Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bitsam and Piecesam

Did you ever notice how anything political gets mondo comments and the other stuff gets maybe 2 or 3? I checked over at Pa've's page and it is the same way. I guess you could say it is because these issues are more important than others, but there are plenty of important issues we've written about like crises in the Sudan, family and pet crises, non-hot button political issues, and so forth that receive very few comments. I have no conclusions, just the observation. Maybe we are like crappy parents that jump up and run every time our offspring pushes our buttons...maybe not.

I added two new weblogs to the Snabby Friends registry: Pandabonium and Pus Boy. They've both contributed to the comments enough times to get the nod. Go check them out if you get a mind to.

It appears that summer time has slowly backed into the Pacific Northwest, now that Rose Festival is over. Enjoy the relative dryness and warm weather. It is better than being in Neosho, Kansas (tornado vortexes on the radar) this fine evening.

That is all. Have fun.

Obscure Basketball News

Chinooks starters Day and Johnson sign with Mex-LNPB

The Portland Chinooks announced today that Chinooks starters Robert Day and Byron Johnson have signed with Algodoneros de La Comarca in Torreon, Mexico of the LNPB, a new professional league in Mexico, founded through the Mexican Basketball Federation.


I had the opportunity to watch both Byron Johnson and Robert Day play for the late Portland Reign of the reconstituted ABA and the Portland Chinooks of the IBL. Johnson is really close to being NBA ready. He is a great player to watch and he knows how to score points. Robert Day is a monster point guard with the type of hustle and effort I haven't seen since the Jerome Kersey days of the Blazers. I wish both of them luck in international play and hope an NBA shot is in their futures.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Supremely Disappointed

From all accounts, it appears that the Supreme Court's final hurrah for the season chose the big guy over the little guy every time.


  • Eminent Domain - I was not all that excited with the idea of the government seizing land unless it was for utilitarian purposes like highways or public utilities and, even then, that they should do so with great care and sensitivity. Now, it appears a business can come in and claim their multi-national widget shop is more important than your home and kick you out (at "fair market value" of course).

  • File Sharing - The court also decided that people don't steal music, file sharing software developers do. This opens the door for a cadre of lawyers to seal an oligopoly for big music labels. It won't work, but they keep trying.

  • The Ten Commandments - Actually, this is a tempest in a teapot. This ruling stops nobody from privately praying or worshipping as they choose. It won't close any churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, or fog-shrouded circles of oaks with a stone altar at the center. Everything is as it was before and would have been if the ruling had been different. In short, who cares?



I guess this qualifies as politics, but I'm allowed a little ranting now and then I think. I've also been wanting to post something lately, but work has been busy.

Also, I made a comment over at security expert Bruce Schneier's blog on the subject of preventing identity theft. One might think the common theme for me through these points and links is that something must be done about big corporations, but that is only partially true. I am actually in favor of individual sovereignty and think that corporations, who cannot feel or think, should exist to enhance and encourage individual sovereignty. When corporations start squashing individual rights, they are no better than governments that do the same. We did without corporations until after the civil war, so it isn't as though they are necessary to the functioning of a free market.

Your mileage may vary. Also, I've decided that I don't have any commenting guidelines any more. Just try to be civil and try to avoid writing anything you wouldn't say to someone's face. Farking yeah.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

And Another One Gone...

Oh, dear! Oh, d-d-d-dear-dear!

What is this, the Great Hunny Curse??!?

Now we've lost another of the original voice actors for the Winnie the Pooh cast, this time John Fiedler, who did the voice of piglet. He started out on Broadway, appearing in various supporting roles next to several big-name actors until the casting director for the first Disney Winnie the Pooh movie heard his high-pitched voice and said, "That's piglet!" Along with Paul Winchell, he also returned in 1999 to reprise his role in The Search for Christopher Robin.

That's two down in less than a week. Who's going to complete the trifecta? It can't be Sterling Halloway (Pooh); he died long ago.

Oh, bother...

Fang or Venom?

Do any of you guys know about this? Does someone need to alert Duncan?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Tribute to Paul Winchell

When I was in kindergarten, my favorite cartoon of all was Wacky Races, and my favorite character therein was Dick Dastardly. When my daughter was small, she was a dedicated Winnie the Pooh fan, and her favorite character therein was Tigger. What do these two very different characters have in common?

The voice actor, Paul Winchell.

