June 29, 2005

Print is dead (locally)

Much like Powerpoints which are meticulously crafted in corporations so that they can be not read in presentations, I am finding the prevailing view of instructive documentation here is not to actually provide written instructions, but to be able to prove later that you provided written instructions.

Maybe this is common knowledge, but I have been laboring under the impression that people are going to read what I've written, especially if it was requested. Silly!

This week is Upgrade Everything week, and I was tasked with writing up some detailed instructions on how to switch out the backup servers with newer computers. This is not such a tricky process as upgrading an email server, which I imagine is like yanking a tablecloth out from under a fully-laden table while people are eating. It's more like take the tablecloth off and put it back on before the restaurant is open. Not such a big deal.

But there are still a few steps to go through, so I wrote them up, and included precious diagrams. I kidded that the diagrams would be from the space shuttle because no one would ever read them. How true. Today was the first bench test of my documentation.

I have contacted the Department of Semiotics at UCLA and offered myself up for research, because if I were to write down the words The generic password for this machine is Barn3yFif3 and slip it to you on a piece of paper, two possible things could happen. Because of my documented ability to cloud men's minds, you might take it, thank me, and then in five minutes ask me what a "password" was. It's uncanny.

Or you might not read it at all, even if you'd expressly requested it.

Note to potential degree candidates: in this latter case there is a formula. The amount of time I spend on documentation is proportional to the probability that it won't be read. But no one bothers with the formula, because nothing gets read.

The kind gentleman who I was working with today got twenty minutes into the procedure before asking for my phone number. I sighed audibly and in emoticon form. I understand that people all have their own favorite form of communication. I prefer email because the entire chain is saved, disdain the IM [for work] because people wander away and leave me in suspense, and sigh when someone asks me for my phone number in this sort of situation because it's code for Will You Please Read To Me What You Wrote.

Several times throughout the day during this supposed hour-long procedure he called me to ask questions which were - ! - answered in the document, and in large, bold, sans-serif type for easy reading. "I must admit I did not read your document," he said candidly at one point.

If this were 1942, I'd feel it my patriotic duty to report to the C.I.A., to offer my powers of accidental encryption for the war effort. Just give me your war plans and codes, I'd have said, and I'll mail them to the Nazis. It will be unbreakable.

So you see why I believe students of language and meaning should study me. There has to be a graduate thesis in all this. Although they would need to summarize it verbally for the reviewing committee, because who has time for a written document.

Posted by Chris on 06/29/05

Could I get a printout of this posting? I know I'm going to have a few questions.

Posted by: simon at June 30, 2005 6:35 AM

Hey Chris, can I get your number? Better yet, can you call me? This seemed like an interesting post, but I haven't really got the time to actually read it, so I was hoping you could just sort of, you know, summarize the points and give me the low down over the phone while I half-heartedly give you maybe 10% of my actual attention. I promise I'll occassionally go "Uh HUH" and "mmmmmmm" and "yup" if it'll make you feel like I'm actually listening and paying attention. Really.

"mmmmm...okay, sure"

Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at June 30, 2005 10:26 AM

Also: wait, what?

Posted by: simon at June 30, 2005 10:52 AM

Chris, could you come into my office now.

Posted by: Chris' Boss at June 30, 2005 12:17 PM

Now what were you guys (and I) saying again?

Posted by: Chris at June 30, 2005 2:33 PM

Wil Wheaton on Slashdot

Cool guy:

Wil Wheaton Strikes Back

Posted by Chris on 06/29/05

June 27, 2005

"He likes his hair" - an etymology

Friend Brian said something offhandedly one day that made us burst out laughing as we were on our way somewhere in the car, and because it was not only such a hilarious thing to us at the time, but a useful, modular phrase in its own right, it has entered into our family vernacular.

We were all driving down the highway, and Brian looked over and noticed a grown man in the car opposite with some meticulously-coiffed yet sad and ridiculous haircut. It may have been a mullet, it may have been a fro, I don't remember. But this guy had spent a lot of time on it. Brian looked back at us and said very innocently, "He likes his hair."

To this day when we see someone who sports a ridiculous haircut that they are clearly quite proud of, we will turn to one another and say "He likes his hair," and giggle like children.

It is also good for other situations. When we're on the street I note which guys like their chests. Sometimes I note which women like their cleavage. Sometimes meter maids really like their little electronic clipboards. You get the picture.

Print doesn't come close to describing it. It was all in Brian's delivery. "He likes his hair" is not a statement, but a suggestion. Let me try to convey the very specific blend of innocence and hesitance in the delivery via an imagined scenario.

