A gem from the Bank's intranet page: HeroRat is a program by Belgian and
Tanzanian researchers in which African pouched rats are trained to sniff
out landmines. The rats, which grow to the size of a small cat
(around 6 pounds), are too light to set of the landmines if they
crawl over them. They've also got an 80% success rate of identifying
tuberculosis, with 10% false positives.
None of which will make Belle feel any better about six-pound rats
crawling around. This will be a real complication if I decide to get a
job in a mine-infested region of Tanzania.
Joystiq reported yesterday on Sir Ben Kingsley and his partnership
with Uwe Boll:
What were you thinking when you accepted a role in Bloodrayne? It's so
hard to imagine someone so gifted not realizing what a terrible film that
"I don't know whether to be upset or flattered by that question," read his
response. "To be honest, I have always wanted to play a vampire, with the
teeth and the long black cape. Let's say that my motives were somewhat
immature for doing it."
And honestly, while I'm no
great fan of the flick, I see his point. If I were Sir Ben Kingsley,
internationally-renowned thespian, it would be tempting to do anything
that came along, if it seemed like enough fun. See also: Sam L. Jackson.
I don't remember why I was looking for it, but part of the special
making-of video for Bad Mojo is on YouTube. Caution--contains
cruelty to already-deceased animals in the name of adventure gaming:
Speaking of the Thinkpad, I'm extremely pleased with it. It seems
stable, although there are a few hiccups in the OS that I hope will be
ironed out by SP1--going in and out of sleep mode is fast and flawless,
but shutting down takes a while, for example. Other than that, Vista seems
quite nice. Very keyboard-oriented, which is awesome. The hardware exudes
solidity--opening the lid, there's no flex as one side moves a bit more
than the other. I've had one crash, but I think it was related to F.E.A.R.
Gaming performance is good: the Lost Coast Video Stress Test clocks in at
an average of 40fps, and clearly goes past 60 at some points if the video
tearing is any indication. I'm running F.E.A.R. with everything at maximum
but with pixel-doubling on, giving it an effective resolution of 720x450
without stretching artifacts, and it spends 80% of its time over 45fps. I
consider this sufficient for what little PC gaming I do, and I imagine it
will be overkill for my audio work.
The Torzal Twist
bass is odd: its fretboard literally spirals gently as it moves away
from the body of the instrument. The idea is to follow the ergonomic
position of a player's arms, so that the wrists aren't ever bent
unnaturally (which contributes to RSI). On the long neck of a bass,
especially for players who spend their time down at the lower positions,
it's easy to see how this would feel much better once you got used to it.
The always engaging (if slightly geeky) Ed Friedland did a video review
for Bass Guitar Magazine.
The Bank's HR system has a bug in it, where they can't start my short-term
contract until my long-term contract wraps up, and they seem to be having
a delay with that. So it's just me and Wallace hanging out right now. Say
Look, I don't know if the iPhone is good or bad. I suspect that, like
most Apple products, it would drive me nuts. Lots of people seem happy
with it. All I'm saying is, for any tech product, you should never
trust a review written
two days after release. There's just not enough time for the
new-purchase glow to wear off.
Someone has released a chiptunes album on
an NES cartridge. Which is all well and good, but I'd be dubbing that
off into WAV as soon as I could recover from blowing the dust out of my
At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One
at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians,
philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.
Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature
of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history
have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge
what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or
is it just me they hate?
The whole thing is a fluffy, loosely-sourced collection of flattery that
largely comes from Republican policymakers and hacks, all of whom seem to
be worried sick about the tremendous pressure that Bush faces. He seems to
be holding up so well! they marvel. Although the article carefully places
all the dots, it does not see fit to connect them: maybe he seems
oblivious to his poor perception and his disastrous war not because of his
faith or his stubbornness, but because he's truly unconcerned with any of
The more relevant question, of course, is why the Washington Post
felt like using its editorial power to write a puff-piece about how
hard it is for poor President Bush, and how well he's doing
despite all those inconvenient dead soldiers--not to mention his
increasingly fascist legal stances.
