Musings on the Matrix, Part VII

Yo, mainstream, get a schnucking clue. Everyone, at least everyone who’s a sensitive albino, is throwing a shoe over the presentation of the Twins as lightly pigmented. Albinactivists are roaring as loud as they can about the poor light in which these characters portray albinos, since most albinos really don’t know martial arts. Or something.

However, textual evidence in the movie would lead one to think that the Twins were not albinos, but ghosts. Remember, they talk about how supernatural-esque beings representing problem programs in the Matrix. Remember, Primeridian keeps old flawed programs like werewolves (two of whom Persephone shoots with silver bullets) around. Ergo, when confronted with a pair of pale characters who can discorporate at will, I don’t think of albinos, I think of ghosts.

Unless the albino community has something they’re keeping from us.

(On another note, do you think my characterization of Merovingian as “Primeridian” is enough of an offense to the greater geek community to be banished from the Elgeeksian Fields, or has my frequent escapades as an ad hoc software tester already taken care of that?)

I Don’t Want To Hang Out With You Any More, Rob

Far be it from me to step into Aimster’s territory (that is to say, blogging about music while wearing a snazzy bikini top that shows my smooth, albeit slightly convex, belly–normally I blog about other things while similarly attired), but Rob, I have got to tell you I am not buying the new album from Matchbox Twenty, or matchbox twenty, or Matchbox 20, or MaTcHbOx 20, or however your keyboard fluctuates this week. The album, More Than You Think You Are. More than I think I am? I don’t doubt it. I thought I was a music fan, but obviously I am your therapist, and I am not a good one, because we’re not making progress.

Rob, you have been coming to me for almost seven years now since Yourself or Someone Like You came out in 1996. On that album, we covered your bad relationships (“Push“), your lack of connection to reality (“Real World”, a wonderful exercise in free-association, don’t get me wrong), and apathy (“Hang“). I listened to that album and I really connected to you, man. I was 24 years old and enjoying some late adolescent angst as well. We were commensurating with experience, bub.

Four years later, in 2000, you came back and described a similar set of misery with Mad Season by matchbox twenty. Your relationships remained co-dependent or self-destructive (“Crutch“), your relationships had gone bad (“Rest Stop“) and you were in denial (“Angry“), which understandably led you to a sense that something’s not right (“Bent“) that you want to project to lunar cycles or something (“Mad Season“). Okay, I listened, and I felt bad for you.

But dude, it’s 2003. I haven’t bought your latest album, and I probably won’t. I mean, you’re telling me via the radio about your same old girl problems (“Disease“) and how that still makes you feel “Unwell“, but listen, Rob, I have grown up, gotten a job, and bought a house whose lawn I procrastinate mowing. I have a lovely wife and several cats to take care of. I cannot keep spending long nights in bars and coffeeshops listening to you mumble into your beer or caffe su da.

I mean, come on, life’s not so pathological as you make it out. Maybe if you revealed a more playful or optimistic side more frequently (remember Smooth“?). I mean, yeah, it’s an existential world out there, but why not describe a sincere love ballad every once in a while. Even Trent Reznor, the Dark Lord of NIN, explained the depth of his love for his significant other in “Closer”. Why can’t you capture more of that spirit in your work?

That’s just what I am saying, man. Listen, I am going to finish up this Moosehead lager and then I am going to head out. You’ll be all right? Good. See you.

Outlaw Chewing And Save Lives!

In his latest Fox column “Junk Science,” Steven Milloy recounts the “science” (snicker) of Mad Cow Disease and its entertaining media hysteria, such that:

    Front-page coverage in the New York Times, for example, reported that eating meat from diseased cattle has allegedly caused more than 100 human deaths in Europe since 1994 and “raised questions about the health benefits of eating beef for many consumers around the world.”

More than 100? A number of “More than 100” in a hysterifluff piece means like 103. Mad Cow disease has killed that many people in ten years? Is that all? Well, at least we’re asserting our species dominance and slaughtering hundreds of cattle for each dead human to teach those cattle about going mad. One of your brains swell, all of your friends get it.

However, according to an old United Kingdom government study (see table B.5), in 1995 alone choking caused 153 deaths in just the UK, which would lead one to postulate merely eating (or putting things in one’s mouth) kills 1500% more people each year than Mad Cow Disease. Time for some appropriate hysterifluff.