We're in a classroom and the teacher says, "Now, who can tell me some things that people like? Anyone?"

A kid hesitantly raises his hand.

"Joe likes his lunch," says the kid.

"That's right!" confirms the teacher. "Joe DOES like his lunch! Anyone else?" A little girl in the front row hesitantly raises her hand.

"Todd likes his bike?" she says.

"Indeed Todd DOES like his bike," agrees the teacher. "We're doing very well! Now who else can name another thing someone likes?"

In the back of the class, Brian raises his hand.

"He likes his hair," says Brian, and the teacher smiles. For indeed, he DOES like his hair.

I would like to explain to you the less-modular but equally hilarious utterance by friend Simon, "DON'T YOU BE COMIN' ROUND," but I think to put that phrase in context would require more space than the internet allows.

Posted by Chris on 06/27/05

Thanks for that!

First day back from vacation. Insetad of addressing one of the 286 emails I have, I decided to read your blog and catch up.

You made me smile and feel proud.

And indeed... That man DID like his hair. It's true.

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at July 5, 2005 6:12 AM

June 24, 2005

Belial speaks

Karl Rove, or as I know him, Belial, says:

"...Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he told the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.

My. A man stands just a few miles away from the site of 9/11 and speaks these words. A fellow at a blog called "Mahablog" doesn't like it, a LOT, and I agree:

I'd like to ask Karl and his puppies to stand anywhere in the vincinity of Ground Zero and repeat Karl's fatuous, lying remarks to a crowd of New Yorkers.

Whole lotta liberals in New York. Whole lotta those liberal New Yorkers lost someone in the towers.

. . .

You have to go away from New York City, to places where people barely remember watching the towers collapse on television, to find people still willing to listen to the crap that spews out of Karl's mouth. All 9/11 means to them is an excuse to advance their hard right agenda and pound the stuffing out of Muslims. And any Muslims will do.

Just a quick checkpoint so that we're all on the same page: Did you vote GOP in the last election? Then Rove is your man. Maybe you could be excused in the first election, but in the second? Rove speaks for you, and you know it.

And the Democrats are calling on him to resign, obviously forgetting the first lesson from the D & D Monster Manual, which is that creatures like this can only be destroyed with the stake or with fire, and then the ashes scattered at a crossroads.

I was thinking the other day of other bad times in our history. I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, and the thought that the evil Russians would destroy us - and us them - with nuclear missiles was never far from my head. I'm not saying I woke up every day in a cold sweat over it, but that spectre of nuclear horror was never far away in my childhood.

That was bad, but I'd have to say that living right now is much, much worse.

Because now in addition to the very real external threat we face, we have leaders that seem to take us every day in the exact direction to absolutely ensure we'll again have some terrible terrorist catastrophe here, worse than 9/11. They seem to crave it.

Their every move and word seems to be founded in some vision of the future that's like a bizarre Twilight Zone parody of where we should be, or could be, as a country. And I do mean their EVERY word and move.

They seem bound and determined to make sure that every Islamic fundamentalist will think of us first when they name their worst enemies. It is as if they were trying to remove all doubt from the terrorist mind that we were a worthy target.

All while their vast number of supporters cheer them on like zealots at a tent revival, because they've finally been relieved from having to think about the world. They were never comfortable with thinking and now they're being richly rewarded for leaving it to Rove & Co.

Another quick checkpoint: Remember the days and weeks after 9/11? Of course you do, what a stupid question. Sorry. But remember how in the wake of that nightmare attack, you could almost tangibly feel the entire world reaching out to us and supporting us? Images of citizens in countries that normally had contempt for us, lining up to place flowers at our embassy?

OK, with that thought in your head, compare it to where we are now. Questionable war in Iraq. Torture. Patriot Act. Religious zealotry. Unprecedented hostility to science. Thousands of American kids dead, untold thousands of Iraqis dead.

Did you vote GOP last time? Then welcome to your vision of the world. This is what your party, with its control of all three branches of our government, did with the unprecedented historical opportunity afforded us in those weeks and months after 9/11.

Can't you just picture Osama bin Laden in some cave, rocking back and forth with laughter? 'I was just aiming for their Towers and their Pentagon and their White House,' he's saying. 'Who would have thought the Americans would do the rest of the work and start a vast religious war themselves?'

Now my fear is that some kid who learned to hate us as when he watched his family die in Iraq is going to one day drive into Manhattan with a suitcase nuke, and that George Bush & Co. did everything to make sure it happened.

Posted by Chris on 06/24/05

I hope the Democrats let Mr. Rove's words pass by as typical Republican foul air. They shouldn't take the bait.

