Ah, Andre, we hardly knew ye

OK, so guest starring on ER would have hardly been a significant feather in his cap, but oh how it hurts to hear that Andre Braugher turned that down to be in the second Fantastic Four movie.

I rented the first one, and still felt a bit cheated. I can’t imagine the second would be any better. But who know, I suppose they could really pull out the stops and Do Galactus Right.

And the newsmedia wonders why no one takes them seriously anymore?

What a bunch of fucking slackers.

No, I’m not talking about their shitty reporting on the run-up to war, or their unwillingness to hold a crap administration’s feet to the fire for what they’re not doing for the American people.

No, right now I’m talking about unattributed theft of text from Wikipedia. To wit (from the Fetus In Fetu article on WP):

Fetus in fetu (or Foetus in foeto) describes an extremely rare abnormality that involves a fetus getting trapped inside of its twin. It continues to survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cord-like structure that leeches its twin’s blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.

From an ABC news article on someone so afflicted:

It is an extremely rare abnormality that involves a fetus getting trapped inside of its twin. The trapped fetus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cord-like structure that leeches its twin’s blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.

Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if, by now, they’ve not realized they’ve been called and have changed the text…which is even more chickenshit.

But could they really make it incoherent enough?

So, apparently Christopher Nolan is almost on board to direct a movie version of The Prisoner.

Now I don’t really remember much about the original show–even though MTV rebroadcast it while I was in college (I had no TV, and, honestly, I really didn’t miss it)–but the lasting impression I have is one of a show playing “hide the ball” with important bits of information to the point of incoherence. While I don’t mind that per se–and maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so had the show not had a very short run, meaning they perhaps weren’t able to explain things they intended to later–I have to wonder how that would play with mainstream movie audiences.

Still, with a good writing team, I would expect Chris Nolan to be able to make a credible go of it.

Haven’t looked at the stats in a while

Given my repeated and persistent absences from posting, it should come as little surprise that I also haven’t bothered to look at my web stats either. Given that this whole edifice is about my narcissistic need to make my snappy patter available to the web, how could it not hurt to find out that my never-exactly-legion fans had abandoned me?

Anyway, just because I haven’t looked at them doesn’t mean that the stats haven’t been collected, and after a week of blogging a couple of stories a day, I figured, “What the hell?”

Well, the numbers are the numbers–ultimately, I don’t believe that I’ve had 62 distinct visitors in the last 8 days, etc., etc. Most of it is probably just bot traffic, etc. But the thing that always makes this worthwhile are the searches. Sadly Live Sex Chet is nowhere to be found, but we do get:

1) do the heathen go to heaven?

and

2) two queries about coordinates from Feasting On Asphalt, which makes me think there’s an audience for someone to scribble down the coordinates and post them on a blog. Perhaps that will be me.

NPR to the rescue

So, my dad and I have had a long-running debate over whether or not we should be including spam with so-called “Poison Paragraphs” in the corpus we hand-manage for AnteSpam’s Bayesian database.

I’ve long maintained that the right solution is to just bung it in there–the text that is generally being inserted is generally far too atypical of real emails to make a difference. Dad was more hesitant.

With this in mind, I tried to be gracious when he called to mention that NPR had a story, including an interview with Paul Graham, the guy who first proposed using Bayesian analysis, who confirmed that it really wasn’t a problem.

Wow

OK, so Chris Toshok has apparently been dinking away with making Turtle, which I gather is a GPS-monitoring package of some sort, hook up with F-Spot, so that, based on timestamps in your photos, you can pinpoint where they were taken.

And then you can export the locations of the photos to google maps and the like.

It’s apparently all very much under development, doesn’t yet work for anyone else, etc., and, for all I know, it may already be a feature of every commercial photo management package in the world. But damn, it sure seems like a neat idea.

I had an interesting realization the other day

As I was tooling around the UNC campus, playing musical subversive (that is, playing whatever mix CD I had in the car at moderate-to-loud volume in the hopes of making the lives of people I passed a little more surreal when things went from, say, Beck to Earth, Wind & Fire), I came to a stop sign. At these points I usually turn down the stereo a little, and I kind of idly noted that this was probably a kind move for the older, almost elderly gentleman passing in front of me, though it was just Dear Prudence on at the time, so it’s not like it’s all that abrasive.

And then it hit me–this song is nearly 40 years old. A guy as mobile as this one was couldn’t be more than, say, 70, which means he was 30 tops when this came out. Hell, this guy could easily have been a Beatles fan. And yet the track doesn’t sound dated at all.

Incidentally, it was apparently written for Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence. I forget where I heard this.

They’re more like cows in India

The Guardian, of all places (think: newspaper from cold & dreary nation reporting on happenings in subtropical island paradise), has a story about the US DOA possibley fining the Hemingway House $200/day for its cats.

