April 2002 Archives

It's late, so it must be quiz time

Today has been a day for cold-calling

We had NPower phone twice today, wanting us to come back to them. We have very good reasons for not going back to them - they signed us up via one of those door-to-door salesmen all the utility companies use, and it was only after I went through the bills months afterwards (they were on direct debit, I didn't have to worry about them) that I realised that:

  1. We were paying three utility companies - electricity from NPower, electricity again from Scottish Gas and gas from Scottish Power (I know, a bit perverse)
  2. Scottish Gas's estimated meter readings looked like our meter. NPower's meter readings weren't anything like them
  3. After a number of phone calls, we worked out that we had in fact been billed for our neighbour's electricity.

NPower haven't paid us back yet, and every time they call, they remind me that I still haven't chased them up on why they haven't sorted this fiasco out yet.

I'm not sure if we ever told the neighbours that they should expect a honking electricity bill fairly soon.

That wasn't what made me write this entry, though. I've just put the phone down on another cold caller who was trying to give me holiday vouchers ("you have been randomly selected", all that nonsense). She asked me why I wasn't interested in her offer.

"I don't appreciate being cold-called from South Africa."

I am not making this up.

Anime pets

Fun test. You need to take it.

You are Ryo-oki!

Take the "Which Anime pet are you?" test!

(Yes, that is a jazz cover of Cheek to Cheek)

More from the mad Christian

I've been reading more of that "Christian Scientist" guy I was mentioning earlier. He claims that evolution can't explain the emergence of the eye, because the eye is too complex. In an argument reminiscent of Xeno's paradox, in wording if not structure, he mentions:

Logic dictates that if evolutionism is true and the eye was built incrementally over time from nothing to its present state of functional wholeness, then it must have at some point in the past been only half of an eye

And then proceeds to illustrate this with a picture of an eye - and I am not making this up - cut in half. He then complains that it would leak.

Incidentally, the reason evolution can explain the emergence of an eye is that any light vision is useful - to be able to tell light and dark apart is already useful, and the ability to see more and more clearly is also useful, so almost inevitably eyes will emerge. Octopuses have evolved eyes independently of animals, for instance, and my friend Jonathan in Canada apparently has been known to explain how, with only a little coaxing, you can get an eye to grow on anything.

I'm sorry Laszlo

...but there are no real Cork corks left. Oh, wait, I've found one.

We are such boozers.

I'm fascinated by the way [Berkeley, I don't to play ball with you, and you dropping a ball on my foot won't help] Laszlo deals with being given a cork. You offer it to him, and he takes it in his mouth, like a cigar but perfectly centred in his jaws; he waits for a moment, as if thinking; then he takes it into his mouth proper, no longer a small bit poking out, and chews it; then he drops it on the floor, and contemplates it for a moment. Once all this ritual is done, he then seizes the cork and procedes to dismember it - I have as yet not done a study of this subsequent part of the cork-death procedure.

Creation Science, indeed

The first article on this Christian Fundie website, "Evolutionism[sic] Propaganda", is what got me interested in the site (it was linked from The Register, which you should all read if you're at all interested in computing, IT, web or similar techie news, because a) they tell it like it is, b) they're British, and c) they're funny). But the others look promising as well.

I particularly like the photo of the Flower Power iMac, used to illustrate the darwinistic (and therefore communistic and satanistic - I am not making this up) nature of Mac OS X (because it's codenamed Darwin; he trots out the tired old scare stories about daemons and having to chmod 666 files to "make them useful" - although letting everyone be able to read and write your files seems pretty bad to me). It says that users are swayed by the hypnotic patterns on the iMac casing, and thus convert to Darwinism / commit evil / eat kittens with ketchup / Insert Bad Thing Here. Now, never mind that the Flower Power iMacs were never sold with Mac OS X bundled; what gets me is that the so-called hypnotic patterns on the Flower Power iMac are limited to the sides and top/back. If you're using the damn thing, you can't see them. Someone explain to me how you're supposed to be hypnotised by them.