Last Saturday in his radio address, Bush fabulously said, "We went to war because we were attacked." Either Bush watches Fox "News" or, more likely, it's part of a broader strategy of rehashing the fears of 9/11 - going back to the well that gave them their power.

And it's a diversion. Rove wants to set the discussion agenda. He doesn't want to talk about Downing Street Memos and a clear case of policy-based evidence, or misleading Americans about the need for war. He doesn't want to talk about plummeting polls or continued failures of both their foreign (Iraq) and domestic (Social Security) policies. He wants to talk about his party's willingness to deal violence to every problem, an appeal to all red-blooded rasslin'-loving cowards. The Democrats aren't good at nastiness so that's where he intends to push the debate.

I agree with you, Chris. The Evil Empire was easier to deal with when I knew they were behind an iron curtain of mutually-assured destruction policy. Nowdays the enemy is right here, lurking in the same country.

We have a tendency to turn into our enemies as a baffling response to a (real or imagined) threat. Saddam was the torturer who brutalized his own insurgents. We no longer call him a torturer because we took over those duties. We don't use evil chemical weapons on his people, we use good standard weapons to achieve the same results.

"They hate our freedoms" was treated as a serious reason for the 9/11 attacks by all the pundits too lazy to consider context or motive. The accusation can be fairly leveled at the "America Taliban" who want to roll back gay civil rights, working women, religious freedom, sexual and scientific education, freedom of speech, and areas of the free market involving sexual pleasure. The Patriot Acts I & II seem to grow from the absurdity that the best way to defend freedom is by giving it up.

Sorry for a long post on a Monday morning. Not being American, I feel curiously more American, more patriotic than the thoughtless folk that voted for this nasty, regressive administration.

Posted by: simon at June 27, 2005 7:29 AM

The Mad Jaywalker

Major, major case of insomnia last night brought on by two perhaps ill-advised cups of coffee at the diner after the screenwriting thing, and the fact that our next-door neighbor who I'm guessing a) works the late shift and b) has a hearing problem, had his television TURNED UP REALLY REALLY LOUD AND HIS LIVING ROOM IS BASICALLY ONE WINDOW AWAY FROM OUR BEDROOM SO I REALLY ENJOYED THE AUDIO TRACK OF THUNDERBIRDS AND THEN THE ENTIRE ROGAINE INFOMERCIAL UNTIL AROUND 1:30 AM, and also the fact that it's getting hot and no breeze winds its way through the place.

I'd left my laptop at work so mindless surfing was out, as was - ha ha - writing, so at 3:30 AM I decided I needed to go to the drugstore to get some blank DVDs.

And thus my alter-ego, born out of an accidental exposure to caffeine and television, was born: The Mad Jaywalker.

At 3:30 there is no activity anywhere in the world except for a few bakery people, that one insane, probably blind bird that's singing its heart out, a few shifty characters, and the buzz of the streetlights. Very very few cars, as you might imagine, so the Mad Jaywalker did what he does best: cut straight across intersections and walked down the middle of the road where the light was better as he went to the drugstore, for around a mile.

That's right, FOR A MILE, as the police slept like babies, I flagrantly ignored their pedestrian rules! YOU'LL NEVER CATCH ME, COPPERS!

The Mad Jaywalker's weakness, though, is that after these early AM crime sprees, he's virtually useless the next day at work.

Posted by Chris on 06/24/05

June 23, 2005

WTF in Aruba

OK, now they're saying a judge has been arrested in the case of the missing girl in Aruba, the father of one of the other suspects:


Listen, I'm all for letting an investigation take its course, but if I don't start getting some hard WTF info on this soon, I'm going to start WILDLY SPECULATING. Correction: I'm going to start POSTING some of my wild speculations.

I mean, WTF?!?

Posted by Chris on 06/23/05

They cited pressure from the media; I can well understand. With Michael Jackson's trial over, the wide-eyed runaway bride story fading, busybody efforts to bring Terri Schiavo back to life going nowhere, and the dumb Utah scout found alive, they have to report on something...

Otherwise they might have to talk about real news, like our Iraq policy (stay what course?!), the Downing Street Memos and our refusal to get bin Laden from a terror-supporting nation (because it's sovereign).

If there is a parallel universe, how does one apply for a green-card to go there? Do they have affordable health care?

Posted by: simon at June 24, 2005 6:49 AM

WTF is right!



Posted by: Big Fat Brian at June 24, 2005 7:01 AM

June 22, 2005

The Rule of Hitler

Durbin issues not just an apology, but a tearful apology, for his remarks on mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo:

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat apologized Tuesday for remarks comparing the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to methods used by the Nazis, Soviets and other repressive regimes.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he "never intended any disrespect" to U.S. troops with his June 14 comments, for which the minority whip has endured a week of criticism from Republicans and some Democrats.

