You Are A Pirate

Here's a cute pirate song, for all you pir... I guess everyone, these days. It's loud, by the way, and if you have epilepsy, you might want to stay away...


Thank God For DST

The last post was a kvetch about Daylight Savings Time (particularly Amtrak's idiotic reaction to it), but here's an example of DST saving lives (scroll down)!
In September 1999, the Palestinian West Bank was on daylight saving time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank Palestinians prepared time bombs and smuggled them to Arab Israelis, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded—one hour too early—killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims—two busloads of people.

Close call... Thank God!


Amtrak Doesn't Like Free Time

My coworker E pointed out this very weird Amtrak policy to me. Apparently, when the clocks change from Daylight Savings Time back to normal time ("Lousy Farmers"), and everyone gains an hour, Amtrak trains everywhere just... stop. For a whole hour. You'd think they'd at least pull up to the next station so people can, I don't know, NOT BE STUCK IN A FRICKIN' TRAIN FOR A WHOLE FRICKIN' HOUR FOR NO GOOD REASON. Here's a link with more info (and more links). Or finish existing runs, and push off departures.

And yeah - they discuss what happens when Amtrak loses an hour. As you suspected, nothing intelligent.



787 Dalmations... I mean Clip Arts

Via Table of Malcontents comes Oliver Laric's 787 Cliparts: "787 individual pieces of clip art are displayed sequentially, creating a shifting, mesmerizing animation in which a housepet seemingly morphs into a wrestling opponent, then a dance partner. Even more clever, the resulting movie is set to loop, so that you can watch it forever."

Cute :-)


The Nasrallah Song

Someone sent me this music video made in Israel "dedicated" to Hezbollah leader and arch-terrorist Hassan Nasrallah. Definitely a good way to lift the gloomy mood throughout Israel these days...



Funny Photos

Factum - Face the Fact. I don't know what that means, but there are some really funny photos there...


Best Video Ever

If you're bummed about current events, I'm quite sure this will cheer you up.



News From the North

I got this e-mail from my mom's cousin (and clearance to share it, but I initialized names, since some of them are on active duty over there):

Hi Cousins!

Just wanted to update you all on what is really going on in this part of the hemisphere... I mean, you can't always trust the CNN (Certainly Not News) channel!

I guess the only word to describe this situation is W-A-R. As you probably have realized, the Hizbollah is a front for greater threats—Syria and Iran.

My sons D (now a captain in Givati) and A (in Golani) are in Gaza. S (Border Police) was brought to our area with the reinforcement troops. And T, who is a combat rescue and biological warfare officer, is guarding a "sensitive" location "somewhere" in the Haifa vicinity.

I left my home yesterday (that was still standing as I pulled out) and drove by myself to B's. I had never driven this far by myself before, but terror and fear can do wonders for all those little phobias I seemingly developed over the years. Did you know that Mazda 3's really do go up to 140 kmh??? :-) Especially when I drove past Karmiel and Meron... With one eye on the road. and the other fixed on the sky, I felt like I was in some science fiction movie during an alien invasion. :-0 Beam me up, Scottie and Warp 10 me outta here!!!

I had stayed home in Avivim until yesterday, despite everything, until it became really too dangerous to do so. I mean, I thought it would be over - or at least a bit better - in a few days, like always. Was I ever wrong. The Bad Guys shoot over mortars, anti-aircraft, and katyusha rockets. Most miss but they come close enough to shake you up a bit! And then we retaliate by shooting from tanks (the ones next to my house!!!), and live fire from Blackhawk helicopters (thrilling), and more. You get to be an expert after a while and can distinguish the different types of fire, but you still can't catch much sleep even with the TV turned way up!

But, I HAD to leave beacuse the electronic fence that guarded the border was down and the attempted infiltrator (and we know what his intentions were) were shot dead opposite my house, before my eyes. The terrorist was wearing a UN uniform and drove a UN vehicle. I performed the actions I had drilled so many times with the kids, in case of an infiltration. The next morning (was it really only yesterday???), a katyusha landed almost in my back yard. It was time to go! I can take a hint!
It is so nice to be with B and G during times like this. (I am writing this email from Bev's computer.) I feel as though I am on a different planet. People work, sleep, take showers, etc. I am so lucky to have such a great family. S and C have called several times, and B and D have sent encouraging email letters. We appreciate them!!! Thank you!!!

