Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Media worth Mention pt. 1: La Perdida

This cornily alliteratively titled feature covers DVDs, CDs, and Comic books that I've recently viewed/read/listened to/otherwise ingested that not only were worth the time/money involved to acquire and ingest them, but were in fact good enough to write about here where maybe one or two people will get curious and likewise check them out.

The first item is actually a series, a 5 part comic by Jessica Abel (of artbabe fame) called 'La Perdida'. It's about a young American woman's experiences living in Mexico (Abel lived in Mexico herself from 1998-2000). Mexico is a source of fascination for many USians, myself included, several of whom have fantasies with varying degrees of seriousness about actually moving there and living there for a bit, and anyone with that interest really ought to look into this series. It's not merely a thinly veiled autobiographical travel diary thing - there are a number of events and twists in the story that add suspense and excitement that go beyond the usual foreigner acclimating to the local culture subject matter. After reading Part 4, I had to rush back to the bookstore to pick up Part 5, because I wanted to see how things turned out.

The drawings are all black and white, with covers in color. I enjoyed the style and the story, and picked up a lot of great Mexican slang along the way, which I almost certainly will never use in real life. I'm not even sure how 'guey' is pronounced.

This came out in 2002, but I am just discovering it now, thanks to the truly wonderful Boxcar Books, a non-profit, volunteer-run bookstore in Bloomington (which, thanks to some recent renovations, now has a whole room dedicated to comix). Since I discovered Boxcar Books, I pretty much only go to Borders for tech book needs now.

Highly recommended.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas Motherfuckers!

Apparently some people are worried about 'secular progressives' trying to further the ongoing oppression of the Christian people by saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of Merry Christmas. All the Christians are going to have to flee to Egypt like Jesus and his Mom and non-God Dad did any minute now.

As a member of this secular conspiracy to destroy America's Heritage (I am a member of the ACLU, after all), this prompted me to examine my own behavior to see if I was doing enough for the cause. On some self-reflexion, I realized I actually say 'Merry Christmas' a lot, which made me wonder why do I show such callous disregard for friends and colleagues who are Jewish or otherwise non-affiliated with the downtrodden Christian minority of 80% of residents of the U.S. (thousands of whom attend services regularly, hundreds of whom pay attention to them)?

I realized it was kind of a knee jerk thing I do as a resident of a very churchy state in the midwest where slipping up and giving the wrong person the idea that you don't 'believe what they do' will result in all sorts of grief (I hesitate to use the word persecution as let's not be a drama queen here, the beatings ended once I got away from the nuns at my Catholic school).

So, yeah, 'War on Christmas' my skinny white ass. I am going to indulge in some serious Santa worship on the 25th to atone for my utter failure to observe the Winter Solstice. My Winter Solstice tradition is to, at some point during the day, say 'hey, it's Winter Solstice today', which has yet to trigger an exchange lasting longer than 15 seconds. Still, Solstice is important, as the truth at the root of it all is that freezin' is the reason for the season.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Best programming book EVAR!

I have written briefly before about the 7 wheeled bicycle that is J2EE. Anyhow, people are looking for something, anything to replace Java as the next thing in programming, and a major contender is Ruby, a language created in Japan by a guy w/ the nickname 'Matz'. Another big one is Python, all the rage with the Linux set.

Anyhow, while wasting time on Kuro5hin tonight, I ran into a reference to Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby. It is full of cartoons and stories about an evil scientist named Dr. Cham. It also talks about Ruby, too. This Mr. why the lucky stiff is a genius, I tell you!

I have decided to learn more about Ruby now. Comix make learnin fun!

(update 12-23-05:

I read the whole thing. I liked the bit about meta-programming and Dwemthy's array. Writing programs that write programs is great, especially if the programs partially write themselves.

I also really liked the tiny bunny who put the dragon's head in the chimbly. I'm still not sure what a chimbly is. A cute mispelling of chimney?

Overall, a bold redefinition of the programming manual taking ideas Larry Wall touched on with the 'Job from the Bible hacks Perl' bits in the Camel Book and then just really running with them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Disjointed thoughts in the Larry King Column Vein

Web sites and magazines are always talking about the 10 best albums ever, or the worst album covers, and these articles always stir up arguments. But there's no dispute as to who the worst rock band ever is: Aerosmith after 1980.

There's a really happening audio installation about the famous Amen break right here. You know the Amen break even if you don't know it by name.

The Super Furry Animals have a new album out, and I didn't even know that. It's true - after you turn 30 you really can't keep up with music to save your life.

Here's a tasty treat - put mustard and swiss cheese on an onion bagel, and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. It even tastes great on those O-rings Lender's sells in the freezer section.

One of the design goals of .NET was to enable rapid development. One of the design goals of J2EE was to take a decent language and throw so much doo-hickery on top of it that the simplest project takes years.

Every time I see Dick Cheney trying to smile, I wonder whose heat he had turned off.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Diving into Greasemonkey, or Roll Your Own Bozofilter

I read about greasemonkey in Wired, and it sounded pretty cool. What it is is a plugin for the Mozilla browser (which is vastly superior to Internet Explorer, kind of like a 2005 Toyota Camry is better than a 1973 Pinto), and what it does is allow you to write javascript snippets that enable you to change the structure of websites you visit in whatever manner you wish (common mods include adding in links to other sites, stripping out ads, or changing ugly color schemes).

This has ramifications for Web advertising and 'brand purity' that probably nobody cares about at this time, because it's only geeks who want to fuck around with writing their own Javascript and CSS and figuring out what XPath expressions are and why you'd want to use them who will be using it. There ARE plenty of pre-written scripts out there, however.

At this point the cautious will rightfully ask whether it's a good idea to install code that hasn't been vetted on your machine, and they'd be right to do so. After all, with companies like Sony trying to get all '1337' on our asses and putting rootkit software on My Morning Jacket CD's so they can 'own' our 'boxen', we really can't be too careful. There was in fact as Security Advisory involving Greasemonkey in July of 2005, discovered by Mark Pilgrim, who we'll talk about more soon. It has since been addressed.

Let's get back on topic. All you really need to do to get started is install Mozilla, and if you do plan to be writing any scripts, you need to choose the Custom Install w/ the developer extensions. You then install the greasemonkey plugin.