According to a few of the bassists from the Lowdown, the UK put a
smoking ban into place on July 1st. My understanding is that it's similar
to DC's. Most people welcome it, but some are up in arms. Why not ban
cholesterol, they ask, and Twinkies, and all the other harmful personal
choices that someone can make? Which would be a valid point, if
your second-hand Twinkie gave me cancer and made me smell
funny. Although the Twinkie is a wonderful and many-talented thing, until
it can do that there's just no comparison between the two. Smoking bans
Virginia speeding tickets have just gotten an upgrade. Fines
up to $2,500, and $350 taxes for three years is pretty hefty. I got a
ticket on Sunday, actually, and the officer was kind enough to cite me for
disobeying a traffic sign instead. The problem with traffic tickets around
here, as far as I'm concerned, is that there's a lot of classism in
action. When I was researching a story on DWI for NoVA Magazine, the
traffic lawyers would come right out and admit that fighting a traffic
ticket basically costs more, but wipes your record clean. People who can't
afford the lawyer end up losing their driving privileges, which is no fun
for someone who's already at the bottom of the employment ladder. I also
tend to notice more "residential zone" signs and lower speed limits in
wealthy neighborhoods. Must be nice to have the system looking out for
your kids. Wallace just has to learn to look both ways.
We need a better word for "meme." It's not a good word, apologies to Dawkins. When
read, it looks like "me, me," which may be appropriate but isn't flattering. When
spoken aloud, it sounds like half a word (since it's based on the Greek
mimeme, I guess it is).
Besides, the blog version of a "meme" is not really a contagious idea. It's a chain
letter that's had the most irritating parts (the superstitious promise of good luck
coupled with a veiled threat of catastrophe) removed, replacing those with the
digital equivalent of a rapport-building exercise. That's not a meme, it's a
well-meaning pyramid scam. Maybe we could call it a 411-9? (Yeah, if we wanted to
restrict its audience to obscure wordplay.)
Here are the rules: Eight random facts or interesting lies about yourself. Send me
the link to your post when you're done. Tag 8 more people. Drop a comment on their
blog to let them know they've been tagged. Don't sit by your maibox waiting for
thank you notes from those you've tagged.
I went to GMU with my Communication major declared from the start, but I didn't
really decide to become a writer until my third or fourth year. Before that, I wanted
to work for the Travel Channel. I thought I'd make a good host.
It's not that I hate children. It's that I don't like people, and
children just embody most of the things I don't like about them.
Belle made me take one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests a couple of weeks
back, and I came up INTJ. She had trouble understanding the introspective component
until she saw me at a work party a few days later, and whenever she glanced over I
was standing by myself--usually next to one of the food tables. Awkward and lurking,
I played clarinet in middle school and high school band. I was a decent player,
but it was all thanks to my ear--I never really practiced. I think that might be the
first instrument that I was formally trained to play, that or piano. I still have the
clarinet, which was a decent wooden model instead of the usual resin-molded starter
instrument. I like keeping it, even if I don't play so well any more, because I grew
up in a house filled with instruments, and I'd like to have that myself. It feels
very inviting to me. Both my parents were brass players in college, and my dad worked
as an instrument repairman for a time. We had a bassoon hanging over the stairs in
our townhouse, which I thought was really cool.
I am not a frakkin' cylon.
Most people who know me know that I don't drink as a matter of habit. But I only
recently loosened up to the point where I'll use alcohol--usually white wine--for
cooking, even though the heat evaporates all the alcohol right out. It still kind of
gives me the creeps, but the flavors are rich enough that I can suppress those
feelings while I eat.
I'm the youngest person in my division. I might be the youngest
person in my vice presidency. Luckily, I doubt that I am the youngest
person at the World Bank.
Do I even know eight people who will do something like this? Eight people
online, who are both willing to do it and know I'm alive? Let's find out.
Here's a tag for Wheat, Brinstar, Josh, Athenae (that's a long shot), Corvus (and/or Rachel), Dan, Orac, and Deacon.
