daikiki blogs

It's only mine because it holds my suitcase.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, October 25, 2010

A screed.

Where will you be on November second? Where will you be in the days leading up to November second? Are you disappointed? Are you angry? Are you staying home? Are you insane?

Look - I get it. I really do. You were promised a unicorn and all you got was this lousy reform. I'd be pissed too. And now we're all collectively so pissed that we've decided to learn 'em a lesson. Our absence at the polling places will sure teach them. Our absence will teach them that we're fickle and self-absorbed and that the only way to win is to pander mercilessly to the lowest common denominator, to pretend that you're one of us and that you feel our pain and that, if elected, you'll immediately fix all of those things that you've been telling us so long bother us so much that we're about ready to start believing you. And then where will we be?

Remember the neocons? They thought they could reshape the world through wishful thinking and anger into a funnel that siphoned money away from we the people to them the plutocrats in exchange for a mere few hundred thousand human lives. Small price to pay when it's not your life, right? You thought they were bad, these jingoists, these hate filled white men in their -sometimes literal - ivory towers? You thought it was bad having to listen to the nonsensical justifications of men who would sell their mother for a juicy no-bid government contract? You thought it was torture listening to once-respected news outlets explaining why torture isn't torture?

Just wait until you see what's around the corner. Here comes the new class of Republicans and they're nothing like the old class. Oh no. They're so much worse. These new republicans. This newest branch on the evolutionary tree of wrongness doesn't even think they need to justify their wrongs. They are proud of their ignorance - proclaiming that our nation is a Christian one and that health care is an impossible burden and claiming that the rich deserve to be richer and that the poor deserve to starve. They demand that we spend, spend, spend on our military and on our failed wars and on our commercial incarceration factories, but they claim that we can't afford human compassion. They claim that we can't possibly find a way to care for our elders, our sick. That we can't teach our children. That we can't welcome our neighbors. That we can't trust. Can't give. Can't love. No we can't!

They demand accountability from the Democrats for the hideous wrongs the Republicans have inflicted upon us and the world over the last decades. They demand respect where none is due and deny respect well earned. They turn the world on its head every time they open their mouths. They claim that Democrats are spendthrift and Republicans are fiscally responsible even as they spend us into bankruptcy every time we give them the checkbook. They claim that we want government control where they want liberty even as they try to tell us where we can build our houses of worship and who we can wed and whether we become mothers and fathers.

Over and over we fall for it. The easily influenced are influenced and the sane are demotivated because we don't have our unicorns yet. And time and time again they take the finger, then the hand, then the arm, then the body, then the soul. They eat at us from the inside, making us so cynical that we can't distinguish between good and bad and so jaded we don't care. They make us believe that it can't get better. It can only get worse slower.

And now they stand at the brink of an epic victory - a refutation of human values and dignity that will echo through the ages. They will defeat us so soundly we will be afraid ever again to raise our voices - ever again to hope. Their misery will become everybody's misery. Their self-destructiveness will become the rule of the land once again. Government will be gridlocked for years just as we face our greatest challenges in a lifetime and down we will spiral into the long night. And they will crow victory.


Unless we win. Unless we stand up and we fight. Unless we decide once and for all to reject the self-defeating rhetoric and create an environment where ideas can flourish and knowledge is held in the esteem it deserves and where we all know that we can win because we must.

We've been here before. We've won victories that with the gift of hindsight seem hollow. Sometimes it seems that every time we win we lose. Granted, politics are cyclical, but this isn't politics. This isn't even class war. This is survival. We must break the downward spiral and the only way to do that is to wrench away power from those who live for nothing else. Every time we win, we lose. We try to change the world and get caught up in the rhetoric of those who don't want anyone to win. The fearmongers grow rich over the backs of the disgruntled and the hopeless and they will never be sated.

Two years ago we stood at a crossroads. We chose overwhelmingly to wrest the baton of power from those who had abused it so cravenly. Now we have to decide whether we're going to let them take it back. We have to decide whether we should punish ourselves because the people we put into power didn't do enough to make our lives better. We need to decide whether we should stay home in protest of lack of progress, whether we should withhold our wholehearted support from those whose motives, while perhaps not entirely pure, are not utterly craven.

