Archive for February, 2008

Feb 27 2008

Word For The Day

Published by under Word for the Day

Proving once again the appropriateness of my long-standing affinity for Japanese culture and tradition, I give you this Word For The Day (this is a rare non-English WFTD, merited by its elegance and compactness):

Tsujigiri: “The testing of a new sword on a chance passerby.”

If you ever wondered why the Japanese evolved that highly intricate and ritualized politeness, the fact that there’s a single word in their language for this concept shows you the reasons for it.

Metaphorically, I practice tsujigiri all the time.

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Feb 27 2008

Terrorism: The Cure for What Ails You

Apparently the threat of terrorism is like cumin, or chili powder: sprinkle it on an epic screw-up and it makes everything taste a lot better.

Witness what happened recently in Florida, which was plunged briefly back into the Stone Age by rolling power outages. In practically every article about that event, there was a statement that the blackouts did not appear to be caused by terrorism.

Wow! That makes me feel so much better! It’s very comforting to know that, through no intentional act, an entire slice of United States civilization was taken off-line, just by completely random events. We can all rest much easier now.

One gets the feeling that we’ll start seeing news squibs like the following:

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Feb 25 2008

Scanning Your Slides, or, 50 Ways to Love Your Liver


Technologists are eternal optimists, in that they blithely assume that their new products will never turn manifestly evil.

But of course, even the most innocuous inventions can misfire, even when one is not actively seeking to use them for harm (and don’t let any guy fool you — the first thing any normal guy thinks when he’s confronted with a new device or technology is “How could I break this?” Another part of him is only a step behind, thinking “How can I use this as a weapon?” A slightly lower layer, a sort of ever-present meta-theme permeating all guys’ thoughts, of course, is “How can I use this to attract the babes?” ).

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Feb 22 2008

Clones: The Other White Meat

So, what’s all this fuss about the South Korean company that’s offering to clone your pets? Okay, granted, there is one small issue, mainly that the people who are rich enough to have this done tend to have offensively annoying pets, and therefore we could be polluting the world with more of these (click at your own risk). Still, one could engage in countermeasures by cloning big, fierce, poodle-eating hell mastiffs, so it could end up being a self-compensating system.
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Feb 21 2008

Missile Defense

Given the U.S.’s recent successful shootdown of its own satellite, some people have suggested I post a piece I circulated a little while back on a private list. So, here it is, with an addendum.

As a parent of young children, I have developed a low-cost solution to the nation’s ballistic missile defense needs: Three-year-olds!

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Feb 18 2008

Amidst The Post-Valentine’s Day Rubble, I Issue A Call To All Men

Published by under Relationships,Science

I’m a romantic guy, so I torture monkeys.

Now, stay with me here! It all connects up.

See, there’s an oft-repeated story about an experiment in the creation of cultural taboos and traditions involving putting a bunch of monkeys in a room together with a ladder and a banana hanging from the ceiling at the top of the ladder.

Whenever a monkey tries to climb the ladder to get the banana, all the monkeys are sprayed with blasts of cold water. The monkeys quickly learn to Avoid The Banana, and none of the original group tries to venture up the ladder after the group has been sprayed a few times.

So far this is your standard-issue animal torture. But this experiment gets interesting when you start replacing the original monkeys with new monkeys. When the first new monkey makes a move toward The Forbidden Banana, all the original monkeys with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Spraying Disorder) immediately kick the crap out of him. And if you’ve never had to fend off an attacking monkey, let me tell you, even just one monkey can administer a serious whuppin’.

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Feb 16 2008

Testing YouTube Video Embedding

Published by under Video,WTF?

Just checking to see whether the YouTube video embed function I’ve installed is working properly; I might delete this test post if it is or if it isn’t. Do not click on this link unless 1) you know some “l33t speak” (including at the least “ROFLMAO”); 2) you are a fan of World of WarCraft; and 3) you are willing to lose several IQ points (because this vid is just so stupid it’s hilarious, and it will definitely harm your brain).

I figure if enough people watch this video, then my Rapid International Takeover will be that much easier to execute, since there will be far fewer intelligent people left to deal with; in other words, I’m synergistically adding value.