Outlaw oral ingestion! Mandate intravenous feeding! Shoot the herds of people who chew gum with their mouths open! Although, since that would include me, I am less in favor of the latterest (most latterly?) suggestion.

However, in defense of our media and our own perception of statistics, people think they can win the lottery, too, so of course they imagine that Mad Cow Disease could get them if they bought a hamburger or McDonald’s stock. So at least we’re consistent in our ignorance of statistics and risk analysis.

Those Who Misquote Bush Misunderstandimate Grammar

Spinsanity discusses how some commentators have mischaracterized President Bush’s description of certain elements of Al Qaeda’s terrorist network. To be brief, the meme has spread that Bush said Al Qaeda was no longer a threat. He didn’t actually say that, but once attackers got a hold of that piece of straw, they thought it was meat. (Both Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan mentioned this Spinsanity piece yesterday.)

The problem, and the potential for the straw man, lies within the “slops” contemporary writers and speakers play with collective-noun-subject/pronoun/verb agreement. In many cases, writers and speakers mangle it, and those who read or listen come to expect it. The full Bush quote to which the commentators refer:

    Al Qaeda [singular] is [singular] on the run. That group [singular] of terrorists who attacked our country is [singular] slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half [collective singular or plural, plural in this case] of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are [plural, refers to “half”] either jailed or dead. In either case, they’re [plural/plural] not a problem anymore.

So the text indicates that the pronoun “they” does indeed refer to the half of the top operatives who are jailed or dead, which is the nearest antecedent. Al Qaeda, an individual entity, should be referred to with the pronoun “it.” That group, another singular antecedent that refers to Al Qaeda, is also singular.

Of course, “half” as a noun falls into the collective noun category where it can refer to either a plural (for a number of entities, like Maureen Dowd has lost half her marbles and cannot find them) or a singular (for a quantity not enumerated, like Maureen Dowd has lost half of her mind and cannot find it). Although Strunk and White advise you to play colloquially with such collective nouns, no where would they tell Bush to mix agreement (Al Qaeda is…they’re) in the same paragraph.

So Bush’s text means what he (or his writers) meant for it to say. Anyone who argues differently is deconstructing. Which will help you graduate from some of the country’s finest higher education institutions with a frameable piece of paper that says English upon it, but it won’t necessarily help you communicate more effectively.

(P.S. I’ll save the extended rant of each word and grammar rule having an individual purpose in oral or written communication and how violating these rules can lead to listen-time or read-time exceptions like the one demonstrated, and exploited by grammatical commentatorial H4X0Rz, above.)

More Google Fun!

My large vocabulary and archaic constructions strike again! In addition to being the only Google hit for “Brian J. Noggle Is a Cheesehead” (proof), I am now the #1 Google search (of 2, oddly enough) for “To whit” syntax safire (proof).

SARS Could Be From Alternate Earth in Different Dimension, Some Tech Writers Say

CNN is headlining a story with Did SARS come from the stars? Delve into the story, and you find:

    “I think it is a possibility that SARS came from space. It is a very strong possibility,” Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe told Reuters.

    The director of the Cardiff Center for Astrobiology in Wales and a proponent of the theory that life on Earth originated from space, admits the theory defies conventional wisdom.

Of course, it’s a theory that defies conventional wisdom and only by defying conventional wisdom, i.e., by being completely whacko, does Wickramashinge get its (is Chandra a he or a she or of a nongendered extraterrestrial species?) name in the world press, in a story where it’s quoted before scientists who practice science and accurately call the theory nuts.

However, in my own interests of hounding the media into publishing my name, Brian J. Noggle (don’t forget the J. as it’s extremely important to my own pretensiousness), I wish to offer the following unsubstantiated theory:

    SARS comes from an alternate Earth in a different quantum universe and is a result of biological warfare between the Soviet Union and China in the 1970s, just like in The Omega Man, except in this real alternate dimension, unlike its fictional counterpart where the epidemic turns the infected into pasty shambling zombies whose only goal is to infect the uninfected, the real SARS from the real alternate Earth actually kills a small number of people, which I understand is a goal of bioweapons researchers. (Run-on sentences are easy indicators of Grade A Government Choice Cockamamie.)

    So when the Chinese (those ChiComs!), in their pursuit of extradimensional weapons (or their space program) accidentally opened a rift between our planet and the Alternate Earth, they let in SARS and probably sent a couple of bootlegged copies of the Matrix Reloaded where DVD-playerless SARS-infected zombies can only sharpen the edges to use as weapons.

