Shadow Footprints

Wanderings in Virtu and Verity.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Queer Eye questions Code Orange

The Fab Five's Carson Kressley denounces the color as 'unflattering'

Carson Kressley, the fashion savant of the hit series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” today questioned Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s choice of orange for the current terror alert, calling the color “wildly unflattering.”

“I don’t know too many men who can pull off orange,” Kressley said. “And if I were a big husky boy like Tom Ridge, I would definitely avoid it like the plague.”

By issuing an orange alert, Kressley argued, Ridge was putting the nation “at a greater fashion risk than ever before.”

“We’re all running around worrying about al Qaeda, but that doesn’t mean we should have to worry about looking bad, too,” Kressley said.

But even as he attacked Ridge’s choice of orange, Kressley did not recommend that the government step back down to a yellow alert, pronouncing that color “yucky beyond Thunderdome.” For his part, Kressley unveiled a new “Queer Eye” terror alert chart, featuring such colors as raspberry sherbet, scarlet and blizzard.

As for the ominous terror signals reported by Ridge in various press briefings, Kressley attributed the “increased chatter” to the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations a few days earlier. “I know I was on my cell talking nonstop with my friends the minute Uma [Thurman] stepped up to the podium,” Kressley said. “There’s always more chatter around awards time.”

Dreaming in sign

A reader of Straight Dope named Cathy asked

In what language do deaf people think? I think in English, because that's what I speak. But since deaf people cannot hear, they can't learn how to speak a language. Nevertheless, they must think in some language. Would they think in English if they use sign language and read English? How would they do that if they've never heard the words they are signing or reading pronounced? Or maybe they just see words in their head, instead of hearing themselves?

To which Cecil replied
You're on the right track, kid. But first a little detour. Your speculations raise a larger question: Can you think without language? Answer: Nope, at least not at the level humans are accustomed to. That's why deafness can have far more serious consequences than blindness, developmentally speaking. The blind suffer many hardships, not the least of which is the inability to read in the usual manner. But even those sightless from birth acquire language by ear without difficulty in infancy, and having done so lead relatively ordinary lives. A congenitally deaf child isn't so lucky: unless someone realizes very early that he's not talking because he can't hear, his grasp of communication may never progress beyond the rudiments.

The language of the deaf is a vast topic that has filled lots of books--one of the best is Seeing Voices: A Journey Into the World of the Deaf by Oliver Sacks (1989). All I can do in this venue is sketch out a few basic propositions:

The folks at issue here are both (a) profoundly and (b) prelingually deaf. If you don't become totally deaf until after you've acquired language, your problems are . . . well, not minor, but manageable. You think in whatever spoken language you've learned. Given some commonsense accommodation during schooling, you'll progress normally intellectually. Depending on circumstances you may be able to speak and lip-read.

About one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they'd never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it's far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren't diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.

The profoundly, prelingually deaf can and do acquire language; it's just gestural rather than verbal. The sign language most commonly used in the U.S. is American Sign Language, sometimes called Ameslan or just Sign. Those not conversant in Sign may suppose that it's an invented form of communication like Esperanto or Morse code. It's not. It's an independent natural language, evolved by ordinary people and transmitted culturally from one generation to the next. It bears no relationship to English and in some ways is more similar to Chinese--a single highly inflected gesture can convey an entire word or phrase. (Signed English, in which you'll sometimes see words spelled out one letter at a time, is a completely different animal.) Sign can be acquired effortlessly in early childhood--and by anyone, not just the deaf (e.g., hearing children of deaf parents). Those who do so use it as fluently as most Americans speak English. Sign equips native users with the ability to manipulate symbols, grasp abstractions, and actively acquire and process knowledge--in short, to think, in the full human sense of the term. Nonetheless, "oralists" have long insisted that the best way to educate the deaf is to teach them spoken language, sometimes going so far as to suppress signing. Sacks and many deaf folk think this has been a disaster for deaf people.