There are numerous sites discussing Greasemonkey. The one I ended up bookmarking and going back to was the unappealingly titled 'Dive Into Greasemonkey' by 'Dive Into' Mark Pilgrim (you have to admit, though, having a 'Dive Into' book on the shelf is infinitely better than something from the 'For Dummies' series). Mark's guide is thorough and, here's the really great part: concise. As in brief. As in not full of a lot of useless fluff (you will soon see a 900 page book with a Red Cover and pictures of several nerds on the cover from Wrox publishing if Greasemonkey catches on, though).

Anyhow, for a simple Greasemonkey experiment, I wondered how easy would it be to write a bozo-filter for my favorite running forum, It was pretty easy. I am sure there are a million other ways to do it, anyhow here is one (standard disclaimers about for entertainment purposes only, no guarantee of blah blah blah, don't come crying to me if this causes your machine to melt through the floor, etc, apply):

// This is a Greasemonkey user script.
// To install, you need Greasemonkey:
// Then restart Firefox and revisit this script.
// Under Tools, there will be a new menu item to
// "Install User Script".
// Accept the default configuration and install.
// To uninstall, go to Tools/Manage User Scripts,
// select "CoolerRunning", and click Uninstall.
// -------------------------------------------------
// ==UserScript==
// @name CoolerRunning
// @namespace SDC
// @description remove wack fuckas
// @include*
// @exclude
// @exclude
// ==/UserScript==

// give us a quickie list of miscreants
// (replace with real usernames before using)
var jerkoffs = new Array("attention ho",
"subliterate cretin",

// alt approach: use XPath expression
// note - this is it, zeroes in on 3rd cols
// (user on thread list)
// on comment list it's 1st col.
var xpathMatch;

var allEle = document.evaluate("//TABLE/TBODY/TR/TD/H2",

GM_log("Got " + allEle.snapshotLength + " with the H2 in TD.");

if (allEle.snapshotLength > 0 &&
(allEle.snapshotItem(0).innerHTML.indexOf("Clubhouse")>=0)) {
xpathMatch = "//TABLE[@width]/TBODY/TR/TD[3]"; // topics
GM_log("Using topics match");
} else {
xpathMatch = "//TABLE[@width]/TBODY/TR/TD[1]/FONT";
// subject page
GM_log("Using Listing match");

allEle = document.evaluate(

GM_log("XPath got:" + allEle.snapshotLength + " items.");


function wipeJerky(theElements) {
var thisEle;
var whereIndex;
var jerkoff;
for (var idex = 0; idex < theElements.snapshotLength;
idex++) {
thisEle = allEle.snapshotItem(idex);
GM_log("Inside: >" + thisEle.innerHTML + "<");
for (var jdex = 0; jdex < jerkoffs.length; jdex++) {
jerkoff = jerkoffs[jdex];
whereIndex = thisEle.innerHTML.indexOf(jerkoff);
if ( whereIndex >= 0) {
GM_log('Looks like ' + jerkoff + ' is here.');
GM_log(' at index:' + whereIndex + ' in the contained html.');
container = thisEle.parentNode;
// may have to back up.
if (!(container.nodeName.toUpperCase() == 'TR')) {
container = container.parentNode;
GM_log('Removed ' + jerkoff + '.');
} // found a-hole
} // jerks
} // elements

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Answer's to Last Week's Quiz

  1. This was kind of a trick question. In this particular case, it was a corporate, private industry job, but there was a guy that slept on the government job, too.
  2. This one was a government job. There is a street in my town with the same name as the guy, which always reminds me of this scarily intense individual.
  3. This one was a private industry job. Consulting companies love to find suckers to milk for all they're worth, public or private. The application violated software engineering principles like not putting more than 256 fields on a screen. (note of clarification - I didn't write the story I linked too, but it illustrates my point pretty well)
  4. This one was private, too. Corporations, driven by market forces and the invisible hand, can make innovations in stifling, soul-crushing bureaucracy that make legendary government inefficiency look pretty candy ass.
  5. Government job. Eerily smart people sometimes are motivated by non-monetary factors like the job being the only thing in any way technical near their home town. And no, I wasn't talking about myself here. This guy lived in Bloomfield, and I've never even been there.
  6. Corporate job. Like Wally from Dilbert, I was not overly vigilant about making sure the thing had good batteries.
  7. Corporate job. Some plucky individuals inside the company started a Wiki to try to make sense of all the acronyms.
  8. Government job. He did have the sense to abandon the necklace thing when it got too small for his neck.
  9. Government job. I have since gone on to higher levels of flunkydom.

Friday, November 11, 2005

This Week's Quiz: Government or Mega-Corporation Job?

Each item below describes something I observed either while working for the Government or while working for an extremely large corporation. Answers will appear in a future posting.

  1. A guy I worked with fell asleep in his cubicle at least a couple of times a month. It eventually became a game for the rest of us to try to get pictures of him sleeping. Nobody tipped off management, because the game was kind of fun.

  2. A type-A engineer rumored to have a massive home porno collection often worked weekends and usually put in 10 hour days (at least).

  3. Software projects were tracked by a bloated monstrosity of VB crapware that some sheisty consulting company put together for about a billion dollars.

  4. The organizational structure had 23 levels. People in the middle 21 levels mainly forwarded emails coming from higher levels down, and did their best to prevent their underlings from communicating with people at higher levels.

  5. There were eerily smart people working there who knew how to change software in strange and wonderful ways by twiddling just the right bytes.

  6. We were provided beepers which people actually sometimes used to try to contact us.

  7. The language of the organization consisted mostly of Acronyms. Any one person knew what 10% of the acronyms meant, maybe, if they had been there for ten years.

  8. A guy wore a necklace he made out of paperclips. (The number of paperclips) = (The number of days 'till retirement)

  9. A guy volunteered for the daily task of 'getting supplies for people'. Getting supplies usually killed a whole morning, until a manager got wise and gave the job to a summer student flunky.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Testing on Knoppix

The piece of crap computer I bought from Micro-X-press in Indy finally gave up trying to run XP. Or XP gave up. One of these. Apparently Micro-X-Press went out of business or changed names or got swallowed up by another company.

I had a Knoppix CD handy, so here we are. I mainly just use the computer at home as a dumb terminal to get on the Web anyway. Who am I kidding?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

2 Year Old Movie Critic: Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of The Were-Rabbit

(cried inconsolably when the credits rolled, wanted the movie to keep going)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fighting the Power with Memaw and Pepaw

Resistance to the I-69 project has always been strong in Bloomington, IN, and supporters of the initiative are quick to dismiss Bloomington as 'not representative of Indiana', what with it being a bastion of liberal thought and student activists and former hippies, and all that.

