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Mon, Nov. 1st, 2004, 09:17 pm
loo: (no subject)

"It appears that at least 90% of the universe, and perhaps as much as 99%, is composed of Fritz Zwicky's "dark matter" - stuff that by its nature is invisible to us. It is slightly galling to think that we live in a universe that, for the most part, we can't even see, but there you are. At least the names for the two main possible culprits are entertaining: they are said to be either WIMPs (for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, which is to say specks of invisible matter left over from the Big Bang) or MACHOs (for MAssive Compact Halo Objects - really just another name for black holes, brown dwarfs, and other very dim stars).

Particle physicists have tended to favor the particle explanation of WIMPs, astrophysicists the stellar explanation of MACHOs. For a time MACHOs had the upper hand, but not nearly enough of them were found, so sentiment swung back toward WIMPs but with the problem that no WIMP has ever been found. Because they are weakly interacting they are (assuming they even exist) very hard to detect."

-from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

If you get the chance and you haven't already - check this one out. This book is a great read if you're in the mood for something a little more consuming than "Must See TV".

Mon, Nov. 1st, 2004, 03:09 pm
christianneil: (no subject)

1n 1994, Bill Gates purchased one of Leonardo da Vinci's original notebooks at an auction for $30.8 million dollars, and released the manuscript two years later on CD-ROM. In the years that have come to follow, the notebooks have been the subject of a lot of discussion. Dan Brown's Runaway Bestseller The da Vinci Code was a fascinating exploration of the possibility that da Vinci's works held some hidden codes that could reveal some of life's most closely guarded secrets and unanswered questions, such as the location of the Holy Grail, who really shot JFK, and why it is that women put little baskets of shells on top of toilet tanks.The text of da Vinci's notebooks are available as a free download from Project Gutenberg for anyone interested.

On a personal note, I am glad that Steve is doing this important work. The fact that he has developed such a strong commitment to the preservation of works in the public domain gives me a level of respect for him that surpasses that which I felt after the release of Police Academy IV.

I personally enjoy to read on occasion, and sometimes I even read books without pictures. I's kind of like watching a movie in convenient book form. However, with the advent of the latest and greatest technology out there, I often find reading to be inefficient. Far too often, authors use a lof of high-falutin' language and attention to details, and that can be distracting when all you need are the key points. Fortunately for all of us, our friends at Microsoft have eliminated the need to read all that extraneous nonsense with the handy feature in Microsoft Word known as "Autosummarize". I took the liberty of downloading the eText of da Vinci's notebooks from Steve's website, pasted it into Microsoft Word, and used the autosummarize feature to determine what is really important. I instructed the program to cut the text down to 100 words or less, and in a few short seconds, I was able to get a synopsis of what is really important in da Vinci's notebook. And now I will share the results with you, gentle reader:

of the eye. perspective.] 22. the light. light. OF THE EYE. OF THE EYE.

body. point.] lines. objects. PERSPECTIVE.


If the eye the eye. PERSPECTIVE.

luminous body. PERSPECTIVE.

image of the object to the eye. If bodies. the eye.

73. point. POINT.


PERSPECTIVE. the light. eye (93-98).



eye and the different objects. PERSPECTIVE.

eye. Light and Shade. illuminated object.

116. illuminated object, _c_ the light.

117. OF LIGHT. body. shadow.

122. light. more lights.

125. illuminated body. Inseparable light objects. light. When the object SEES THE OBJECT.

I know I'm not alone here when I say that reading the words of this brilliant man gives me chills. He was so far ahead of his time with his work, and this synopsis is proof positive of what we can all learn from him.

Mon, Nov. 1st, 2004, 01:04 pm
loo: (no subject)

This weekend I had the opportunity to sample the brand new 2005 BMW 5-series first hand. More specifically, the 530i.

For those of you that don't know (which would account for...well...all of you), I am a Mercedes man, so I come into this vehicle with something of a personal bias. I have driven and/or owned many a Mercedes - the ones I have owned have been, er, seasoned, if you will, but I have had the opportunity to sample the newer models as well. I shall, however, do my best to be fair with the BMW.

The 530i was featured at last year's
Detroit International Auto Show

It's not that I don't like BMWs...it's that I like Mercedes more...that being said, this is still a damn nice car. It drives solid, has plenty of torque to spare, corners like a Porsche, and stops on a dime. All this was particularly evident after stepping out of my current set of wheels, a 2002 Chevrolet Impala, into the engineering marvel that is the BMW.

For reasons having to do with engineers being engineers, however, this car features technology that even you techie geeks would have trouble figuring out.

