Thursday, July 28, 2005

Personally, I Don't Think She was High

Last week, CNET posted its Top 10 web fads of the past 10 years.

Ellen Feiss (#7) will always be one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's Due to the Kinds of People Who Like Encyclopedias

Sometimes I just love how Wikipedians end up addressing topics in such a disinterested, unaffiliated, and ultimately even-handed way.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Current Events Reach Redmond Very Slowly

As pointed out in the Register, Microsoft's Virtual Earth application has deleted Apple's Sunnyvale headquarters from the face of the Earth.

Source: MSN, Google

Of course, since Microsoft typically conducts business as if it wanted bad PR, this deletion is not that suprising. What is suprising — and very disappointing — is that Microsoft has decided to launch this project with satellite imagery so dated that it shows the World Trade Center as intact.

Source: MSN

The Boys in the Lab have Really Outdone Themselves this Time

Eager to serve the I-wish-my-8-year-old-were-15-years-old crowd, Mattel has released the Barbie So Excellent Cali Girl, complete with an ear piercer and 16 earrings for the doll to wear.


The doll has three soft areas running up each earlobe. Instructions on the side of the doll's box show a set of hands swabbing the ear (to prevent the doll from getting an infection, of course), then punching a hole through the doll's ear with the provided piercer, and finally placing an earring in the newly created orifice. (Does an ear piercing count as an orifice?)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On the Other Hand, I am Slightly Worried that it is Going to Explode

I got a new toy this week and I simply must share my experience.

This month, I had to get a laptop for law school (which starts in 30 days). I think that it's an exciting time to buy a computer, because the feature set of lower end machines really take care of all the computing needs of your typical user. Spending more than $2,000 on a laptop or $1,000 on a desktop machine is just overdoing it.

I grabbed a Dell Latitude D610 — a nice machine to be sure, but nothing special. However, there is one feature that I had the machine come with that I highly recommend. I maxxed out the batteries.

Instead of the default 4-cell battery, I ordered it with the 6-cell battery. Additionally (and more importantly), I ordered an auxiliary 6-cell battery (not that expensive) that sits in the drive bay during the 99.9% of the time that I'm not using a DVD or CD. The computer's power management system almost completely drains the auxiliary battery first before turning to the primary battery.

The screenshot below reflects how much juice is left in this thing after I'd been running it off batteries for 2 hours, engaged in fairly mundane computer activities.

I just love this. No more stalking tables in the coffee house, waiting for the chair nearest the wallplug. No more feeling unable to use my computer on an airplane, knowing that the battery life would fail somewhere over the Midwest.

One minor drawback: Don't think that this feature will make it easier to get through a DVD while running on battery power. The auxiliary battery occupies the DVD bay, and the system doesn't come with any means of using the DVD drive externally.

With a Little Work, We Can Make it to #1

Sauntering is the 2nd search result returned when you search Google for completely wasted, and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gonna Be Somebody

Here's an art project that I've wanted to put together for a few months now. For the moment, I'm calling it Gonna Be Somebody, but I really don't quite know why I'd call it anything.

Business cards serve a practical purpose, acting as a physical reminder that no Microsoft Outlook contact file will ever duplicate. However, in this little piece, I wanted to explore another aspect of business cards.

For many people (myself included), the act of obtaining or constructing a business card legitimizes and authorizes one's activity. In the eyes on many, business cards make us somebody in much the same way that being in the phonebook made Steve Martin somebody in The Jerk.

Though the fetish (healthy or not) of business cards extends far beyond the shores of the US, I think that a part of the biz card cult in America is based on our childhood fascination with baseball cards. Whether they were commons or All-Stars, the players on the TV or the radio were made more real to me because I had captured them in paperboard. I was always unnerved when a player was traded midseason — suddenly, his card was inaccurate (an error only to be corrected by the Traded set that would come out at the end of the season).

Those players became somebodies by becoming baseball cards. We become somebodies by becoming business cards.

Each of the business cards in the piece tells a story for me:

  • My brother-in-law from his internet bubble job. Someday, he'll be a part of making the New Best Thing. This zany company has become part of his foundation in a great way.

  • The Governor of Hawaii — half-business card, half monument

  • A couple's card — as if their union didn't exist without being distributed on paper.

  • A handful of homemade business cards. The shame of a monochromatic business card is eclipsed by the shame of not having a business card at all.