The answer to your question is now obvious. In what language do the profoundly deaf think? Why, in Sign (or the local equivalent), assuming they were fortunate enough to have learned it in infancy. The hearing can have only a general idea what this is like--the gulf between spoken and visual language is far greater than that between, say, English and Russian. Research suggests that the brain of a native deaf signer is organized differently from that of a hearing person. Still, sometimes we can get a glimpse. Sacks writes of a visit to the island of Martha's Vineyard, where hereditary deafness was endemic for more than 250 years and a community of signers, most of whom hear normally, still flourishes. He met a woman in her 90s who would sometimes slip into a reverie, her hands moving constantly. According to her daughter, she was thinking in Sign. "Even in sleep, I was further informed, the old lady might sketch fragmentary signs on the counterpane," Sacks writes. "She was dreaming in Sign."

Via languagehat.

I've been having a few lessons in New Zealand Sign language and understand how the grammer of Sign is vastly different from that of English.

Yet another political quiz

The World's Smallest Political Quiz is slanted to encourage a libertarian response.

PETA targets kids

PETA (no, not the People Eating Tasty Animals group) targets kids. Why? Because their mother might be wearing fur. I wonder of these activists can tell the difference between real fur and fake fur. I wonder if they wear leather shoes and belts. I wonder how they will react when a kid says they want to skin a rabbit themselves for the fur.

Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs

Looks like humans are on the way out, now that Dolphins have evolved opposable thumbs.

Quote of the day - Knowing and Willing

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

American Family Association - Marriage poll

Some quotes from Reason's Hit and Run's post about the AFA poll, currently favouring gay marriage (60%).

Are people in civil unions more polite than married people?
-- Douglas Fletcher

Gay people can already get married, it is just that they must get married to a person of the opposite sex.

Russians could vote under Stalin, it's just that they had to vote for Stalin.
-- Mike

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Quote of the day - Jogging

The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it.
-- Joan Rivers

CSS: Copyrightable?

Dave Shea of Mezzoblue talks about whether CSS is copyrightable.

The Future Doesn't Need Us (Just the Internet)

Darren Barefoot talks about Internet-addled memory.

UK's top gay cop

Brian Paddick's legal action against the Mail has been settled out of court in his favour. He has also been promoted to Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the force. He was removed from his job amid controversy over his drugs policy.

Paddick on Paddick "What has my sexuality got to do with my ability?"

His anarchist comments were posted to a board on

A timeline of his time in Lambeth, and biography is available at Lambeth for Paddick.

Pics available.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Fantasy Blog Share Market

Just trying out BlogShares a fantasy blog sharemarket.

How caffeine works

How caffeine works

Caffeine causes changes in the chemicals of your brain, mainly in 2 ways. It mimics adenosine, and binds to all the adenosine receptors in your brain. This prevents the real adenosine from doing its job, which happens to be the slowing down of nerve impulses and the causing of drowsiness. So your brain becomes more alert. Caffeine also increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, which improves your feeling of well-being and improves your mood. It's this dopamine effect that is the root of caffeine's addictive properties.

Interesting. Now I know why I like coffee.

Quote of the day - Happiness

Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, December 28, 2003

What a week

Drinks after work on Christmas eve, at the Horse and Trap. There was a cute guy I'd like to meet. He was wearing a t-shirt with a Chinese proverb on it. I couldn't stay as my shuttle arrived to take me to the airport to catch my plane to Napier. The shuttle got me there earlier than a taxi would, but at less than half the price. If the cute guy had been alone I would have spoken to him before catching my ride.

It's been a long time since I was at the Air New Zealand domestic terminal at Auckland airport. I checked in with my eticket easily, then had to find where I could check my bag. It was hot but the cafe was out of beer that I liked. Unfortunately I didn't notice the other cafe/bar until I was on my way to the boarding gate. Althought I had a good book to read, Psychlone, by Greg Bear, I killed some time in the bookshop, and bought Legacies (Corean Chronicles Book 1), by L. E. Modesitt Jr. to read. My plane was ten minutes late departing, which isn't too bad, and apparently very common on Christmas Eve.

In the past few days, while Rudolph was roasting over an open fire, I've discovered that Claus Enterprises is downsizing, seen some ugly Christmas lights, discovered some things you can say in public at this time of year

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

How much sick leave?