The 5-series, like the 7-series, features something called the iDrive entertainment and secondary-systems controller. Pimped heavily by the marketing geeks at Beemer, the iDrive is, for lack of a better description, an unbelievably complicated stereo system with a myriad of "comfort controls" built in (seat heaters, etc., although for an extra $2500 you can have a navigation system and telephone integrated in as well - plus I dare say that forty or fifty grand above and beyond that will come in handy to pay for the engineering degree that you'll need to figure this thing out). It's so complicated, in fact, that BMW has incorporated a legal disclaimer onto the screen every time you start the car warning you that you should not utilize the system while driving in traffic lest you be distracted and wrap your nifty new 530i around a tree (or something to that effect).

Don't be fooled by the reasonably
understandable looking façade

I'm young, I carry a college degree from a reputable University...I can even program my computer to do fun things! Changing the radio station while driving this car? No way, man. Although I'm sure I could spend some time studying up and getting used to the process - it takes no less that four steps to navigate through the menus just to go from Station A to Station B. There was, I'm told, a CD-changer in the car also but I'll be damned if I know what happened to the CD once I put it into the slot. It certainly didn't play said CD.

Beyond all of that, this car is all BMW - stiff, extremely quiet (the quietest car in it's class according to Car & Driver), and pretty darn fun to drive.

So if you want to drive your fool head off in a finely tuned German automobile, the BMW will allow you a goddamn good time...just be sure to keep an engineering student in your employ to change the CDs every once in a while.

Sat, Oct. 30th, 2004, 08:43 pm
loo: (no subject)

Greetings Brethren, and thanks to the management for inviting me in.

I'm loo.

The Notorious S.P.O.O.N. aka., loo

Although my knowledge of Borland®, The Sims® series of virtual monarchy, Michael Bolton® and urinal cakes may not reach the height of expertise held by our fearless leaders, I can be of assistance in other matters. More specifically, my specialty is in the area of generalities. Why be highly skilled in one or two areas of specialty when one can have a vague and oftentimes prejudicial understanding of everything?

Specialization is for sissies.

I'm happy to report that, regardless of my lack of depth in the area of hardware, my Frankenpüter®, recently built with the help of a technodweeb friend of mine, is still operating with lightning speed and power. Although he did most of the work, I can revel in the fact that I did, in fact, offer up suggestions from time to time (unfortunately, there is no evidence that he actually took any of my suggestions into account, but I still feel a sense of accomplishment as a result of the success of the project).

Urinal cakes provided by christianneil

Today, I offer up a totally non-tech-related topic (because, like many other non-related topics, I have a take on it): Wal*Fuck® loves Jesus®.

Reuters reports today that Bentonville, Arkansas based retailer Wal*Fuck® will not be purveying the latest book by comedian/social commentator George Carlin because the cover is blessed with a "spoof" of The Last Supper, a painting by Leonardo DaVinci (any relationship to Dan Brown's bestselling novel The DaVinci Code is purely coincidental).

The book, titled When Will Jesus® Bring the Pork Chops contains no nudity according to Carlin spokesperson Jeff Abraham, but Abraham added he felt "...the title would offend everyone."

I have to admit that I side with Wal*Fuck® on this issue.

I recently stopped into my local Wal*Fuck® on Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids and had a chance to sample the clientele of the massive retailer in person.

The parking lot - a 7 acre sprawling mass of concrete - was occupied with roughly 1600 late model domestic vehicles, forcing me to park in neighboring Walker, Michigan and hike the 1.5 miles in to the front entrance. On the way, I took note of the vehicles, many of which contained religious bumper stickers (all Christian - not that I expected a "My Boss is a Short, Chunky, Asian Prophet" sticker on any of them). Being this is an election year, I also noted the mass of political stickers, proving that if the election on November 2 were to be held at your local Wal*Fuck® store, George W. Bush would win unanimously.

A 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier, the official vehicle of Wal*Fuck®*
shown in front of a store in Wheeling, West Virginia

Inside, the child to parent ratio was about 7:1, while those that appeared to have taken a stab at higher education had apparently decided to shop elsewhere. Passing through the software section, I made note of many outdated programs (©2001 Cosmi Corp.) with little or no apparent purpose - the one woman standing there surveying the selection had seemingly lapsed into coma earlier that day.

I did notice that Tiger Woods® Golf® 2005 for Playstation® 2® was on sale for $10.00 less than I paid at Target® several weeks prior.

I concluded that the group of people at my local Wal*Fuck® was a most certainly a crowd of people that, if confronted with a book that parodied Jesus® in any way, (a)would not buy said book, and (b)would more than likely stage a riot in the name of Christ while stomping the inventory of Carlin's book into a fine, dusty pile of carbon.