Who would learn a lesson from that? What would the lesson be? That we deserve to fail? That not enough progress is worse than no progress? That no progress is worse than regress? That up is down and black is white and hate is love?

We stand at a crossroads again. And we stand to lose a lot. But we stand to gain a lot too. We're not up against politicians any more. Our democracy stopped being a two party system years ago. The other party gave up. Now they're playing dirty. They're circumventing the people and going straight to our employers. They're trying to buy and lie their way into power and they're running on nothing. We've already defeated the Republicans. Now we're up against the fanatics. The crazies. We're up against people who plainly don't care if they tear the country apart, so long as they get their way. We're up against the people who don't care if they're wrong, so long as we pretend they're right.

In one week we can break them. We have the opportunity to wipe out these last vestiges of a failed system. We're up against the dregs here; people who, were it not for a media system that thrives on controversy and failure, would not get the time of day. We're up against people who think science is evil and people who think we should undo centuries of progress for the sake of purity.

It's not even a stretch. We don't need to change the world in a week. We just need to do our duty. We need to speak up. We need to be proud of our values. We need to be eloquent in our defense of them. We need to be convincing and unflinching and generous with our time and our money.

We must hold the line. This is their final charge. They've mustered all the crazy. They've resorted to open racism, religious intolerance, jingoism, and bigotry. They've played every card they have. This is their final gambit. If we hold the line we break them once and for all. If we hold the line we can start building a future for ourselves and our progeny.

Who knows? Maybe we'll end up in a world where our political choices are sane - a world where we can choose between different goods, rather than constantly fighting against stupidity and failure and ignorance.

But first we most hold the line.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I never write, I never call

Now I'll be the first to admit that this is because nobody could care in the least whether I write or call. I'm just that uninteresting. In an attempt to remedy the situation, I give you a theoretical CEDA propaganda poster that gave me a good chuckle:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Apparently my camera is a rain god.

A writer who died before his time once described a rain god; a man who was constantly pissed off because wherever he went, it rained. I think my camera may be a rain god. The last couple times I've pulled it out*, the heavens opened up on me. I did get to try out the rain cover on my new camera bag, but it was a close call.

*: While not in the middle of a desert

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An object lesson in awful site design - by Microsoft

My Xbox is broken. No surprise there. It's happened before and it'll happen again. It's all part of the Microsoft experience. But that's not my gripe. My gripe is, as indicated in the subject, about site navigation. You see, I'd like to know the status of my repair, so off I trundle to xbox.com.

Look! There's a button marked "Check Repair Status", in a dropdown right under the support tab. Clicking it does not, however, allow me to check my repair status. That's okay, because now there's a link called "Check Repair Status" on the left navigation bar, under console management.

I'll just click that. Surely doing so will display my repair status? Nope. But that's okay. Now there's a blue button in the middle of my screen that says "Check Repair Status".

I click it. Finally! My repair status!

My repair is. . .in progress. Not a big surprise, I suppose, but after all that buildup I would have hoped for something a bit more exciting.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Voyager 2 Where Are You Now?

Voyager 2 where are you now
Looking back at home and weeping
Cold and alone in the dark void
Winding down and bleeping
Ever dimmer ever thinner
Feebly cheeping in the solar winds

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Costco Hard

I have, on four separate occasions in the last year or so, attempted to purchase (with money!) a Costco card. In each of these four attempts I have been foiled.

Now you may think that my willingness to partake in an arrangement where I give somebody fifty dollars in exchange for nothing other than the right to give them even more money in exchange for goods and services would be gladly welcomed and even facilitated by the party receiving the fifty dollars. You would be wrong. To the contrary, they seem quite intent on preventing it.

