben on 06.01.09 at 20:31, coffee, coffee, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

posted by ben on 06.01.09 at 20:23, null, null, puppies, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

I remember the day I bought this pair of pants at the army surplus store. I had dinner in Denver with my dad and someone who knew my grandparents. Then we were going to watch a movie. At the last moment you changed your mind and I spent the night drinking coffee alone. I’m not complaining… it’s just odd to remember it now.


posted by ben on 06.01.09 at 18:05, null, food, Leave a comment Permalink

posted by ben on 06.01.08 at 16:08, null, on writing, Leave a comment Permalink

A new kind of writing: method writing. An autobiography is somehow different from fiction. What if I change myself into the character I’m writing about.

Today he goes to the market to buy flowers like Mrs. Dalloway. Tomorrow, I go do that and then get drunk. When I get home I’m taking on a bit to my book where Mrs. Dalloway drinks a bottle of Scapa and attacks a fishmonger with goat cheese wrapped in grape leaves and soaked in brandy. Tomorrow I go out and attack a fishmonger with goat cheese wrapped in grape leaves and soaked in brandy until a man hits me over the head with a bag of oysters. The oysters make their way into the novel while I’m recuperating, but I leave out the part about the bump on the top of my head because it isn’t quite picturesque and move on… writing the next part where I fall in love… and Mrs. Dalloway goes out and falls in love.

God damn it!

posted by collin on 06.01.06 at 11:05, news, news, rant, rant, Leave a comment Permalink

This just got posted to /., from the Chicago Sun-Times:

The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone -- for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts.

To test the service, the FBI paid $160 to buy the records for an agent's cell phone and received the list within three hours, the police bulletin said.

Apparently this isn't brand new news, and while I find the FBI part ironically amusing, I don't really like it.


posted by collin on 06.01.05 at 19:17, nonsense, random, 2 comments Permalink

He’s been training with gators nearly as long, and is in charge of Colorado Gators’ instruction program. No fooling: Colorado Gators is certainly the only place in the U.S.—and Mather claims the world—where you can take lessons in gator wrestling. All you need is to be of sound physical condition, a stout heart, and $50 to qualify for 3+ hrs. of one-on-one training. Oh, and there’s the little matter of the legal waiver wherein the signer waives legal rights to sue and declares, “I, ____, do hereby admit that if I’m crazy enough to willingly put my hands on an alligator, I deserve to get bit. Furthermore, I promise not to whine too much if I do get a few bumps and scrapes or even a flesh wound.”

[via boingboing?]

Comment from: ben [Member] Email ·

The instant I saw the words gator and Colorado, I remembered that sign along some long and straight South Park highway... Alligator Farm - 10 miles. Then I started remembering other things. The $7 Dave and I had to get from Boulder to Sand Dunes on our bikes... "Round here we haven't had much call for bicycles since God gave us knowledge of the infernal combustion engine." The 40 cent tip on a $40 three course greasy spoon breakfast... Running down rather hot sand dunes bare foot...

Here's the link.

Permalink 01/05/06 @ 20:07
Comment from: collin [Member] Email ·
It's the same place. And you forgot the Doritos. That was a good trip, kinda insane, but a good trip. I think the only thing that could have made it crazier is if we stopped to wrestle gators.
Permalink 01/06/06 @ 10:56

Cool blogs I've started reading...

posted by collin on 06.01.05 at 19:14, nonsense, random, Leave a comment Permalink

Notes from the Technology Underground

Positive Ape Index



posted by collin on 06.01.05 at 19:10, technology, tech, Leave a comment Permalink

It combines an algorithm in this paper from U Washington with flickr. Pretty cool, but a little rough. [via boingboing]


posted by collin on 06.01.05 at 19:05, nonsense, art, random, technology, rave, tech, Leave a comment Permalink

This is the best book I've ever seen from Project Gutenberg, The Boy Mechanic: Volume I 700 Things For Boys To Do. Ok, let's go through a short list of just some of the wonders inside:

  • p.151 How to Make a Pilot Balloon [and inflate it with hydrogen]
  • p.188 How to Make a a Non-Polarizing Battery
  • p.190 A Fish Bait [minnow in a glass tube]
  • p.195 Attaching Runners to a Bicycle for Winter Use
  • p.213 How to Make Glider [pic above]
  • p.242 How to Make an Electrolytic Rectifier [it just looks like 4 caps to me]
  • p.268 Driving a Washing Machine with Motorcycle Power
  • p.292 Taking Button from a Child's Nostril
  • p.313 Saving an Engine: Turning the water on before starting the gas engine may prevent breaking a cylinder on a cold day. [that's it?]
  • p.330 Rubber Bands in Kite Balancing Strings
  • p.357 An Illuminated Target [to shoot at]
  • p.376 How to Build an Ice-Yacht
  • p.401 How to Make a Sailomobile
  • p.440 Electric Rat Exterminator [scary]
  • p.453 Right Handed Engine: Standing at the cylinder end and looking toward the flywheel of an engine, the wheel will be at the right if the engine is right-hand. [?]
  • p.470 The Winged Skater
  • p.475 The Norwegian Ski: You have often read of the ski, the snowshoe used by the Norwegians and other people living in the far north... Any boy with a little mechanical ingenuity can make a pair of skis (pronounced skees).
  • p.507 An Emergency Glass Funnel
  • p.516 Glass Blowing and Forming
  • p.523 How to Attach a Sail to a Bicycle [pic below]
  • p.524 Piercing Glass Plates with a Spark Coil

