Monday, December 13

Taking Classical Music Critics to Task

Greg Sandow shows you how it's done.

But I'd like to call a halt to words like "sublime" and "magnificent," when classical music is talked about, along with "great" and "masterpiece," and a host of other empty ways to say how good the music (or a performance) is. Why are these words empty? First, because we use them far too much.

Wednesday, December 1

Review of multi-flash imaging with the non-photorealistic camera

So some boffins at MIT have come up with camera that makes line drawings. Neat! It works by using the shadow parallax caused by having 4 different flashes go off in sequence, and taking 4 separate images. That gives it a really, really good idea of where the edges of things are, so it can draw lines along them.

They want to use it for things like making technical drawings and so on -- personally, I don't see why you couldn't adapt something like this for forensics, or for just dicking around. I mean, you don't actually need 4 flashes to do this -- it's a parallax effect, right? So you could do something like:

(1) switch your camera to linedrawing mode
(2) aim it at the target
(3) hold down the trigger, and move it in a loose circle

and compensate for not having the flash by having a lot more images to compare. Or maybe the phone knows its position (embedded RFID maybe?) and chooses to take 4 different pictures, with flash, at the cardinal points of the ellipse you wave it in.

it's like a stupid human trick, only it's a computer doing it!

Tuesday, November 30


Lately, I've come across a whole bunch of pretty depressing news. Most of it about impending disaster. I don't know why this has been happening to me lately; maybe it's a self-selection thing (or maybe the world really is going to shit!).

anyway, The WHO is suggesting a bird flu pandemic that could kill 100 million people. The Economist is suggesting a collapse of the American dollar. Bush won the presidency again (ok, not a total disaster). Kevin Sites says Iraq is a clusterfuck.

hey world, what's going on?

Monday, November 29

Thoughts on software development

Quick thoughts now, so I don't forget I want to talk about this. Bug me about it, if you haven't seen it in a bit and you care.

It strikes me that there's a relatively major conflict between the unix, use-text-as-your-API, do-one-thing-and-do-it-well philosophy and the MS philosophy. No duh, you say. Well, but one of them is about having developers insulated from the platform and from the common mistakes, and the other is about making the platform common and the mistakes plain and easily-solvable.

The problem is that software development, in the corporate environment, is more about solving complex problems than simple ones.

Anyway, like I said this is poorly formed and I'll talk more about it later.

Two reasons to go to Big Fat Whale

This week's Big Fat Whale is particularly hilarious, especially if you're a snobby elitist like both me and its creator, Bostonian Brian McFadden. Regarding this strip, McFadden blogs, "I am aware that the tone of this cartoon and posting is extremely elitist and loaded with film snobbery. It is also 100% accurate, except for the part about the bees."

Earlier this week, Brian McFadden also blogged about something particularly mindblowing. I'll quote it in its entirety.

Last weekend, in a fit of insomnia, I caught a series on Discovery Science called The Baby Human. I'm a big ol' nerd, so of course it was fascinating. But there was one experiment they performed on babies that was the most awesome thing in the entire universe. They'd have kids of a certain age, maybe 18-24 months, where they'd have them play with three toys for a while. I remember a little tikes car, Steve's Big Red Chair, and a slide. Then they'd go away for a while. When they returned to the room with the toys, they had been replaced with miniature scale models. And here's what makes the experiment so awesome, the kids wouldn't realize they were scale models. They were so emotionally attached to the toys, that they kept trying to squeeze into the Lilliputian models. They had no idea how retarded they looked. It cracked my shit up. Obviously, if given any opportunity, I will try to perform this experiment myself, just for shits and giggles. Think about that before you ask me to babysit.
Does anyone know if this works? I mean, I've heard of all sorts of strange child-behaviour psych experiments, but this one sounds too insane to be true. Here's a paper (pdf link) that describes an experiment that "proves" that babies can count. I've done the "the object is here, now it's gone!" thing with my infant neices and nephews. (I'm sure my fomer-psych-major friends could tell me the name of that reaction.) It's highly amusing, but I need more.