It has been rumored that Sam Walton®, founder of Wal*Fuck®
actually returned from the dead to mount a lawsuit against
Hugh Hefner upon this spread being made public.
All Wal*Fuck® employees featured were eventually publicly
flogged, tarred, feathered, and hung as a means of speeding up
their trip to eternal damnation in Hell for their sins.

Wal*Fuck® called this one right - they don't need to present Carlin's book any more than they need to invite Glen Danzig down for a promotional day. Introducing material that challenges the status-quo like When Will Jesus® Bring the Pork Chops is just asking for trouble, and trouble is something that Wal*Fuck® doesn't need any more of. Just ask their lawyers.

*Apologies to our own Cavalierophile, scrapdog.

Wal*Fuck® moniker, ©2004 The sassyhosen Group, LLC.

The opinions transcribed in this commentary are solely that of loo and do not necessarily represent the views taken by disciplinegrid, it's members, or it's management - we all know The Savior was a righteous dude, so be cool man.

Fri, Oct. 29th, 2004, 11:50 pm
scrapdog: The Adventures of TurboMan!

This appeared on Borland®'s website a loooong time ago.  I recently found it in a dark, rarely-visited corner of my hard drive.

Check out the unit on that guy.

Ahhh, good ol' Turbo Pascal 4.

It flew like a rocket, and it was, indeed, ballistic.
Ahhhh, memories.

Where were you today, when I needed you, TurboMan™?  Huh?
Because of your (probably drunken) absense, I had to call Batman.  And I tell you what...he may be able to keep Gotham City's rogue whackos behind bars most of the time, but he doesn't know dick about rogue pointers. Useless.

Thanks a lot.

I dedicate this Access Violation to you, ass.

Wed, Oct. 13th, 2004, 03:38 pm
christianneil: The 2004 presidential election: A geeks's perspective

One of my students created this image in a photo editing program, and I got permission to use it. For those of you not in the know, those are the bodies of a couple of WWE wrestlers, John Cena and the Undertaker. This prompted an idea that I had to get younger voters to the polls. Instead of having a bunch of boring debates, why not have the election decided in a hell in the cell match. Both candidates and their running mates could cut a lot of promos on Raw is War and Smackdown, and then they could have the match on an election-night pay-per view. The proceeds could go toward the budget, and I think that it would be a winner. Maybe they could have some run-ins from former presidents at key points in the match. Maybe when Dick Cheney has John Edwards's hands cuffed behind his back hitting him with a chair, Bill Clinton can run in and chokeslam him. Kerry could be in the middle of a bronco buster on W. in the corner, and then Bush Sr. could rappel from the rafters in a mask. Vince McMahon has turned professional wrestling into a major enterprise, and what he touches turns to gold. I think he may be our best hope to rescue the ratings of elections. It's not really that much of a stretch anymore to imagine that this would be possible.

Electronic Voting

Another possibility would be to have the two of them square off in some kind of video game tournament. Rumor has it that old Dubya can take someone to school on Tekken 3, while Kerry is fonder of games that are more strategy-based. The last time that Dubya slept over at Cheney's house, old Dick got a little pissed because when they got to one of the harder levels of Halo, Dubya had too much trouble reading him the strategy guide, and Laura had to come pick her husband up after the two of them got into a shoving match. Our chief executive was quoted as saying "I just wanted to play Mortal Kombat, but that big doo-doo head was hogging the PlayStation. He also drank all my Mountain Dew." There would need to be a neutral third party, Ralph Nader perhaps, to judge the competition and help them decide on a game.

Electoral Idol

One additional option would be to have the oponents compete in a reality show like American Idol people show up in droves to vote on this show, and I personally wouldn't want anyone as president who can't pull off a decent rendition of the new R. Kelly song.


A campaign tactic that some elected officials are resorting to is "cybersquatting" domains and using them to post content to cripple their opponents. An article at slashdot.org speaks of a Maryland congressional candidate registering domain names that sound like they would belong to places that support the incumbent, when in actuality, they are yet another safe haven for as much negative campaigning as a technosavvy voter in the 8th district cares to read.

The current presidential election has also sprouted up a variety of sites that are designed to parody particular candidates, or support them in unorthodox ways. My personal favorite is http://johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com/, which echoes the sentiment of a lot of voters these days. I personally feel that Kerry's greatest strength is simply the fact that he is not his opponent.

