Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A New Kind of Change

So, we've changed up the white house, now it's congress's turn. Tired of special interests dictating the policies here in America? Tired of Disney locking up tens of thousands of books by lobbying congress to extend the copyright act? Then head on over here and pledge NOT to give any more money to congress. Come on, in these tough economic times, everybody can make a promise not to spend money.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Encyclopedia Britanica Opens up a Public Restroom

Robert McHenry, a former Encyclopedia Editor-in-Chief once said this about Wikipedia.

"The user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some subject, to confirm some matter of fact, is rather in the position of a visitor to a public restroom. It may be obviously dirty, so that he knows to exercise great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be lulled into a false sense of security. What he certainly does not know is who has used the facilities before him..."

That makes today's news seem particularly funny... That's right, users can now make edits on Encyclopedia Britannica's articles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back into Running...

I've gotten back into running. I haven't run since October or so. I quit because, well...I'm a sissy. I hate cold weather. I don't want to run in it.

So why am I running now? Well, when you're used to 80 degrees, and it drops down to 50, that is harsh. But when you're used to -8 weather, and suddenly it's 40--well, that is a heat wave. So three times a week, I've started running home. It's been nice...kind of.

Monday I went running and it was exhilarating. It was below freezing, but I had a tuque, I had my tunes, and I tore through the neighborhood like a cheetah--a cheetah in a cage being pulled in a red wagon, but still--it was great. It felt good.

Compare that today. I forgot my tuque which wasn't too bad, except for the fact that the wire on my iPhone iBuds freeze up, and when I bounce they come right out of my iEar iCanals. So I couldn't listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Instead all I heard was my lungs gasping for oxygen.

And then for some reason--and this gets a mite personal--my underwear was giving me a super-wedgie. I felt like I was a freshman in high school again (and a sophmore, and a junior). Every three steps I had to adjust my nether regions. All of this made me mad, and so I would run faster because the world is so unfair, and my running fast would teach the world a lesson, by golly. But actually all it did was make me more tired, and give me a wedgie--the likes of which have not been seen for a good decade. By the time I hit home, I was wiped.

I hope I have a better experience on Friday, or I may just take up parcheesi.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nerd of the highest order.

Oh how I wish I had my digital audio recorder with me on our family date tonight. If me and the boys had asked out my wife on a date, I think we'd have a hard time talking her into a second one. She'd probably be busy 'washing her hair' or something, the next time we called. We were nerds of the highest order.

It started by me coming up with the idea of starting 4 free accounts to World of Warcraft, and letting all of the kids play at the same time. Kind of a family excursion into nerdiness.

Well, of course the kids went ballistic, and that is all they could talk about all night. Here is how just part of the conversation went at the local malt shop. I've removed the names to protect the innocent.


We need a hunter. A hunter and a Warrior.

Which races have warriors?

All of them.

I don't think they all do, do they?

No, he's right. Every one of them.

I want to be a chicken.

What about the undead, they don't have warriors.

Yes, they do.

Yeah, I have one.

You do?


You're sure? Is it really a warrior, or does he just look big.

I'm going to be a chicken. And I'll have a piggie.

Mom can be a mage.

Yeah, she should be a blood-elf mage, definitely.

How come?

Never mind.

So that gives us our DPS, right?

Yeah, we'll need 3 dps, a tank, and a healer.

I'm a chicken!

I'll be the tank.

Are you sure you want to be a tank? That's the hardest job in the game, next to healing.

Healing isn't hard. I don't want to be a healer, they're boring.

What! Healing is the most important part of the party. If a dps dies, the party can still make it. But if the tank dies, we're all toast. If the healer dies, we're all toast. Two most important parts of the game.


Hey! The garbage is glowing purple.

You've got ice cream on your ears.

Now, let me tell you a bit about aggro...


Yep...chips off the ol' block.

The Publishing Industry is so Hosed...

I just got back from Borders--my son had a gift certificate from his birthday and he wanted to buy some books.

The card had $10 on it, which--when I was a little boy--would buy exactly that, 'some books'.

He was quite discouraged to realize that this card could buy him very little. The newer books he wanted were all in hardback, and were $20-$25. Newer paperbacks ran $15. Old stuff (including things in public domain) were a more reasonable $8-9. But my son wasn't really interested in Pride and Prejudice.

As an author, it disturbs me to see prices so inflated, especially because I know how much--or rather how little--the author actually sees.

Of course it's not the publisher's fault either, it's a broken model. Stores can buy books, try to sell them, and if they don't, they send them back for a refund. Very few other industries follow such a model (print media does as well, and look at how well they are doing).

I think we're already starting to see new models emerge, but I for one can't wait to see what changes lie ahead.