75 feet per second shrimp leg routinely destroys snail shells

Nature is AWESOME.

Wednesday, November 24

The best album title of all time

... That honour would have to belong to Trouser Jazz, by Mr. Scruff. On that album, there appears a good song called "Vibrate" with guest vocals by British hip-hop artist Braintax. Here are the lyrics as far as I can tell.


Yeah, you can call me that
As I walk with the Luddites and me trusty axe
I'm a whole lot removed from the Domini Pax,
The pacts with the church, and the new poll tax.
I haven't got the pox, I've turned twenty-eight
My mate's thirty-one but he's dying from the plague
Life's a bitch right now and I can still hear the hills
Watch my carbon vibrate mate

And I'm way down the mine in another lifetime
But I don't how this canary keeps chirping
And my lungs are tight
When you've got to keep working, What's the point in life?
There's a hundred miners here in the union
March through the manor while the owner takes communion
I'm going in to get my wage for last year
Plus a big bag of food ,one of them big chandeliers
I affect the state and affect the earth
And pass my spirit on again
Until it's triggered by a birth
I resonate, you resonate, I say echo, you vibrate

I'm in this for a better life, staying clever
Got the soldiers on the hop, slept in the oak tree
Raided a crop
They probably think I'm Catholic because of my name
I caught the King's deer,
They were giving me fame
And they heard about my antics up at the castle
When I didn't pay my taxes
Down came the hassle
They burnt my village and my family at the stake
I felt the whole ground shake
'Cause spirits resonate
They want my pagan head
Turn the hunters in my band and that's as good as it gets
We affect, you affect,
Everybody move your molecules
From your nails to your follicules

It's 1856
I'm at the workhouse with my bundle of sticks
These people think I'm nuts but they won't complain
When their lives get better cause of my campaign
Sabotage man with the Guy Fawkes precedent
Burn the city hall - smoke out the residents
Make a mark in my town and adjust my standard of living
Till my pitchfork rusts
Change the chain, unchain all hands
Latter-day Scargill, I'll affect this land
I come in peace, from a small piece of dark
And I'm going back soon
So for now I'll make marks

Tuesday, November 23

Random music note: The Fun Lovin' Criminals

So I'm listening to The Fun Lovin' Criminals right now. You know, the Philadelphia group that had a hit single called Scooby Snacks in the early nineties?

They've done a few things since then, but all still in the same groove. Good beats, decent lyrics, head-bobbing hooks, and a singing (if you can call it that) style that's certainly rap but also certainly not hip-hop. I think. I'm not really up on the internal divisions of rap.

Anyway. I like the band; they make my head bob. Go take a listen on iTunes or something.

Information markets: how cool is this?

This Economist article on information exchanges astounds me. (You can only read it if you have a subscription, or if you buy access to it. I happened to read it in my paper copy of the magazine; if you know Fraxas personally, email me and I'll flip you the article in email.)

Essentially, the article describes (and prognosticates on) a relatively novel kind of exchange. Rather than selling securities in companies (aka stock) or derivative instruments, information exchanges sell futures on events yet to happen. That probably doesn't mean much to you unless you follow the markets, so here's a longer explanation cribbed from the article:

Take the presidential election: people could bet on George Bush by buying a contract that paid a dollar if he won and nothing if he lost. Anyone certain of a Bush victory should have been willing to pay up to a dollar for the contract. Anyone confident that Mr Bush would lose could have sold such a contract, expecting to pay nothing when the result came. With many participants buying and selling in this way, the market discovered a price for the contract—in effect, its best guess of the probability of a Bush win.

Think about that for a second. This is a mechanism that exploits people's (enlightened?) self-interest, in the form of their desire for money, to collect their opinion on a particular topic. It discourages the intentional and unintentional fraud inherent in phone surveys, because of the monetary stake. It also introduces a novel (for the opinion-gathering industry) and well-tested set of tools for opinion analysis: the discipline of financial economics.