In all fairness, http://www.ihatejohnkerry.net/ is a nice place where you can hear some negative campaigning against Kerry. In particular, the fact that he doesn't know how to catch a football is sufficient evidence to vote for his opponent.

Anyway, all this nonsense will soon be over, and life can return to the status quo. Not sure what president that we'll be bitching about this time next year, but I'm sure we will be.

Sat, Oct. 9th, 2004, 04:11 pm
christianneil: Never a cop when you need one

I went to the local Wal*Mart looking for a toy police car today, and was surprised at how little of a selection that they had. They had some Hot Wheels cars that said POLICE on the side of them, but they looked nothing like police cars. I suppose that the joke about never finding a cop when you need one also applies to toys. Interestingly enough, they had Ambulances, Fire Trucks, 18 wheelers, tractors, race cars, rice rockets, and dump trucks. But no police cars. I guess that focus groups have determined now that police officers are no longer good role models for kids. I don't know where they would get that idea from *cough* Rodney King *cough*.

The SUV above is what I settled on. It wasn't quite what I was looking for, but it will do. It does light up and make sounds, so it has that going for it.

Just for the hell of it, I broke out the Atari 2600, and was surprised to see that it still worked. One of the controllers had a button that didn't work, and the other one was sluggish, but the system itself worked fine. Some of the games didn't load, but I don't suppose that I expected them.

I do not own any of the most current game systems. I have a Nintendo 64 that a former roommate sold to me for about 50 bucks a few years back, and I have the SNES, and the NES. I still have them all, and I think that with a lot of blowing on the cartridges, they may actually work. One of these days, I'm going to hook them all up, and have a "this is your life" thing with regard to my experience with video games growing up. It has been a long time since I sat at a computer playing a game that I could not turn off, and even longer since I sat in front of the family televsion with a joystick (not a thumb pad) in my hand.

Today's game systems are so much better, and the computer games are as well. I would love nothing better than being able to sit in front of a gaming system today and play something for hours and hours, but I don't have the time or the money for such things. I do have a Game Boy Advance SP, which comes in real handy on an airplane, but that's about it.

The thing that the new games don't have is the ability to have enough fingers for all the buttons, and the ability to beat them without a strategy guide. They also don't have the personal connection that the older systems have for people my age. There was a time when video games were all I cared about, and I take some pride in knowing that I am the first generation to understand this obsession. I'm like the O.G. of video games, and I come from a simpler time.

Fri, Oct. 8th, 2004, 07:00 am
christianneil: (no subject)

Greetings and salutations. I know we have a few new troopers in the platoon now, thanks in part to a little shameless community-whoring on my part. I've started up a community or two in my day, and watched them die a slow death, and I am hoping that this one is going to be a big hit. Welcome to the Grid. Come back often, and tell your friends about us. Before too long, one of our members will win:

ONE MILLION DOLLARS$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!*

Due to this problem that I have called a day job, I was unable to complete episode III for this week, but fortunately, I had another project in the works. I am hoping that I can put out a new episode weekly, and we'll see how that goes.

I had planned on making these available as downloadable .swf files, but I can't find a place to host the files without paying. If any of you technoweenies have server space and bandwidth to spare, shoot me an email. I'd like to eventually make these animated and add sound, but right now the files are coming out at about 1-2 megs a pop. For now, you'll just have to use that wheel in the middle of your mouse**.

More Action Figure Theatre...Collapse )

* Payable in installments of $1 yearly for a million years.
**Sorry, Mac users. The Mac is superior to the PC in almost every way, but PCs still have that wheel, which is quite possibly the greatest invention since pornography.

Tue, Oct. 5th, 2004, 09:24 am
christianneil: (no subject)

I posted this a while ago in my personal blog, but since I have spent the last hour or so vainly attempting to remove a worm from one of my workstations, it seemed apropos to share this so that we can avoid further problems.

Sure-fire process to avoid getting a computer virus

Most of us have probably encountered some major problems with popups and spyware on our computers. I did some research, and have figured out a sure-fire method to avoid this problem in the future. Follow these 6 easy steps, and I guarantee that you will not get any more viruses:

1. Get a brand new computer

2. Seal up the modem port with siliconized caulk

3. Seal up the ethernet port with siliconized caulk

4. Seal up the USB ports with siliconized caulk

5. Seal up the floppy disk drives with siliconized caulk

6. Seal up the CD/DVD drives with siliconized caulk

Enjoy your new virus-proof computer experience, and feel free to snail mail me any comments!

Fri, Oct. 1st, 2004, 08:15 am
christianneil: Insert Your own joke here....


They have already ordered these at all the Venues where R. Kelly is performing on his upcoming tour.


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