As for my son, we ended up going to the clearance rack and buying some mad-libs. That, and some candy. My son is a voracious reader, but the library is free.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Ah, I see what you did there. Very clever.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Swoopo - You Clever Little Devil

My son is learning one of life's hard lessons. And it's good for him. He want's a Nintendo DS. He's tried to save up for one before, but like other kids he collects a wad of cash and decides that he'd rather buy something cheaper. Something more...immediate.

But this time I think he's going to make it. He's been saving, and not spending. He's more than half-way to his goal.

But since he has a little of his Old Man in him, he's also spent time trying to find shortcuts--specifically, shortcuts online. He's found shady places that sell his unit for less. Since I offered to chip in for his purchase, I told him I would only chip in if he bought it from a reputable source such as Amazon or Wal-mart.

Today I get a frantic IM. "Dad, look at this, I found a DS for $3!"

They usually run $130. I figured the site he found was a scam, but it's not. Well, sort of.

Swoopo is kind of like legalized gambling. It's brilliant in a Lex Luther kind of way. Here is how it works.

Swoopo has a bunch of brand new stuff. Let's use a Nintendo DS as an example. They sell it on their site for $1. They have a bid button, and a timer that counts backwards. When the timer runs out, the highest bid wins. If you've bid $1, you'll get it for $1.

The catch? Every time you bid, the timer goes up by 15 seconds, the item goes up by 15 cents, and the bid costs you $1. If you don't win, you're still have to pay the money that you spent on bids.

This is exactly like gambling. With legalized gambing, the state makes a lot of money. Some lucky sucker makes a lot of money, and everybody else gets screwed. With Swoopo, the business is making bank (there is a TV up there right now that is selling for $66, going up in penny incriments. It retails for $1,900, so the company has already made $6,600), a few lucky suckers make off with a really good item for dirt cheap, and everybody else is out of a few hard-earned dollars.

So, my dissapointed son is going back to buying things the hard way. Working hard, saving money, and purchasing carefully. Hopefully, lesson learned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lars and the Real Girl

Watched a great movie last night--Lars and the Real Girl--thanks to a recommendation from my sis-in-law. I think what I liked most about the movie was that no person played the antagonist. To be sure, there were things being fought by the protagonist, but it was great to see that every single person in the movie stand next to Lars, and fight with him.

I always feel bad when I miss these shows in the theater. I would have liked to thrown my $7 toward the folks who made the film.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And now you know...the rest of the story.

Ever wondered how a book goes from the author's brain, to a finished book? Well, behold this youtube video, and wonder no more.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Making Video Games Educational? GASP!

I'm sure everybody who has played Guitar Hero or Rock Band has asked themselves, "why not make this for a real guitar, and teach kids how to play an instrument?" Well, somebody's done it, and it's coming this summer.

I'm saving my pennies right now.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why I Love The Giants

If I was pressed hard enough to pick my favorite band of all time, it would have to be They Might Be Giants. I first fell in love with John and John after listening to Istanbul (not Constantinople) on their album Flood. It was such a bizarre song with crazy lyrics and a catchy tune, I couldn't help but play it over and over again.

I've been a fan ever since, and have loved the wide variety of their songs. By variety I mean not only style of music, but also the breadth of topic. They sing about mammals, James K. Polk, astronomy, Homer's Odyssey, palindromes, conifers, nightlights, Belgian Painters, and more. It's just astounding.

Anyway, the reason I'm blogging about this is my son sent me a report he had written. The report was on Hammurabi, the great Babylonian King and lawgiver. Yep, you guessed it, They Might Be Giants sing about Hammurabi and the rest of the Mesopotamian kings.

So, the next time your kid is working on a report, don't send him to the encyclopedia, don't send him to the internet. Send him down to the local music shop, and have him pick up a CD by the Giants. There is a good chance they've already got it covered.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I have a contradictory sense of self.

So apparently I have a contradictory sense of self.

"Psychologists in America have interviewed ten male members of the Latter-day Saints Church (i.e. Mormons) who've grown beards despite their church preferring members not to have facial hair. Michael Nielsen and Daryl White argue the stories these men tell provide rich material for exploring issues of social control and individual identity.

"The researchers say these cases show men attempting to manage "contradictory senses of self".

"Faced with unnecessarily invasive requests to shave, requests that sometimes took the shape of ultimatums, some men expressed resentment at having to choose between a mere show of compliance and deeply felt, even intimate identities: discomfort, embarrassment, and shame are exchanged for a token show of obedience, with resentment likely to follow."

I didn't realize I was so rich and complex.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Can I get a Hal Uh Lou Yuh? Or a Hallelujah, if you insist on proper spelling.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Visitor

Just watched a great move called The Visitor. I think my favorite line in the movie was when Walter said, "I sound a lot better when he's playing with me."

I highly recommend the movie.