Tonight they held the first public hearing on the project at Martinsville High School in Martinsville, IN, which in general is a highly conservative, G.O.P.-all-the-way kind of town. There were plenty of 'My Man Mitch' signs in people's yards during the 2004 gubernatorial campaign, so they probably thought it was at least semi-friendly territory, but they were apparently wrong.

The meeting started with a Power Point presentation by a Daniels flunky about the plans for the highway - how many lanes, where the interchanges would be, where the overpasses would be. Not much was said about the highly unpopular decision to make I-69 a toll road - hitting all the commuters that use what's now State Road 37 to travel to Indianapolis or Bloomington with extra daily costs. Mostly it was about 3 alternate plans for the roads crossing 37, and in this example of democracy in the U.S., 2005 edition, the citizens have the power to choose, but they don't get to choose NOT to build I-69, no, they get to choose whether Ennis road will have a cul-de-sac or a Local road connection to frontage roads. Thank you, grandpa, for dodging bullets in Saipan so we can have freedoms like these.

Following the meeting was the 'have your say' bit, where local citizens were allowed 2 minutes to make a statement about the plan or ask specific questions (none of the questions were answered or addressed, I suppose they were 'noted'). A traffic light changed to yellow at 90 seconds and red at 2 minutes to keep people from going over.

The first guy to speak was an elected official they shipped in from Pendleton, IN, which is on I-69 North of Indianapolis. He glowingly spoke of all the economic benefits the Interstate has provided his town. Apparently the Interstate helped them preserve the town as an historic community somehow. He gives it credit for that, anyway. After this guy the Daniels people trucked in spoke, we didn't hear anything positive about I-69 for the rest of the evening.

People were pissed about the toll road decision. They wondered about the impact on air quality (one guy made the observation that "on 'No-Zone' days, we're told not to mow the lawn before 6am, but now you're gonna have thousands of trucks coming through every day?"), and the noise levels. People who owned businesses vented about their frustration that nobody in the government would listen to them. A man 'speaking for the small farmer' questioned the numbers used in the studies supporting I-69, calling them the result of a branch of math called 'Trickonometry' (corny, but better than 'fuzzy math'). An elderly woman who could barely stand up raged (as much as she could) about the government taking away her home. An elderly gentleman outraged at the prospect of losing his home suggested '3000 small lawsuits is better than one class action lawsuit'. Those who did not speak indicated their opposition by strongly applauding those who spoke out against I-69. When asked 'who here opposes I-69', everybody raised their hand. A couple people from C.A.R.R. in Bloomington spoke, but most of the speakers were locals judging by their knowledge of the town.

After the meeting I was encouraged that there was so much opposition to I-69, even outside of Bloomington, but at the same time I still have the impression the government just doesn't care what anybody thinks about it, or how it will affect them. It seems they've made up their mind this is going to happen no matter what anyone says, kind of like Bush made up his mind we were going to take out Saddam no matter what the facts were or what anybody thought. I'd like to think people could take a stand and stop the big swindle from happening, but I obviously have my doubts.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Slicker and Tighter (Metal Machine Music Part II)

At the risk of alienating my tens of readers further, here's another entry about obsolete technology. Computers, mainly.

Legend has it the last code Bill Gates wrote for Microsoft was a little 'game' for the DOS 1.x(!) on the IBM PC called 'Donkey'. He wrote it with then high-school kid Neil Konzen in a closet while the two of them were getting a highly confidential preview of the PC.

The PC, as well as Bill and Neil's game, caught the attention of the people on Apple's Mac team.

The most embarrassing game was a lo-res graphics driving game called "Donkey". The player was supposed to be driving a car down a slowly scrolling, poorly rendered "road", and could hit the space bar to toggle the jerky motion. Every once in a while, a brown blob would fill the screen, which was supposed to be a donkey manifesting in the middle of the road. If you didn't hit the space bar in time, you would crash into the donkey and lose the game.

You can see the code, at least a QuickBasic version, here.

Just this one line gives you an idea of how far things have come in programming in general. This IS BASIC, the 'easy to learn', 'user friendly', 'so the janitor can start writing programs' language conceived at Dartmouth in 1964:

CY = CY - 4: IF CY < style="color: rgb(0, 0, 255);">THEN 2230
DX = 105 + 42 * INT(RND * 2)
FOR Y = (RND * -4) * 8 TO 124 STEP 6
SOUND 20000, 1
A$ = INKEY$: IF A$ = CHR$(27) THEN 1298 ELSE POKE 106, 0: IF LEN(A$) > 0 THEN LINE (CX, CY)-(CX + 28, CY + 44), 0, BF: CX = 252 - CX: PUT (CX, CY), CAR%, PRESET: SOUND 200, 1
IF CX = DX AND Y + 25 >= CY THEN 2060
IF Y AND 3 THEN PUT (140, 6), B%
NEXT: LINE (DX, 124)-(DX + 32, 149), 0, BF: GOTO 1670

Short, cryptic variable names, hardcoded numbers all over the place, no comments, and, the cherry on top, the dreaded GOTO statement.

Bill Gates famously chided John Carmack (responsible for much of the heavy lifting on Doom, Quake, and numerous other revolutionary video games) in a video shown at the ceremony where John was inducted into the Hall Of Fame of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences: " I just want you to know that I can write slicker and tighter code than John ".

To the non-technical, that scene was equivalent to a skit from a 70's Bob Hope Special in which Bob, wearing one of those leather 'Knute Rockne' football helmets, tells 'Mean' Joe Greene 'I'm gonna kick your ass on the football field today'.

Enough of that, though, this is not a bash-Gates or bash-Microsoft blog (really). In the interest of fairness, I just want you to know that I could write more unreadable and opaque basic than Bill myself, back in the 80s.

This game, 'Moonwalk III', involved helping a green guy with a nice hat get across a disintegrating bridge. It was very exciting.