That reminds me of the proof of Fermat's last theorem. (Simon Singh's account is a fantastic one, in case you care.) The proof relied partially on the realization that two very disparate branches of math were, in fact, solving the same problems from very different angles. Things difficult in one context are easy in the other, and vice versa. So perhaps thinking of opinion-modelling as a financial market will increase the accuracy of the opinion marketing. Additionally -- and this is a topic for a different essay -- could the same be true in reverse?

Another interesting aspect of information markets that isn't adressed in the Economist article is that these markets, if they become popular, allow people to monetize their knowlege in a relatively direct way. If I know more than the world in general does about a topic that's traded on an information exchange, I can exploit that knowledge for personal gain. Entrepreneurial current-events analyst could very well be a respected career choice.

Capitalism wins again!

Thursday, October 28


Earlier today, Fraxas and I were discussing a particular song and its inconsistent meter.

Pharaohmagnetic: Hmm. I see what you're saying. The dandy warhols have an interesting song called Plan A which has verses that are too long - the extra syllable adds an interesting off-beat effect
Fraxas: yeah, but this is a case of metric inconsistency that jars the whole song for me
Pharaohmagnetic: Well, sometimes a "jar" is what makes a song interesting to listen to: to wit, all those oddly-metered compositions by dave brubeck, the M:I theme, etc. But this is an example where the "jar" is just jar.
Faxas: yeah, but that's not a jar
Pharaohmagnetic: What is it then?
Pharaohmagnetic: A door?
Pharaohmagnetic: HAW

Monday, October 25

Musical Snobbery Guide

This article by Something Awful's Dr. David Thorpe is pure brilliance. I consider myself somewhat of a musical snob, but this hilarious and well-written article proves that I am, in fact, a faker! Who knew? Yeah, I know you knew, Fraxas. Who else knew, huh?

There are a couple of main aspects to seeming more pop-savvy than you really are. First of all, you have to break through the more-indie-than thou barrier: sometimes, people are going to bring up a band that you know nothing about, and you have to be able to beat them at their own game. Secondly, you’re going to have to create an air of pretentious snobbery in order to assert the superiority of your taste (and who would know more about that than me?). Finally, you must fake a sick obsession with some sort of musical cult figure. Once you’ve done these things, you’ll be virtually indistinguishable from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
The follow up article is equally good, not least of all because it discusses using Frank Zappa as the ultimate tool for indie-cred-bait.

Combine this with Zappa’s penchant for giving his albums and songs bizarre names (Uncle Meat, Theme From The 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear, Who Are the Brain Police?, etc) and it becomes possible to create a plausible Zappa song or album title simply by stringing together seemingly unrelated words. Throw in a musical term if you want to imply it’s an instrumental piece; references to food are frequent and can be used to add that unique Zappa touch. For example, “The Industrial Cheese Variations” or “Gumbo for Jumbo” would serve nicely.
After reading these articles, I highly recommend listening to this song while snorting derisively over the articles on Pitchfork.

Thursday, October 14

William Gibson puts teh FL4M3 on White House foreign policy

William Gibson's blogging again. (He'd previously stopped because it was writing for which he wasn't getting paid.)

His Oct. 14 entry (archive link because he doesn't publish single-article links) is interesting; I don't really know what to make of it though.

Wednesday, October 13

Bohemian Rhapsody walkthrough

Holy mackinaw. Fraxas can tell you that sometimes I'll go into quite a bit of detail in analyzing music (or anything) that I like. But not like this. Then again, I would if I could.
Besides the five-piece chromatic ascent (six if we add the preceding A chord) in the top vocal part, we can find four more chromatic steps omitting the C-B cross-relation of C > E7 as the latter chord seems to drop the B (5 of E), at least in the vocals. The functional analysis of this chromatic-driven harmony would result in a mess except the V > I closing. Note the lack of minor chords, and the soprano voice added in the last measure.

