Obscure comic-book note

So, I watched Superman Returns. Oh, Bryan Singer, how did you fall so far?

But rather than dwelling on its many issues–starting, I think, with its desire to reference the 1970s movies to a fault, and ending with it’s conveniently fluid take on the effects of kryptonite on Superman–I will take the time to note that James Marsden has played a comic-book character on screen (Cyclops) who, in an issue of the comic book (X-Men #176) has also ended up in a bad situation in an amphibious plane.

Useful knowledge? Hells no. But the moment I saw him in the plane, that’s what I thought of.

I’m sad to hear Middleman isn’t doing well

So, on the recommendation of a total stranger, and, honestly, because it is so easy and free of downsides to try stuff this way, I started TiVOing The Middleman.

I have a vague memory of actually seeing ads for it, but seriously, “ABC Family” isn’t generally targetting me as their demographic.

Except, apparently, when they are.

The show is funny and smart–some of the jokes really make me reach to catch them. That puts it in a league with Thomas Pynchon. How the hell did something like that end up on television?

Unfortunately–and I guess in a way I’m not surprised–I hear that it isn’t doing so hot. That makes me sad. But at least you will all have the opportunity to tune in for the remaining episodes. And maybe if enough of you do, there will be more. It’s a virtuous circle.

OK, it’s a clever idea, I wonder if it’ll find developers…

The OpenStomp Coyote-1 is now shipping.

It’s a clever idea–most guitar pedals are just software these days, why not have one where you can blow new programs onto it when you want. Especially when it’s heart is an 8-core processor targeted at the application in question.

The question is, will the community that it needs in order thrive come into existence. Since the software for managing it is currently Windows-only, I don’t expect to find out any time soon.

Still, interesting.


An excellent choice for children!

From Sci-Fi Wire:

Vin Diesel told reporters that it’s still his ultimate goal to produce and star in a live-action film based on the life of Hannibal, but that in the meantime he’s producing and directing Hannibal the Conqueror, a children’s animated series about the third-century B.C. Carthaginian general who rode an elephant across the Alps in order to attack the Roman empire.

This sounds cuddly as all hell. I’m sure there will be lots of funny elephants, and probably a second-in-command who’s just a little bit dumb, but is always amusingly abashed when he figures out he’s gotten things wrong. And a moral for each story. And probably lots of stabbing and trampling and people falling off the sides of mountains.

No, wait, instead it’ll be:

So it’s Hannibal as a boy. So it’s like the boy and an elephant.

The mind boggles, or, more properly, keels over in exhaustion.

Surely, surely, surely this is blasphemy?

I pass along the Balloon Jesus pictures. Via

Incidentally, as a consequence of this post, The Catholic League wants Bitch, Ph.D. to be de-credentialed at the Democratic National Convention.

No, I’m not kidding.

Of course, the Catholic League are apparently not smart enough to figure out that Bitch, Ph.D. was actually commenting negatively on the pictures, suggesting that it is so bad for presumably-practicing Christians to show such a trivializing attitude attitude toward their savior–in this case making balloon figures of Jesus being crucified–that professed non-believers find it offensive.

I’m not even certain this half-paragraph actually even make sense:

The writer then objects to some children’s toys on the grounds that they are more offensive than desecrating the Eucharist. The toys are actually balloons that have been made to depict Jesus in various poses, including a crucified Christ; one of these images shows Jesus with a penis. Several who commented on this image made patently obscene comments.

You’d think that if TCL wanted to be upset about someone suggesting the pictures were more offensive than desecrating the Eucharist, they wouldn’t mention that one of them inexplicably has Jesus with a balloon penis?

Are You Somebody?

Nuala O'Faolain's Are You Somebody

When she died earlier this year, Fresh Air rebroadcast an interview they had done several years earlier with Nuala O’Faolain. I caught part of it on the way home from, if I remember correctly, a yoga class.

I think the thing that struck me most about the interview was about how she spoke about the problem of finding a meaning and a center to your life if you reject the things that traditionally define women’s lives–marriage and children. Effectively, she said, you have to go it alone, figuring out the meaning for yourself, because the answer is going to be different for everyone.

So, before we went to the beach, I picked up a copy. It made it to the top of the stack several days ago, and I just finished it last week.

It’s not really beach reading.

It is beautiful and evocative and bleak and blasted. I fear that she never did really figure out how to define herself. Her entire life, as she tells it, seems to be a fight between the recapitulation of her mother’s unhappy life and the knowledge that that path wouldn’t make her happy. But she never seems to find a path that does, or that would at least start down the road to happiness.

I guess the most interesting thing to me was that she eschews the status of victim–she knows she’s confused about what her own priorities are and what would make her happy, and although she sees the roots of it in her early family life and the cultural milieu in which she grew up, she doesn’t assume that it is beyond her control to change…even though, end the end, it seems it may have been.

Whoa, that’s weird

So, there’s an Anusara Yoga Teacher Training I just applied to that’s going to be held in Cambridge, MA. I figured I’d apply to it because I know the area well; in fact, I might even be able to crash with people in the area, thereby making the overall experience much cheaper.