1 V=53248:POKE V+21,1:PRINT"":POKE V+16,0
5 POKE V+39,5:POKE V+29,0:POKE V+23,0
10 POKE 2040,13
25 FOR T=0TO 62 :POKE14*64+T,0:NEXT
40 PRINT"“":POKE V+29,0
70 PRINT" ’  ’  ’  ’  ’  ’  "
90 PRINT"  ’  ’"
110 PRINT"  ’"
111 PRINT""
115 POKE V,32:POKE V+1,79
140 GOSUB 3000
170 IF PEEK(V+31)=0 THEN GOSUB5000
175 IF JX>250 THEN JX=0:POKE V+16,1
176 IF JX>40 AND PEEK(V+16)=1THEN 11000
185 IF FR<>16 THEN GOSUB 4000
187 GOSUB 7000
190 GOTO 140
2000 DATA 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,240,0,1,248,0
2010 DATA 0,240,0,0,240,0,0,0,224,0,7,240,13,240,0,13,252,0
2020 DATA 13,252,0,0,248,0,1,240,0,1,177,0,3,57,0,6,15
2030 DATA 0,12,0,0,8,0,0,8,0,0
2040 DATA 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,120,0,0,252
2050 DATA 0,0,120,0,0,120,0,0,112,0,1,248,0,1,248,0,1,252
2060 DATA0,1,252,0,0,248,0,0,248,0,0,216,0,0,216,0,0,216,0,0,216,0,0,216,0,0,252
2070 DATA 128
3010 RJ=PEEK(56320)
3015 FR=RJ AND 16
3020 RJ=15-(RJAND15)
4000 POKE 2040 ,13
4015 IF JX>255 THEN POKE V+16,1
4025 POKE 2040,15
4030 FOR XX=1 TO15:POKEV+1,JY+1:POKEV,JX+1:JX=JX+1:JY=JY+1
4032 IFJX>254 THEN JX=0:POKE V+16,1
4033 IF JX>330 THEN 110000
4034 NEXT XX
4035 IF PEEK(V+31)<>1 THEN GOTO 5000
5010 IFJY>250 GOTO 10000
5020 GOTO 5000
5500 IF PEEK(2040)=13 THEN POKE 2040 ,14:JX=JX+4:POKEV,JX:POKE 2040,15:RETURN
5510 POKE 2040,14:JX=JX+4:POKEV,JX:POKE2040,13:RETURN
6000 IF PEEK(2040)=13 THEN POKE 2040,14:JX=JX-4:POKEV,JX:POKE 2040,15:RETURN
6010 POKE 2040,14:JX=JX-4:POKEV,JX:POKE 2040,13:RETURN
7000 X=INT(RND(0)*40)
7010 IF INT(RND(1)*10)=0 THEN RETURN
8000 IF INT(RND(1)*10)=0 THEN 9000
8010 POKE 1024+(40*6)+X,32:GOTO9000
9000 IF INT(RND(1)*40)<20 THEN POKE 1025+(40*6)+X,160
11111 PRINT"*****":GOTO115

Ack! GOTOs!

There's one comment in the code, the not very helpful:


Which apparently tells you something is being read. This was back when I had the philosophy that because comments are ignored by the computer, it was a waste of time to include them. My uncle, who worked for AT&T forever before retiring a few years ago, set me straight on that after I suggested that his code was good and all, but why all the comments?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Possible over-exposure

I was on the front page of the local paper this morning, the Herald-Times. Here I am, with hundreds (actually thousands) of other Hoosiers, running to fight cancer and stuff. Unfortunately, there is still cancer in our world, and it wasn't a PR for me either. I did retire several months ago from competitive running, but it's like smoking, I've quit 3 or 4 times since that announcement.

This afternoon I spun the reggae classics (plus some new stuff they had in the studio) on WFHB from noon to 2 as guest selector for Reggae Children, for the guys who usually do the show and have been doing it for over ten years now. Like with running, I have made no money whatsoever out of the radio thing, but it seems to be impossible to give up. For a couple years I was even doing a monthly show from 10pm-2am, which was completely insane and eventually I stopped.

Fun fact: there is no computer in the air room at WFHB, making it unique among radio stations, where for the most part you'll find college dropout 20-somethings reading stuff off a screen (like in telemarketing sweatshops). This also helped set the atmosphere for the show, which today focused on that great period in reggae from 1974-1979 or so. King Tubby, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Niney and the Observers, and both I-Roy and U-Roy were represented, as well as a bit of dancehall (but no slackness).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Kanye West is my official hip-hop hero

Check this out:,1002,271|97339|1|,00.html

I caught this this morning, thanks to TiVo and my wife, who was up this morning watching the benefit.

The looks on Mike Myers' face during this were priceless.

It went like this:

Mike Myers: blah blah forgettable blah plattitudes blah

Kanye West (voice shaking ever so slightly): "I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days because most of the people are black. ...I feel hypocritical asking for money, because I went shopping before I gave any money. I didn't even watch the TV, I've been trying to turn away from it. But now I'm talking to my business manager, asking what's the most I can give."

Mike Myers: blah blah what people are supposed to say at times like this blah

Kanye West: "America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down there and shoot us."

Mike Myers (shaken somewhat, on auto-pilot now): blah blah give blah tragic blah

Kanye West: "George Bush does not care about black people. He...."

Mike Myers turns suddenly to West and starts to open his mouth...

(cut to Chris Tucker, backstage apparently in the middle of fetching a Coke from a fridge)

Chris Tucker (frantic): In the past few days, America has really come together to help the people of New Orleans and Mississippi. Do what you can. Send water, send trucks. We are all one. Please please please please, help help help help help help help.

(Tucker showed all what a showbiz pro he is by not looking at his watch midway thru the stream of 'help's to see how many seconds he had left to fill).

On a musical note, I really like what Kanye West did with the production on Common's latest album. I'm going to go out and buy his two albums, too.

They are: The College Dropout and Late Registration.

...after donating to Katrina relief efforts, of course.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Software Archeology, or Metal Machine Music (Part I)

Software is notoriously short-lived. Like baby sea turtles making their way to the sea, most software projects are doomed to die very early in their lives. Those projects that survive to maturity are often defective disappointments, like Paris Hilton, doomed to be quickly forgotten, unlike Paris Hilton.

Even if software survives its birth and lasts for a while, the odds are still stacked against it in the long term. Platforms change. Formats change. Storage media deteriorate and fail (some people are addressing these problems, fortunately).

A few years ago I stumbled upon a technological find in the unfinished basement of a home located in South Central Indiana. It was a box of 5 1/4" floppies, items that are not so common in this century. They were in a case made of fake wood with a transparent (and broken) top. They had not been stored in ideal conditions, and I didn't have much hope for them.