Paul Winchell has been a major name in cartoon character acting for a very long time. His name has been an ubiquitous feature in Disney and Hanna-Barbera since the 60s although he was known as a ventriloquist and radio performer as early as the late 40s. (Heck, he was even Gargamel in "The Smurfs"!) He also had amazing longevity: in the animated TV series "The Further Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", which played on the Disney Channel, he was the only one of the original Pooh character voice actors to participate for any length of time. (Actually, he played the role until the early 2000s, when Disney ditched him for "a rasp in his voice".) He also reprised the role of Tigger in the 1998 movie The Search for Christopher Robin.

Paul Winchell, born Paul Wilchin, also had some other, unexpected talents. He actually designed an artificial heart which, though it never came into production, formed the basis of every model of artificial heart known today.

Paul Winchell, you will be missed. TTFN: ta ta for now.

Only in Japan...

First they offered a pillow in the form of a female lap in order to give comfort to lonely, single men. Now they have a new pillow out modeled after part of Maria Sharapova's anatomy.

Still...you have to appreciate the animated graphic of a man bowing to apologize for the sold-out model.

***sigh***

Are American men missing out?



(Note...the graphic and links include the word "joke". Not only that, but the translation of the Japanese explanation includes the line, "However, 'Pillow Sharapowan' is a very naughty name for a product." That makes me wonder more than a little bit about its authenticity...)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Free Fun!

We had a cool day today...My husband & I did about a 7 mile hike in Forest Park today. Very ambitious, but we're trying to do some serious training to hike a section of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) for two weeks in August. We admit we're computer slugs most of the time... It was a perfect day, not too hot and not raining.
We did it in about 4 hours, and that was with lunch and "call of nature" breaks. We saw many unusual plant specimens and some interesting side trails we could take later. Beautiful views!

We started out at the Zoo, took the Wildwood trail up through the Hoyt Arboretum, then on up to the Pittock Mansion (nice, but ya gotta pay to get in..grounds are free to wander in..); then down across Cornell to the Audubon Society and finally the end of the trail at Lower Macleay Park in NW Portland. This is a nice way to do it, as there are plenty of benches to take a rest if you need it, bathrooms at all the public stops, plus drinking fountains too.

A couple of caveats-

1)The most dangerous part was crossing Burnside, I'd suggest getting a very early start and don't try it at night! The other roads at least have pedestrian crossings (Cornell & Skyline), or have very light traffic.

2)Watch out for the the joggers and dog-lovers. Plenty of dog doo, and a couple of teenage renegade bikers (technically there're not supposed to be bikes on the trails).

For more info check out Friends of Forest Park

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sure, We'll Take Terry Porter

Bucks fire Porter after worst season in nearly a decade

Terry Porter won't get a chance to use the first pick in next week's NBA draft.

Porter was fired as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, two months after the team finished its worst season in almost a decade.


So why would I want Porter as coach of the Blazers? Terry Porter was a great competitor and a part of the greatest team Portland ever had. I don't believe his problems in Milwaukee were related to his coaching abilities, so why not bring him to Portland? If he can deal with the platitude-ridden, shifty Portland management, he has a talented group of players to work with. If he can negotiate for control of the team, instead of a micro-managing group of "hands on" people like the amateur personnel director, the team might actually win.

So I say bring on Terry Porter and let him win some games for the Blazers!



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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Snabulus Caption Contest

(thanks to Pandabonium for the picture location!)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Bigger They Are...

...the harder they fall.

You know what happens when you get a little too complacent in your superiority, don't you? Pretty soon people start catching up to you...and even passing you.

The media made a big deal of it when, a couple or so years ago, a squadron of very new Indian Sukhoi fighters took on an American F-15 squadron in a combat exercise and more or less kicked the snot out of them. The response?

India: The American planes are surprisingly dated.
The media: The administration is wasting time, effort, and money on questionable military adventures (i.e. Iraq) and its nuclear arsenal when it should be concentrating on maintaining the edge.
The Pentagon: Remember, this was just a game. We had to play with our gloves on. We'd hate to make those poor Indians look bad, wouldn't we? If it were a real combat situation, woo-EEEE!!!

Well, the illustrious USAF, and the F-15E fighter, have just been embarrassed again, this time by a "hapless" Eurofighter Typhoon trainer (i.e. the two-seat practice version). A couple of Strike Eagles thought they'd bully the little limey, and they wound up with their tailpipes painted and egg all over their faces.