Having been there a couple of times, I know that I would not want to be one of those cats–there are 46 of them, and there’s no real way even an institution can really claim to be taking care of them. Sure, they’re putting food out, and I have no doubt that many of the part-time docents really do care about particular cats, but there’s just not enough attention to go around.

No, those cats are feral but habituated to being around people, much, I suspect, like the cows in India, which are allowed to roam, and regarded with affection, but rarely actually cared for. I seem to remember that many are diseased (tuberculosis comes to mind, but geez, that’s got to be wrong, I hope), and since they belong to no one, their lives are, perhaps, not what they might have been.

If you like Alton Brown

Consider setting your TiVo to record Alton Brown’s new show Feasting On Asphalt (there’s no good link, sadly).

I watched the first episode last night (I had recorded it on Saturday or whenever it first showed), and it was interesting–the discussion of how mass culture has impacted regional food and small establishments, how changes in the automobile did the same (listen closely for the comment on the ’57 Chevy Bel-Air), so on and so forth.

The most interesting thing, though, was the fact that for all the places he stops, he gives lat-long coordinates. If you have an in-car GPS, you should be able to find any of them. That seems to me to make the whole process something more than your usual “lifestyle program” that natters about places that you’re never really expected to go.

It *is* unreasonably fucking great

Apparently Tim Bray’s Mac died. While it’s in the shop, he elected to use Ubuntu on a Sun Ultra 20. His experience appears to have been positive so far, but the best line is almost certainly:

You know, this has been said a lot, but it bears repeating: Apt-get is just so unreasonably fucking great. Why aren’t we using it for Solaris updates? I managed to pull together the whole witches’ brew of OSS that makes ongoing go without ever leaving Synaptic. Oops, not quite true, I cruised past CPAN to get DBI and DBD::MySQL, but I’m not sure I needed to, because when I got MySQL, I saw a lot of perl-related stuff go flying by.

Which brings me to this IM conversation with Chet from early June (which I just found with Beagle, which I only just got working yesterday. It’s pretty neat):

Chet Farmer: Mmmmmm, loves me some apt-get

Michael Alan Dorman: Yea, verily, it is sweet.

Michael Alan Dorman: I suspect few people know that apt, in general, was a topic of much heated debate when it was first proposed, and then later when it had hit the “it basically works” stage and was being reviewed for inclusion. Primary complaint: it was written in C++, not C.

Chet Farmer: Seriously?

Chet Farmer: I mean, C++ isn’t exactly obscure.

Chet Farmer: I must admit, however, that it’s been YEARS since I compiled any code I wrote.

Michael Alan Dorman: This was basically a decade ago. Hell, I will even admit that I was on the “please do it in C” side, though it was mostly because I was deeply embroiled in the early stages of the alpha port which had no reliable C++ compiler at the time.

Chet Farmer: heh. Alphas.

Michael Alan Dorman: And, indeed, the alpha port couldn’t use apt for quite some time after it was available. There used to be a competing thing called…err, shit, I can’t even remember.

Michael Alan Dorman: dpkg-ftp, maybe?

Chet Farmer: hell if I now

Michael Alan Dorman: I am now feeling a thousand years old.

Chet Farmer: know

Chet Farmer: not quite a thousand.

Michael Alan Dorman: The fact is, a lot of KDE people forget that back when the GNOME project was first started, using C++ wasn’t just a personal taste thing, it was a “it doesn’t work well on Linux” thing. Well, and there was the Qt license.

So, while you might be justified in suggesting that they should have expended effort helping with gcc development, it wasn’t just a rejection of C++ on petty grounds.

Chet Farmer: “doesn’t fit well with Linux?”

Michael Alan Dorman: Well, “Doesn’t work anywhere but i386”.

Since I contain multitudes…

..it is entirely possible for me to view the whole Harry Potter business with a certain benign affection, even while agreeing with A.S. Byatt’s rather negative assessment of the books (though perhaps I’m biased by the fact that she recognizes the skill in Terry Pratchett’s work).

But mild affection would never move me to public declarations (well, aside from this), so I can only assume that Stephen King and John Irving feel something more than this. What a world we live in.

I find myself cutting back

Not about stuff like work and coding and so forth, but about trying to keep up with so much stuff.

I purged about a dozen blogs from my reader yesterday, mostly political ones, some of which I had been pulling for nigh on two years. I find myself deleting Daily Show episodes from the TiVO unviewed. I am still reading The New Yorker from cover to cover, but it can be a bit of a slog.

I know, intellectually, that the world isn’t going to shit any more than it has been on most other days in the last two centuries, but hearing relentless bad news is getting a little old.