In the same building, in an upstairs closet, I found not one but two 1541 disk drives. These items can fetch up to $20 on eBay, but in the interest of science, I held on to mine.

It was hard to read the labels of the diskettes, as the writing seemed to be the work of a chimp with cerebral palsy. There appeared to be several games that were popular in the mid-80's (including that precursor to internet porn, Strip Poker) plus some code written by the aforementioned chimp, who has since gone on to write software for a number of other platforms and organizations.

There are plenty of free programs out there that emulate the Commodore 64, but most computers these days do not have 5 1/4" floppy drives, so there was still the problem of getting the data from the disks to my PC.

Fortunately, the internet brings together nerds with obscure obsessions. So one can obtain (or make your own) XM1541 or XA1541 cable allowing you to connect an ancient 1541 to the parallel port on your circa 1995 Pentium (whoa, one step at a time, can't jump to the present all at once) which runs Linux. There's software you can use that allows your computer to communicate with these relics. (There's software for Windows, too).

Once you have your cable and you've installed your software, you can start reading the disks to .d64 images. This is what I did, and to my surprise, out of the box of 20 or so disks, all but 3 were readable. I had to slow down partway through the process, though, as the drive soon got so hot I worried if I put a disk in it it would melt (I would later find out that many 1541s have found an ignoble end-of-life niche serving as hot plates in flophouses).

At this point I was very pleased, and after digging old C-64 commands like LOAD "*",8,1 out of my memory, I was up and running. It was a real Dr. Chandra plugs HAL back in moment (Good Morning Dr. Chandra. I am a HAL 9000 Series computer. Would you like to play a game of Strip Poker?).

Tune in next time for part II, which will include embarassing ancient BASIC code listings from both myself and Bill Gates.

Monday, August 22, 2005

They still haven't found what they're looking for

I signed up for a visit counter for this blog (for free) over at It's interesting to look at. Among other things they have a cool map of the world, showing where all your visits came from. I haven't had any visits from Mongolia or Tuva yet, and that disappoints me.

They also list the referring sites - the site containing the link the visitor clicked on to get here.

There are quite a few referrals from Yahoo Search. I don't think the Google bot has even visited, so I don't get clicks from there. All those busy engineers who used to be fed by the chef for the Grateful Dead are doing their best to tune their algorithms to keep the random spare time sputterings of some old dude from Indiana out of their listings.

A lot of searches bringing people here are related in some way to the Blog's name, words of advice for young people. I actually named it after something William S. Burroughs wrote and recited on an album he did with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (the people who also brought you 'Television, The Drug of A Nation').


If you are doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch get it in writing. His word isn't worth shit--not when the good Lord taught him how to fuck you on the deal.

Anyhow, here are the variants on the advice for people theme that brought people here:

  • most young rich people
  • viagra use by young people
  • advice from old people to young people
  • words of advice about love
  • advice for young bands
  • words of advice for young adults
  • how to advice young sister
  • words for people leaving job
  • words of advice for young women
I really don't think I helped anybody there.

Some people came here via a search on the 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' guy that I wrote about a while back. The first person in this list was on the right track:

  • rich dad poor dad bull shit
  • rich dad poor dad book criticism
  • kiyosaki investigation
There are some people looking for religious things. Again, barking up the wrong tree.

  • Church signs "messages for"
  • eastview christian church Martinsville,in
  • they'll know we are Christians by our love mp3
  • They'll know were christians
  • they'll know were christians by our love
It seems at least one person at Eastview Christian Church in Martinsville caught me making fun of them. D'oh! Sadly, the Church signs around town have managed to be insipid without being completely ludicrous lately, so I haven't had much to write about lately on that topic.

The 'Redneck Playground of Horror' story seems to be a bit of a search magnet, judging by these:

  • pigeon hill bloomington
  • aryan tattoos
  • redneck tattoos
  • eminem's girlfriend
For anybody who lands here due to a tattoo-related search, here's a site about prison tattoos. It explains what all the imagery and symbols mean, which will be really useful if you end up in prison someday yourself.

In my next installment I think the topic is going to be Software Archaeology. So I know you all can't wait for that.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Catch offshore fever!

This is old but here it is, edited somewhat. The two key
things here are:

  1. the use of the phrase 'joy of offshoring' apparently w/out irony
  2. that universal call to update your resume: 'I'm not making any promises, but I assure you...'
I got out of Dodge, myself.

-----Original Message-----
From: **redacted**
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 2:07 PM
To: **redacted**
Cc: **redacted**
Subject: Team Changes

Due to some pressures to offshore, we will be moving into a new era in
our organization. **the lamest group on our team** has already experienced the joys of
offshoring and have made it work. Now **you other suckers** will be doing the same.
Five of the offshore folks that have worked in the **lamest group on our team** environment
will be moving over to the **you other suckers**. Because of this, we
will be moving people that we have worked with out to other projects
outside of our organization.

Both **dude** and **other dude** have accepted positions within **redacted**'s
organization on the **some acronym** organization. There will be further changes
to our organization in the next few weeks and those will be announced
as they unfold.

I do want to emphasize that, while I won't make promises, I believe
that this will be the extent of offshoring done in our group. There
is no reason to be concerned about your jobs so please do not feel
your jobs are in jeopardy.

Thank you.

**the boss**

**other boss**, please feel free to cascade to your organization.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

2-year-old Music Critic

The Andrews Sisters - 'Don't sit under the Apple Tree'

Again! Again!

Harry J Allstars -'Liquidator'

No! No!

Ray Anthony - 'The Hokey Pokey'

Ho-pokey! Again!

Slint - 'Don, Aman' (from the indie-rock classic Spiderland)

No! I don't like it! OFF!

Elvis Presley - The Complete Sun Sessions

Elbis! Again?!

The Gordon Bonham Blues Band - live at the Park in Bloomington

(nods head, claps in time to the music)

...stay tuned for future installments of 2-year-old music critic

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I have been away, in New Orleans and other places

It is true: Bourbon Street is what would happen if all the jocks grabbed their guns, Harris and Klebold style, and took over the country.

While we were there, we saw an awful lot of kids. Unfortunately the 'I got Bourbon faced on shit street' shirts only came in adult sizes.

One Dad was busy passing on his really healthy attitudes towards women to his sons as we walked by. He lifted them up so they were standing on a window ledge on either side of him. In the window was a silhouette of the stripper inside. Somebody took a picture of the three of them for the family album.