For the graduates

This is old news, but I really think that anyone who hasn't should read Jon Stewart's commencement address.
I am honored to be here and to receive this honorary doctorate. When I think back to the people that have been in this position before me from Benjamin Franklin to Queen Noor of Jordan, I can’t help but wonder what has happened to this place. Seriously, it saddens me. As a person, I am honored to get it; as an alumnus, I have to say I believe we can do better.

debate remix: Hard Working George


Monday, October 11



I'd put something clever here, but I don't think I could top Gizmodo's assessment of Roland's electronic masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 5

Techniques from bioinformatics hit protocol analysis

At least, Slashdot says so.

The computer geek in me says "sweet!", the biologist in me says "See? I'm useful!" and the futurist in me says "this is a good way to combat singularities!". I'm sure you can follow the first two, dear reader; the latter might require a bit of explanation.

Most bioinformatics is designed to mine signal out of vast tracts of noise, in environments where we have only the most rudimentary knowledge of the protocols involved. Network analysis is a little different, in that we have a lot better knowledge of the structure of the corpus of data -- but this article represents a different way of looking at it. Up until now, protocol analysis has been largely a theory-based, a priori kind of science; deduce from first principles (i.e. the protocol spec) the shape of the interesting signal, then look for that. This technique takes the opposite approach: develop a general method for finding interesting things, and then let it loose.

Of course, both approaches converge on the same signal in theory, assuming perfect knowledge of the protocol and perfect interesting-thing-detection. In practice, protocol designers don't always know how their protocols are going to be used, and interesting-thing detection technology isn't perfect either. So they get different things! who knows, maybe this technique could find truths about the way protocols actually get used that the designers didn't think of. Perhaps this would be a way to analyze large quantities of data without having to have a priori knowledge of what you're looking for -- which would be a good thing to be able to do in a world that moves faster than your brain is actually capable of keeping up with.

See, I did have a point!

Monday, October 4

Boing Boing has a linking policy

The Boing Boing linking policy appeals to me. There's something terrific about using pseudolaw to fight pseudolaw.

The registration form on is similarly hilarious, though their terms of use are not.

Friday, October 1

Fast Company's take on dedicated amateurs

They're gonna take over the world.

The gist of the article is that self-organized networks of dedicated amateurs have the capacity to create and/or shape scientific disciplines (astronomy), service sectors (lending in Bangladesh), and entertainment communities (the Machinima crowd). No duh! When you give a society the tools to transmit and manipulate arbitrary information almost instantaneously, they'll use them to do things they're passionate about. And to find other people who are passionate about the same things.

There are a couple of corollaries of this observation that I want to pursue. The first is that it's becoming obvious to the mainstream media that these people are doing things worth looking at. The second is that the most successful business models are going to be the ones that let the real hard work be done by passionate Pro-Ams.

On the first corollary: I mention below the problem with service disintermediation is that it exposes the content-production oligopoly more transparently to the consumer. One of the solutions to that problem is the pro-am movement. I don't watch TV anymore, because I get my big-budget entertainment from well-made games. But what I'm really looking forward to are the mods for those games -- the ones that are going to improve the game in ways the creators hadn't thought of. There's a relatively large garage industry for games too, and some real gems coming out of it. The Scene makes astoundingly beautiful 5-minute entertainment, if I don't have time to play a round of Dawn of War. So the big-content oligopoly might break -- or at least widen -- before the tide of pro-am work. Insert indieband vs. RIAA rant here, too.

On the second corollary: Busines models. The company I work for has been reinventing itself, lately, trying to devise a set of business models that don't revolve around people doing things they're not doing anymore (like spending on IT so they can say they've spent on IT). It really does seem to me like writing the next killer app isn't as important as enabling the next killer community. What does that mean? I have no idea. There's a reason I'm not a CEO.

Cringely on the future of information services

Holy Shit.

Can I call this guy up and get service from him? This is the kind of innovation that makes me excited to be in the field I'm in. This feels like The Future to me. Fast, ubiquitous network access that Just Works. Of course, it doesn't do games, and it probably doesn't like Bittorrent, but I can see the future in there. Cringely talks about disintermediation, and I see his point. There's still problems in there -- the oligopoly of high-production-value content producers, for example -- but like I said above, there's solutions to that coming too.

