Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stumbling Along

I probably won't be posting here much anymore - I've found the tool that I'd hoped Blogger would be, but isn't.

Stumble Upon is a way-cool FireFox extension. It adds a toolbar to your browser that allows you to rate (via thumbs-up or thumbs-down) the websites you visit, and comment on them. As you qualify your interests, you can choose to have SU present you with sites based on your interests (which streamline with each 'thumb' pressed) or - more to my tastes - you can browse the sites of your fellow stumblers.

This is the part that appeals to me, and is the reason I found Blogger lacking. You're communicating to an audience that communicates back, yet isn't as obnoxiously networking-centric as sites like Friendster. You're getting feedback and follow-ups to posts, as well as discovering some excellent new sites - and friends - as you navigate the service.

My own little corner of the Stumblehood is found here. Feel free to swing by and say hi.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Word of the Moment: Ilk

ilk, n.

A type of people or things similar to those already referred to.

(of that ilk) Scottish, chiefly archaic of the place or estate of the same name: e.g. Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk.

ORIGIN Old English ilca [same,] of Germanic origin; related to alike

USAGE In modern use, ilk is used in phrases such as: of his ilk, of that ilk , to mean ‘type’ or ‘sort.’ The use arose out of a misunderstanding of the earlier, Scottish use in the phrase of that ilk, where it means ‘of the same name or place.’ For this reason, some traditionalists regard the modern use as incorrect. It is, however, the only common current use and is now part of standard English.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Azkaban Now - Redux

In anticipation of the new Harry Potter book's release, the NYTimes has created an archive of their Potter-related articles. I greatly enjoyed reading this review of Prisoner of Azkaban (my favourite Potter episode). I love reviews that educate more than they describe:

Novels are best suited to focus attention on an individual, someone whose life seems genuinely novel, apart, unprecedented. But the needs of boys and girls are multiple and contradictory. While desiring heroic distinction, children also have to find their places in the herd. And novels that effectively celebrate tribal membership are rare. Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are dedicated to the triumphs of Gryffindor House as much as they are to their individual academic efforts. The competition among the four Houses of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry is practice jousting for the more serious battles against Sirius Black and other agents of Lord Voldemort. The earliest athletic games kept warriors in fighting trim. It's all part of a good education, for boy warriors and girl warriors.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's Not That Hard

Yet more proof that church and sensical thought are as far apart as church and state should be:

A high-ranking Roman Catholic clergyman says religious freedom is being threatened in Canada by same-sex marriage. Marc Cardinal Ouellet told a Senate committee that priests sometimes don't even feel comfortable preaching their church's morality for fear of being branded homophobes.


Geez! Get over yourselves! I, for one, think that this is an excellent example of religious freedom in action - the flock have recognised the social change that has taken place in this country, and that extends to recognising how antiquated and creaky their Catholic church is. If the Canadian priesthood is truly concerned, they should be pressuring "Maledict" Ratzinger to allow some flexibility in the dogma. Or are they more upset at being "branded" homophobes than being homophobes who fly under the radar?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Phrase of the Moment: Penny Dreadful

Found here:

A 'penny dreadful' was a term used in the 19th century for 'a novel of violent adventure or crime'

Phrase of the Moment: Bury the hatchet

Bury the hatchet,

To settle your differences with an adversary.

Originated with the American Indian tradition of burying the hatchets of the chiefs of tribes when they came to a peace agreement. Described by Sewell as early as 1680.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Aftershocks and Afterthoughts

The scenes from London are terrible, but it seems things could have been a whole lot worse. For one, note how many eyewitnesses claim to be in the cars next to the ones that were bombed - flying glass and smoke inhalation sound like the majority of their injuries. Those were some well-built carriages, man.

Rudy Giuliani, harbinger of doom. Learning from bagpipers, it seems, Rudy will soon be taking money NOT to make any speaking appearances: "Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks, was visiting London at the time of today's attacks." And to add to the list of celebrity suspects, weren't Bob Geldof and Bono threatening to disrupt the G8 meeting? (I'll go to any lengths to shut those two up!)

What impressed me most today was the relative lack of panic (in the streets of London). Everybody regrouped and took it in stride (and no DJs were hanged). It occurred to me that Londoners, through the historical Darwinism of Luftwaffe blitzkrieg, IRA bombings, and everyday dealings with millions of annoying tourists, are pretty damn hard to faze.

Terror Again

News of explosions in London. Unfortunately, yewitness reports and pictures from the scene indicate that the current death toll of 2 will soon rise dramatically.