Yes, above all, and in all things, LET NO DISRESPECT TOWARDS THE TROOPS BE INFERRED. Could there be any worse offense in all imagination?

Can we get BUT I SUPPORT THE TROOPS translated into Latin and hewn into the very capstone of Congress? So that politicians can adhere to it much as the physicians must FIRST DO NO HARM?

But let's review what Durbin actually said, before he put his balls in a nice little package with a bow on top and left them on the Senate floor:

In the June 14 floor speech, Durbin read from an FBI agent's account of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay being shackled to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures for up to 24 hours at a stretch.

Prisoners in those conditions sometimes urinated or defecated on themselves, the agent reported.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.

It is disappointing that the Rule of Hitler, which I thought in play exclusively on message boards, is in effect at such a high level of public discourse. I thought it was just in online discussions where it was axiomatic that someone inevitably compares someone else to Hitler or the Nazis, and thereafter the discussion is solely about rebukes and reminders of the evil of the Holocaust.

And just so we have a perspective on this: while the U.S. is talking about Hitler and the Gulag and how Guantanamo can't even HOPE to compare, the rest of the world is actually talking about Guantanamo.

I don't blame Durbin for the apology, but for the tears that accompanied it. You EXPECT a politician to have to come back to the Senate floor and apologize for things like this, but at best it should be an "e pur si muove" sort of apology. Yeah, yeah, I'm real sorry you got offended, and as he walks away he mutters that by the way it was the truth.

Posted by Chris on 06/22/05

It's stories like this that should be pointed out whenever the question - why are the Democrats being so spineless? - is asked. Every time they speak out, they get hammered down by a media that's more interested in going after ill-phrased criticism than the terrible policies they are criticizing.

Shooting the messenger seems to be the primary strategy in the GOP camp. Strong cynical strategy really is better than good policies.

I've yet to hear anyone put forward a good defense of Guantanamo Bay. Would we accept Castro building a base in Florida to torture captives who hate Cuba?

Posted by: simon at June 22, 2005 9:56 AM

Here here... Obviously I am no fan of the current administration or their particular party but the democrats are a bunch of spineless whiners who aren't offering the least bit in the way of solutions. Howard Dean is the only one with the balls to stand up and say what needs to be said.

I vote for Howard Dean.

Posted by: Ben at June 22, 2005 2:43 PM

You voted for DEAN? You, sir, are worse than Hitler.

Posted by: Chris at June 24, 2005 11:05 AM

June 20, 2005

Segway Tours for the Hip

I saw a group of 8 people on a Segway tour late Saturday night on Sunset Blvd. For the record, if you're going for the cool, aloof, too-hip-for-here thing, it's going to be a tough act to pull off while scooting down the street on one of these things. Did somebody lose a bet?

I'd say if you're hip you might want to work up to the Segway rather than giving it a go on your first outing. Try to be hip on a swing-set first, and then maybe work your way up to being aloof on a see-saw.

For a truly advanced workout of your cool, try to hula-hoop and appear above it all at the same time.

Posted by Chris on 06/20/05

The attempted techno-hipness is diminished by the wheels. If that thing floated, and could achieve high velocity, it would easily earn its hip quotient.

I want to hear about Segway-jacking. It's only a matter of time...

Posted by: simon at June 20, 2005 12:13 PM

June 16, 2005

Others suspect the truth, too...

... that is, the truth that we've actually been living in a parallel universe for the last five years.

Like me, Robert Kuttner at American Prospect wonders what life is like for our counterparts in that other dimension:

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, real leaders in a country very much like our own are dealing with real problems. Imagine what America might be like if our top officials were addressing the genuine challenges that confront us.

Domestically, the president might have responded to the September 11 attacks by calling for equality of sacrifice, as presidents have done in every other wartime emergency. Instead, our president pushed through a succession of upscale tax cuts and urged people to go out and shop.

In the parallel universe, the American leader is serious about securing our country. Here, it fell to the opposition party to demand that something as basic as airline security not be left to private, minimum-wage contractors.


While the Department of Homeland Security played Keystone Kops with color-coded alerts that seemed suspiciously timed to alarm the public in an election year, the different agencies that were merged into one are still working on how to communicate with each other.

Posted by Chris on 06/16/05

I don't think this parallel universe has Terry Schiavo, Michael Jackson or Paris Hilton and her orange tan to keep them distracted. The poor dears.

