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September 2005 Archives

Shining, A Heartwarming Tale

This is awesome. It's a trailer for The Shining reimagined as an uplifting family film.

Update: That link seems to be down, so I mirrored it locally. here's a Coral CDN mirror of my mirror. Try that first. If it's too slow, here's my local mirror.

I wonder if there was an X marked on their map

Arr! There be 600 barrels of booty on that there Crusoe island!

Superdome situation not as bad as rumors?

The latest word on the Superdome is that things weren't nearly as bad there as the early stories. Let's hope this is true.

To offset that happy news, Maxwell Smart has taken the elevator to the secret phone booth in the sky (or something :P). R.I.P., Agent 86. (And yes, this means Inspector Gadget is gone, too. Go go Gadget Coffin...)

Earthquake Flavor Potato Chips

Earthquake. Flavor. Potato Chips.

This one kinda speaks for itself.

[Earthquake Flavor Potato Chips]

Okay, I take that back. It really doesn't. It doesn't speak for itself at all.

Latest political graphing test

Here's the latest political spectrum test, with more detail than the simple ten question test that the Libertarians came up with. It still deals with just two axes, social permissiveness and economic permissiveness, but it divides the space into more chunks. I turned out as a Democrat bordering on Centrist. More below, after the first couple of graphs.

You are a

Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(41% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

So they had another graph that their default html code doesn't show here. They ask you a few survey questions after the test, one of which is "who did you vote for in 2004". About two-thirds of the survey takers were Kerry voters, which isn't surprising, but the distribution graph of Bush vs. Kerry voters is interesting. I like this graph because it's probably a better indicator of what areas on the graph mean than the made-up areas that the authors drew above:

[red vs blue]

In other words, I am a relatively socially conservative but still rather mainstream Kerry voter. :P

I am a hurricane

In other news, I am now a hurricane, and I'm headed toward Hawaii.

(Apparently, Eastern North Pacific names are reused every six years, so you won't be seeing another Hurricane Kenneth till 2011.)

Space Race Coffin Meets Nail

I had no idea NASA was even thinking about this, but they just got Senate approval to buy Russian Soyuz capsules for servicing the ISS. They still need House approval. It's just so sad. I never blogged about NASA's recent Moon decision, either: you know, their new plan to spend over a decade getting back to the moon, when it took us less than ten years to do it.... over 40 years ago. Um, wow?

I mean, I actually agree with people who say that there's little scientific value in human spaceflight, so ferchrissakes if you're going to do it, why can't we actually send people somewhere they've never been before? You know, actually use human spaceflight for inspiration, the one thing it's good for? I'm all for a Mars mission, but if they're going back to the Moon, then I'd be with the people saying that money would be better spent on robotic missions. Spending more time to go back to somewhere we've already been is not going to be that inspirational!

Somehow, I feel that the first person to step foot on Mars is not going to be an American, and just as our "victory" in the space race was symbolic, that, too, will be symbolic.

Weapons of Mass Infection

I ate a bad hot dog or some bad turkey or something, and now I have food poisoning, I think. Whenever I get sick, I always fantasize about sending in the Marines and gunning down those pesky bacteria and viruses. :P

As it is, I have a mild fever, so I imagine my bloodstream is quite the warzone right now. Please help me out and put this bumper sticker on your cars as well:

[Support My White Blood Cells]

Update: Does this mean that every time I pee, I should perform a 21-gun salute as my fallen comrades return to the Earth?

The 2003 USGS Bay Area Earthquake Study and Pompeii Graffiti

I'm sure Katrina has made most people in other parts of the country think about potential natural disaster where they live. I went and looked up information on earthquakes in the Bay Area. A 2003 US Geological Survey study showed that there is a 62% chance of one or more major earthquakes hitting the Bay Area within the next 30 years, with "major" defined as magnitude > 6.7.

They've got lots of handy graphs, but the loss estimation page is what I found most interesting. Some highlights:

  • The estimated number of deaths is in the hundreds for most scenarios, but as high as several thousand in the worst case.
  • Expected fatalities are five times higher if an earthquake hits during working hours, compared to late night. This is because most residences are wood and pretty resistent, but commercial buildings are of varying degrees of vulnerability.
  • 16,000 homes were rendered uninhabitable by the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, but this number could be as high as 150,000 in the worst case scenarios.
  • The most property damage would be along the 880, from the Hayward fault, so be careful, Fremont people!
  • There could be tens of billions of dollars in damage if the Hetch-Hetchy aqueduct system is damaged.

In more light-hearted disaster news, here's the Pompeii Graffiti. It's interesting to see the everyday side of Roman society. (Though keep in mind that Pompeii was a resort town with lots of rich people.) They include such wonderful insights as:

  • "Satura was here on September 3rd"
  • "Marcus loves Spendusa"
  • "Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog"
  • "Cruel Lalagus, why do you not love me?"
  • "Defecator, may everything turn out okay so that you can leave this place"
  • "Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!"

And my favorite:

  • "On April 19th, I made bread"

Life Imitates Art: Assistant (to the) City Manager

There was this gag in The Office (I've only seen the U.S. remake.) where one character keeps calling himself the "assistant regional manager", and his boss keeps correcting, "assistant to the regional manager. But then the guy still keeps saying "assistant regional manager", and his boss keeps correcting him. Here's what Time Magazine said about now ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown (who just resigned):

Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME. "Department heads did not report to him." Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."

In response, Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA's office of public affairs, insists that while Brown began as an intern, he became an "assistant city manager" with a distinguished record of service. "According to Mike Brown," she says, "a large portion [of the points raised by TIME] is very inaccurate."