I guess it could be expected; The world's attention is on the G8 summit, it's been a while since the last big hit, there was an Olympic announcement yesterday, and Britain is - if anything - overdue, given its involvement in Iraq. But I wonder if the sleeper cells weren't waiting for the Olympic announcement? New York, Madrid, Moscow, Paris and London are all G8 cities and big targets with easily-accessible transit systems, ripe for backpack bombings.

I'm surprised by the current lack of info and documentation of this attack. The BBC has some camera-phone photos up, but London is one of the world's most snap-happy cities. Between that and the comments from the police chief, it lends an air of eerie calm to the whole situation, but then, I don't have a TV...

London's police chief Sir Ian Blair said there had been 'many casualties' but it was too early to put a figure to those killed or injured...

Sir Ian urged people to stay where they were and not to call emergency services unless it was a life-threatening situation.

He reassured the public that an emergency plan was in place and the situation was 'steadily coming under control'.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

He'd Kill To Be That Famous

Thinking about Presidential assassinations, it occurred to me that I'd never heard for what cause James Garfield was murdered. Turns out it was a political statement on behalf of the Monster Raving Loony Party. Charles Guiteau sounded like a real piece of work:

Born in Freeport, Illinois, Guiteau was routinely beaten by his father as a child and left home at an early age. He inherited $1000 from his grandfather as a young man and went to law school, where he promptly flunked out. Undeterred he used his money to start a law firm in Chicago based on ludicrously fraudulent recommendations from virtually every prominent American family he could think of. After every case he handled resulted in enraged clients and judicial criticism, he went wandering and ended up at the controversial Oneida Community, where he joined an obscure religious sect, and reportedly spent all his time in sexual abandon. He was eventually expelled from the community for his all too obvious mental irregularities and then devoted himself to theology.

He published a book on the subject called The Truth which was almost entirely plagiarism of the words of others. After that embarrassment, Guiteau took an interest in politics. He repeatedly gave rambling unsolicited campaign speeches on Garfield's behalf during the election months, and believed himself to be solely responsible for Garfield's victory. He insisted on being awarded an ambassadorship for his vital assistance, and when he was ignored by the White House he went into seclusion and prayer, and believed that God had commanded him to kill the president. Guiteau bought an expensive .44 caliber collector's revolver which was ornately engraved with precious metals, because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination. He shot Garfield in the back as he was boarding a train in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bravo, Dude!

I fucking hate podcasts. HATE them. Except for this one, which made me laugh and impressed me with its anti-podcast-yness.

And anyone who thinks that, because it was created by my best friend, that will affect my opinion, obviously doesn't know me. Ask any of my many *friends - they'll vouch for me!


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Creationist Trolls

That can mean both the flame-warmongers and the dark ages scientists, BTW.

Here's a great rebuff to a Creationist from a scientist who really-just-does-not-have-enough-time-for-this-kind-of-thing:

> Oh, I forgot, evolutionists don't have any biases! They only engage in *real* science

Oh, I have plenty of biases, all right. I'm quite biased toward depending upon what my senses and my intellect tell me about the world around me, and I'm quite biased against invoking mysterious mythical beings that other people want to claim exist but which they can offer no evidence for. I'm quite biased toward accepting the evidence I see at face value, and I'm quite biased against throwing that evidence out simply because some people with pre-conceived notions try to pretend it doesn't exist. I'm quite biased toward accepting the ideas of those who understand how science works, and who understand that everything in science is open to question and testing, and I'm quite biased against accepting the ideas of those who have no idea of how science works and who will hold onto discredited ideas no matter what the evidence against them simply because they have pre-conceived ideas of how the universe operates. I'm also biased toward the Dallas Cowboys, almost all forms of chocolate, pizzas with anchovies, and any woman who acknowledges my existence.

P-R-I-D-E (Find Out What It Means To Me)

This weekend is Pride in Toronto, and I'm looking forward to seeing my first ever parade (naked, buff men parading openly in the street? I am so there!) This great blog entry by Heather Gold is helping to get me psyched up for what promises to be 10+ hours of fun and festivities:

Just like the ���straight world,��� there are always folks who stay frozen in the politics and aesthetics of their gay youth. But there���s an overriding principle that everyone belongs because we all have one thing in common: we know what exclusion feels like. So in the world of queerdom, there is a contingent for everything.