I bet they even have a real culture. Shame, big shame.

Posted by: simon at June 17, 2005 10:42 AM

My First Quake

Just now. I hear from USGS it was a 5.3, and was centered 90 miles away.

My summary: About 10 seconds of everything shaking slightly that I at first took to be a large passing truck, but wait I'm on the 6th floor and that truck would have to be right next door. Just enough time for everyone in this room (All of us recent West Coast immigrants) to wonder "Should we leave the building?"

Posted by Chris on 06/16/05

Elwood and I were wondering how you guys were holding up. So many, so quickly, spooky.

Posted by: klugula at June 17, 2005 9:12 AM

The Planet of Pre Code Women

I went to see some "Pre Code" movies the other day at one of the UCLA theatres. These are movies that were made from before it was realized that Hollywood was rotting our brains with their ankle-showing speakeasy hussies and their flamboyant men. There were three films, all of them newly restored: MILLS OF THE GODS (starring Fay Wray, who makes my jaw drop), a short called SCHOOL FOR ROMANCE, and another movie called TWO KINDS OF WOMEN.

Seeing old movies seems to give you a glimpse into how things used to be, but seeing movies made before the Production Code (1930-1934) is like seeing a transmission from another planet. And it's a planet where they do a lot of speak-singing musicals, the women wear no bras, and everyone is as horny as hell. The innuendo levels are up to 11, but there's an innocence about it too - it's not sleazy.

Posted by Chris on 06/16/05

Suggested Slogan for Orlando's Seaworld

"Where the world's dumbest mammals go to see the world's smartest fish."

Posted by Chris on 06/16/05

I was not that impressed w/ Sea World, and I love sharks. I guess those were cool, but I felt a little bit jipped. Are you saying I am stupid? Cuz you are probably right. Look @ the purty colors of the fishies.

Posted by: klugula at June 17, 2005 9:11 AM

June 15, 2005

The Orlando airport gives, and it takes

My flight is not 'til six, but hotel checkout is at 11. So I have to hang out in the airport all day. And I can't check my bags until 2 PM, so I have to just carry them around.


The Orlando airport has one of the most well-appointed "neutral zones" I've ever seen. Plenty of bookstores, a giant food court, and lots of shops you don't have to pass through security to get to.


It's hard to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the shops when you're carrying four bags which weigh a ton.


For the first time ever when I do electronic check-in I'm asked if I'd like to upgrade to "Economy Plus" for $40. HELL YES I'M UPGRADING.


Their security section looks as if the local TSA chapter has only just now heard the news about 9/11. It's chaos. A long snaking line which suddenly gives relief by branching off into four sub-lines, and then just as quickly removes that relief by forcing the sub-lines to re-merge ten feet later.

Then we're standing in lines three deep to get to the X-Ray machines, and then we have to press ourselves against the wall because that's also where they bring the wheelchairs through. Lots of yelling. Not enough plastic bins to send your belongings through. Palpable panic and frustration.


It really doesn't take that much longer to get through, and since I'm so early I open the laptop to get some writing done at the gate.


Even though I have chosen the seat farthest away from the madding crowd a family of trolls immediately seats themselves next to me. Loud, taking up more space than necessary, re-packing luggage across several seats. Never have I seen such adorable kids with such a complete lack of training or manners. Twice I had to move my laptop away so they wouldn't slam into it. I'm repeatedly used as a "buffer" for their games of Run & Scream & Flop Against Objects. I get up and stand for the next 30 minutes while the plane is vacuumed or whatever.


When we board the plane, Economy Plus truly does offer a few precious extra inches that make a difference. Sweet comfort!


The Troll family is sitting one row away. I specifically prayed to Jesus that this would not be the case. Thanks a LOT, Jesus.


There is a free seat between me and the other guy in my row. Nice! Thanks, Jesus!

Posted by Chris on 06/15/05

I have seen that family of trolls on almost every trip I have ever taken. Is there one family like that for each single/couple flying the friendly skies? With as many as I have seen, I think that is accurate. But you made it, right?

Posted by: klugula at June 15, 2005 1:57 PM

I did make it okay. I believe that modern airliners DO all require one family of trolls per flight. Maybe it's a ballast thing?

Posted by: Chris at June 15, 2005 3:10 PM

June 14, 2005

Thoughts That May Have Been Going Through A Dove's Mind As It Was Released at the Announcement of the Not Guilty Verdict in the Michael Jackson Molestation Trial

Whoa - wait. Really? Seriously? I mean, I'm dying to get out of this box, don't get me wrong, I mean, hey, I'm a wild animal for Christ's sake, what wild animal WOULDN'T just love to get out of a box and fly free but... no kidding? The Michael Jackson trial? Really?