Of course, it fits all the fact as we know them now, and its mere outlandishness should serve as evidence of its truth.

Brian J. Noggle,
Resident Expert in Foosball Slop Shots,
International Society For Finding Alternate Earths That Resemble Charlton Heston Post-Apocalypse Movies.

Billy Bob Teeth Mess Straightened Out

Looks like Billy-Bob teeth sales were actually hurt by a copycat novelty teeth maker, so the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decreed. Thank heavens that got straightened out. Perhaps it will stop there and not have to go to the United States Supreme Court.

In our Fun Facts corner, Billy-Bob Teeth, Inc., had sales of novelty teeth of five million dollars last year. Call the investment bankers! We need an sophomorically exuberant Novelty Item stock market bubble to re-energize the markets, and we need it stat.

Schumer Wants an International Treaty On Spam?

The Washingtion Post mentions in passing in a story about a spammer that Senator Charles Schumer of New York wants an international treaty for the non-proliferation of spam.

Protected by International Treaty? What’s next, an Axis of Spammers? Trade wars or military intervention to depose those who would forge headers?

For the love of pete, it’s just junk mail you can delete from your inbox and filter, fairly effectively, from your server. It’s annoying, but the pushes to make it illegal and criminal are a little much for my taste, but I rankle against legislation and regulation more than I rankle at being annoyed.

Another Home Schooler Triumphs!

A home schooled child has won the National Geographic Bee this year. And it’s not as though he’s been in training for the geographic bee: he’s also on his state science bowl team.

Regardless of these accomplishments, he probably doesn’t feel good about himself since his home schoolers, who love him and don’t just look at him as a little monster to suffer for a year, lack diversity and sensitivity training to provide programs to love himself and his fellow little monsters. Of course, his educators aren’t paying the administrative vigorish that cripples school district budgets, either.

So this homeschooling win must be a fluke.

Mean Machines, Part II

Nestled among the column in Forbes that examines how small cars have fared in the United States throughout history lies the trivium that Sears once produced a compact car, way back in the 1950s.

Of course, I am not going to tell you its name here; I’ll save that for a random conversation about Sears or small cars, wherein I can interject, “You know, Sears once sold its own car. The Sears …..”

Mean Machines, Part I

Maxim, a magazine whose print edition I occasionally read for its informative articles (particularly its investigative photo-essays of women of achievement in the film and print industry), this month featured a number of extremely high-performance cars in its column The Ride (link is to pictures and multimedia, some by subscription, which augments the print piece).

Expert advice provided by Lamborghini technical advisor on how to properly use the Lamborghini Murcielago, which sports a 6.2 L, 575 horsepower V-12 engine that can propel the vehicle from zero to sixty in 3.8 seconds (2.7 seconds Canadian):

    “Try to keep the yellow side up.”

Words by which to live.

When Vezina Winners Attack!

So Dominik Hasek, a goalie who bailed out on the NHL after winning the Stanley Cup last year, goes home and gets a little rough in a roller hockey game, sending a player to the hospital. Big hoary deal. Sure, he tried to fight Patrick Roy, but that’s goalie-on-goalie action.

Jean Sebastian-Giguere, my new hero until such time as he signs with the Red Wings, went after a Calgary forward. He’s got, um, pucks as big as manhole covers, I kid you not.

I guess Giguere’s not a Vezina winner, yet, but I kid you not he’s got a Conn Smythe trophy coming.

(Hasek link from Fark. All other research from my own memory supplemented by Google.)

(P.S. Sorry, folks, but it was only a matter of time until a hockey post broke through. I am still capturing developers at the coffeepot to tell them how I think the St. Louis Blues are going to do next year and what I think the Collective Bargaining Agreement ending after next year will mean for the NHL, so it’s only natural something like it would leak out in the blog.)

I May Be A Tonto Gringo, But….

A couple of outraged students at UCSB are frothing about the use of the Gaucho as a symbol for the school’s mascot or some such nonsense. They’ve written to the school paper to foam on at length about how the school mox Mexican-Americans and their descendents. Oh, yeah, here’s the response to those who might think the collegiate children are being foolish:

Now some of you reading this might be immediately tempted to dismiss our commentary as some “PC” reaction to what you might perceive as a rather harmless appropriation of Mexican culture. [Emphasis mine]

Oh, spare me the pillaging of your heritage. As some tonto gringos know, gauchos roamed las pampas de Argentina, not Mexico. And gaucho is a romanticised profession, not a race or ethnic group.