I just love this quote from the linked article:

A chance encounter over the Lake District between a Eurofighter trainer and two F-15 aircraft turned into a mock dogfight, with the British plane coming off best - much to the surprise of some in the RAF. The episode was hushed up for fear of causing US blushes.


Gee...I'm so happy our allies are helping us maintain our dignity. Lord knows we couldn't do it on our own...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'll Have a $3 cup of ice...thank you.

Well, enough of the economic system crud. Let's move on to something more important...my pet peeves.

I just got back from picking up the Mini-Snab from school. We stopped at Starbucks on the way home to break windows and write anti-globalization graffiti on the windows to pick up a couple of beverages. Mini-Snab ordered a double-something-iced-something-ccino and I ordered an iced-something-something-tea-latte.

My nearly $3 beverage was opaque for a very short time until I drained it and found out it was 2/3 ice. I could understand it if it were free refills at Denny's (or Waffle House for you southerners out there), but it was a Starbuck's glass o' yuppie juice. In any case, a pox (just a small pox though) on Starbucks and their stupid glass of ice.

(Actually, the 'bucks usually does a good job. This was an aberration...but one for which they will suffer from the Mighty Keyboard of Truth. Ha! Take that, swine!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Capitalommunism, Part 2

China's Haier considers Maytag bid

Haier Group, China's largest home appliance maker, said on Wednesday it could make a bid for Maytag Corp. (NYSE:MYG - news), the struggling maker of Hoover vacuums, pitting it against two big U.S. buyout firms.

Trying emulate the global success of rivals such as South Korean appliance maker LG Electronics (066570.KS), Haier would have to top a $1.13 billion bid for Maytag from Ripplewood Holdings and discourage the Blackstone Group, which has expressed interest in the appliance maker.


This article refers to the Haier group as if it were a private company. By definition, they are not. They belong to Communist China. This is no different than finding out that the United States Postal Service or the (Your state here) Department of Justice was bidding on buying Maytag.

Apparently, the distinction between capitalism and communism is lost on the author of the article. Who knows? Maybe someday one of us will be blocking a "Haier Group"-"owned" tank before we get carted off to jail for having an opinion.

Isn't it amazing that after 40 years of Cold War that two polar opposites can merge so neatly together?

As Bokonon says:

The Fifty-third Calypso [ 2 ]

Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice--
So many different people
In the same device.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

1000 Hits

OK, I've been very quite as of late, but I had to contribute this bit on Snabby. I've been watching baseball for the past two years with more interest than I have for some time. Tonight, about 90 minutes ago, I had the pleasure of hearing, (on the radio), Ichiro, of the Seattle Mariners, hit a line drive on the second pitch at the start of the bottom half of the first inning. This may not sound too amazing until you stop to think that this is Ichiro's 1000th hit during his baseball career. Truely stunning.

update: The Mariners go on to win 3-1 over the Phillies. Go Mariners!

Capitalommunism

Microsoft Censors Chinese Blogs

Microsoft is cooperating with China's government to censor the company's newly launched Chinese-language web portal, a spokesman for the tech giant said.

The policy affects blogs created through the MSN Spaces service, said Adam Sohn, a global sales and marketing director at MSN.


snip

On Monday, Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, said bloggers were not allowed to post terms to MSN Spaces such as "democracy," "human rights" and "Taiwan independence." Attempts to enter those words were said to generate a message saying the language was prohibited.


Microsoft. All the oppression of China without the public ownership.

All I can say is Overlords is Overlords...it doesn't matter what they call themselves, how they distribute wealth, or what flag they use.

(I hope Pandabonium will accept this is equal bashing time for Microsoft :D )

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Macinblogging

We here at Snabbyland try to be a multi-platform bunch, but it isn't always easy. I can't even remember all the platforms I've operated under, but I always enjoy seeing a new individual, group, or company's vision for what ease of use and utility should be in computing.

We have a Flower power iMac as one of our two PCs. The other is a generic Windows 2000 clone box (with room for Linux when I get around to it). All of my work and most of my time is spent on the Windows box (and some that work provides). However, the old iMac has been undergoing a couple things lately worthy of blogging about.