Fortunately Bourbon Street is a very small part of New Orleans. We hung out at the Ritz-Carlton and enjoyed all the free drinks and did our best to ignore the long-winded dudes and their wives, some of whom were unnecessarily mean to the staff, or whoever they had on their cell phones at the time. We were possibly the youngest people there who were not with our parents.

The high point was the AirBoat ride through the Bayou. Those things are louder than you can ever know seeing them during their obligatory appearances in any show or movie taking place in Louisiana, and they're very fast, too. The guy who drove us from the hotel to the Bayou was an English dude, and he mentioned how Cajuns marry their cousins 3 or 4 times. He found it really fascinating and odd, yet in England they have the royal family, so it wouldn't seem like such a big novelty.

We got to hold not one but two alligators. I don't believe the alligators dug it very much.

It's a strange place. Definitely a city with its own identity, though.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tivo: Boon or Bane?

Boon: It took me just 20 minutes to watch the finale of 'The Apprentice'.

Bane: Without TiVo, I probably wouldn't have watched the finale of 'The Apprentice'.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Boombastic Radio

It's easy to get the too-much-of-a-good-thing feeling with funk. For example, the comp The Funky 16 Corners features 21 funk tunes (and a break-beat remix by Cut Chemist) that are all fine on their own, and I'm sure they were great as 45s, but I'll be damned if I can listen to it all the way through. It's similar to T-Rex - Greatest Hits 1972-77-B Sides in that way.

Somehow, plays funky music and manages to keep me tuned in for long stretches of time without ever giving me that I ate too much candy feeling. They do that by drawing from various styles either explicitly or implicitly funky: old-school funk, hip-hop, reggae, dub, dancehall, electronic music, and even the occasional surf-rock number. It keeps things interesting, and this is one of those cases where picking out what to play next is being done with admirable skill. The DJs are anonymous, though. They never speak, nor could I name one of them. All you ever hear to remind you it's a radio station is the British guy doing the occasional station ID.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Compare and contrast: New Job vs. Old

I have been at the new job for only 2 weeks, so I can't exactly say I know everything about the place, but there are already some major differences between this place and the last one.

In convenient table form:
New JobOld Job

No questions asked when I requested active noise-canceling headphones to wear in the noisy server room.

When my phone headset broke, I couldn't order a new one because the company was no longer buying them for employees (never mind that 90% of meetings/customer interaction is via phone). I had to ship them back to the manufacturer to get them replaced, and even then I got an urgent email from my boss's boss's secretary demanding I explain the $5 UPS charge.

The building is relatively new, and looks nice from the outside and the inside. The inside is kept clean.

The building was a non-descript downtown Indianapolis building. The interior was reminiscent of a Gulag Inprocessing Center in some Eastern Bloc Regime. There was Cheetos dust on the floor from some guy who was in my cubicle in the 80's.

Employees receive a bonus every quarter when the company achieves its goals for that period.

Employees got a chump change $500 bonus after working 4 days of 12-hour shifts over a weekend while the union went out on a grandstanding strike.

I have met most of the people I work with/for in person and interact with them FTF on a daily basis.

I never met 95% of the people I worked with.

There's an exercise facility with free weights, machines, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and so on. If you want, you can have a trainer assigned to you who will help you meet your fitness goals.

No exercise room, but there is a locker/shower facility featuring posters of runners with 70s hair that runners use. Warm water is available more often than not, but wear flip-flops in the shower, b/c I think I picked up Plantar warts there.

Use of the exercise facilities is approved of and encouraged from the founder of the company on down.

Taking smoke breaks with the boss is the fast track up the corporate ladder.

There are more, but that's plenty for now.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Redneck Playground of Horror

Today after visiting my sister at her new house we took our 2-year-old girl to a playground we had driven by many times. It is in a poor section of Bloomington nicknamed 'Pigeon Hill', but it appeared to be a nice playground all the times we had driven by. Thinking back now, though, there were never any people there when we had driven by. It has fairly nice equipment (at least you can't see the graffiti from the road) including a structure with several slides, one of them a 3 story high corkscrew slide. Our daughter loves slides, so she headed straight for it.

Not long after we arrived an assortment of locals converged on the place. There was a 20-something pudgy white guy with bad skin, bleached hair, and hip-hop clothes including the bandana/baseball cap combo, who was there with his buddy. At first I wondered what was going on with these 2 guys hanging out at the playground, but eventually it became evident they were there with Eminem's girlfriend, 8 months pregnant with presumably Eminem's child, and 5 other little boys besides who probably each had different daddies. I guess Eminem was keeping his distance, because hanging around a woman and a bunch of kids wouldn't look as cool as looking like some rapper pedophile on the prowl.

Pregnant woman's girlfriends were there. They all had tattoos, some had tattoos on their necks. There were no obvious 'white power' or 'Aryan Nation' tattoos, although they were the kind of women you don't want to spend long looking at, for fear a deranged methed-up jealous boyfriend will get the wrong idea and suddenly appear out of nowhere and tear you to pieces like a mother bear when you step between her and her cubs.

Pregnant girl's friends complimented her that 'you don't look 8 months pregnant'. I don't believe in my teens - early 20s I would have had any idea what various stages of pregnancy looked like. Anyhow, she looked like she had a whole basketball in there, or maybe a whole fetal basketball team. She looked plenty pregnant to me.

Around this time I am pushing the baby girl on the swing, trying to look like I'm not freaked out by everything, and in the distance I see a really skinny guy who at first looks black. Then he looks like he's wearing Al Jolson blackface minstrel makeup. Then he gets closer and his face looks all black and grimy, and I wonder between that and the way he's walking wobbly if he is just staggering away from a meth lab explosion.

He's there with his girlfriend/wife, a good twenty years older than he. He's holding her hand either out of affection or to keep from falling down. Their young daughter(?) is there too, stopped halfway down a slide with no apparent intention of going anywhere or doing anything.

All the while there's some shady guy sitting alone in a truck in the parking lot (which is even causing the tattoo girls some concern as to what he's up to), and some people in separate cars arrive and conduct some dubious transaction and leave. We let our daughter do the big slide one last time before we get the hell out.