The first time I attempted to become a card carrying member of the Costco family was somewhere halfway through January. I was in need of large amounts of liquor and it had been brought to my attention that the establishment may be willing to purvey exactly that. So in I walk. There's a tired looking lady at the door wearing the type of vest nobody in their right mind would wear were it not for the fact that they'd be fired from their job if they didn't. Before she can even muster up the corporate mandated cheer required to welcome me to their retail paradise I ask her where the membership desk is. She points me at the customer service desk. Or rather, she points me at a teeming mass of people mulling about what I presume to be the customer service desk carrying all manner of inexplicable crap stuffed inexpertly back into boxes and bags. I do mean mass, by the way. There were a hundred people in line if there was one. "Surely you're mistaken," I proffer, "That would appear to be the return line."

Long story short: She wasn't mistaken. It was the return line, and also the membership line and, possibly, the bathroom line. Since I didn't want to die of old age standing behind the type of people who buy things for the sole purpose of deciding that they shouldn't have and blaming other people for it, I decided to just go to Target instead. On my way out I briefly entertained the thought that forcing new people to brave the teeming masses of plebs with defective or perceived defective or just didn't want it Chinese goods might be some kind of hazing ritual for new members, but I dismissed the thought. No big deal. Maybe it was just a busy day. I'll come back later.

A few months later, it's later. I have decided that it would be sensible to buy more than one day's worth of food at a time, so I decide to make a list of non-perishables that I regularly use and set out to buy a month's worth. So once again I head off to the local Costco. There's no line this time, so that's a positive. There is, however, a negative that rather more than offsets this limited blessing: There's also no Costco. It's gone. Completely. Not closed. Just gone. There's a patch of dirt where Costco used to be, surrounded by a desolate parking lot. The megamarket, it seems, was merely mega, and Costco desired a market that was rather more hyper than mega. So down it came, to be replaced eventually with the kind of building that one would suspect of housing a zeppelin or two had one not known better. Foiled again.

Attempt the third was fairly recent. Fall has come, and I hear that the place is open again. So off I trudge on a somewhat dreary Saturday afternoon to try once more to give these people my money. I should have suspected something when traffic was snarled a mile down the street, but I didn't quite manage to put two and two together. So, slightly delayed, I arrive at the site of the new Costco. Turning onto the parking lot I notice that the place is so large that one wouldn't be surprised to find for sale inside of it discounted four packs of smaller retail stores. The adjacent parking lot spans, I kid thee not, several acres. But in all those acres, there was not a single free parking spot. What was present was a sampling of the worst humanity has to offer. People blocking exits, people stopping in the middle of a row if somebody nearby even looked like they might soon consider freeing up a precious parking spot. People walking obliviously down the middle of the road, rug rats in tow. It took me fully twenty minutes; not to find a spot, but simply to get off the lot again. I think I left a part of my soul there though, because I've felt empty inside ever since being exposed to that carnival.

This neatly brings us to this evening. It's a weekday, I figure. It won't be quite that busy, and I really do need a bunch of the kind of merchandise Costco is likely to provide in packs of several dozen. Right. Off we go again. My first impression was that I may well be successful this time. There's ample parking, the building is - well - present. It's not on fire or anything. Having parked, my spirits rise even further. I can see the membership desk from here, and there are no more than half a dozen people standing there. I briefly wonder about the woman who was obviously trying to return a Christmas tree in November, but no matter. I've been to the California DMV before and suffered very little permanent damage, so I'm pretty sure I can brave this. Feeling a slight giddiness I set foot inside the building. Out of politeness more than anything else, I ask the dumpy middle-aged woman at the entrance whether the counter directly in front of me, the one that is obviously the member services counter is, in fact, the member services counter. She assures me that it is, but also informs me that I just entered through the exit. I take this for noted and attempt to continue on my way. Dumpy, however, has other plans. "You have to go through the entrance," she admonishes. I stop, look around. The entrance is an identical fifteen feet wide doorway immediately next to the exit, separated by a two foot wide pillar. "Over there?" I ask.
"That's the entrance," she says.
It should be noted that, if I were to do as she asked, I'd have to take two steps back, walk around the two foot wide pillar, and walk back inside, passing the exact place I'm standing now on my way to the membership desk. I decide I need some clarification. "So you want me to go back outside, come back in through there, and the come back here?"
"Yes," she says,"because that's the entrance."