The man at the centre of strikes that threaten Tube chaos this Christmas has insisted industrial action was his only option.

Chris Barrett, who was sacked for playing squash while off work with an ankle injury, said he was "really sorry" if the two 24-hour walkouts on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve caused misery.

Let me see if I understand this properly. His ankle was injured so he could not able to perform his work, but he was still able to perform an activity which puts great stress on ankles?

Mr Barrett, who is planning to take London Underground to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal,

He considers dismissal for this as unfair?

Critics included Mayor Ken Livingstone, who pointed out that Mr Barrett has taken 218 sick days since joining London Underground five years ago - almost one day every working week.

Someone who has taken this much sick leave should be on some sort of invalids benefit, and not working for the London Underground, or playing squash.

The sick leave could be unpaid, which means he's basically doing a four day week. If not, he should be dismissed as "unable to perform duties due to poor health."

"I don't want revenge, I just want my job back. That's why I have to piss off the people of London. It's the one course of action available to me."

With this attitude I think the London Underground should try to sue him. Perhaps the only reason he wants this job back is he doesn't know of any other company that will allow such outrageous behaviour for so long.


ACT Party Policy

Damien Christie interprets ACT party policy

That individuals [other than those who have been sexually abused as children, those that are informed, educated and emotionally stable but represent the minority of any group, and anyone who wants to smoke pot] are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms [other than those that are already prohibited by law, because they're illegal] and responsibilities.

The Straight Man's Guide to Enjoying Gay Sex

Bryan Quinn, of Sit and Spin, dispels some myths.

Let's identify some of the common ways for a 100% straight man to engage in gay sex, along with some of the common misperceptions. Remember, we're not telling you how to experiment with homosexuality - you can figure that out on your own. We're showing you how to do it while still being able to tell the Duke that you're all man.

Via Darren Barefoot

Monday, December 22, 2003

Caffeinate Your Hypertext

Hypertext? It's just text on caffeine. Lots of it. That's why it's hyper, you see.

Nathan Matias explains about effective use of hypertext.

The Caves

Zarfhome has site with the page navigation resembling that of a text adventure game.

The Book of Sand

I have just completed the online version of The Book of Sand. Intriguing. The complete (translated) version is available at Amazon.

The Story of Bread

From 1949 comes The Story of Bread

Consequences of a lifestyle choice

Elizabeth at The Bear's Lair points out the consequences of stating homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

Quote of the day - America

America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
-- Sigmund Freud

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Quote of the day - Wrong kind of business

I ran the wrong kind of business, but I did it with integrity.
-- Sydney Biddle Barrows

RSS Aggregators

I'm having a go with bloglines, a web based rss aggregator. It will allow me to keep up to date while I'm away.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Quote of the day - Say all you have to say

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.
-- John Ruskin

The Wockner Wire

Rex Wockner talks about Christmas. He says Christmas is hanging out with people you care about for a day when the normal routines are suspended. And that with the city shut down it's different than any other day you suspend normal routines.

I'll be relaxing in Hastings with my brother and his family.

The link will be here, when it moves off the current page of The Wockner Wire

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Definition: Homophobia

Homophobia: The fear that you may be homosexual

The people who say it is a choice are saying they have chosen to act heterosexual, despite their attraction to the same sex. They know they have made a choice and expect everyone has the same options.

NZ women wary of beards

More than two thirds of New Zealand men are clean shaven. The results of a survey by a razor manufacturer says NZ women wary of beards.

Gillette business manager Andrea Spearman said the company's survey showed 62 per cent of women polled liked men who were clean shaven, followed by the 'soul patch' (a tuft of hair under the lower lip), which was favoured by nearly 17 per cent of women.

I suspect the soul patch is liked by younger women.

The enjoyment of kissing a man with a smooth face and a well-groomed appearance were the main reasons women like the clean shaven look.

Personally I like a well-groomed goatee.

Some women also said clean shaven men looked younger and more honest.

I know I look younger when clean shaven. Hopefully I look honest with my goatee.