The 2004 Ig Nobels have been announced.

The Ig Nobel Web Page has the details. Gogo parody award ceremonies!

Thursday, September 30

Java 5 is out.

And the link's on Slashdot. Rhetoric incoming!

I like the advances in Java 1.5. You can find them on; I don't feel like giving a marketing blurb here. The generics are nice, as is autoboxing. Of course, it'll still be another year and a half before 1.5's new features hit the enterprise VMs that are the backbone of the stuff I work on, but hey, I can dream right?

object-oriented, event-driven apps through the web!

NextApp says they have an object oriented event driven app framework. It's called Echo, and it's Jesus Christ and a Bag of Chips according to what's on the website. Thing is, Spolsky says -- and I agree -- that "rich" UIs aren't necessarily better. Not having to learn a ui when you learn a new app is a very very powerful thing.

From another perspective, I'd be very leery of leaky abstractions, if I had to work with Echo. NextApp says you don't need to know HTML or JavaScript to use their framework, but is that really the case? To what extent would be you able to exploit their framework without really understanding what's going on "under the hood"?

Tuesday, September 28

Vanity googling

Pharaoh and I were talking just now, trying to come up with a new nickname for Atlas (since he doesn't want me to say his real name on the web!!11!11!!) and he suggested that I google my nickname. Holy crap! I'm the only person with the nickname Fraxas in the whole goddamn web!

Either I've had my one moment of true originality in life, or I've chosen a nickname so stupid nobody else wants it. WHICH COULD IT BE

Saturday, September 25

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War rocks.

No two ways about it: Dawn of War is an incredibly good game. I picked it up day before yesterday and spent a bit of time playing with it; yesterday, Atlas bought it. We spent almost 4 hours playing it last night, with all sorts of "WHOA!" and "HOLY WHAT THE--AWESOME!" moments.

Best time I've had playing a computer game in a looong time.

Thursday, September 23

The webbiness of some of my favourite musicians

Here are some of the interconnections between Jon McCrea of Cake, Weird Al, Ben Folds, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I like all of these musicians, so it's amazing to see how much they collaborate. I'm sure there are more, but these are all I can think of for now.
  • Jon McRea sings backing vocals on "Fred Jones Part II" by Ben Folds
  • Weird Al Yankovic directed the Ben Folds video for "Rockin' the Suburbs."
  • In that video, when Ben sings the lyric "some producer with computers fixes all my shitty tracks," we see Weird Al pulling down the "sucks" slider on a soundboard while someone else pushes up the one labelled "rocks." Who is that person? Is it Jon McCrea? I think it is! And then, as the camera cuts back to a shot of the producers nodding happily at the soundboard, there's someone else standing next to Jon McCrea and Al. Is it a Squirrel Nut Zipper? You decide!
  • In the Squirrel Nut Zippers' video, "Suits Are Picking Up The Bill", Ben Folds has a cameo appearance as a music industry guy.
  • Ken Mosher Tom Maxwell of the Squirren Nut Zippers play the horns on Army from the Ben Folds Five album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.
  • Ben Folds plays piano on the Weird Al track "Why Does this Always Happen to Me" off the album Poodle Hat.
  • On the album Perennial Favourites, the Zippers have a song called "Pallin' with Al," with such lines as "who's that man who's got that sentemental swing \ Plays that mess just like it doesn't mean a thing." Who indeed? Who indeed.
If any of you beloved readers can think of more, post them in the comments field!

My 2nd biggest dork obession ever, reviewed from the perspective of my biggest dork obsession ever

This article, by Schild, reviews Magic: The Gathering from the perspective of EverQuest. It's an interesting perspective.