Suffice it to say that I didn't take an amusing little walk around the pillar. Nor did I leap through a burning hoop or hop up and down making arf sounds in exchange for a raw herring. Instead I went to K-mart, where they let me in without so much as a verbal test, accepted money in exchange for goods and not once tore the building down.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I assume we're all familiar with the Philosopher's Drinking Song?

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'bout the raisin' of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away,
'alf a crate of whiskey every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
and Hobbes was fond of his Dram.
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Citibank. . .

It's just not working out between us. A few years ago, when first we met, you were a different credit card. You were slimmer for one; I know it's not fair to play on your self esteem, but it has to be said. When I first saw you, you fit into a slim size 7%. And you promised it wasn't going to be an introductory thing either. I wouldn't say it was love at first site, but I was in the market and you were available. A little too available maybe. I suppose that, even back then, I might have seen this coming.

A year later you and I had been on a few dates, to Fry's mostly, but I took you out to some nice dinners too. I honestly wasn't too surprised when you wrote me and announced that you were now a size 10%. I wasn't too peeved either. I kept you around to help me maintain credibility with the other credit providers, and besides, even at 10% you were only costing me a couple bucks a month.

Then, last year, the crisis hit. You and I had been on one or two dates the year before, mostly because you indulged me in my preoccupation with expensive optics. When the shit started hitting the fan I thought maybe you'd come by, tell me you still loved me. Perhaps even announce that you'd lost some weight. After all, I hadn't once forgotten our anniversary, even though it seemed to move around unpredictably from month to month. That was a little bit suspicious, by the way. It was as if you were trying to make me forget and then. . .then what? Anyway - come by you did, but not to praise my loyalty or punctuality. No, you came by to announce that you were now a size 20%. Twenty! You looked like a blancmange!

I have a confession to make. I keep you around not because of the services you provide, but to remain attractive to the other credit cards. And who knows? Maybe someday I'd want to convince a mortgage to come home with me and you know how picky they can be. So I figured "What the hell?" and kept you around. Twice a year or so I'd take you out to dinner and the rest of the time I'd dutifully write you a check on our anniversary. Always for about twice what you asked because &mdash let's be honest — I know that if you ask for X and I only give you X you'll find a way to make me regret it.

And then times got a bit lean and I couldn't take you out to dinner anymore. But still I never forgot our anniversary and I kept you around. You didn't seem to mind, although I didn't hear from you very often. I figured maybe you needed some time alone with those nice men from the FTC who kept coming by to look at your kitchen. You know, where you did the cooking.

Things went on for a while like that, neither of us paying the other much attention. Business was getting better though and I remembered that I needed to use you ever so often to stay appealing. Also there was a particularly nice piece of glass I was interested in, so I decided to take you out on the kind of date we hadn't been on in years. It was exhilarating and we both got what we wanted. You got attention and a reason to bug me for a little bit more attention every month, and I got the respectability I apparently need and a nice piece of glass to boot.

That was two days ago. I just got home and saw your letter in the mail. I almost didn't open it. Most of the time when you write you're trying to sell me insurance or offering me minuscule discounts to Paul Anka concerts in states I'd never dream of considering thinking about entertaining the possibility of visiting. I don't know why I decided to open this one. Maybe it was the way the envelope didn't have a single starburst on it; not one exhortation encouraging me to urgently open the letter. Not so much as a single exclamation mark. It was almost as if you didn't want me to open your letter.

But open it I did. And I guess I really shouldn't be surprised to read what you wrote. You're a size 30% now. I guess you were waiting for the right moment. Waiting for me to show just the slightest sign of weakness. Well. You sprung your trap. I suppose you think you have me by the gonads. Oh sure - I can opt out of your massive increase in girth, but where would that leave me? You'd be forever surly until you went away completely and I would never again enjoy the few benefits you did offer. No. That's not the way. Here's the deal. When you open your mail tomorrow, you'll find that I've paid you off. Completely. No more anniversaries. No more nagging. And thirty percent of nothing is — let me think; times three, carry the zero — nothing. You overplayed your hand. You tried to trick me. And now you're going in the box. Don't get me wrong. I'm not letting you go. I still need you and the respectability you provide me in the eyes of the other credit cards. It's just that you'll never get another penny out of me for the favor.