'Having a face free of fuzz is more popular among 30 to 39-year-olds and the style that just won't go away, the goatee, does tend to be worn more by youth, mainly 18 to 29 year olds'.

Does that make me mutton dressed as lamb? ;-)

Older men were moustache fans, with 18 per cent aged between 50 and 59 years wearing one.

Popular in the 70s, some people just stayed with it. (I was one for many years.)

Quote of the day - Good communication

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The 19th Annual "Christmas Price Index"

PNC Bank - The 19th Annual "Christmas Price Index".

Overall a 16% increase. The five gold rings are down 5.6%, and the pear tree down %28.6%, but the musicians have significant increases.

Posters for the people

Todd, of, has a piece about Western propaganda. My website must fall into the "boring democracy" category, because people can comment but don't.

I've been told that my writing is terse, and doesn't draw comments, from when I posted on usenet

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

And so it begins...

Camera phones and the expectation of privacy

Why are people banning cellphones in an attempt to ban camera phones for privacy? Why not just ban the use cameras? Taking a picture with a camera phone would breach that ban and achieve the desired end. If you see someone fiddling with a phone you should assume that it includes a camera, same as you would if you saw him fiddling with some anonymous device that has a lens.

Quote of the day - Talent

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation

Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation (Includes The 8 Traits of A Disinformationalist) by H. Michael Sweeney

Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
  1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

  2. Become incredulous and indignant.

  3. Create rumor mongers.

  4. Use a straw man.

  5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule.

  6. Hit and Run.

  7. Question motives.

  8. Invoke authority.

  9. Play Dumb.

  10. Associate opponent charges with old news.

  11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions.

  12. Enigmas have no solution.

  13. Alice in Wonderland Logic.

  14. Demand complete solutions.

  15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions.

  16. Vanish evidence and witnesses.

  17. Change the subject.

  18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents.

  19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs.

  20. False evidence.

  21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body.

  22. Manufacture a new truth.

  23. Create bigger distractions.

  24. Silence critics.

  25. Vanish.

Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist
  1. Avoidance

  2. Selectivity

  3. Coincidental

  4. Teamwork

  5. Anti-conspiratorial

  6. Artificial Emotions

  7. Inconsistent

  8. Time Constant

Visited Countries

Douwe Osinga has developed a project to colour a map acording to which countries you have visited. It manipulates the palette of a gif on the fly. The countries you select are coloured red in red, the others in green.

Kid at heart

I want an Airzooka and shoot blasts of air up to fifty feet away.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Traditional Marriage - Take 2

On Nation States traditional marriage is being discussed. The Most Serene Republic of Army of Lovers has clarified the proposal to defend Traditional Marriage.

Draft of a Constitutional Amendment to Defend Biblical (read: Traditional) Marriage:
  • Marriage shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5.)
  • Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
  • A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
  • Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
  • Since marriage is for life, neither the Constitution nor any state law shall permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9-12)
  • If a married man dies without children, his brother must marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow, or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
  • In lieu of marriage (if there are no acceptable men to be found), a woman shall get her father drunk and have sex with him. (Gen 19:31-36)

It had to be you

I have just finished reading a great book, It had to be you, by Timothy James Beck.

It has been a long time since I stayed awake until 3:30am reading a book. He's written a sequel, He's the One. From the review at Amazon it has a new main character. Secondary characters from the first novel reappear. Daniel, the main character of It had to be you appears as a secondary character also.

A New Zealand Christmas

After Nakedblog's comments in response to what I wrote about Christmas carols I showed some of the efforts to my colleagues. One told me that her daughters used to sing a New Zealand carol and she managed to find a link to the lyrics. The link also describes Christmas on the beach.

Christmas on the Beach
We don't want no holly or mistletoe.
We don't want no Christmas tree with artificial snow.
We don't want no snowman made of cotton wool.
We're not a bunch of fools

Christmas on the beach. Christmas on the beach.
Pack your picnic hamper up, we're gonna have a feast
Underneath the huge Pohutukawa tree.
Christmas on the beach

We don't want no reindeer. We don't want no sleigh.
We just want some sunshine and a good old holiday.
We don't want to suffocate in our shoes and socks.
We don't want to sit around the box.