In the meantime, let's continue to pray that this will be over soon and not escalate into something even larger Let us pray for all the soldiers' safety, and for the state and nation of Israel.



Spammed :-(

A spam spider hit my blog a few minutes ago, leaving a cloying remark ("Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!", or "Your site is on top of my favourites - Great work I like it.") on each post, with a link to some casino semi-visible underneath the butt-kissing (so I won't delete the comment, which I will, of course). It looks like the comments are there to increase the site's "link weight" on the search engines, as opposed to get you to click on it. Unfortunately for the spammer, I will not be made into his bitch.

So what do you think? Should I turn off anonymous commenting? Or turn on Captcha (the thing where you have to enter the letters from a picture - although I'm not sure how secure that is anyway)? Or both?




What's In A Name?

Independent Sources has a hilarious article about the ten worst unintentional URL's. My favorite has to be the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:



Telco's Go Viral and Make Me Sick

Lobbyists representing the major telephone companies, like Verizon, which have been pushing the "two-tiered internet" have come out with several sleazy cartoons to make their "argument". As you might expect, this argument has nothing to do with the problems people have with the telco's proposal, which would basically give them complete control over how traffic flows on the internet. According to the cartoon, all they want is to ensure Quality of Service - i.e. making sure that things like internet telephony, which is time-sensitive, goes over the internet faster than e-mail, which is not - an issue that's been around for years and years. And no one ever complained about QoS. But that's certainly not what the telco's themselves are saying. They've made it quite clear that it's about money - pay up, and your e-mail will go faster than Joe Schmoe's phone call. Don't pay, and you're in the slow lane, no matter how fast your actual internet connection already is (it's called double-dipping - you get charged for the connection and then again for the traffic). Naturally, the telco's won't have to pay extra to offer their internet telephony services (or television or anything else), so they can undercut everybody else, and hey! Can you say monopoly?

The other result would be that any new internet technology anyone comes up with will have to pay protection money to the telephone companies first. The entry costs to get a business on the internet would go way up. And once again, the telephone companies will have killed innovation***.


*** From link: "Although electronic switches based on solid-state components had been developed by 1959, AT&T didn't introduce the first digital switch into the Bell System until 1976. And electronic switching was still being gradually rolled out well into the 1980s, when AT&T's monopoly on telephone service came to an abrupt end. The much more rapid introduction of digital switches by MCI and Sprint probably contributed to AT&T's downfall."

p.s. Googling for "AT&T innovation" gives you all sorts of obnoxious corpo-babble results. "AT&T innovation monopoly"... not so much ;-)

Rotoscoping+Drugs != Box Office Gold

My Hollywood Stock Exchange portfolio has been hit hard by A Scanner Darkly, which is clearly not going to be the box office smash I anticipated:



p.s. The graph is dynamic - it's the last 60 days of trading for A Scanner Darkly. So it may not look the same when you read this...

What To Say...

It's hard for me to blog about anything right now with the situation in Israel so FUBAR... I feel somewhat guilty kvetching about the usual stuff when I have relatives who have been living in bomb shelters in northern Israel. Plus it's the "Three Weeks" - a period that's considered one of the most solemn on Jewish Calendar. So for this post, at least, I'm going to be serious, and join the world in praying for a peaceful resolution of the crises in Israel, and for all the kidnapped soldiers to be returned home safely.



Terror in Mumbai

A friend of mine (originally from India) sent me this last night:

Dear friends,

This is a MUST do thing not only for every Indian but everyone on my
list who believes terrorism is not a solution to anything.
Kindly follow the link. An Indian media house has officially declared
to donate one rupee per entry on following link to the funds for
support to Mumbai tragedy victims.


I'm not sure I would go this route for supporting victims in India... I'd rather donate something directly than give my e-mail address to a third party for them to donate a rupee. There's just something fishy about that. Does anyone know of any charities helping out in India? Does the Indian government provide financial support to the victims?



Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

What with the world coming to an end and all that, I thought you might appreciate a fun clip of Jon Stewart skewering clueless legislators on The Daily Show. Because, let's admit it - American escapism works for a reason. And, as Stewart points out, there's never been a more important time for Congress to step up and take on F-----g Gambling on the Internet. I mean, what else is there for them to think about these days? Morons.



Marmaduke Unlocked

Via Table of Malcontents: Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke.

Here's a typical one:

"Marmaduke's owner-lady offers up a lame twist on a tired cliche in a profoundly half-assed effort to explain her beast's wanton property damage."



[Welcome], Mihai!