It goes against all my instincts as a wild bird to say this, but, I could hang out in the box for a while if you want. I'm just saying. I can hang on a bit longer.

Look, I'm just a dumb animal with a brain the size of a pea, but generally they let us go at something like, I don't know, the Olympics. Or when Mandela is let out of prison after decades. But here?

Maybe I'm confused because of my innate terror that pretty much everything is trying to eat me all the time, but you seem serious about this thing. You really intend me to fly away at this moment.

OK. OK, well, you're literally grabbing me out of the box, so I guess I'll get going then. I'm flying away, but truly, it's just because it's my instinct. It's not because I think the timing is brilliant or anything.

Posted by Chris on 06/14/05

Amen brother!

Posted by: klugula at June 14, 2005 8:30 AM

June 12, 2005

Prodigious Preciousness Probable

I understand that there are soon to be Narnia movies, so let me make a prediction.

When we first see the bureau that the kids go through to get to the magical land of Narnia the camera will dolly VERY slowly into it, while on the soundtrack a mysterious yet magical sound will come from the chorus.

When they open the bureau a warm, diffuse, magical glow will come through. It will be a magical moment, filled with awe and wonder.

People. I am calling for about 78% less awe and wonder in films. I think I've had my fill. Let the kids just discover the passageway behind the coats and let that be it. No chorus, no glow, no slow dolly.

Posted by Chris on 06/12/05

Agreed. And can Mr and Mrs Beaver avoid all wise-cracking, sarcasm and cliched drill-sargeant phrases like "let's move it, people".

And no singing; have a little dignity.

Posted by: simon at June 14, 2005 6:34 AM

June 10, 2005

Stuff We All Get

I don't feel I was emphatic enough before. We have been like a ten-year swarm of locusts at this conference. Locusts that feed on free pens and t-shirts. An extra duffle has had to be purchased to accomodate my easy-gotten gains. Imoan, you are so correct... IT IS AS IF THE SWAG IS GOLD.

Tomorrow I leave. If hurricane winds keep me in the Orlando airport, I swear before God and everyone here... I will blog about it.

Posted by Chris on 06/10/05

I hope you upset a vendor table.

Posted by: simon at June 10, 2005 2:29 PM

June 9, 2005

Fleshtone Filtering

I have learned today about a thing called Fleshtone Filtering, which sounds like one of those randomly-generated names you get spam from, but is, ironically, an actual process that Anti-Spam programs use to detect and eliminate one of the biggest problems facing email today.

And that problem is of course, Unwanted Nudity.

Apparently the way it works is to scan JPGs or GIFs or any kind of image attachment to see what percentage of the image is the color of "flesh." If, say, your image is more than 60% flesh-colored, then the likelihood that it is a naked picture of Anna Kournikova is high. (Although the likelihood that it is ACTUALLY Anna Kournikova is still low. No filtering software yet exists to scan for whether the head actually corresponds to the naked body it's pictured with.)

To which I cry, FOUL. Most racist and foul! Have we learned nothing from the Crayola Scandals of 1962? What color constitutes "flesh?" What if I'm subscribed to a mailing list of erotic green-skinned ladies? (I'm NOT. I swear.) What's your precious fleshtone filtering going to do about that? What if someone is sending me pictures of their adorable infant getting a bath in the sink? Am I going to have to report to PSO for excess nudity in my mailbox?

Posted by Chris on 06/ 9/05

At least Helmut Newton's wonderful nudes can still get through. Or can it filter black and white photos too?

Are there really folk who don't like sexy photos? We shouldn't let these perverts near the internet.

Posted by: simon at June 9, 2005 12:20 PM

I read an article today where woman are having their vagina's nipped and tucked to be more attractive and snug. Some are even going so far as to have the 'hymen' surgically re-instated. To this I say - once you've lost your virginity it's gone... let the damn thing go. And as for the rest of it, it's like my father always said, "Son, there's big old good ones and good old big ones... take your pic."

Posted by: Ben at June 9, 2005 2:37 PM

June 8, 2005

Acronym Deployment Services

I am at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Orlando this week, where you can learn about XML, ADO, SPS, WSS, MOM, AD, or SMS, but there is really only one thing they are all about: ADS, or, Acronym Deployment Services.

There are many hundreds of vendors and it is a bit like Halloween for techies, because they are all giving out t-shirts, free CDs, slick handouts, squishie-balls, baseball caps, frisbees, staplers, calculators, blinking badges, expensive laptop bags and if you are very lucky an iPod Shuffle. I am politely listening to what each vendor says but I am also looking out of the corner of my eye to see if they have any good freebies. I have listened to a few schpiels for products that I had no intention of buying nor any understanding of what they did, but because they had cool t-shirts. By the end we will all look like race car drivers, enlogoed from head to toe.