(Incidentally, the spell-checker that comes with Mac OS X doesn't know about the word Darwin.)

Having said that

Prairie Wedding is a fantastic song. If you didn't like Mark Knopfler's first album, well, remember how good he was in the last Dire Straits albums and buy Sailing to Philadelphia.

Wanderlust is good too, incidentally.

What is the point of a second ballot now?

Polls suggest Chirac will win with 78-80% of the total vote in the second ballot in a fortnight's time. And this is because he's up against Le Pen; if he'd been up against Jospin (who came within 1 to 1.5% of coming second), it would have been 50-50 or thereabouts. There's something seriously wrong about a system that lets this happen.


I'm in a state of shock at the moment. Checking Libé for details of the first round of the French Presidential elections, I read that, according to the exit polls, Jospin is eliminated - and Chirac will face Le Pen in the second round. This can't be! A crook up against a fascist, with the left nowhere. I can only hope that the left win the parliamentary elections.

(Non-French speakers can check the BBC.)

Not sure I particularly understand this one

Most unsurprising test results ever

You are a Geek - loads more text which I can't be bothered typing in
Take the What High School Stereotype Are You? quiz, by Angel.

I mean, duh. Whoever wrote the quiz could have mixed up the order of the questions, though.

Call me a Sting fan, but...

...dammit, I am a Sting fan. I have extenuating circumstances, though: I think he's great.

Would she prefer it if I washed myself more often than I do
Would she prefer it if I took her to an opera or two

Even though I'm not a lyrics person (well, I actually can't hear lyrics most of the time), I like what he writes. Which means, I like the music he writes, then I realise after a while that I like his lyrics as well.

If I wasn't, well, male, I'd want to have his children. There, I've said it.

Seven Days, incidentally, I believe to be a classic pop song - and that's no rare feat given that it's in 5:4 time. (I have a fond memory of Wynton Marsalis - and dammit, spellchecker, these words are real and important - having everyone clap along to 7:4 time, which I will share some other time.) The chorus goes

Monday, I could wait till Tuesday
If I make up my mind
Wednesday would be fine, Thursday's on my mind
Friday's give me time, Saturday could wait
But Sunday'd be too late

Somehow, that feels to me to be a classical chorus, like I've heard a bunch of them before, and they were somehow good.

Incidentally, I see reviews that make a difference between his new stuff, that people don't like, and the old stuff, that people do like, and is proof that he's past it, because he can't do stuff like that any more. It's particularly funny when they include "Fields Of Gold" in the "old stuff" category, which is (now) 8 years old, which is two albums worth, or, in other words, nothing, given that Roxanne is from 1979.

Incidentally, if you like Paul Simon, but didn't like Songs from The Capeman, You're The One is worth listening to.

Must play more Civilisation III now...

Time for a roundup of the online surveys

First of all, tinpot dictators. (I originally got Slobadan Milosevic, and felt offended that, having decided to be a smart dictator and choose the appropriate choices, I ended up with a description that accused me of being thicker than most dictators. Feh. Then I tried again, and for my perseverance I get this...)
George Bush - will these people *ever* use alt tags?

"Wait, I'm not a dictator!" you cry! Well lets look at the check list: Unelected? Check! Use wars and xenophobia to boost popularity? Check! Total control of the media so they never say a bad word against you? Check! Kill scores of innocent people to get what you want? Check! Do anything to get your hands on oil? Check! Inhumane treatment of prisoners? Check! Face it, you're a dictator, and no amount of gloss will hide that fact… or the fact you're a borderline retard who looks like a monkey!

What tin-pot dictator are you? Take the "What Dictator am I?" test at PoisonedMinds.com

Actually, all the others I saw today were a bit rubbish. That's all for now.

Clever spam

Got a spam claiming to be a cure for the most recent virus, one that most anti-virus software can't detect. Then the warning: because it's a very subtly modified version of the original virus, it might be flagged as a virus by your anti-virus software. So ignore the warnings! They don't know what they're talking about!

(If the anti-virus software doesn't know about the virus it's supposed to be a close relative of, why does it flag the cure but not the disease?)