So I got the address for the place the event is going to be held and brought it up on Google Maps. Turns out it’s right next to the Porter Square station on the Red Line, which is convenient. I know many great places to eat not but a couple of stops away from there.

And then I started spelunking around.

I checked out the street view of the house we lived in. I scrolled the street view, watching familiar places go by. I shivered.

I haven’t been back to good old St. Botolph’s Town since late 2000. There were many things I loved about the place–I could rattle off the list of things I would do if I were up there for a week, many involving food–but something about having this very visual remembrance presented to me was kind of unsettling. It was a little too much deja vu. I think it was disturbing, In part, because I feel so remote from the person I was 14 years ago when we left, or, for that matter, the person I was when I was last there almost 8 years ago. To see these things from where I am now feels a little like a pull back towards that person. Going to Tuscaloosa also feels like that.

Once place I would be amused to stop by, though, would be the place Anne and I got married.

Oh, and, of course, Moody’s Falafel Palace. Incomparable.

The easy way to set up postfix and mlmmj

I needed a mailing list manager for a new project, and, honestly, I’m a little sick of Mailman–it has tons of features I don’t use, but one fundamental feature I’d like, archive indexing and searching, is grossly deficient (the only option, which has been maintained as a patch for the last 7 or 8 years, only really supports ht://Dig, which has been moribund for about that whole time)–so I decided to try something that might be no better, but at least was lightweight. So I installed mlmmj.

And then I discovered that all the documentation for how to configure it with postfix was absurdly complex, at least for my situation, where I was dedicating a whole subdomain (lists.gurave.org) to it.

So, here it is, my take on how to marry mlmmj to postfix. I have successfully subscribed one address to it so far, but there’s no reason it has to be more trouble than this.

Step 1. Add an mlmmj transport to your postfix master.cf file:

mlmmj     unix  -       n       n       -       -       pipe

flags=DORhu user=nobody argv=/usr/bin/mlmmj-recieve -L /var/spool/mlmmj/${user}/

Step 2. Set up your subdomain to use the new transport (this can be set on an individual address basis using either regexes or individual entries, but hell, everyone uses lists.foo.com these days). It can contain:

lists.gurave.org        mlmmj:

Step 3. Configure postfix to handle the subdomain and use the transport file to route messages (and don’t hand more than one to mlmmj at once):

mlmmj_destination_recipient_limit = 1

relay_domains = lists.gurave.org

transport_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/transport

Step 4. There is no Step 4. You’re done. Seriously.

Of course, if I’ve missed something, I hope someone will let me know, but I don’t see why it has to be any more than this.

Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness

No doubt I’m late to the party.

Nevertheless, I just finished Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I’d certainly recommend it to people, though, like Daniel Pound, my late, admired Professor of Political Science, I doubt it’ll really change your mind, but it’ll give you a better vocabulary with which to articulate your assumptions.

It has many compelling things to say about the wild divergence between reality and how we, as humans, deal with the prospect of the future, and how our focus on the future influences our ability to be happy in the present.

A lot of it comes down to the fact that we are poor judges of what will serve to make us happy or unhappy–our memories of things that have affected our happiness become too muted to quickly, and are colored too much by how we feel most recently, or sometimes right now, and besides, we’re just not too good at really assessing things in any relative fashion at all.

(In a way, it’s sort of an argument against Intelligent Design, too–if the designer was so damned intelligent, how, exactly, did he come up with this mess?)

Now I will concede that I have fallen prey to exactly these issues at lunch today–I had a brownie at the end whose sugar content is currently playing hell with my metabolism and making me jittery and achy, as the same item at the same place has done many times in the past–but on the big things, not so much.

I don’t generally feel a lot of buyer’s remorse, for instance. Especially in the last several years, I tend to hold off buying something until I feel certain that it’s going to fulfill my needs, and I’m going to use it enough to warrant it. As a consequence, I am often inordinately pleased with whatever it is, because it does fill a gap.

Also, although I consider myself an optimist, I don’t generally anticipate or expect great things for the future. The future is, in my opinion, going to look a lot like the past–we’ll muddle through, somehow.

And I don’t tend to plan too far into the future–I mean, how can I really know what’s going to be gong on in five years? Funny enough, I can trace this habit directly to reading Tolstoy’s What Men LIve By at some point in middle-school.

Mostly, I try to achieve happiness with whatever I have right now. For a long time, there was a part of me that rebelled against that idea–being OK with what you happen to have sounds an awful lot like just what the Oligarchy wants. But I have come to realize that there’s a difference between contentment and apathy. You can be engaged, but content, and that’s the place I want to be.

Bike geeks

I do believe bike geeks can be even more withering towards the novice bicyclist than computer geeks are towards the novice computer user.

Just sayin’.

Watchmen is either going to rock…

or it’s going to suck so badly no one will be able to escape its event horizon.

In the “hope for the former” arena, we have side-by-side versions of the original ads and movie posters that show that there’s a fair bit of attention being paid to the source material. It’s almost slavish, except, honestly, I like it better than Dave Gibbons’ art, which was always the low point of book for me.


