at georgewbuy, you can bid on america's natural resources. nice use of humor to get attention, but they need more information on the site to support their position.
googlism will return natural language results to natural language questions, by running them through google. unfortunately, it still thinks "scott reynen is a senior international studies major". on the other hand, it has enough personality to suggest that "george bush is a monkey" and that "al gore is our president".
cashets looks great. it's monetary transactions of as little as $0.02, free for the buyer, and only a 1 percent charge for the seller. i can't count how many times i've wanted to view just one article from a subscription website. i don't want to pay a yearly subscription fee to view just one article. but i would pay a disproportionately large fraction of that fee to view just one article. it's a win-win. i win by getting to view the article and not paying much for it, and the publisher wins by getting money from me they would not otherwise see.
actually, of more concern to me is the opposite scenario, in which i am the seller. now i can sell my music for about $0.50 per song (+shipping), burn it on cd, and mail it off. this system, however, would require a minimum purchase to cover blank cd costs. a better system would be to simply send customers mp3 files (since most of them would just rip the cd back to mp3 anyway). this is going to be my next project. maybe in a month or so, you'll be able to buy custom cds of music from me and some of my friends at music.randomchaos.com (which doesn't yet exist).
one of my coworkers took larium before and during a trek around southeast asia. she just got back and has been having some scary side effects. a quick google search for larium brings up plenty of information about scary stuff that can happen as a result of taking larium. of course, most of these stories sound better than the alternative of getting malaria, but it sounds like there are plenty of better alternative medicines. so why is larium still being sold?
did you know that most american states require an employer to allow you to leave work to vote? i didn't. if you're in america, you should ask your boss about it and/or check what your state's laws are regarding missing work to vote.
jonathon delacour spent a long time reaffirming existentialism: "even if I am not responsible for the state's decision to go to war, I am obliged to act with sincerity of purpose (authentically)?whether I choose to support the war or to oppose it?and to accept responsibility for both my actions and my failure to act." i'm not sure i like how he got there (coming awefully close to claiming ignorant support of an unjust cause is good), but i very much agree with his conclusion, and i'd like to restate it:
the point i got here is that one's ignorance of the wrongfulness of a cause becomes less plausible in times such as war. when surrounded by advocates of both or either position, it becomes nearly impossible to honestly claim that nothing said in favor or against a war has struck one as true or void of truth. you can say looking back that you didn't know what the war was really about, but you can't plausibly say that you didn't know what the state said it was about, or that you didn't know if you believed it. that is, you knew what it was about to you. in war, you make decisions. we can not universally judge the validity of those decisions, given the variety of their circumstances, but we can judge the lie of claiming the decisions were never made. and this lie, i believe, we can call cowardice.
by the way, i don't support bush's war, as the man seems to me not above sacrificing innocent americans and iraqis for his own financial gain. i don't know his motives; i just know i don't trust him.
Jon Udell writes:
Ideally every operating system would offer a standard XML editing component, embeddable in Web pages and GUI applications. Wired to a DTD (Document Type Definition) or XML Schema, this component would allow users to interactively create or modify valid instances of the DTD or schema. that would be great, but let's start with a standard component, or even a standalone application that can determine valid instances of any DTD. it is my understanding (though i've found little documentation about dtd's own dtd) that document type definitions themselves follow a standard format that should, in theory, allow an application (or component thereof) to read a dtd it has never before seen and then validate other documents against the dtd. what i want is this application, a universal validator. maybe some web browsers already do this, but i've never seen it done transparently (rather than in the background), and i've never seen it as an independent tool. once we have this, we can talk about plugging this universal validator into a universally-valid editor. this could also be used, along with a translation definition format, to automatically translate between different xml-based document types.
lucky for me, php's htmlspecialchars() function takes an optional character set argument, which, when set to "euc-jp", worked fine in solving my japanese html escaping problem. or more likely, lucky for me, enough people use php to display non-english text that the programmers saw fit to include default non-english support for this one function. i only wish they'd included default non-english support for other text-editing functions. but it hasn't yet been a major obstacle in my ability to produce daily japanese lessons.