Christmas on the beach, Christmas on the beach.
Pack your picnic hamper up, we're gonna have a feast
Underneath the huge Pohutukawa tree.
Christmas on the beach

Pohutukawa images from Google.

Loving the Internet

A few years ago Douglas Adams wrote How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet. would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:
  1. everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
  2. anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  3. anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

He also talks about us being the first generation of internet users, comparing our use to that of a pidgin language.
...cobble together a rough and ready lingo made up of bits of each. It lets them get on with things, but has almost no grammatical structure at all.

The next generation will use it like a creole.
However, the first generation of children born to the community takes these fractured lumps of language and transforms them into something new, with a rich and organic grammar and vocabulary, which is what we call a Creole. Grammar is just a natural function of children’s brains, and they apply it to whatever they find.

Quote of the day - Generosity

That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.
-- Simone de Beauvoir


Kittenhate is a site that makes you ask "Why would someone want to make a site like that?"

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Christmas in the park

Last night I went to Auckland City's Christmas in the park, sponsored by Coca Cola NZ. Proceeds this year went to Youthline.

I enjoyed myself. A friend invited me. (Yes, you get to remain anonymous, I won't post that photo.) He was meeting up with friends, one of whom I had met a couple of times before. There's something enjoyable about a musical event with a picnic that is fun.

I have one complaint: Why were there so many songs emphasizing that Christmas is a winter activity with lots of snow?

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Friday Five - Holidays

1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?
I have celebrated a winter Christmas three times. 1988 in London, England; 1989 and 1990 in Perth, Scotland. On no occasion was it a white Christmas. Do I enjoy them? Yes, but I also enjoy a hot summer's day.

2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?
I spend time with friends and family, people I don't see all the time. I get to see my nephews, and see how much they have grown. I visit them once or twice a year.

3. Do you do have any holiday traditions?
This year and last year I have had a tree trimming party. I guess that makes it a tradition, and it's mine. I also make a toffee/truffle thing, but that's a tradition I took over from my mother.

4. Do you do anything to help the needy?
I don't restrict myself to doing that only at Christmas. If I wasn't having Christmas with family/friends I would volunteer to assist a charitable group for the day, and allow the regular workers more time with their children.

5. What one gift would you like for yourself?
That's a difficult one. Small things I usually get for myself, and big things I priortise. My sister-in-law always asks for a wishlist from me, and I list enough thibngs so that I do not know what I will get. This year includes books, CDs, and DVDs from my Amazon wishlist, and a few other things.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Timely Advice

Last Saturday was my office end of year party. AskMen has advice on how to survive the office Christmas party.

No, I won't be posting the photos I took. It counts as a work event and is exempt from my blog. I may post one or two photos of Ashley and me, but that's just my personal vanity. (If anyone from work lets me know they are willing for their photo to appear then I may post it too.)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Real Stupid News

I discovered Real Stupid News today. Skewing the news. Skewering the newsmakers. A satirical news site with a serious attitude.

25 Dangers of Legalizing Gay Marriage

Ross Levine's article about 25 Dangers of Legalizing Gay Marriage. I think it speaks for itself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

US Military Closets

Via the NY Times.

Three retired military officers, two generals and an admiral who have been among the most senior uniformed officers to criticize the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for homosexuals in the military, disclosed on Tuesday that they are gay.

The three, Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr and Brig. Gen. Virgil A. Richard, both of the Army, and Rear Adm. Alan M. Steinman of the Coast Guard, said the policy had been ineffective and undermined the military's core values: truth, honor, dignity, respect and integrity.

They said they had been forced to lie to their friends, family and colleagues to serve their country. In doing so, they said, they had to evade and deceive others about a natural part of their identity.

The officers said that they were the first generals and admiral to come out publicly and that they hoped that others would follow.

I wonder what the highest rank is in New Zealand for an openly gay officer.

Senior military leaders have argued that openly gay service members would disrupt unit cohesion and morale.

This appears to be a limitation restricted to the US military, in the western world.

Link from Atrios.