Rockwood Filling Station

On a lark last night, Anne and I went to the Rockwood Filling Station, a new pizza place in Durham.

The pizza was very good. I do think you have to think a little differently when you’re talking about wood-fired ovens–don’t expect to get a pizza with lots of vegetation on it, because they’re a pain to par-cook, but pizza is in the oven for such a short time, they’d still be crunchy if you tried to cook them using its heat.

It’s not huge, so you might call ahead–(919) 401-9005–though we got a table immediately on a Saturday night at 7:45pm. They did try to hand us the check before we’d had a chance to order dessert–but it’s only been open for three weeks, so some hiccups in service are not unexpected.

CD Purchases

I’ve been dividing my purchases of late between new material by artists I enjoy (Nine Inch Nails, Daniel Lanios, others) and old material that I used to be able to borrow from Chet and Patrick, and thus have had no real contact with for the last 16 years or so.

With that in mind, I picked up Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits and the Doors L.A. Woman. It’s funny, because I picked up the Doors disc in order to be able to, eventually, get rid of the Greatest Hits collection I have for the Doors–I still need Soft Parade and Strange Days–while I picked up the Heartbreakers disc because I didn’t want to embark on the task of working through their catalog.

I’m really enjoying the Tom Petty, but I still can’t figure out why I made what is a fairly uncharacteristic move–buying a collection. I usually like a lot of stuff that never makes Greatest HIts collections; I know it’s definitely true of the two Tom Petty albums I’m most familiar with. Oh, well, I suppose I would be bored if I wasn’t somehow a mystery to myself.

Apropos of nothing other than the fact that I’m discussing Petty, I will mention my favorite line on all of Petty’s Full Moon Fever:

Well I’ve been to Booker,
and I’ve been to Micanopy,
I’ve been to St. Louis too,
I’ve been all around the world.

I remember well my surprise, the first time we drove from Miami north and passed a sign for Micanopy. It is, unsurprisingly, not far from Gainesville

A fascinating video concerning abortion protesters

Someone interviewed anti-abortion protesters. The inverviewer asked them, politely, for the most part, the logical question: “If abortion were to be made illegal, what should the punishment be for those women who would have them anyway?”

Admittedly, there may have been people who had coherent, affirmative answer to the question and weren’t included in the video, but the only person who ended up in this edit that was willing to actually say yes was obviously conflicted and unhappy about saying so.
Cognitive dissonance like that is, in my experience, a sign that you’re on the wrong track–if you’re driven by your conscience to do something, but your conscience also tells you that the logical outcome of your actions is wrong, you must step back and reasses what you really want to achieve.

It’s definitely worth watching.

(via Bitch Ph.D.)

I guess it’s just as well I’ve been throwing away the Emily’s List solicitations

I mean, if they’re going to support candidates that indulge in race-baiting I just don’t think they need my money. And I’m happy to make sure that people know what they’re involved in.

The funny thing is, I actually hold those with whom I have more in common to a higher standard than I do those with whom I disagree. It pisses me off a lot more when people that I am (generally) ideologically aligned with sell out than when people who I am in opposition to do. I guess it’s a soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations thing.

But it means that the inevitable calls I’ve gotten from the DSCC or the Obama campaign have all ended with me explaining that I won’t give money to a candidate or candidates who are willing to grant retroactive sanction to illegal wiretaps.

Also, “Stranglehold”

How is it that I end up watching two things (Season 3, Pt 1 of Entourage and Superbad) inside a couple of weeks that have Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold in the soundtracks?

Not one, but two “Does not compute” items

First, Helena Bonham Carter is on track to be the bad-guy in the next Terminator movie. Which is frigging bizarre and inexplicable. I mean, Christian Bale has been in enough stuff like that (Reign of Fire anyone?) that I didn’t bat an eye–but other than Planet of the Apes (which I’ve always assumed was the casting equivelent of a mercy-fuck for Tim Burton), HBC has generally steered clear of quite such popcorn-y movies.

But if that weren’t enough, she’s replacing Tilda Swinton. Weirder and weirder.

This must be one frigging magical script, especially given that the director, “McG” has done nothing to suggest that he’s not a hack.

Two things I did at the beach

Perhaps I should say, two unobvious things I did while we were at the beach.

I played Super Mario Kart on a Wii. I suck at Super Mario Kart. In fact, I think I just suck at most fast-twitch games, period. They just move too fast for me. In SMK this manifested as a tendency to run into walls and off the road. Oh, well. Just as in college, where I would happily drink beer and watch Patrick and Joe play Sonic the Hedgehog, I was perfectly content to watch and enjoy.

I also played Rock Band. I suck at Rock Band, too. Interestingly, I suck at Rock Band because I’m unable to disengage from the music and play it as a game. I know too much about how to play, I end up far too attuned to trying to figure out the actual music, and thus lose sight of the real task, pressing buttons in time with lights on screen.

In fact, on the couple of songs that I had never heard, I was able to do OK. On the songs I was familiar with, I could do decent once I had the patterns of the song down. On songs I am intimately familiar with–those that I actually play myself–I was a disaster.