Unfortunately, the article then devolves into a discussion of why the world of Magic: The Gathering should be reshaped into a virtual world more to Schild's liking. The problem with that is that IT'S A BAD IDEA. The reason MTG, and MTGO (where O stands for Online and is the way I play the game) work is because they are artifical environments in and of themselves. Schild misses the most important point about MTG when he argues it should be made into a virtual world: it already works as it is. Attempting to add to the game the tropes of a virtual world -- and Schild make no attempt to define how that would work -- would destroy it.

The company that makes MTG has a staff of dozens who spend their time just designing and developing cards, and measuring their interactions. Only in the past 3 years (the game's been around for 10) have they actually started to get the correct power curve for cards, and to match properly the flavour of a set of cards to the gameplay experience of MTG.

Don't fuck with the one massively multiplayer online game that rewards player skill more than anything else, Schild. It ain't broke, and we don't need virtual-world loons like you polluting it.

More Online Breakup Fun

The Pharaoh

Armyfood: I'm sure you saw this link offa memepool, but in the spirit of acrimonious relationship links, it's just too brilliant to miss.


Wednesday, September 22

I am SO trying this someday.

Apparently, Swimming As Easy In Syrup As In Water.

I wonder if it makes it harder to breathe, though...


on the topic of my previous post, I had this conversation with my co-worker Dave just now:
Team America: ha yah! r0x!
Team America: like the proverbial hurricane.
Team America: if a scorpions song can be considered a proverb.
Milkman Dan: I'm not sure they can
Milkman Dan: I think that might break some laws.
Team America: international, or domestic?
Milkman Dan: interdomesticational.
The world needs more obscure references to the barely-remembered pop culture of people who were in high school when we were just old enough to care.

eBay Auctions Of The Damned

I hope this guy buys a bit of happiness with his $31.

An Adventurer Is You!

The Kingdom of Loathing is a web-based pseudoMUD that is AWESOME. you need to go make an account right now.

If you know Fraxas in person, message Fraxinator and introduce yourself or something.

Mists of Avalon

No, not those mists of avalon. The Avalon of which I blog is the club in Boston, right across from Fenway Park. The Mist in question is that which spewed forth from the manic lips of Tragically Hip front-man, Gord Downie. That's right, I just got back from a zip-cracking awesome show. First the setlist. Then I'll tell you what I thought.

It Can't Be Nashville Every Night
Grace, Too
Are You Ready
Twist My Arm
You Are Everywhere
Summer's Killing Us
Goodnight Josephine
Lake Fever
100th Meridian
Escape Is At Hand (For The Travelling Man)
Mean Streak
New Orleans Is Sinking
Gus, The Polar Bear from Central Park
My Music @ Work

1st Encore:
Vaccination Scar
Ahead By A Century
Something On

2nd Encore:
Heaven Is A Better Place Today
Little Bones

Our illustrious editor-in-chief has already talked about the new album material. This performance quashed any doubt that it would be amazing live. But besides that - they played 100th Meridian. And New Orleans is Sinking. The crowd was so electric, there was not a single proton in the house. I am now officially spoiled - a stadium will never do it for me anymore. I relived all the greatest hip-memories of my coming-of-age. Every album was represented. The show, in short, was incredible.

Friday, September 17

Dan Appleman on Reinventing Software Licenses

Dan Appleman on Reinventing Software Licenses

Dan suggests that software licenses be limited to 500 words, and that they be restricted in content from certain areas (like forbidding reviews, etc).

Why stop at software licenses? All law is complex, isn't it? Let's simplify it all!

The problem with any effort to simplify law is that there was a reason it got complex in the first place. English is not an unambiguous language -- and legalese is an attempt at disambiguation. Bodies of law are called "code(s)" for largely the same reason that application source is called code: you have to specify a problem so completely even a computer -- or a court -- can solve it. And we all know how dumb courts and computers are.

I'd love it if law could be simple. But the world isn't, and anything that has to assert unambiguous things about the world can't be either.

Thursday, September 16

Maggot Therapy Linked with Reduced Post-Operative Wound Infections

Maggot Therapy Linked with Reduced Post-Operative Wound Infections: my friend Atlas says it best:

Atlas: Maggots and Leeches: They've got the micro tools to get the job done!