My friend and former co-worker Mihai has joined the blogosphere with Mihai's Mundane Musings. He puts a "qualifier" for the post in the subject/title, so people can "filter out articles based on qualifiers". Speaking for myself, I might have to filter out the [Hardcore Toenail Fetish Pornography] qualifiers while at work (but when I come home, I'm so there!).

It's good to see he's not afraid to dive right into controversial subjects (and of course has a "[Controversial]" qualifier), and it should be interesting to hear what he has to say on a lot of different topics.

So [Welcome] to Blogland, Mihai! That will be $50 dollars for the link. What?



L'Étrangeté D'Sony, C'est Arriver!

Are you in the mood for a surrealistic, Not Safe For Work, French commercial for the Playstation 2 featuring a brain in an electric chair, disembodied hindquarters being slapped by a paddywack wheel, and other what-the-hell-am-i-looking-at images? Of course you are! And I am happy to oblige your twisted desires. Enjoy. Via Joystiq.


p.s. This post's title brought to you by a combination of Google Translator and high school French.

How Well Do You Google?

I stumbled upon The Gwigle Game a few months ago, but I forgot to blog it. It's quite clever - it gives you search results, and you have to figure out what was entered into the search bar to get those results. The more Google tricks you know, the better you do, so as the website says, it can "help you use Google more effectively". Nice!

And speaking of Google, here's a more "backwards" version. Guess what I'm searching for!



I read about Characteroke, "a portable, augmented reality, display costume worn by a person whereby the individuals head and neck are concealed behind an active flat panel display," on Wikipedia - All I know is, I want one. "Characteroke patrons will be given the opportunity to literally become their favorite singer, comedian, or pop star using real time reality augmentation."

I guess that means it's too low-tech to cover your head with a brown paper bag these days... Shame just got a lot more expensive!


Off To Take the GRE's...

Wish me luck! Although I have to say - I don't care how many dictionaries you throw at me: pulchritudinous is not a word. And even if it was, there's no way an ugly-ass word like that means "beautiful". Ugh.



This Is Your Government On Drugs

Fresh from The Daily WTF: The Department of Health and Human Services' Usability group demonstrates how seriously they take their own advice (the joke might not be there by the time you click on the previous link - if so click here for a screenshot. It's funnier if you see the real thing though).


p.s. Not to mention their hideous use of table-based layouts and image maps, which violate basic usability concepts. Ugh! It's the 21st century, people! Although to be fair, "New Usability.gov Design to be Launched in June 2006" (from the homepage).

p.p.s. Saying "Your tax dollars at work" would be such a cliche, no?


Don't Worry - They'll Hate You Later

Via Omni Brain: Nerd ABC's for kids

Is your baby a nerd? Of course not, there's no such thing as a nerd baby and everyone knows that labeling children is bad and wrong. But if you're a nerd or a geek or heaven forbid a chemical engineer, there's a good chance that your baby will grow up to be at least a little bit nerdy. I mean, the genetics are there.. so why fight it?

And what baby doesn't need to know that "K is for Kepler's Third Law"?

A word of warning, though: in some "cool" households, this is considered to be child abuse.


Israeli High School Hit By Terrorist Rockets, No Casualties

From Haaretz:

A Qassam rocket landed at the center of the southern coastal city of Ashkelon for the first time on Tuesday evening, hitting the ORT Ronson High School building, causing light damage to the structure but no injuries.

Hamas - via its military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades - later claimed credit for the rocket attack, the deepest ever a Qassam has reached into Israeli territory.

In response to the strike, Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Tuesday ordered the Israel Defense Forces to step up the pace and force of its operation in the Gaza Strip.

"This is a major escalation in the war of terror that the Hamas organization is responsible for," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a speech at the home of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones, marking the American Fourth of July holiday.

The attack was an "attempt meant to harm Israeli civilians that live within the sovereign borders of Israel, and it will have far-reaching consequences," the prime minister continued. "The Hamas organization will be the first to feel this."




Simple Signups

Yitzi chimes in with a cool link, which he calls the greatest site sign-up feature.. ever!

LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

If you go to this site, and you aren't yet a member, you type in a username and password into the login fields, and viola! you are now a member. Zero-step sign-up .. i likes. Why don't all sites work like this?? utterly brilliant.

Well, there are probably good reasons, like... ummmm... I'll get back to you ;-)


Spamusement Returns

Ah Spamusement, how did we manage without you?