We tell baby it's time to leave, and the tantrum starts. I pick her up, put her in the car seat in our conspicuously new Prius and we get the hell out as fast as hybrid synergy drive can take us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Great timing

On Friday morning, the boss gave me the scoop that a couple people are leaving in two weeks due to outsourcing, and I get to be the lucky guy to support and write up all the specs for their stuff (as well as my own) to hand off to the offshore crew. He described a future of writing more specs, and my job would evolve into a job encompassing all the tedious aspects of software work, without any of that fun stuff (writing actual code) that makes the tedium tolerable.

On Friday afternoon, I got a call from a place where I've wanted to work for years, offering me a job.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rock Criticism in Crisis

Frank Zappa once said 'writing about music is like dancing about architecture', but he also released an album that sounded like somebody gave 80's Midi-based music composition software to a chimpanzee (Jazz from Hell), so it's not like everything he said or did was essential. The truth is, there was a time when it was actually interesting to read music writing, particularly from the likes of Griel Marcus or Lester Bangs. Bangs' review of what's arguably the best rock album ever, Fun House by The Stooges (the article was entitled 'Of Pop and Pies and Fun: A Program for Mass Liberation in the Form of a Stooges Reveiw, or, Who's the Fool?') would be required reading for all up-and-coming rock critics if rock writing had a future, which it doesn't.

MP3 and peer-to-peer technology have thrown the music business into turmoil that's been the source of much Schadenfreude for the 99.99% of rock bands that are either never signed or are screwed over and left bankrupt by labels, and rock writing is the remora that's not only forced to sweat the shark's well-being, but also finds itself threatened in other ways.

As recently as 5 years ago, a rock writer could write a review telling you how the new album by the Minions sounds like James Brown smoking a joint with Willie Nelson at Studio 54, and you'd be forced to take his word for it. To some degree you might actually make buy/don't buy decisions about music based on a review, because if you didn't own the album, you might not have a chance to hear it. Nowadays you can obtain a copy of the album over the internet, or even go the legitamate route of listening to samples on iTunes, and find out for yourself what the music really sounds like (specifically, Sly Stone doing bong hits with George Strait at a rave).

Even where reviews are concerned, there are plenty to be found at sites like, written for free, often of comparable or superior quality to what you'll find in magazines on sale at a local bookstore.

Actually, if anything, the reviews at and elsewhere are more credible, because often a reviewer will write about an album that really, really, sucks and tell you it sucks. A writer for Rolling Stone would give the album two stars (out of five) at worst. And Rolling Stone is hardly unusual in that. I recently picked up a copy of 'Filter' and 34 of the 42 albums they reviewed scored above 80%. The lowest score was 53% for 'Around the Sun', by REM. But, as they themselves say in that review,

as everyone else knows, REM's latest offering is an infuriatingly lifeless turd chock-full of bad poetry and plodding adult rock.

so it's not like there's any big scoop there, or even the kind of guilty pleasure hatchet job that sometimes livens up a dull review section.

Essentially, rock writers seemed scared to death of saying anything bad about anything they review, which doesn't do wonders for the credibility. It reminds me of when I worked for a large record company with a website that sold CDs, and the latest incarnation of the marketing staff (they turned over every 6 months or so, yet each incarnation seemed to have exactly the same grand creative out-of-the-box ideas as their predecessor) decided to add ratings to their site as part of their ongoing top secret strategy: 'copying other, better music sites'. They used the 5 star system, with a helpful legend designed by that week's graphic design team explaining what all the ratings meant. It started at one star, meaning 'OK' (?!??), and went up to 5 stars, meaning 'call the crime scene cleanup crew to come over before you put this on, because you are sure to have such an overpowering orgasmic reaction your head will explode like that famous scene in the movie Scanners' (actually the description for the 5 star rating was more concise. I never claimed to have what it takes to write copy for marketing). I believe in early stages of that project there was a push to not allow ratings below three stars, but declaring by fiat that one star meant 'OK' was the compromise they agreed on (before dispersing for salads and /or cocaine for lunch). I don't know what the site has today, because, frankly, there are a million and one better places to buy music online, and I'm a Luddite who prefers buying music from a real person in a real store who appears to give a shit about music anyway.

The morals of this story are:
  • the blog format works best when articles are kept reasonably short, as in brief
  • large record companies are soul-less robot-like entities
  • the Rock Critics at Rolling Stone and Filter are ball-less wonders! Nyah!

Friday, March 04, 2005

...and they'll know we are Christians by our love

From the Martinsville Reporter-Times Letter to The Editor Section:

Letter 1:

Christian beliefs were built into the Constitution because they were Christians and they founded this nation as a Christian nation. Anyone who tries to change that or the intentions of our founding fathers is, in my opinion, a traitor to this great nation and its people, and for that they should be tried and shot for treason. For in my eyes, that's what they are doing; committing treason.

I guess they never got around to shooting that traitor, Thomas Jefferson:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.]

I sure wish we had a president like that today, but Karl Rove would probably deep-six him in the primaries with push polls and whisper campaigns about Sally Hemmings.

Letter 2:

When this country was founded, 98.4 percent of the people were Christian Protestants of various denominations, about 1.4 percent were Catholic and 0.2 percent were of the Jewish faith.

That seems like a low percentage for the Jewish faith. Did they count the Jewish Indians, like Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles?

BTW, in the irony in advertising department, both these letters feature an 'IQ Question' banner ad at the bottom.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Spotlight on: Church Signs

This week's spotlight shines on Eastview Christian Church of Martinsville, with messages for both east and west bound motorists.

Those going east see 'The greatest evil is our indifference to evil'. Of course, even if you aren't indifferent to evil, and you write a strongly-worded letter to the editor, or you put a yellow ribbon magnet (easy-off!) on your car or something, it may not make a bit of difference anyway. But I guess the point is: don't be indifferent to evil.

Those traveling west see an old favorite of mine, 'We live simply so that others may simply live'. This quote is credited to Elizabeth Seton, American saint and the founder of the Sisters of Charity. And judging by the parking lot full of monster trucks and SUVs, I can see that the parishoners are committed to this credo. The irony is richer when you consider that some of their ancestors may have been in D.C. Stephenson's camp when the Klan ruled Indiana and a big part of their agenda was getting rid of Papists like...Elizabeth Seton (well, not her specifically, she died in 1821).