I still wouldn't want to pluck a feather from a T-Rex

Update Sep-13: This story gives whole new meaning to this song. :) [516KB MP3, 0'32"]

But it seems they very likely had feathers!

The feather revelation follows a series of discoveries in fossil beds at Liaoning in northeast China where a volcanic eruption buried many dinosaurs alive. It also cut off the oxygen that would otherwise have rotted them away.

Some theropod (“beast-footed”) dinosaurs were preserved complete with feathery plumage. Theropod is the name given to predatory creatures that walked upright on two legs, balanced by a long tail.

The feathered finds include an early tyrannosaur, a likely ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, two small flying dinosaurs and five other predators. Feathers are thought to have evolved first to keep dinosaurs warm and only later as an aid to flight.

Scarab @ Brain Wash Cafe and Laundromat

Scarab's second gig. This place was livelier than the last, but the lighting wasn't as interesting, so fewer pictures. :P

Guitar + tambourine + Hindi lyrics = great song.


This next one is my favorite picture of the night. I call it, "Two Men".


I wonder how many instruments they actually use throughout their set. It's at least 10.





Lucky you! Here are a couple of pictures from their first gig that I didn't post last time.


This next one is of This Band Is A Ship, who played after Scarab at both shows. Yay, fog machines!

The Theme Song of 21st Century Romance

[Transportation + Communication = Love] I love this album I got by Figurine called "Transportation + Communication = Love". It's poppy electronic music, kind of a cross between early Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, but happier, and with many male/female duets. The chorus of my favorite song goes, "My first UFO / Our first kiss / I never thought / It could be like this", and then the singers actually get abducted again, right in the middle of the song!

The reason I wrote this blog entry, though, is to point out the chorus to the song "An Electronic Address", which I think of as a sort of theme song to 21st century romance. Here's a clip of the chorus. [676 KB MP3, 0'31"] It goes:

I turn my computer on
I see that there's no mail
I turn my computer off
Is this love for real?
I turn my computer on
I check three times a day
I turn my computer off
Contact me right away

I especially love how these folks are American, but they sing with faux-European accents that are really appropriate for the music. :)

(In other news, Apple came out with a slightly revised iTunes today, and I'm so happy that they're finally displaying the song title and the artist/album on separate lines! I hated the way they used to cycle through all three, so that you couldn't always see the song title at a glance.)

The Most Disturbing Building in the World

[Ryugyong Hotel] This is probably the most disturbing building I've ever seen. It's the Ryugyong Hotel [Wiki] in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It's the 17th tallest skyscraper in the world, and it was going to be the tallest hotel in the world when construction began 1987. It was going to have 3000 rooms and no less than 7 revolving restaurants. The only problem? Construction permanently halted in 1992 when it was still just a concrete shell!

They either ran out of funding, or the concrete was structurally unsound. They didn't even get around to putting in windows. And you see that thing at the top? That's a crane that's probably been there for over a decade! And that's not mentioning the fact that Pyongyang doesn't get nearly enough tourism to remotely come close to filling it.

Click to expand. Behold the spookiness.


Now take a look at how it completely dominates the Pyongyang skyline:

Pyongyang Skyline

I can't believe I've never heard of it before. Just imagine living in a city where the most prominent feature by far is a giant, hulking, failed attempt at national pride! According to this blog entry, guides will even claim that they don't know where it is. (!)

Here are a couple of photo travelogues of trips to North Korea, from an American tourist and a Japanese tourist.

Interview with the President of Jefferson Parish

While being interviewed on Meet the Press, the President of Jefferson Parish broke down crying when he related this story:

And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

[ Video Clip ] [ Full Transcript ]

A geeky way to help with Katrina relief

There's an organization called Part 15 helping to set up wireless communications infrastructure in disaster areas to help with coordination of relief work. They have some corporate sponsors for equipment and many volunteers, but they also need financial support for supplying those volunteers. More information here.

(Via this /. article.)

Update (Sep-04): Craigslist has special sections up for several of the affected cities. Temporary housing, jobs, etc. Here's a note from someone working at the Astrodome. In particular, they've found a new, rather morbid use of the lost and found section. (Links via this Ars article.)

Also: Slate article on the reporters finally calling politicians on their lies. In fact, CNN even has a whole article explicitly pointing out the "disconnect" between "official" and "in the trench" accounts. I guess this is what it takes.

New Clooney Movie About McCarthy and Murrow

George Clooney's directing a new movie called Good Night, And Good Luck (trailer link) about newscaster Edward R. Murrow fighting back against McCarthyism. It looks really good, and it's even in black and white!

There was a time when I thought people harped too much on things like McCarthyism which were in our past, when I thought we'd grown past all that. Now I realize that they'll only stay in our past if we keep reminding ourselves of them.

And anyone who scoffs at George Clooney's directorial abilities needs to watch Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

P.S. I love the trivia bit that's in the IMDb entry for Good Night, And Good Luck:

Director/star George Clooney had said they opted to use archive footage of Joseph McCarthy instead of using an actor to portray the senator. Clooney had said that when the movie had undergone test screenings, audience members felt that the McCarthy character was overacting a bit, not realizing that it was the actual McCarthy through archive footage.


Experimental mice regrow body parts

Holy crap, this is crazy. Cambridge University scientists have given mice the ability to regrow any body part except the brain, including limbs and organs. The even crazier thing is that they could inject tissue from these mice into existing mice and give those mice the ability to regrow body parts as well. Whoa...

Given that this is the result of manipulating a small number of genes, there's probably some sort of evolutionary advantage to not having the ability to regrow body parts, or mice would have that ability naturally. I wonder what it is.

About September 2005

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in September 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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