when i went to read my first daily japanese lesson this morning in my newsreader, i found there is an error in the RSS version. the web version worked fine, but the RSS version needs to have html code escaped. unfortunately, i'm not sure i can do this without screwing up the japanese text, because most text-editing functions in php don't by default support multi-byte languages (such as japanese), and i don't have the ability to reconfigure and reinstall php on my host.
i had a dream last night that i had an idea for a game that i didn't (and don't) have the capacity to actually create, but i thought it was such a great idea, so i was writing about it on my weblog (as i am recursively doing right now). now that i'm awake, i realize that i don't have a great idea for a game, but instead have a rather vague idea for what would probably be a very bad game, but i am going to write about it anyway.
in the game, you have a building, and the goal of the game is to keep your building together. perhaps it is attacked by earthquakes, or perhaps by other players - this much wasn't clear in my dream. anyway, what i thought in my dream was the great idea was that the structure of your building would be created by the game analyzing the structure of your website in such a way that a well-structured website would generate a well-structured building in the game. so if you have a better website, you have an advantage at the beginning of the game. anyway, that was my dream.
i've set up a very basic stats page for this subdomain. my host provides a nice stats page for my main www domain, but not for secondary subdomains. it also doesn't allow me to access that information programatically so that i can reuse it. so i can't currently do something like automatically linking back to sites that link to me. the new stats page will review the raw server logs and generate more readable information. to lower the strain on the server and the resulting time delay it will only update once per day, which should be often enough to get useful results. right now, the results are very basic, but it's a nice start.
don park fears the new open source application foundation: "What I am afraid of is the erosion in the sense of value for software. If OSAF succeeds, consumers will have access to a wide array of high quality software for free. Most likely, every PC will start to ship with them preloaded. Every time a new OSAF product ships, a market segment will dies. OSAF paints a picture of the future where consumers are expected to pay for contents and services, but software is free."
granted, i'm not a professional software developer, but this scenario excites me rather than scaring me. i have trouble imagining a world in which quality software developers couldn't find some job that would either allow them to continue creating software, or pay them enough that they could create software in their off-time. in any case, there's nothing wrong with being frightened by someone else's willingness to give away for free what you charge good money for, but in the end, there's nothing you can do about it (you can't force them to charge money).
i think prescription drugs are basically the same as illegal drugs in that we don't really understand the effects they can have on our bodies, and our bodies are not built to process these substances in the quantities in which we commonly consume them. this is just my 'gut feeling', but it's strong enough that i've probably only taken aspirin three or four times since i was old enough to refuse it. every once in a while, this feeling gets validated; the bbc reports:
Parents are being told not to give aspirin to children under 16, because of possible links to a rare disease that attacks the brain and liver. i can't help wondering: what about having lived sixteen years suddenly makes taking aspirin safe again?
one saving grace of global capitalism has been that no business or individual has ever had a self-interest in the total destruction of our planet. capitalists - whatever their other flaws - have never had anything to gain in the total destruction of our planet. so we could rest easy, assured that while capitalists might (and do) perform a long list of other terrible deeds, in the end they will always want to preserve life on earth - until now. the moon is up for sale.
at the american prospect:
The ILRF and 12 Burmese plaintiffs charge that Unocal should be held vicariously liable for the military's atrocities committed along the pipeline, which they say included pushing people into fires, assaulting villagers and forcing peasants to work. you may remember unocal as the company that hosted the taliban in texas back when bush was governor.