For the plural project: A Convention of Techies. Some would say a Convention of Nerds but I maintain that the proper plural for nerds is a Dungeon.

Posted by Chris on 06/ 8/05

I believe that the term for all of that crap that you pick up at such conferences is called "Coprorate Schwag."

Hope you get some nice stuff!!!

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at June 9, 2005 9:50 AM

My temp job last week was calling people attending the conference and try to get them to sign up for a series of "round-table discussions" held by Microsoft during the conference. Participants got the MICROSOFT TECH ED 2005 Jacket. You would have thought they were giving away gold. Sorry Chris, I only called names A-F.

Posted by: imoan is naomi backwards at June 9, 2005 2:03 PM

June 7, 2005

Home of the Awkward Sirloin

I could never enjoy a steak at a place called "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse." What is the deal? Is a Chris Steakhouse a place that serves a certain kind of Chris steak? Or did Ruth buy it from Chris, and the chain of title contractually had to be kept in the name? Now what happens when Ed buys it? And then Dan? Will people one day enjoy choice cuts from Dan's Ed's Ruth's Chris Steakhouse?

Posted by Chris on 06/ 7/05

Segway User Trending

One thing I have noticed about you people that own Segways is that you are very bad at sharing. None of you have ever once offered me a ride. It's selfish.

Would it hurt you to get off your precious gyroscopic high horse every now and then?

And by the way, you look like a dork riding that thing around. Message to you - it's the year 2005, we're not in the future just YET, George Jetson.

Posted by Chris on 06/ 7/05

June 3, 2005

King of the Idiots: Ch. 5

Man of the People

After the Yeti debacle, the President's approval ratings were historically low. His proposal for a "Special Yeti Defense Tax" was floundering in Congress and looked doomed.

"Sir," asked a reporter at a press conference, "after several months at war, still no evidence has been found that the Yetis even exist. And now we have a memo leaked by the British which offers undeniable proof that you actually knew these creatures to be mythical before you took us to war against them. Do you have any comment?"

The President was unfazed by the direct challenge. He looked the reporter directly in the eye as he answered.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, and my fellow Americans," said the President. "I like to think that one of America's greatest exports to the world... is the great sport of baseball. And if you think about it, the conflict between America and her enemies is VERY MUCH like the classic conflict between two ball clubs - say, the Sox and the Yankees. You have one man at the plate. When he swings at the ball, he's like... America. And it's the same in football. In football, you have a team - and America IS that team. Pushing through the opposition until we reach the goal line! Put another way, if the complex arena of world politics were basketball, I'd like to think that America would be the Center. With Jesus in the stands, rooting us on."

The press corp was silent. The reporter took his seat, unable to meet the gaze of his colleagues.

"Also: hockey," added the President.

The next day the pollsters delivered the news that his approval ratings were higher than any President's in history. Without bothering to go through the formality of a vote, Congressional leaders brought the Special Yeti Defense Tax bill to the White House to be signed into law.

The End
Posted by Chris on 06/ 3/05

Yes, I agreed grumpily

From Billmon over at This Modern World:

...What do you do when a democratic majority listens to the truth, hears and understands it, but nevertheless chooses -- out of habit, fear or just plain xenophobic nationalism -- to ignore, or even applaud, the war crimes of its duly elected leaders?

Yeah, I don't know. Have a handy supply of Excedrin around, that's one thing.

And from TBogg:

So when we finally bow down to public opinion and admit defeat (only we won't admit defeat...we'll just call it a tie) and pull out of Iraq, and the power vacuum that ensues results in tribal warfare and more death and destruction, who do you think the rightwing echo chamber is going to blame? Not the neo-cons who sent us on this fools errand. Not the generals who were whistling past the graveyard when they should have been telling Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to fuck off. Not the 101st Fighting Keyboarders who waved their little flags and their well-thumbed copies of Sun Tzu and pointed out that it looked a hell of a lot easier on the Risk board.

No. They're going to blame us because we didn't wear little flag lapel pins and slap yellow ribbon magnetic stickers on our SUV's and we subverted the cause of democracy in the Middle East and that's why 1600 and counting American soldiers are dead, and the blood of every Iraqi killed in the wake of our leaving will be on our hands.

There's no doubt.

When I look back over these posts the ones about politics are the ones I care least for, but when I come across something that just nails it, even if it's totally negative I feel the need to hang on to it.