UPDATE:

Look, I’ve been thinking about this, and I’m starting to conclude that it was a serious mistake to post this video link. If you click on it, you’ll think less of me. So don’t click on it.

You still want to click on it, don’t you?

Seriously, don’t. You’ll sit there wondering why the hell you’re watching it, wait for it to get better, and before you know it the whole thing will be done and you’ll be angry about engaging in a colossal waste of time and wondering if there’s someone you can sue to get that 5 minutes of your life back. Since there isn’t, you’ll just get angry at me, flame me and vow never to view this blog again (even though deep inside you know you’ll come back). But all that resentment will just make it harder to recruit you into my Secret Cabal.

So don’t click on it. Please.

You’re going to click on it anyway, aren’t you?

Damn it.

So here it is:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Props to OxHorn.

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Feb 13 2008

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift – Guaranteed To Resonate with Your Love

Because relentless Valentine’s Day advertising by DeBeers (subtle hidden message to him: “if you buy her a diamond, she’ll sleep with you!”; subtle hidden message to her: “if he doesn’t buy you a diamond, you shouldn’t sleep with him!”) doesn’t make people insecure enough this time of year, now comes the Wall Street Journal to report that, through advanced brain imaging technology, it is now possible to scientifically confirm the existence of true, unending love.

This immediately eliminates the comfortable illusion clung to by much of the populace that people who claim they still feel like teenagers towards each other are either 1) mentally deranged or 2) lying through their teeth. It’s about as cruel as scientifically proving that billionaires really are ecstatically happy, leading deeply fulfilling lives, and regarding less-wealthy people as substantially inferior to themselves, rather than, say, walking around with fake smiles while they’re screaming inside.
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Feb 11 2008

Economics Explained — When Consumer Confidence is Down, Business Must Be Good

Published by under Economics,Government

We now know why the Presidential races are attacking the nation like an aggressive mallet to the nose — they’re just trying to perk up the economy.

See, a recent study conducted by four universities — Harvard, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and … Pittsburgh? (cue Muppets singing “One Of These Things is Not Like The Others”) — shows that when people are unhappy, they tend to buy more stuff.

This is amazing! It’s essentially proof that the economy is a robust, self-compensating system. Forget monetary policy, trade imbalances, interest rates, tax cuts — that’s all irrelevant. What this study shows is that as soon as the economy starts tanking, infusing people with misery, they’ll be compelled by atavistic impulses to run out and spend, spend, spend.

Unfortunately, it appears that the converse also is true — as soon as people start feeling good again, they’ll hang out at home, living the simple life, weaving their own clothes, and composting. This explains why we’ve been acculturated to keep up with the news and listen to NPR — so we’ll always be haunted by a vague sense of impending doom, and therefore be on the verge of running out and buying another billboard-sized television, thus supporting the economy and ever-expanding government programs. Don’t believe me? Must I remind you that NPR is government-subsidized? I rest my case.

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Feb 08 2008

Product Reviews You Can Use #1 — Uncomfortable Global Positioning

Some blogs and web sites review consumer products by giving you useless and irrelevant information like price, ease of use, feature sets and quality.

Not this one! Here, we’re just concerned with the things that really matter about products – the social problems they solve, or introduce, in real life, not some ridiculously objective findings derived from some comprehensive, carefully-considered, long-term test.

Take, for example, those fancy GPS navigation units that everyone is getting in their cars (and, concomitantly, getting stolen from their cars, which, in my opinion, is just about the height of irony – “Hey, what happened to your highly-precise satellite-linked geolocation unit?” “I don’t know! I have no idea where it is!”).

It’s true, I finally got one as a gift, and I’ve been using it with some success, but mostly with catastrophic failure. So, to save some of you GPS novices out there from some traps for the unwary, I have put together a few pointers from bitter personal experience:

  • Your GPS unit cannot be used as a substitute for visibility out of your windshield! So, no driving in total fog, white-out conditions, or while waiting for your windshield to defrost by referencing only your GPS screen. Turns out that in spite of its resemblance to a “heads-up display” there’s a slight mismatch between where your GPS is showing you to be on that steep mountainside road and where you actually are on the steep mountainside road. So scrape that windshield!
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