An important breast cancer test is now unavailable in British Columbia because of the American company which holds the relevant patent. The B.C. Cancer Agency has been forced to stop the tests after legal threats by Utah-based Myriad Genetics Inc., which has a patent on two genes that can signal whether a woman may develop hereditary breast cancer. I think this is a perfect example of why patenting genes is a terrible idea. me too.
mark pilgrim points out that rss feeds are starting to take up a lot of bandwidth. he says:
I specify in my main RSS feed that it should only be read every 3 hours, and secondary feeds only once a day. i'm currently using netnewswire lite as my rss news reader (per mark's own suggestion). unfortunately, netnewswire lite forgets everything it knows about a feed every time the application quits. so it doesn't matter how mark's rss tells readers that the content hasn't changed. my reader has to reload every time i re-launch it (even if it hasn't changed), or it won't have any news to show me. this is admittedly "rude" behavior on the part of netnewswire lite, and sam ruby has suggested such rudeness should be dealt with harshly. unfortunately, i don't think there are enough news readers out there yet (by which i mean both the applications and the people running them) for rss content providers to be so selective about their audiences.
here's why you should read this article: "you can't understand what's happening in America today without understanding the extent, causes and consequences of the vast increase in inequality that has taken place over the last three decades, and in particular the astonishing concentration of income and wealth in just a few hands."
while you're reading it, think about what happened between the 1920's and the relatively egalitarian period of the 1950's and 60's (hint: great depression and world war II). now consider the state of the american economy and rising militarism. america's future is looking quite sad.
This is a form letter. I'm sending you a form letter for two reasons. First, the mistake you've made is too common for me to personally address every instance, and too troublesome for me to ignore. Second, I hope that recieving a form letter will give you some idea of how an individual in a position of power might react upon recieving hundreds or thousands of emails regarding the same issue.
Just as you can guess that I've spent little time and effort to send this to you, anyone can guess that the senders of form letters (and to a lesser degree, hand-typed letters) have spent little time and effort in their emailing. And constituents who don't care enough about an issue to do anything more than forward an email probably won't remember the issue come election time (for elected officials) or purchasing time (for paid officials). This is why people in power generally ignore email campaigns such as the one you are promoting.
Just about any other imaginable action promoting your view on this issue would have a larger effect than an email campaign. And because I support your view on this issue, I recommend that you take some other action: writing letters, making phone calls, even sending faxes, or - best of all - personal communication. I also hope you will consider retracting your previous promotion of an email campaign in favor of this alternate action, so that the myth of mass email as an effective tool of persuasion does not spread further.
apparently cancer doesn't care if you're happy:
my sophomore english teacher, mrs. stubbs, told me something about shakespeare that i still remember today. she said that shakespeare would write plays to be entertaining to various audiences at the same time. the plays would be entertaining to the drunken crowd on the floor, and also to the wealthy aristocrats in the balcony. i think good music works the same way. it has a good beat or a catchy melody that a drunken party can enjoy. and it also has a complexity of music or a depth of lyrics that more snooty people can enjoy.
A subject, he said, would be repeatedly prompted to choose to move either his right or his left hand. Normally, right-handed people would move their right hands about 60 percent of the time.
Then the experimenters would use magnetic stimulation in certain parts of the brain just at the moment when the subject was prompted to make the choice. They found that the magnets, which influence electrical activity in the brain, had an enormous effect: On average, subjects whose brains were stimulated on their right-hand side started choosing their left hands 80 percent of the time.
And, in the spookiest aspect of the experiment, the subjects still felt as if they were choosing freely.
that is spooky.
i've decided to start a "japanese lesson of the day" weblog. i think it will be a fun project to combine my interests in programming and japanese and my experience teaching foreign language. i have a pretty good idea of how i want to do it, but it will probably take me a week or so to get it started. one thing i want to do is set it up so i can pre-write entries for future days, so that readers will actually get a new lesson every day. i want to start with the basics and gradually build so that in a few months a reader could learn some practical japanese. and i want to add a "days-behind" option, so that someone can jump in a few months after i start, but begin on the first daily lesson. that's what i have planned. stay tuned for the results.
i've also offerend to help build an rss feed for this kanji of the day site, but i have no idea if they'll take me up on it. it's a nice site already, but i'd like to read it with the rest of my news (i.e. via rss).
this article in kuro5hin on the conflict between taiwan and china says next to nothing. and the few things it does say are lacking any understanding of the situation that couldn't be taken straight from the local news.