See also Green Bay Packers, the Ottawa Senators, Seattle Mariners, the Washington Wizards (sorry, I had to stretch for the NBA) or, more appropriately, the Dallas Cowboys.

Still, the incited students have a great idea! Change the mascot!

We propose the changing of the mascot name from UCSB Gauchos to UCSB Gavachos, a slang term used by Mexicans and Chicanos to refer to white people.

That learned them Fighting Whities guys, wot?

(Original source: Fox News Tongue Tied.)

Another Luddite Heard From

Larry Blasko from AP has got a really nice piece in the Washington Post describing one of the best computer backup media ever: paper.

I have worked on computers too long, both physically (A+ certified, donchaknow?) and on the software side to trust anything to the vagaries of technology. I mean, some of the coolest short stories I ever wrote are safe enough, I think, on 5.25″ floppies that fit into a Commodore 1571 disk drive. But that’s no good if I cannot get to them.

Until I am struck blind, though, I can read and retype paper copies. In case you’re wondering how many copies I have of the most important document I have created in the last year (my novel manuscript John Donnelly’s Gold), the answer is ten, and many are stored off site.

Report from the Burbs

As the beautiful wife and I have begun landscaping our beautiful suburban home in Casinoport, Missouri (an inner ring suburb of St. Charles, Missouri), I needed to replace the repeatedly-run-over hose with something that continued to fit onto spigot. We replaced the old Sentry Hardware $1.99 Long Straw model hose with the $2.99 (inflation) Ace Hardware Long Straw model hose. But when it came to the nozzle, I insisted we purchase an heirloom-quality water flow control device. I warm pleasurably with the thought of my great-grandchildren spraying each other as they wash the aerocar using the nozzle I bought.

The Nozzle

The Nozzle

So of course we chose the Nelson Model 2280 Industrial Metal nozzle. This nozzle includes a long list of features, including:

  • Water pressure rated to 100 psi. Granted, my Long Straw hose cannot handle that, and my spigot would rather sprinkle the basement than spit out anything beyond 1 TPS (Trickle Per Second), but just in case we get a nuclear-powered water pump in the future, we will be ready.
  • Hot water rated to 160°F, which is what the Azalea prefers. Unfortunately, this model cannot handle water that’s actually boiling, but when we need to scald the petunias, we can continue to use the tea kettle.
  • Heavy-duty zinc construction. It’s not titanium or Kevlar, but when it oxidizes, it will double as a sun block.
  • THERMOGUARD insulated for hot or cold water comfort. You don’t want Anything less than THERMOGUARD, like THERMOBARKINGDOG.
  • Reinforced brass stem and nut. Although it sounds slightly dirty, it’s not, but merely sounding phallic is feature enough.
  • Crush-resistant glass-filled nylon handle. Because crushable glass-filled Rayon handles are for wussies.
  • Threaded tip for hose accessories. Definitely a plus, since the type of person who buys an industrial water nozzle will be easily influenced to buying additional accessories.
  • Lock-on water clip. I haven’t tried it yet, but I assume this means something like a tone like the fighter pilots hear for those exact moments when I have the rose bushes lined up for a primary “soak shot.”

All of this for just $11.99, which is much more than I paid for the hose, but worth it. For aside from the features denoted above, the nozzle has the word Industrial right on the handle. Each time I grip it, I will remember I am above the hoi polloi who use lesser water nozzles.

Of course, when we bought it on Saturday, the nozzle became an instant part of our family. Lawrence, as he prefers we call him, instantly bonded not only with me, but also Heather and the cats.

He’s moved right in and has adjusted to life outside of the hardware store and outside the blister card with eager anticipation for what each new day brings. Freed from the NASA-style sleeping arrangement hanging from a hook in Ace Hardware, Lawrence prefers a medium-firmness pillow and likes to sleep late on Sundays.

Although he sleeps late, Lawrence is not lazy. He’s ready to get to work dispensing water to the parched flora (and occasional fauna if one of those “cute baby rabbits” gets too close to any of our hundreds of dollars on nursery-bought flora). He understands the impact of the rain, which has left him on the bench this week, but he’s encouraged when we tell him that July and August are coming, and with them, the annual unprecedented drought.