Stand proud Gay Parcheesi Players with Hay Fever! You are not alone. Soon, you too will have a float in the parade. And a special flag. This is how we got the new acronym GLBTIQQ. We used to be the gay community. Now, we are the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, intersex, queer and questioning community. If we really want to be genuinely inclusive, we should add FSP for friendly straight people. And then add some vowels, because they're feeling oppressed and excluded from the acronym. Then add T for Tired, because you're exhausted by the time you get to the end of it. GBLTIQQUOEFSPAT. This is how the Parade got so long.

No one will be left out! Except the numbers. Maybe the genderqueer folks can be the numbers. Or maybe we can just use ?. The Parade is now as long as ?. They should have a halftime break. They can have straight men come out and play football for us.


Boingboing links to a page that discussed retail theft, and lists the top 50 most shoplifted items.

I laughed at the idea of stolen Visine (in trying to hide your dope habit, you get nabbed for shoplifting!) and Oil of Olay (women really don't take aging very well), but I was kind of saddened to see a lot of women's products on here. Between the Monistats, Aleeves, and pregnancy tests, it spells embarrassment or shame about their bodies on the part of the thieves.

Shameful, on the other hand, was seeing how many Similac products made the list (note that case quantities beats single can for theft attempts). People are having babies they can't afford in a country whose government is cutting the strings of the social safety net. With the moral-conservative society taking root in the US amidst a declining economy and a treasury-sapping war, I'm guessing the formula products will steadily move up the most-stolen list.

It's an interesting socio-economic indicator. They should release this list every election year.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Word of the Moment: Halo

Halo, n.

1. A circular band of colored light around a light source, as around the sun or moon, caused by the refraction and reflection of light by ice particles suspended in the intervening atmosphere, or something resembling this band.
2. A luminous ring or disk of light surrounding the heads or bodies of sacred figures, such as saints, in religious paintings; a nimbus.
3. The aura of majesty or glory surrounding a person or thing that is regarded with reverence, awe, or sentiment.

[Medieval Latin hal, from accusative of Latin hals, from Greek, threshing floor, disk of or around the sun or moon.]

I was curious as to how the halo originated and evolved into the popularly-accepted ring (usually suspended over cartoon characters by a visible supporting wire), and as usual Wikipedia provided my answer:

The use of halos to designate Christian saints presented a problem in the translation of the Hebrew Bible. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the tablets of the law, he is said in the Hebrew text (Exodus 34,29) to have a glowing or radiant face. However, this would have implied a halo, which was reserved for Christian-era saints. Jerome avoided this by translating the phrase into Latin as "cornuta esset facies sua" (his face was horned). This description was taken literally by Medieval and Renaissance artists, who depicted Moses with small horns growing from his forehead. Especially noteworthy in this respect is Michelangelo Buonarroti's statue in San Pietro in Vincoli...

The halo underwent an interesting transformation during the Renaissance. Originally, the halo represented a glow of sanctity emanating from the head. Since it was conventionally drawn as a circle, during the Renaissance, when perspective became more important in art, the halo was changed from an aura surrounding the head to a golden ring that appeared in perspective, mysteriously floating above the heads of the saints.


Some spectacular mistranslations of a Chinese Revenge of the Sith bootleg. I have an Asian Two Towers bootleg that has some "huh?" moments as well, but these are pretty funny in their total lack of precision.

Personal fave: "I was just made by the Presbyterian Church" (mistranslation of Jedi Council). Doubly funny when accompanied by the comment from a minister who stumbled upon the site:

Having been "made by the Presbyterian Church" myself, I wonder what amazing powers I haven't been exercising?

BTW, the best retort I've heard to the new Lucas video game: "Is 'Sith' an anagram?"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

States' Politics

There are rumbles about Al Franken running for election in 2008. The Times has a piece on it, but I admit I was less interested in Al than in this description of Minnesotans:

Then again, Minnesota is a place of enormous, and not easily explained, contradictions. A place where lions of the Democratic party - Hubert H. Humphrey and Eugene J. McCarthy - once strode the earth, it takes voting very seriously, with a 79 percent turnout in the 2004 general election. Yet in 1998 it elected a professional wrestler to run the state. Minnesotans, who show up in droves at the state fair to marvel at seed art and butter sculptures but also show up en masse at the legitimate theater, are their own darn thing. So frequently cast as droll practitioners of the art of common sense, they have displayed some fairly atavistic tendencies, electing Mr. Ventura out of nowhere as both a slap and a jolt to the system. In their own quiet way, they remain mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

It's nice to see a citizenry so invested in the system. (For the record, I get the same warm fuzzies from Vermont, land of the Independent, Jim Jeffords.)