Posted by Chris on 06/ 3/05

I blame Deep Throat. The hairstyles in that film were plain awful.

Posted by: simon at June 3, 2005 12:35 PM

Isaac would never have agreed with that.

Posted by: Chris at June 3, 2005 2:23 PM

June 2, 2005

Note to the body wash industry

I am calling for greater differentiation between your packaging and the shampoo industry's packaging. Or at least the words BODY WASH emblazoned on the cap for those not wearing their contacts in the shower.

Posted by Chris on 06/ 2/05

Where are the tles from the South? Please do not hold back.

Posted by: Vickery at June 2, 2005 4:18 PM

You're looking for my commentary on the trip to the South? I have some stuff coming up.

Posted by: Chris at June 2, 2005 4:29 PM

June 1, 2005

The Plural Project #3

Another entry for the Plural Project.

There's a park nearby that has weekly lawn bowling, a strange outdoor pastime where everyone wears white or else. Previously this struck me as the sort of quaint activity that might be enjoyed mainly by an elderly set, but one Sunday I was corrected in this thinking when a group descended on the field that was, to a man and woman, extremely perfect and young and shiny and totally hot.

So uniform was the perfection of these college kids, with their beautiful hair, their perfect breasts, their tanned and toned muscles, their expensive sun glassery, their skill at making the all-white fashion stricture just really work for them, that at first I assumed a magazine shoot was going on.

There were not even a few token homely people orbiting this group. This was a carefully screened outing.

So either lawn bowling is the hip thing for rich kids to do in Santa Monica or this was a roving social group that actively seeks out kitchy things to do the summer before they go to Yale. If they weren't lawn bowling again the next week then I bet they were down at the bowling alley or having a fondue party at one of their parent's mansions.

And it was grating to watch their social dynamic, because 1) it was so predictable, and of course 2) I could never be one of them. Even though there can't be much exertion required to lawn bowl, the males of the species were hooting, brachiating, and strutting at levels I'd have thought reserved for that Scottish sport where you pick up and throw trees. And yep, you can always spot the Alpha because in no time he'll go shirtless, revealing his dedication to the art of the sculpted chest. The girls slyly drank beer out of plastic cups, conferred with one another, and were not shy about getting out there and playing the game. Most came pre-paired with a male but I sensed a bit of interchangeability in the couples, or maybe I had been staring too long and my imagination was running away.

There were a lot of other people in the park, but the college kids were all completely engrossed in themselves. And to be fair, the rest of us were obviously on a much lower social plateau, as evidenced by our comparitively ugly appearance. The beautiful lawn bowlers acknowledged only their own, as nature intended. They were so aggressively preening for one another that after an hour I wished they would just go somewhere lavish and mate, for the love of God, and leave me alone to wallow in my crapulence.

There was nothing particularly inappropriate with their youthful self-absorption, and we all do it to some extent. But it occured to me as that pocket of privilege and beauty moved through the park that they would probably, for the whole of their lives, do all their socializing and breeding and interacting in that same exact social group. Like all cliques, they were a little island to themselves.

What I was witnessing was a very expensive, very rarified strain of DNA making arrangements to pass itself around, but not very far. In 100, 200 years this group will have produced the most breath-takingly gorgeous, wispy, well-educated and well-spoken child, but little Dakota will have to be careful on the playground because her blood will have lost the ability to clot. So I coined today's plural:

A Galapagos of hotties.

It doesn't roll off the tongue but it fits perfectly.

Previous entries in the Plural Project:

A Hysteria of Project Managers & others

An Explosion of Lesbian Kissing

An Irritation of Telecom Techs

This is the very first blog I have ever read and I am hooked! Thanks Chris for writing what the rest of us are thinking. You make me smile.

Posted by: Vickery Salomone at June 2, 2005 9:18 AM

Maybe it's part of an overall trend toward unathletic sporting activities previously acceptable only to the geriatric set. In the 90's it was golf, in the 00's it's lawn bowling...Any predictions for 2010?

They really wore white trousers? Were there no fashion police issuing tickets?

Posted by: simon at June 2, 2005 10:37 AM

They were in every fashionable variant of white clothing imaginable. There were a lot of white shirts unbottoned over white muscle Ts for the guys, lots of short white skirts for the girls. If only I'd had my camera...

Posted by: Chris at June 2, 2005 11:24 AM

would you have remembered to white balance?

Posted by: simon at June 2, 2005 11:44 AM

You know I prefer a more free-floating approach to color standards. You can always fix it in post. (sometimes)

Posted by: Chris at June 2, 2005 1:12 PM