In our conversations, Lawrence and I have developed a deep respect for one another. Although we don’t always agree on the finer details of some issues, such as how long to deploy a spray upon an individual perennial, we agree that water is an absolute necessity for flowers, and that when April showers are a distant memory, it’s only our teamwork that will preserve the order we have established with weedblock fabric and mulch. And that’s enough to make our relationship start, and undoubtedly it will grow over time.

Lawrence Sleeps In
Lawrence Sleeps In
Lawrence looks out the window wistfully, ready to begin
Lawrence waits for the sun to come out so he can get to work

Some people wondered how a cosmopolitan, artistic, urban soul like me would fit into the rustic, drive-to-the-strip-mall life in Casinoport.

I fit right in, thanks.

Programming Note

We at vow to be the only media source, ever, to not play that stoopid Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow song “Picture.” I hear it on alternative stations. I hear it on country stations. I hear it as the bumper on AM news/talk stations.

This blog is your refuge. We will never play the song, but we deserve the right to mock it from time to time.

Thank you, that is almost all:

And yo, is Kid Rock balding, or what? Mullet + Hat = Balding!

Thank you, that is all.

Pssst….Wanna Know What I Said About Ted Nugent?

Hey, if you’re coming in from Google and want to see the complete Ted Nugent transcript from KRFX, sorry I don’t have it (but if you do find it, I would love to see it. I did talk about the “controversy” on Wedneday, May 7, and you can read the two posts here.

Google’s searches only bring you to the main page here, and not the actual post for which you were looking. But rest assured, the Doc-U-Matic 3000 is here to serve you! Don’t forget to drop me a line and say thanks.

Four Year Old Kindergartens Teach Legislative Math

In Wisconsin, a special study by the “Legislative Fiscal Group” has determined that cutting a program, that is, not spending state tax money on it, would really cost the state money! Shocker! The “Legislative Fiscal Group” urges the state to spendspendspend its way into savings. The story appears in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. By the way, do many journals really need guardians? What sort of dumb combined name is that?

The program costs $72 million dollars. By cutting this $72 million dollar program, the state will lose $8.4 million dollars in federal money that it receives to fund the operation. That’s the “cost” described in the hyperlink on the main JSOnline site and in the “Eliminating 4-year-old kindergarten will cost state, study says” subhead. That’s legislative math.

Legislative math uses proven Deadbeat Cousin Accounting. You know the accounting I am talking about. Cousin Ned, who has his get-rich-quick schemes and buys pseudo-muscle cars past the point of cost effective maintenance, who works a part-time job around his fiscally imprudent efforts, and who occasionally pops up to “borrow” money (the occasion he needs it). He could get a real job and start behaving like a grown up, but if he did, it would cost him that free money.

Our state and municipal governments might as well call themselves Cousin Ned. They buy a round of drinks and take people out to dinner when the economy’s going well or they win $80 on lottery scratch-off tickets, but when that $80 is gone, they still want to spend it, and that’s where you come in, dear cousin taxpayer.

Closing Time Revisited

The Shepherd Express discusses the possibility of eliminating last call at taverns and pubs, or at least allowing them to stay open a while after they’ve stopped serving liquor. Although this article examines regulations far off lands where even sober people talk funny, like England and Minnesota, I thought I would add my two shots.

It would be a good idea to eliminate last call and deregulate alcohol serving totally.

After all, two o’clock closing times merely throw a bunch of inebriated and partially-inebriated people into the streets at once. A number of people to bicker, to continue partying, and sometimes to drive home at the same time. The mandated closing time concentrates the goofiness into a single period of time arbitrarily assigned by the municipal or state government. Heaven knows the problems the neighborhoods in Milwaukee alone have suffered because of the throngs. Denny’s restaurants in Milwaukee close before the bars do to avoid the rush of post-tavern patrons, for crying out loud.

By eliminating the bars’ closing time, municipalities would spread out the impact of partying people and whatever infractions they might perform, hereby diminishing the overall disquiet created in neighborhoods, allowing bar patrons to trickle out until the next day. With the end-all, drink-all crowd evacuating at a single time, we’re assuming the cops can be everywhere at once to catch all of the drunk drivers who would kill short-order cooks getting off at one o’clock in the morning and all the gun-, knife-, and fist-bearing disagreeable people.

Of course, opponents might say that eliminating the bar closing time would make people likely to drink more, but that’s not necessarily the case of Miller High Life. People can drink as much as they want outside of taverns and clubs. It just means people would drink in places where restaurant keepers could profit from it.