Weblog Awards

Sean Bonner asks if he is too PC in regard to the Wizbang blog poll.

The categories are:
Best Overall Blog
Best New Blog (Established in 2003)
Best Group Blog
Best Foreign Blog
Best Humor Blog
Best Looking Blog
Best Female Authored Blog
Best Liberal Blog
Best Conservative Blog
Best Media/Journalist Blog
Most Egregious Omission
and a number of categories based on the number of inbound links.

Why is there a Best Female Authored Blog category and not a Best Male Authored Blog? Are women disadvantaged in writing of blogs? Are women unable to be in the Best Overall Blog category?

If I was a consideration (haha) would I be restricted to the foreign category? What defines the foreign category? Where the writer lives? Where the writer comes from? Where the server hosting the blog is held? A foreign language category would be better, given that Wizbang is an english based site.

Christmas Sunset

NASA Report

The presents are opened, the stockings askew.
Two pounds of turkey are inside of you.

Your eyelids are drooping. The sun's going down.
Christmas is over. But wait... what's that sound?

The neighbors. They're shouting, "Look to the west!"
Outside you dash, along with the rest.

The sky is as pink as Santa Claus' nose.
And right in the middle--two UFOs!

Could it be an invasion? Some creatures from space?
Now you're awake. Your heart starts to race.

Run back to the house. Pick up the phone.
9-1-1, 9-1-1! "They're coming," you moan.

The voice on the line says, "Sir, just relax."
"There's nothing to fear. Let me give you the facts."

"Those spaceships you see aren't spaceships, no, no."
"Astronomers say it's a harmless light show."

"One's a planet called Venus, as bright as can be."
"The other's the moon. Now do you see?"

So go tell your neighbors: everything is alright."
"Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good night."

Vicar Distributes Porn Films

Yes, I deliberately truncated the heading, just like the dead tree media often do. The full heading is Vicar Distributes Porn Films by Mistake.

A German vicar inadvertently supplied his parish with dozens of hard core porn films in an unsuccessful bid to teach people about the life of Christ.

After they discovered the problem, they had a viewing session that night which estabilished that 200 of the 300 videos were pornagraphic and not about the Life of Christ.

Auckland Subway

The Auckland city council thinks a subway is feasible. It's taken an 18-month investigation to say it's a genuine engineering and economic possibility.

The project, estimated to cost $500 million, would be put in the same 16 to 20-year timeframe as the proposed third Waitemata Harbour crossing.

The tunnel would extend the rail network westward from Britomart and connect with the Western Line near Mt Eden Station. The link would allow trains to pass through Britomart and create the possibility of an inner-city loop. Three additional stations would be built – near Aotea Square, Karangahape Rd and the top of Symonds St – bringing most of the CBD within a short walk of a station.

In the future there would also be the possibility of connecting the CBD with the North Shore, via a rail tunnel under the Waitemata Harbour.

Google News Map

Google News Map projects the news headlines from Google onto a world map.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Tree Trimming Party

I had my second annual* tree trimming party last night. It went down well. In return for me providing food and drink, I had, by my count, at least 23 people (I'm sure I've forgotten some) who came to hang the decorations on my tree.

Thanks to Julia for finding the tree for me. I prepared it on Sunday by putting it into the stand and putting the string of 220 lights on the tree. With them on first the number doesn't overpower the decorations.

The punch went down well. I like to provide a non-alcoholic punch. Matt said that sounded like a challenge but learned that if anyone ever spikes my punch they'll never be invited back. It was a simple punch, and probably needs something extra, but it was a frozen ring of berries floating in a mixture of ginger ale, soda water, and soda with a twist of lemon. A bit of pineapple juice also got thrown in, after I cored a pineapple for the chocolate dips.

*I did it last year, that makes it an annual event, right?

Quote of the day - Historians

Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.
-- Lee Simonson

Monday, December 08, 2003


My mugshot, courtesy of Around People Finder

Similar Pages

There's an interesting collection of pages that google returns when I select the similar pages link in a google search highlighting this blog. I can't see how they are similar, but one did point me to the Calvin and Hobbs site, which is a coincidence after reading this article about the author, Bill Watterson.