Rands In Repose: Rands Management Glossary

Rands In Repose: Rands Management Glossary: a Devil's Dictionary of professional software development.

A visual history of spam (and virus) email

A visual history of spam (and virus) email: Raymond Chen scatterplots his spam since 1997. Theoretically interesting -- there are some naked-eye-visible trends -- but not practically useful to me until I start developing spamfilters.

Which I should probably think about doing.

Thursday, August 26

I like Cake

The new Cake album, Pressure Chief, is coming out October 5th, and the band has some preview clips here. Here are my impressions of what is shaping up to be a fantastic album-to-be.

1. Wheels - I heard this song in its entirety at the Orpheum in Boston. It's right up there with Cake's all-time-greats. Hooky, earthy, catchy, breezey, sneezey, wheezey, teasey. Easy Peasy. Queasey. Cheesey.

2. No Phone - This song has a nice greasy groove that easily solidifies that unmistakeable Cake sound.

3. Take it All Away - More wry, deprecating heartache from Jon McCrea. Nothing is more wry than a good cake song. You want wryness? This is the song for you. The guitar melody under the chorus sounds a lot like a down-tempo variation of the riff on No Phone. That's okay, though, because it's awesome.

4. Dime - "Well you ask me how I made it through, and how my mint condition could belong to you. When I'm on the ground, I roll through towns, I'm a president you don't remember getting kicked around. I'm a dime, I'm fine, and I shine, I'm freshly minted. I am determined not be dented by a barb wire plane (?) or anything not yet invented." I can't wait to hear the album cut of this so I can figure out what the heck he's singing.

5. Carbon Monoxide - A wacky, bouncy rhythm puts this song squarely in Weird Al Yankovic Original Song territory. Speaking of Weird Al's original songs, have you ever heard "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota?" It seriously is the 9th Symphony of our generation.

That's it for now. New songs go up every Tuesday.

Sunday, August 15

Bollywood movies I've seen

Here, in no particular order, is a list of all the Bollywood movies I've seen. So far, that's 54 hours of my life that I'll never get back. But oh, what a wild and fascinating 54 hours it has been! Maybe one day later I'll explain why.

Dil to Pagal Hai
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
Yes Boss
Kal Ho Naa Ho
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai
Dil Chahta Hai
Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain
Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Mujhse Dosti Karoge
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Hum Tum

Wednesday, August 11

Music Update: Cardigans

A Swedish band that isn't Abba or some grindcore deathmetal garage band with too many ümläüts in its name. I remember really liking Erase, Rewind and their other hit, the one with the video where she's in a bottle in a dress with a clear pvc heart cutout over her cleavage, from back in like 1997 -- who woulda thought their 2003 album would be just as good?

Nice to hear some female singers, too.

Thursday, August 5

Memepool, i <3 u

That's a heart up there. <3. look sideways.

OK, now that that's over with, I get to go on with my actual post: Memepool rocks my world. I was looking for a quick surf-target, 15 minutes to kill until my next meeting and not wanting to be productive, so I hit bash and the 'pool in a couple tabs. Bash didn't have anything new, but memepool delivered: a link to an Elizabot reprogrammed to be a teenslut instead of a psychiatrist. An Eliza Sex Bot. (Not an Eliza Box Set, mind you.) Hilarity! I couldn't read more than a couple.

The internet is so fun.

Tuesday, August 3

While I'm here...

I might as well also comment on an interesting article I read in Dr Dobb's on the weekend -- HTTP response splitting. The idea is that if you can inject URLEncoded newlines into an HTTP response, you can fake the client into believing it's getting responses it's not. It's a standard abnormal-command-termination hack (like putting
');[arbitrary SQL here]
in your username field in a web app, and having the app execute the SQL for you), but it's interesting.

Certainly an input-validation thing the webapp I work on doesn't do.

Parental visits; foodsnobbery

LJ-style post, this time (mood: Ornery!).