Now I have the He-Man intro speech stuck in my head. Thanks, Dan.
The Guitar Zeros are a band that plays rock music using
Guitar Hero controllers hooked up to a synth instead of
guitars. Which kind of adds a new layer to the whole "why don't you learn
to play a real instrument instead?" question.
For $250, you can get a tiny Linux-based computer called the Zonbox.
It would be a great live musical tool--if it didn't run Linux, which is
just not a viable audio platform as far as I'm concerned, for a variety of
reasons: poor driver support for pro-level interfaces, limited plugin
variety, almost no MIDI support, and an audio infrastructure that's a
usability nightmare. Maybe in a few more years, but I have my doubts.
Slate asked several award-winning writers what font they prefer. Most of
them say Courier New, because they either learned on typewriters or wanted
to learn on typewriters. Luckily, nobody says Comic Sans. I write
everything in Notepad, personally, and so the font is usually either
Lucida Console or Tahoma, but I specifically write in Notepad so that I
won't have any options to distract me. When I work on this site, it's all
in a terminal window, so I guess that's Courier. How about you?
You can hear one of the IFC podcasts that I edited on the World
Bank's Private Sector Development blog, here.
I think it's the one that the interviewer conducted over Skype, so the
audio quality is not fantastic.
Lucretius is heading off to college and needs money for a camera, a
laptop, and a copy of Photoshop. He's selling his prints in a book form.
$50 is a bit pricy, but it's a good cause. You can see the photos here.
L., you might also consider selling singles or large prints.
Sound on Sound magazine is really good this
month. There's an article on Dr. Who, an interview with synth expert
and crazy person Ray Kurzweil, and a look at the $40 Reaper DAW. SOS also
has the best online strategy of any magazine I've ever seen: subscribers
get access to everything online, and then the magazine shows up in
physical form a week or so later. I really can't recommend it highly
And this one goes out to the World Bank Staff Association:
Developing photographer (and unfailing commenter) Lucretius wants more
exposure. Ha! See what I did there? But seriously, Lucretius asked a week
or so ago if I would help highlight his artwork, and I'm more than happy
to do so. Here's his introductory statement:
My media is Digital Photography and Digital Image Editing. I chose this
form simply because I do not like my drawing or other forms of art that
require manual dexterity. I'm simply not good at it and cannot even draw a
straight line. My drawings are childish, and not in that quaint, adorable
way. More like the sad, man-child way that earns the wrong kind of
"awww's." Only gets worse when I add paint and color. I find photography
to be forgiving to the artists with a flair for mistakes, as I am.
Photoshop is even more forgiving, allowing me to ruin an image entirely,
yet still trace my steps back.
Early on, I started with, and often return to, the ever-popular form of
digital art known as clones.
From photo-shoot to Photoshop, you must have a substantial amount of
control over what happens in the image. It can be hard and tiring, but
it's worth the work once an image is completed. At the same time, I'm
usually much more intrigued by side projects/series and other miscellanea,
such as my recent series "His
Last Few Papers," or my penchant for ghosts. Those
are similar to the clones, yet much more satisfying and, to me, eye
catching. In fact, I'm planning a new project based on the ghosts of
Artists have a multitude of subjects with which to work. The world is full
of things to draw, write, and sing about. And yet here I am taking self-portrait
For me, this is the purest form of art, because it's the most literal form
of self-expression, and my most direct connection to the audience. I'm
much more comfortable when that connection is made through myself, rather
through something or someone else.
Be sure to check out those links to his portfolio. I think these are
really very cool images that showcase a lot of potential, and I don't just
say that to flatter a reader. Two of my favorites are here and here.
Michael Chiarello's Best
Button Mushrooms are a pretty tasty Valentine's dinner, if I do say so
myself. Seen here with roasted baby potatoes, hummus, and some kind of
white wine that Belle said was pretty good for $7. The green tea root
beer, unfortunately, was a little weak.
I'd show you the mango ice cream with triple chocolate sauce, but we had
to devour it before all of the chocolate hardened, and then we just sat
around for a while muttering because it was too rich to finish.