ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

January 2006

Links25 Jan 2006

It’s Robbie Burns day. Have some Scots Wha Ha’e.

News21 Jan 2006

I just won a radio contest.

DNTO, cbc’s Saturday pop culture show, has a contest called “Lost in Translation”. They take song lyrics, translate them into another language using babelfish or something, then translate them back to English. They read the resulting jumble of words on the air.

Since my laptop died I’ve been feeling a little media-starved. As a consequence, I’ve been listening to cbc a lot. I happened to catch the contest last week, and, for the first time ever, realized what the song was. (“Political” by Spirit of the West). I wrote in.

Moments ago they read my name on the air as one of the winners. I think the prize is a DNTO toque. I’m very excited.

Musings21 Jan 2006

I’ve been trying to dig up a neat Astronomy quote I semi-remember. So far, no luck. Damn your eyes, google.

Anyway, the quote in question goes something like “Even if mankind lived forever underground in a cave, we would eventually deduce the existence of stars”. Alas, I don’t know who said it. My dad would probably know, I’ll ask him when next I talk to him.

I hope you find the contents of the quotation to be a bit startling, and the images it conjures of some half-mad subterranean “astronomer” scribbling away at his workbench and coming up with the notion of lights in the “sky” to be sufficiently romantic. It turns out that the reasons we can deduce stars without seeing them is that stars are a necessary component of any universe that contains us, or, more precisely, a necessary component of any universe that contains more than three elements in its periodic table. You want atoms heavier than lithium? You need crushing gravities and nuclear reactions.

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Musings17 Jan 2006

Do you ever have this experience? You learn a new word, or concept, or person, or phenomenon, and then hear about that same newly-acquired token all over the place? You have to wonder: were you just dense before, or is this new concept actually cropping up more now than it used to?

When Ariel Sharon had his present medical difficulties, I heard that he’d been placed in a “medically-induced coma”. I’d never heard that term before. I didn’t know doctors could put you in a coma if they wanted to.

Since first hearing about Sharon’s medically-induced coma a couple weeks back, I’ve encountered that term twice more, once as part of a cbc feature on a Luthier who had suffered head trauma, and again in reference to the Canadian soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. Each time I thought “there’s that new word again”.

Apparently medically-induced comas are quite common. They crop up in the news several times a week. Was no one talking about them before two weeks ago? Or was I just not paying attention?


News16 Jan 2006

As some of you know, my laptop expired in dramatic fashion last Sunday afternoon. Actually, the expiration itself was unremarkable. I was the one supplying the dramatics.

I’ll tell you the whole sordid story sooner or later (probably once I actually get the laptop back from being repaired. So, let’s all hope for “sooner”, shall we?). I’ve been exiled from the internet for a week. Being in exile actually wasn’t all bad, once I got used to it. I think being media-deprived for a while really cleared my head. It turns out that the so-called “real world” is a nice place to visit, but I don’t think I want to live there. I’ve done a lot of reading, and listened to a fair bit of CBC. I also got a surprising amount of work done in various computer labs around the cs building.

Right now I’m typing to you from my old debian linux box, which I spent the last few hours coaxing back to life. It tells you something about my fondness for linux configuration battles that it took a week of no internet before I tried to get this box working again. But, thanks to some urging from Aaron, I sorted out dependency conflicts, installed window managers, downloaded applications. The old box is working pretty well, except for screaming bloody murder about the file system and refusing to boot half the time (maybe I just won’t shut it off). The problem with linux is that it has too many moving parts. Oh, and also, the left shift key on this keyboard only works intermittently.

Macs are nice. I want mine back.

Musings05 Jan 2006

It’ll be on your iPod instead. Seriously. I just put some NDP campaign ads on my iPod, mainly for the novelty factor. Yep, “Podcasting” (I still snigger when I hear that word, despite the fact that I subscribe to two or three of them: especially good is NPR’s Story of the Day) has officially come to Canadian federal politics.

One of the NDP campaign ads I put on my iPod has to be the most cheerful attack ad ever. Too bad it isn’t very good. I really wish some party would someday decided to take the high road refrain from slinging the mud everywhere. I know, I know, I’m a crazy fool.

On the subject of things not being televised: iTunes now has BSG episodes for sale at $1.99 an episode. Sadly, only available in the USA. Come on guys, get with it, I wants my (legal) on-demand TV and I wants it now.

You Can’t Kill Your Television, It Is Already Dead