The first is that the monitor is slowly getting blurrier and blurrier. The fix estimate is between $250 and $300 (thanks to The Mac Store for the quote and good service) and, of course, there aren't any more flower power case designs coming out of Apple. Luckily, my friend Steve told me about Real VNC, a "free for personal use" remote control software program. Fortunately, it is open source...unfortunately, there is no quick-and-easy Mac solution at the site (the Java version doesn't appear to work on Mac).

Fortunately, there was OSXvnc from RedStone software. Now we can get a clear picture of our Mac screen on any VNC client (in our case, a PC). In addition, I can do Mac work from my PC. It isn't perfect, but you can't do much better for free, that is for sure.

(Geek Alert below!)

Also, DewKid is doing some amazing work bringing the Avalon Hill board game, Magic Realm, to the cyberworld in a manner that allows network play with the look and feel of the board game. DewKid's game is written in Java which means, in theory, that the game ought to run on any platform including Mac. Unfortunately, in the configuration required for the game, Java must be set up a certain way using command line parameters (think DOS here). DewKid programs on the Windows platform, so a batch file (.BAT) took care of the necessary stuff.

However, on a Mac, there is no batch file. In OS X, there are shell scripts which are very similar, but we learned that a Unix terminal session does not run in the directory from which it is double-clicked. No, no. Instead a user must run a scripting layer above the batch code to feed it the right folder. Luckily, the found someone named greggo at Mac OS X Hints that had the necessary code to pre-navigate to the right folder. His Applescript allows the Unix script to run the Magic Realm session correctly from the correct directory. Hopefully, DewKid's users will have as much success as I have.

(End of Geek Alert.)

With all that said, I am not confident about buying another Mac to replace our fuzzy-screened iMac. I don't like how Apple eschews backwards compatibility to achieve (supposedly) superiority in new technology. However, more seriously, I don't like Apple's participation in what I see as frivolous and potentially damaging intellectual property/digital rights litigation against companies and journalists. They've joined in something that I consider a circular firing squad for capitalism. We are going to replace the Flower Power iMac with a PC most likely.

The GOOD news is that I am contemplating doing my first ever computer mod. I really like the Flower Power case design and have read a couple of sites of people who have stuck PCs into iMac cases. If I do so, I will take some pictures for y'alls.

(Today's fun song: Oysterhead's Rubberneck Lions)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

16 years ago


Click picture for more details...


From the Comments, by The Moody Minstrel:

Ah...the leadup to Tiananmen Square. I'll never forget that.

At the time, I was living in a co-op at Oregon State. There was a student there from Beijing, and he was passionately supportive of the pro-democracy demonstrations. He had friends and family there, and we could tell he would have given anything to be there with them.

When the tanks rolled in and the soldiers of the People's Army (what a [expletive] misnomer...) started shooting at random, I was the one that broke the news to him.

I'll never forget the look on his face when he dropped his dinner plate and ran to the TV room. It'll haunt me for the rest of my life.

Interestingly, the last time I saw him was the day before I headed up to Portland in preparation for coming to Japan (when I stayed at Vulgarius's place...thanks, Vulgarius!). I was taking one last stroll in Corvallis, and I bumped into him (no, not literally) on the sidewalk downtown. He had received political asylum, and he was living more or less in hiding in Corvallis. He had lost everything. He had left behind friends, relatives, a wife, and a child in Beijing.

It didn't dampen his smile at all, though his eyes looked very sad when he said his last words to me:

"I don't care. I know it'll be worth it in the end. Good luck, my friend."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Where Engineering and Art Met


Keith Emerson navigates a sea of patch cables

Celebrating 40 years of Moog synthesizers

The Birth of the Synthesizer

Somewhere along the path between Stradivarius and Pro Tools sits an unprepossessing and grandfatherly man named Robert Moog.

Moog (rhymes with vogue) sold his first synthesizer, the Moog, in 1965. In the 40 years since, these musical instruments -- and, Moog will tell you, they are musical instruments -- have changed contemporary music.


What started out as grindy-sounding oscillators that had problems creating a musical chord have evolved into recreators of acoustic sound, hip-hop mix devices, and the keyboard and drumpads have themselves disappeared in some cases. I've truly enjoyed growing up during the rise of electronic keyboards. It was a period of pure creativity and experimentation where the number cruncher and the artist came together as one. From Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Yes, and Rush to Jean-Michel Jarre, Brian Eno, and Tangerine Dream and so many others, many great and classic tunes were created during the 70s and 80s

For those in the New York area interested in celebrated the achievements of Robert Moog, you just missed the Moog Fest.