Miserable failure

The Florida Google Dance brings up an unexpected collection with miserable failure.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Geek gear in NZ sells geek gear in NZ with free shipping on all products/orders over $15. It's not entirely if that is orders or products. It says (with my emphasis)

For New Zealand customers, since we're such nice guys, we offer free shipping throughout the country on all products over $15. Unfortunately we have to charge $5 on all orders $15 and under to cover the cost. On the bright side there are not many products that will fit into this category.

[Update] See Craig's comment about fixing the faq.

Smoking banned in NZ

No more inhaling other people's smoke inside bars, clubs, and restaurants in New Zealand. It appears this ban does not allow any exceptions and is more restrictive than California's ban.

[Update] It looks like this bill puts the onus on the business owner and not on the smoker, so if you want to get a businessman fined, just light up in his workplace.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield

California-sized cracks in Earth's magnetic sield can remain open for hours, allowing the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather--this according to new observations from Earth-orbiting satellites.

Three drinks and you're out

Transport Minister Paul Swain is close to securing Cabinet approval for the legal alcohol level to be lowered from 80 to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

How many people have their driving ability impaired by being just under the limit of 80mg/100ml?

The proposed cut is part of a plan to reduce the number of road deaths to less than 300 per year and the number of hospitalisations from road crashes to less than 4500 by 2010. Last year there were 403 fatalities and 6470 hospitalisations.

The article says there was only one person killed last year whose blood/alcohol level was under the current limit but would be over the proposed limit.

Another thing that irritates me is the road fatality statistic. An accident where five people in a car die is treated worse that an accident where the sole occupant of the car dies. For a road toll they should be each counted as one fatal accident.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Road crews trivialise cycling

The Portland Tribune has an article Crews exercise artistic license. It details how the pavers of the city bike lanes are embellishing on the standard-issue, internationally recognisable representation of a generic person on a two-wheeler. I'm fine with this in principle, the symbols are still easily recognisable. It takes a second look to realise they are not quite the standard.

The have included the following images:

  • a bicyclist who reads a book as he pedals,
  • cyclist swinging a golf club in the bike lane near Riverside Golf Country Club in Northeast Portland,
  • cyclist sporting a tie that flies behind him
  • a student like bike guy wearing a knapsack,
  • a graduate holding a diploma and sporting a mortarboard on his head.
Most of these I'm okay with, and the image does relate to their location (library, golf club, downtown, university, university). The first two, taken in isolation, imply that it is acceptable to read or swing a golf club while cycling, instead of focusing on the cycling. The golfer is carrying additional clubs, that should be enough to imply he's on the way for a round of golf. The reader could be carrying closed books, though I admit that a symbol of a closed book is harder to achieve in a silhouette.

There are enough people who think cycling is a toy, and these two images do nothing to discourage that. The other symbols are good, they imply that the bicycle is a valid means of transport, and the tie wearing worker avoids the "too poor to own a car" attitude.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Seb's Open Research

Sébastien Paquet has an interesting weblog on the evolution of knowledge sharing
and scholarly communication.

Quote of the day - Power Corrupts

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.
-- David Brin

Link and Think

Link and Think is an observance of World AIDS Day in the personal web publishing communities. The project involves hundreds of webloggers, journalers, diarists and other personal website publishers, each linking to resources about HIV/AIDS or publishing personal stories about how the AIDS pandemic has affected them.

(Yes, I am a day late is posting this.)


Tweakomatic from Microsoft, with humour.

Latin weather

Here's the weather forcast for Auckland, in Latin.

Crazy headline

Was he doing it wrong? Did he forget the gumboots?

Nude men feature on HIV campaign billboards

These guys will be hunks. Why can't we have the same advertising campaign here in Auckland for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.

Yes, I'm just being shallow.

Monday, December 01, 2003


That was the state of my front derailleur cable as I started biking to work. No rushing for me this morning, not with the front stuck in low gear. I had to put up with the noise of the chain hitting the guide if I wanted to have the back in high gear to get any reasonable speed.

Too precious for words

Ths is not a review of The Return of the King.