Oh, and it's sent by "webmaster", and has the obligatory spelling mistake (technique spelled as "technic" - I note that my spell checker doesn't pick that up as a spelling mistake, though, so maybe that's why)

If the virus people want to be smart, they should go through recent received and un-replied email, and reply to it with Eliza (after examining the sort of quoting / replying styles the user tends to use). And, of course, include an attachment. But hey, what am I saying, these are virus people. They almost by definition stupid - anyone smart enough to know how to write a proper virus is smart enough to realise what an astoundingly callous and evil act that would be.

The BBC's budget simulator

The BBC has a new Interactive Budget simulator - the idea is that you decide how you're going to modify taxes and individual departments' budgets, then they tell you how badly you shafted the economy.

It's currently broken at the moment, but in any case I don't think it's that interesting. For one thing, it doesn't appear to take into account regional or developmental policy - so doesn't even bother to talk about the Transport budget. It also doesn't tackle issues like legalising drugs and then taxing them to the hilt (which I'd like to do, and the US be damned). So, until they make it more interesting, it's just another web toy.

The song, BTW, is this wonderful Cuban rap. No, I am not making this up. It's great. It's got all sorts of salsa rhythms and things. They actually do a cover of that Buena Vista Social Club song - they're not just gold jewellery in Spanish.

That damn OS quiz

I didn't take it a while ago, because, well, it only encourages them. But I was bored, so:

I am

Would it really hurt you to put an alt tag in there? MS DOS, that's what I am, you lazy fuck.

What microsoft OS are you?

Last time I took this I was Windows 3.1. The scary thing is, this time I thought the answers were more accurate. At least Cleodhna also thinks in a similar way.

Rip apart, but in a nice way

I am ripping apart old UK2 code and putting it back together again in a more flexible, more expandable, altogether better way. I have just written a comment that refers to a "nice complex warm fuzzy data structure". And it's nearly 11pm. I like working from home.

Because when I'm on a roll, I don't have to stop. And it also means that, to make up for that, I can decide one day that, dammit, I'm going to play Civilization until I drop, and nobody can stop me. Hell, nobody knows I'm playing Civ III - well, apart from Cleodhna and the dogs. Laszlo has stopped responding to the occasional wolf howls that the game puts in for atmosphere.

(The spell-checker didn't know about the words "Cleodhna" and "Laszlo". I'm baffled. How could you possibly think they were misspelled?)


Googlewhack is a fun site, devoted to finding that elusive combination of keywords (normally two, unless you're really keen) that produce only one search result in Google. (Word lists don't count, because that's too easy.)

Cleodhna and I had a contest yesterday, which ended up in a rough draw (although she probably wins because I stole colostomy from her)

Perambulating phenomenologically
Tentacular colostomy
Phonologically obsidian
Multisyllable dictator
Australopithecine scallion
Metatarsal faberge
Cruikshank bivalence
Sandworm plexiglass

Great fun

The weirdness of golf

I'm following the golf on news.bbc.co.uk while doing other things (sort of), and I'm fascinated by the sheer psychological aspect to the whole thing. Here you have Tiger Woods merrily golfing away, with a couple of guys a few shots behind him, and all of a sudden both of them implode, with triple and quadruple bogeys. (The Beeb's coverage suggested that Augusta wasn't a course with much in the way of water traps; still, both of these huge scores were the result of hitting water.)

Everyone appears to be taking the sex addict test; I decided to take the same guy's Poo test. (Has anyone done a Pooh test? For that matter, is there a handy list of tests out there somewhere? If there isn't, will I end up registering a domain name and then doing nothing with it?)


i am

what poo are you?

Fool To Think, BTW, is an excellent track, with a fantastic drum rhythm that makes you think it's in a non-4:4 time signature even though it isn't. Driving and off-beat at the same time.

Acronyms that deserve to be co-opted

The acronym "OMG" (Omigod, I understand it is spelled in full). It would be funny if it were to mean something else to a considerable subsection of the population, particularly people with buying power or influence. That would be good. It would mean yet more things in italics*.