Edit: I forgot this, it's from the PG preamble:

Another class of projects illustrate the caviler attitude toward environment and health in 1913. These projects involve items such as gunpowder, acetylene, hydrogen, lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, cadmium, potassium sulfate, potassium cyanide, potassium ferrocyanide, copper sulfate, and hydrochloric acid. Several involve the construction of hazardous electrical devices. Please view these as snapshots of culture and attitude, not as suggestions for contemporary activity.

But those are the best projects!

How many convicted felons do you know?

posted by collin on 06.01.05 at 16:43, nonsense, rant, random, Leave a comment Permalink

I "know" two. Not really more than acquaintances, Alexander Pring-Wilson and William "Billy" Cottrell, convicted of murder and arson respectively. Although it seems that Alexander has been released, is under house arrest and is receiving a retrial. But I don't really want to talk about him for various reasons.

I met Billy a few times at UChicago, and heard some crazy stories about him from my friend Mike Schmitt. I knew that Billy was a genius, he was taking upper level graduate courses at Chicago and may have been trying to prove the Poincare Conjecture. [I remember Mike saying he was trying to solve some big topology problem, and it think it was the P.C.] And so it's no suprise that he was going to CalTech as a gradstudent in physics.

I'm not going to get into all the details of what he did, google his name if you want more info, but involved an SUV dealership, the ELF, and Molotov cocktails. Billy said he didn't set anything on fire. But the prosecution made a large point of him not leaving immediately when he realized what was going on.

And that's the rub. The defense tried to use the fact that Billy has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and from the little contact I had with Billy I wouldn't doubt that that's true. So if Billy wasn't able to quickly asses what the conciquences of the situation would be, that would explain him not fleeing.

But, like everything, it's more complicated than that. I talked the the court reporter for judge Klausner for the central California federal district in LA where the trial took place about getting a copy of the trial transcript. Apparently it would cost me "about $1000 for the whole transcript, or $100-$200 for the closing arguments." So that idea is out.

I hadn't thought about Billy in a while and was doing some googleing this week. One thing I found pissed me off: [from here]

Earlier this week, William "Billy" Cottrell testified that he had been present at the scene of an Earth Liberation Front action. He admitted to painting ELF slogans and to causing criminal damage. However he then went onto say that he did not start any fires and named two people, Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe, who he claims were responsible for the fires.

It should be noted that, as has been proven time and time again, you can not trust the word of a police informant, as they will happily name innocent people to get themselves off the hook and no charges have ever been bought against Tyler or Michie, although the FBI have now named them as "fugitive co-conspirators".

However as of now Cottrell is regarded as a police informant and will
receive no more support from ELP.

ELP would like to apologise to all those who have supported Cottrell and we would remind everyone that although Cottrell has turned traitor there are many other good prisoners who need our support and we hope this will not put you off supporting them.

Screw you. Yeah, Billy named innocent people who then fled the country. And calling him a traitor? Looking into this I also found an interesting blog about radical environment/animal-rights written by a retired research physician who used animals in his research.

posted by ben on 06.01.05 at 00:16, movies, movies, Leave a comment Permalink

I've always hated Cronenberg... ever since watching Crash at 4am. So, I can't really say what possessed me to watch Scanners, other than the lack of other things to watch. The movies actually get worse without Cronenberg... which I guess says something good for him. The first movies have exploding heads. The third has an exploding pigeon.

If you watch more, Scanners III has gratuitous nudity, monks, a Buddhist ascetic riding a motorcycle, The Blues Brothers, a sexy nurse, underwater exploding heads, a terribly motivated love interest and a sexy woman with a terrible Russian accent. I still like Lifeforce better though.

posted by ben on 06.01.04 at 23:32, books, books, Leave a comment Permalink

"When we got to New York we'd spend the whole day in the book warehouse, browsing in what was essentially a giant library. We would get lost in the aisles of books, only to meet by chance to share ideas and information instead of kisses."

-Spalding Gray, Impossible Vacation, pg. 36

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