"The official US policy concerning the China-Taiwan conflict should remain ambiguous in order to maintain the nervous peace that exists across the Taiwan Straits." i.e. nothing should change. this is not only a boring argument, but also impossible. change happens. the "change nothing" argument is backed up by exaggerating the seriousness of the dispute. "The conflict between China and Taiwan" is not "one of the most critical situations in the world today" (ten minutes with cnn with provide you with a long list of more critical situations), nor is it "raging." it's being played out as passively as possible.
and for good reason. as the author points out, "The island of Taiwan is a de facto independent state." taiwan is not so valuable that it's worth the trouble of an actual military conflict and subsequent attempts to passify the citizes of a former taiwan. reffering to taiwan as "an inalienable part of China" is as far from practical reality as referring to america as "an inalienable part of Britian." the citizens of taiwan have (in many cases unfortunately) gone to great lengths to abandon nearly all ties to mainland china to the extent that children in taiwan are generally unaware that taiwan has any more relation to china than, say, thailand.
this article also perpetuates the myth that america is the rightful police force to the world, while maintaining that we should not let the world know on what rules we base our policing: "The biggest problem is a conflict of interests; a conflict between the political and diplomatic interests of the administration and the principles of the American democracy." ha. at least one commenter caught that this statement is in no way rooted in historical reality: "The US has a funny notion of what 'democratic principles' mean outside of their frontiers." i can't think of one conflict into which america entered because democratic principles were considered more important than economic gain.
the reality is that something is going to change regarding taiwan and chinese, and if america does not clarify its position prior to that change, it will end up betraying both its own political and diplomatic interests, as well as the "principles of the American democracy," just as it did during the chinese civil war.
i've been reading about solar power. i started out looking for things i might like to get as christmas presents. i inhereted a solar-powered flashlight a roommate left in a former apartment. it's pretty neat. so i went looking for similar things. all i found was more solar lights and radios. i don't really listen to the radio. but then i wandered into reading about solar powering a home. definitely something i hope to do just as soon as i get a home. if you already have a home in the u.s., you might want to look at your state's incentives for using renewable energy.
the ability to get high blood sugar has historically been detrimental to diabetics. (most people don't get high blood sugar, and are better off for it.) but a new technology promises to make that ability beneficial, as diabetics could produce unusually high amounts of usable power.
it's a trick known to most of my friends, but i realize you probably don't know it. and it's quite useful at times. when you find you've said something, just now, that you already regret - perhaps you stumbled into an argument or unintentionally insulted someone (most likely both) - when you wish you hadn't said what you just said - you can say "i'm just saying, that's all." and it will, in all but the most extreme cases, just go away.
"so, how did your date go last night?"
"i'm just saying, that's all."
i know i was 14 for most of 1994, except for the 2 months and 11 days during which i was only 13. still, as i get older, 1994 and all following years have been gradually shifting closer to 2000 in my mind's map of history. i'm 22 years old and for the first time, 20 doesn't seem very far from 14. now 1994 is almost 2000 in ways that 2002 is not almost 2008. memory is funny that way.
currently violated UN security council resolutions: " in addition to the dozen or so resolutions currently being violated by Iraq, a conservative estimate reveals that there are an additional 91 Security Council resolutions about countries other than Iraq that are also currently being violated." i counted 31 violations by israel, and we have actual proof of their nuclear weapons program.
when i saw the title of this cnn article, i thought i must be misunderstanding it: "W.H. rejects Bush-Saddam duel offer", but sure enough, iraq actually made an offer to settle the differences with a duel, and the white house rejected the offer.
i'm no fan of iraqi politics, but i can't think of a better (or more funny) way of pointing out the absurdity of bush's determination to go to war when a wide variety of less costly (both in lives and money) solutions have not yet been explored. bush is willing to risk the lives of thousands of americas, and take the lives of thousands of iraqis, rather than accept the duel offer and settle the whole thing with a simple sword fight. i'm sure no poll has been taken, but i suspect the american public would overwhelmingly prefer to see our leader single-handedly take on sadam on espn than to watch another war on cnn.
as one might have expected, the scientifically-determined 'world's funniest joke' is only mildly amusing.