Friday, February 18, 2005

Press Release: Steve retires from competitive running

Steve announced today that he is retiring from competitive running. After setting PRs , earning 10s of dollars worth of gift certificates as prizes, and generally having the best year of his 4-year running career in 2004, Steve was sidelined by a knee injury that was later diagnosed as arthritis. This caused him to miss the Chicago 2004 Marathon, causing more disappointment than Bob Kennedy's aborted New York Marathon 2004 attempt, at least for all of Steve's family, friends and acquaintances who are not that into running, and thus have no idea who the hell Bob Kennedy is.

"I have no regrets," Steve said in an emotional farewell address on his blog, Words Of Advice For Young People. "I had some great moments last year, including coming in 3rd in that race where it was hot and nobody seemed to be able to deal with it, and the trophy I got for coming in second in my age group at that 10K that was made by some elementary school kids in their art class is in a place of honor on the bookshelf in my office. Of course I have to give thanks to my support network: my wife, parents and of course my baby girl. I will continue to run and even run in the occasional race, but if you pass me, it won't count, because I won't be racing."

Steve later added that he was not necessarily ruling out a return to running in the future, especially if advances in nano-technology provide us with microscopic machines that can re-build joints damaged by the ravages of arthritis, but at that point he really started rambling, and as a courtesy to Steve, we will not re-print the full transcript of his comments here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Quick on-line comic big up

I can't believe I never heard of achewood until yesterday. I can believe I didn't know until today that Charles Mingus wrote a pamphlet on how to get a cat to use the toilet. Oh, definitely a link to a page showing a picture and text from said pamphlet is in order.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

'Rich Dad Poor Dad's' author disses dad for dollars

‘What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money – That the Poor and Middle Class do Not!’ exclaims the blurb on the front cover of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and this drew me in. I have had a gut-level suspicion for years that rich people just aren’t like the rest of us. It’s reinforced when I hear about things like Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and his $6,000 shower curtain. You have to really think highly of yourself to believe you need a $6,000 shower curtain, to not cheat yourself by settling for a piece of crap that costs $600. So I was pre-disposed to like what Mr. Kiyosaki had to say. At the very least I was curious. While I am not rich, I have enough disposable income for impulse buys on, so the book was in my mailbox a few days later.

The central story (some would call it mythology) of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ goes like this: Kiyosaki’s real father, the superintendent of education for the public school system of Hawaii (not exactly a piddly job), was ‘poor Dad’, who embraced middle class values (specifically: working hard at a job your whole life and saving along the way). Kiyosaki’s friend Mike’s dad was ‘rich Dad’, a sort of undifferentiated entrepreneurial type who represented the value system and way of thinking of the wealthy (in a nutshell: take risks, make money ‘work for you’, ‘pay yourself first’ to give yourself greater motivation to make money to pay your creditors). Young Kiyosaki and Mike became Daniel-san type apprentices to ‘Rich Dad’, who taught them lessons like ‘working a day job is for suckers’ by making them work in a little store he owned. Kiyosaki embraces the lessons taught to him by ‘Rich Dad’, and refers to them throughout the book. His real father, ‘Poor Dad’, gets the consolation prize of being ‘not an example to others, but rather a warning’.

My attitude toward Kiyosaki soured as I read the book. What kind of jackass puts down his Dad in order to sell books? Why would Kiyosaki need to do this, especially if, as he claims, he has ‘escaped the Rat Race’ and doesn’t really need the money? Further, why is Kiyosaki running all over the world hustling his books and games (Cashflow! - the Prologue is kind of an infomercial for it) if he's independently wealthy? These and other questions along those lines were raised during the course of reading the book. It took a while to read it, as it was gradually demoted from primary reading material to bathroom reading.

I tried to look past Kiyosaki’s shameful disrespect for his own father (another question, perhaps not a politically correct one: isn't respect for one's family typically highly encouraged and valued in Asian cultures?) in order to learn things that might make me a better father for my little girl, at least where money management was concerned. She may yet grow up to write a book maligning me or a thinly veiled fictionalization of me, but I don’t want that to be due to laziness or negligence on my part.

Kiyosaki seems to have made most of his money through real-estate transactions and management of rental properties. The book is full of little anecdotes about his clever deals. The book gets to be like listening to some rich guy tell you about himself while you drive him to the airport.

At one point, Kiyosaki sheds the burden of credibility completely, saying he encourages people to get involved in multi-level marketing. At this point the bull-shit detector could no longer be ignored. After some further investigation, I found that Kiyosaki does have an affiliation with Amway, and supposedly was unable to get his book published until he hooked up with the MLM crowd. For further info, see this email to John T. Reed on his website.

John T. Reed also has a pretty thorough analysis of Kiyosaki’s book, including interesting investigation into whether or not Kiyosaki really is who he says he is (what he finds out about Kiyosaki suggests that rather than having some master plan for life, Kiyosaki kind of drifted from one thing to another until he found something that worked for him, which would make him just like every other schlub out there trying to get by).

The Reed analysis makes for more interesting reading than Kiyosaki’s book. FWIW, Kiyosaki replied to Reed's criticisms, although his response mostly seems to be a defensive effort to scrape together support for his thesis that 'most rich people have sub-exceptional intelligence'.

If you're interested in learning more about money and investing, there’s no need to give up hope. There are some good books and resources out there about investing and money. I’ll talk about other stuff I’ve read or am reading in the future.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Vitamin World Tried to Kill Me!

They didn't use a bomb or gun!
V-dub tried to kill me!
Home Boys watch out for this one!

(shamelessly ripped off from Ice T's 'The Girl Tried To Kill Me')

A couple years ago I read some scary article about how athletes were dropping dead left and right because they weren't properly replenishing the minerals they lost through their dangerously non-sedentary lifestyles. I was and still am a runner and decidedly non-sedentary, and I was influenced by this article more than I like to admit. I ran out and bought some 'Colloidal Mineral Source' at Vitamin World. Then I took it home and read the label (and you can, too). I noticed it contained:

  • Cadmium - I knew this was bad from the old Superchunk song of the same name.
  • Thallium- I knew this was bad from one of the Discovery Channel 'real life detective' shows where the super-genius guy tried to kill his neighbors.
To be fair, it's not in a lead bottle or anything, but that label scared me so much I threw the bottle out. I still get spam from them to this day. It's like having a guy who pointed a gun at you in traffic drive by your house slowly from time to time.

I'm sure Vitamin World's other products are great. Just be careful is all I'm saying. There's Cadmium in cigarette smoke, and those are sold in drug stores all over the country, so how bad can it be?