Welcome to credit card purgatory, bitch.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stereo Photography is Keen

A few years ago I realized that taking a stereo photograph of a stationary object is as trivial as taking a picture, locking the settings, moving your camera a few inches to the left, and taking the same picture again. The first shots I took I used a tripod and a ruler laid against the front of it and it worked out fairly well. Unless you have a controlled environment, though, this is all really elaborate and burdensome. Some years later, I thought to myself, "How precise do I really need to be?" Turns out you can get a fairly decent 3D effect freehand. It's pretty simple, actually. Stand squarely in front of your subject with your feet about a foot and a half apart. Favor your left foot. Frame your shot and lock the settings, Take the pic. Shift your weight over to your right foot and take the shot again. Mission accomplished.

As far as looking at the things goes, you have a few options, two of which require no special tools, and one of which requires no special viewing skills. The first is called the cross eyed viewing method:

It's not hard to view one of these once you've worked out the technique. Fundamentally it's the same technique used to view those old 3D steganographs - you simply relax your eyes and slowly cross them, as if you were focusing on something in the middle distance between the screen and your face, until the left and right images merge. It's kinda headache inducing, but it works well.

The other technique, something that I briefly thought I'd discovered myself, is to simply alternate between the two images and let the viewer's brain fill in the blanks. It's a bit iffy for pics with a lot of depth, and not much less headache inducing than the cross-eye method, but it's pretty cool for its ability to convey the illusion of a 3D image with no special tools.

By the way, I composited the animated gif using Stereo Photo Maker; it's a pretty good dedicated tool that also does anaglyphs and the like. Check it out if you want to try this at home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It goes without saying that I am easily amused.

Can you run with our crowd? - mmm4w - 58

We've been through a lot together, the three of us, but there's something missing. We didn't really realize it when we first met, but then again, we didn't really meet under the best of circumstances. In fact, we all ended up in the hospital that same night. Adversity brings people together, I guess, and we've been inseparable since.

I'm the independent type. I've seen my share of humanity and I'm not entirely sure whether we're better off without them. I know how to take care of myself, but I'd rather have someone I trust cover my back any day of the week. My friends are . . . well, they're eclectic. They're also younger than me and don't seem to share my dislike of running up and down stairs. You'd think I'd get along a bit better with the biker, but he's just such an asshole. He's always whining about something. I know that, deep down, he's just afraid, and he's a great guy to have around in a pinch, but he's just not an easy person to spend time with. My other buddy is a bit more easy going - he tends to overdress though, and he is a little bit arrogant. I know he used to work in an office - computers, I think. He hangs on to his dignity, but deep down he knows we're all he has.

Let me be clear here. Things tend to get physical with us. It's not always the intent, but it always ends up happening. We went camping in Pennsylvania a while back. One moment it was all picnic baskets and moonlit nights, but one thing led to another and before we knew it we were hip deep in tongues and fingernails and bodily fluids. I'm not saying this to brag. I just want you to know what you're getting into.We're not looking for a delicate woman, and we're definitely not looking for somebody who can't take care of herself. What we are looking for is somebody to complete our foursome. Somebody who can stand up for herself in a rough environment and preferably somebody with a wry sense of humor. We cover each others' backs, even if we seem gruff. A thick skin will definitely be an asset.

We're planning on going for a little trip soon - get out of town for a bit, you know. So, maybe, if you're into it, you can head down to the airport with us. Hell, if you got the grit, we'll even let you take point.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Felicia Yay!

Point the first: There is nothing unlikeable about Felicia Day. Point the second: Clan Whedon bears responsibility for pretty much all the epic the internets have to offer these days.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Musings on a piece of vellum

The Kirkby IndentureI picked this up last weekend and have been researching it off and on since. And by researching I mean "trying to read it." I'm not sure I'm doing terribly well.