I dislike Omigod / OMG / whatever it's supposed to be. I'd like society to choose whether it wants to trivialise religion by using God in every phrase, or whether it wants to make religion Important by Killing People of subtly different Abrahamic religions to make a point. (The Onion put it best, in their "What do you think?", with something like [from memory] "I wish one side was slightly browner than the other so I'd know which one was right". I must do the Onion search engine thing at some point.)


*: Strictly speaking, the emphasis tag doesn't have to mean italics. But, hey, who am I kidding?

Life is too short

This is what I meant to have in the Mood section:

...thing that I was listening to, so somehow manufacturing a gestalt entity of all the songs I was listening to? God help me if I was listening to a compilation album of random people rather than a collection of songs from the same people.

Mood is strangely over-fulfilled

Damn thing truncated my "Mood" string. Now I know not to take the piss with something that is supposed to only last a line, and to hell with you if your browser will support a longer line - there's a certain number of characters that are allowed, and anything beyond that will be ignored.

Some weirdness as far as typography goes: depending on the widget (yes, that is a technical term), ligatures happen or don't.
In the subject field, I get Look at the fi at the beginning of
In the body field (multiple lines), I get No join here, which is WRONG, dammit

I had to start up Classic to run Photoshop to turn the TIFF files that Grab generates into GIFs that everyone else will understand. For some reason when Photoshop starts up at the same time as Classic, it decides its menu bar is superfluous and therefore shouldn't be displayed. If it's started up after Classic, it apparently magnanimously decides to throw in the heretofore-considered useless menu bar - perhaps as a fit of pique.

Roll on Photoshop 7. If I'm going to use pirated big-name software, I want pirated software that works on the Operating System I Paid For, dammit.

I have achieved the next step of livejournal-ness: I have corrected a previous post of mine. Admittedly, the correction involved removing a typo, but, crucially, the original post was submitted using an offline client, and the correction was done using the Web interface, thus doubling the number of clients I have used so far, as well as the fact that I have edited, not merely added, posts.

I had other things to add, but I was busy adding smart-arsed comments to the Mood section of the livejournal entry, and forgot about them.

Oh wait, I remember now: my LiveJournal client is one of those Mac OS X clients that automatically knows about spell-checking (I think this is a Cocoa thing, unless it's a Carbon thing - Apple may be wonderful at Industrial DesignTM, but when it comes to choosing names that Mean Things, they should choose names that are different, and, crucially, Memorably Different). Thing is, it complains that part of a hyphenated word ("livejournal-ness" was what it picked up) is misspelled, but when you right-click to tell it to fuck off, it selects the whole word, which it doesn't think is misspelled (maybe misspelling dilutes). You have to manually select the hyphenated bit, then right-click, to tell it to fuck off and not bother you again.

Random Good Thing: Mac OS X automatically deals with ligatures. (My spell-checker only knows the singular of ligature - who decided that people would only ever spell ligature in the singular? What fuckwit didn't think that people would refer to ligatures in the plural? The spell-checker didn't know about the word "fuckwit" either, but at least I felt a certain vicarious pleasure in telling it about that word.) Which means if you type words that contain "fi" or "fl" or "ffi" or "ffl" it will format them appropriately (this looks more impressive in a sans-serif typeface) - automatically.

Some of the time, of course. It has refused to do so now, just to spite me. Feh.

I hereby declare this journal open

No livejournal is a proper livejournal without a half-assed poll that was devised in a few minutes, based on stolen code, and ends up with an image that was produced in Photoshop and probably took longer to make than the rest of the poll.

So here goes.

Take the What Explosive am I? quiz by Little man icon! Hee hee!PhoenixSpirit001

I feel spirituality enlightened already. All I have to do to achieve Nirvana, I am informed, is to work out which Anne Rice character I am. But so many polls to choose from; how should I know which one is the One True Anne Rice Poll? Decisions, decisions. This enlightenment thing is trickier than I thought.

Everyone else has one

Decided yesterday when drunk to set up my own livejournal. Cannot for the life of me remember why.

Oh well.