My parents visted over the past long weekend; we had a great time doing pretty much the standard weekend stuff. Shopping, eating, talking. And they said they had a great time! It was really very nice to see them, and to receive the compliments on our hospitality and our food.

We saw the AGO's Turner/Whistler/Monet exhibition (google it) on Saturday, and it was really neat to learn something about Monet's influences as well as just seeing his paintings. Got a chance to see a couple I hadn't seen before, as well; a triptych-ish suite of 6'x6' oils depicting a view up the Seine near Giverny. Each painting was of the same riverscape, but at different times of day; it was actually quite informative as to Monet's mind's eye to see them beside each other like that. Also, the subject matter was interesting; views of what the Thames was like in and around London in the mid-19th century. I had no idea so much shipping was done by river-barges with one square sail and two dudes with poles.

On the subject of the food itself, we had a butterflied leg of lamb in a honey/balsamic/rosemary marinade on Saturday, and burgers on Sunday. Both from Cumbrae's Fine Meats, which really is my favourite butcher ever. Lots of compliments on the food, even though we didn't actually *do* all that much -- we've chosen lately to spend our money on good ingredients and then not do much to them, rather than trying to do complicated things with grocery-store rubbermeat.

Thursday, July 22

Music Update: The Hip

I'm listening to The Tragically Hip's latest album, In Between Evolution. The Pharaoh put it to me this way:
Imagine it like this: IBE was made by a different band from the one that made Day For Night and Road Apples and Fully Completely. A suckier band. Then it's OK to like it!
Which is an interesting way to approach an album made by, like, your favourite band of all time, but whatever. It's growing on me in a serious way.

Yeah, whatever. Also, a walking dog.

Apparently SOME PEOPLE (/me points below) have too much time on their hands.

Also, these people who taught their dog to walk erect have too much time on their hands. Thanks, boingboing.

The Funny is taken: preemptive emulation and potty-mouthed hands.

I thought I was being marginally amusing when I referenced the subject of yesterday's post, i.e., hip-hop, as "Hip. Also, Hop." One trip to Google has revealed that my comedic innovations have been preemptively emulated by that inimitable laughter-factory, the Chicago Sun-Times.
NBC's coverage will be far out and groovy, man

January 30, 2002


Here's a message from NBC to everyone who will be watching the Winter Olympics on television: Hip. Also, hop.

Great. I'm a hack. For more hackery, please proceed to my own blog, Pharaohmagnetic Spin. It would seem that I am wresting Shiny Things Distract Us from the potty-mouthed hands of its founder, the one-and-only Fraxas. Hackery for Everyone! Now, only he can rescue this blog.

Wednesday, July 21

Hip. Also, Hop.

So a guy I know just won a freestyle rap competion, which is very cool. Here's an article that seamlessly weaves this topic with my main interest, science, and the dropping thereof:

Droppin' Science: Hip Hop's Lyrical Roots

Being well-versed in scientific terminology, even nominally, was seen as a shortcut to being a good MC. “You gotta have actual knowledge of the world in order to understand the world,” RZA says. “The prior generation of rappers got all these slang terms from reading and studying books they bought from street peddlers, about everything from Kemet, the ancient name for Egypt, to the properties of matter from 100 years ago. Brothers would read them and turn it into music,” he says, adding, “There was a series of books called Pathways in Science that we all learned from in high school. Some of their verses are direct readings from those books.”

The Onion this week has a topical infographic.

Why Are We So Much Better Than All the Other MCs?

25% Roget's Dictionary of Similes, 3rd Edition
11% Frequently Remind audience who we are, what we're here to say
16% Provide trenchat observations on art of pimping
19% Believe our résumé speaks for itself
29% Fresh-ass breath

Yet Another Intro Post: Metacommentary

So -- here's the deal. I pretend I'm giving a standard introductory post, and you pretend you're interested in what I have to say.

This is my second attempt at a blog; the previous one I had was nowhere near this easy to use. gogo blogger.