It starts, "This Indenture of Defeazance made this seventh day of September in the Four and Twentieth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord Charles the Second," but my reading comprehension kinda goes downhill from there.

What I have worked out is this: It's a defeasance, which would release the parties involved from an earlier contract. The agreement is between Richard Kirkby, 18th lord of Kirkby, Member of Parliament and Justice of the Peace, and his daughter Agnes (spinster). It pertains to a gift of 300 pounds given in trust to Richard by his wife's father, David Murray (According to "The Antiquities of Furness", David was a servant at the court of Charles I) as part of his last will and testament in 1658.

Richard was bankrupted in the first civil war, even losing his estate (but rewarded well by Charles 2 after the Restoration). It seems, however, he had no way to repay Agnes her three hundred pounds plus interest (566 pounds now). This document seems to nullify the debt, possibly in exchange for something already provided.Something to do with Boulton? A manor?

Whatever it actually says, it's a fascinating look into 17th century British history, and you can play along at home! I posted a great big version here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


And it only took a bazillion attempts.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Commercials are pretty much word soup these days

BWM would like you to know that

Performance now is all about logic.
That some cars cost as much as $1500 to maintain is one thing.
That others cost even more is quite another.
That a BMW costs you nothing to maintain, defies all logic whatsoever.
And in turn makes it the most logical choice of all.

It's English. . .I think. Those are English words, anyways. That they have no semantic meaning is another thing whatsoever. I understand what they're trying to say here - honestly I do, and I understand what they want you to hear as well. What they want you to hear is this:

Performance now is all about logic.
That some cars cost as much as $1500 to maintain is one thing.
That others cost even more is quite another.
That a BMW costs you nothing to maintain, defies all logic whatsoever.
And in turn makes it the most logical choice of all.

Thing is, what they're actually saying is that some cars cost less than a specific amount to maintain over an unspecified amount of time and some don't. Also that performance is logic and providing a service contract with your cars isn't logical, and therefore, presumably, not performance. I'm not quite sure about that last bit though, since defying all logic is apparently quite logical.

I used to think that the people who made these things were really, really smart, and that they chose their words with great care, but I'm starting to suspect that they're just spouting gibberish and don't even realize how retarded their nonsense ends up sounding.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Riots in Tehran, Crickets on Cable

We are all Iranian TodayI have been completely captivated by what's been going on in Iran for the last day or so - glued to my screen, actually. If you haven't been paying attention, or if you've been paying attention to the wrong sources, you'd think that there was an election, Ahmadinejad won a new term and there were some people mildly upset. The local media here is saying things like "World Reacts to Iran's Disputed Election" and "Ahmadinejad hails election as protests grow" on their sites and dedicating little if any time on their broadcasts.

What's really happening over there seems to be much more profound and much more brutal. The only problem is that there are no official sources, no authoritative reporters. There are, however, people twittering from Tehran, people posting images of bloodied protesters and recounting the disregarding of ballots and the abducting of dissidents. Nothing's clear right now, except that what is happening in Iran bears little semblance to what the major American news networks are reporting. According to the internet, Tehran is on fire, but according to the news, Tehran is mildly peeved. You be the judge.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Imagine hundreds of people talking about football!

An early 90s news report on a new phenomenon named "Internet", where people come together to discuss interesting topics in a polite, well educated environment. Choice quote: "There's not a lot of cursing or swearing."

Adam Savage on Failure

Adam SavageAdam Savage was one of the speakers at this year's Maker Faire; his speech was on the subject of (professional) failure and how it helped form his career. Well worth the time: Adam's speech in full

Monday, May 25, 2009

Omar and the Joy of Life

Omar and the Joy of Life I have to assume that the naked guy trying to fly a kite from his odd little enclosed balcony is Omar and that he's enjoying life. Taken in the Tenderloin, if memory serves. It was a long time ago.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite FallsMore Yosemite pics on my flickr feed, of course. Also, Pete made a collage, as one does.