  • Several Vice Presidents of Marketing from ill-fated businesses or dying industries. These people had to polish the turd.

  • Business cards from people who, in the same conversation in which they handed me their card, told me that they were quitting their jobs

  • An oversized business card from a person who was striking out on his own after being laid off from a Silicon Valley company.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Riddle the Homeless Man Just Asked Me

What is bigger than God,
more evil than Satan,
rich people need it,
poor people have it,
but if you eat it, you will die?

A Google search for the answer.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

But We Know that the Current Bush Doesn't Confer With His Father

Saw this on Andrew Sullivan and just had to parrot it:

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.
President George H.W. Bush, April 26, 1999.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sun Tzu/Niccolo Machiavelli Meditative Thought of the Day

How would an anti-Karl Rove (cross thyself) capitalize on the current misfortunes of Karl Rove (cross theyself)?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

If You Build It, They Will Jump Over the Great Wall On Their Skateboards

It's called the Beijing MegaRamp. It's 120 feet tall and you use it to jump over the Great Wall of China.

Source: Asia Times

This graphic belongs in The Onion.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

You Can Never Go Home Again

This morning, likely guided by a political, cultural, and religious vendetta, a group of people committed murder in London. The London Mayor Ken Livingstone described the situation best, saying this behavior isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith, it's mass murder.

Last week, Woody Allen commented about 9/11 to the German magazine Der Spiegel. Asked why he hasn't commented on September 11 in film, Allen remarked that as a filmmaker, he wasn't interested in 9/11 because, if you look at the big picture, the long view of things, it's too small, history overwhelms it. Though I disagree with Allen's further explanation of this opinion, I share the underlying sentiment.

I cannot shake the feeling that these cruel acts are but the death rattle of a doomed mode of being. The hopes of these fiends — that the world (or portions of it) can somehow unliberalize — not only will not be realized, but cannot be realized.

Within western society, a big part of Post-Enlightenment history has been a rather Hegelian expansion of who's invited to society's party. White male landowners, white males, white females, males, females, former slaves, immigrants, gays, the poor — our current history is a process of granting Ordinary Person status to every increasing classes of people.

Outside of western society, one fruit of globalization has been the step-by-step dispersion of the notion that all members of a society are due the general respect previously afforded only the most accepted and select members of that society.

Source: AP

As they discover that the dreams of the Jihadists are not their own, Iraqi Sunnis living in border regions are learning that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend — not when that false friend orders women to wear all-enveloping scarves and robes, forbids young men from wearing Western clothes, and closes stores that sell music and satellite dishes. Habits die hard when those habits help people feel ordinary.

Whereas Iraqi insurgents wage a diminishing homeland rebellion,the cultural war waged by foreign jihadists is against all comers who lack their worldview. Witness the recent battles between Sunnis and Jihadists near the Iraqi border. Witness the enmity these jihadists hold, even for potentially sympathetic Arab countries.

Source: AP

The shadow's clutch on human minds has reigned since we first scrawled the buffalo on the cave walls. Many more will sadly die at the slaughterbench of history as the shadow retreats into the cave from which it came. Our present suffering aside, the dreams of those who would shrink the set of Ordinary People cannot be realized. We've come too far. We've seen too much. We can never go home again.

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.
John Maynard Keynes

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

CNN Scoops Other News Organizations By 7 Years Or So

This is the kind of bold reporting that keeps CNN on top. I didn't even know that London was going to compete separately from Great Britain.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

For Damages to Extraterrestrial Tempel Temple

A Russian astrologer (note: that's astrologer, not astronomer) is suing NASA for the damage inflicted on Comet Tempel 1 yesterday.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Human Possibilities

Much of what I write about here at Sauntering concerns connecting dots.

I encounter something online,
I encounter something else,
I piece the two together while walking the dogs,
I write a bit.

Last week, I stumbled across a couple news items that highlighted for me the scope of human possibilities and human potential.

On one hand, I read the inspiring words Steve Jobs delivered at the Stanford University graduation on June 14, 2005. Though his comments are worth reading in full, one passage in particular caught my attention:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
On Monday, the other side of human possibility came into full view in Wichita, Kansas, as BTK killer Dennis Rader gave a monotone tutorial on the banality of evil. I made it about 30 seconds into the video linked from this article. Regretably, sometimes I find it difficult to watch as the worst facets of humanity are brought to light. It feels like I'm staring into the sun.