Monday, January 28, 2013

I haz flu

go away. I'm sick.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Links: January 25

15 Scientology revelations. [link]

Exercise myths. [link]

The worst poet on Earth, according to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, really existed. [link]

Ask a Mortician. [link]

Crows playing in the snow. [link]

A project to restore the Enterprise-D bridge. [link]

Human sense beyond the normal 5. [link]

Kim Stanley Robinson was right in his Mars Trilogy. Lichens and cyanobacteria can survive on Mars. Only we don't need to do any engineering first. [link]
Now back to the question of whether we should go ahead and dump some on Mars or not.

Some Civil War soldiers had glowing wounds. The glowing bacteria in those wounds may have saved their lives. [link]

Garbage disposals don't work how you think.

5 real life Rambos. [link]

An experiment in domestication through breeding of silver foxes.

The thawing of a 10 story freezer building.

Removal of wisdom teeth is unnecessary. [link]

"The Turret Anthem" starring Portal 2 turrets.

Glee steals Jonathan Coulton's cover of "Baby Got Back" and may be legally allowed to do so. [link 1] [link 2]

The business cards of famous people. [link]

A letter from cartoonist Linda Barry to her students. [link]

Most American high schools are almost sadistically unhealthy places to send adolescents. [link]
I may even do a normal post on this article. High school will fuck you up.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

a^2 + b^2 = c^2

Does this help you understand what your math teacher was saying? Mine pretty much just said "just use the fucking equation. It's just works. Alright?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Found on a wall in the Annapolis Bog. It's mold.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Norman's house

I bought a couple of houses in Baltimore. I call one "Annapolis Bog" because it's on Annapolis Road and it's so wet inside that there's nothing organic that can be salvaged. The other is Norman's House because I bought it after it's previous owner, Norman, passed away. Today I'm talking about Norman's house.

The house always needed some work. It's livable, but not great. I'm not going for great. I'm going for rentable. I already had one contractor do some work. It was clear that his heart wasn't in it. I was intending to use him for the gutting of Annapolis Bog, but he's not seeing a dime now.

One of the strange things about that place is the wood panelling over the walls. Judging from the materials it was probably put up in the 70's. I'm assuming that's when the drop ceiling went in, too. Pure class that Norman.

We picked one room and decided to see what was under the wood panelling and what was above the drop ceiling. We figured we'd pull it down, remove the wallpaper we knew was underneath, and repaint. We were fools.

Yesterday we attacked a room. Different from the one we intended. The intended room has a new gypsum board ceiling that effectively prevents us from removing that panelling without lots of careful knife work. This new room had a known problem with the ceiling light. Namely that it was attached to an extra cheap drop ceiling panel instead of the framework for the panelling. This highly flexible panelling can't really support the weight of the light on it's own so it sags significantly. To get a better look, I climbed up the ladder that Norman so graciously left us with the house and pulled down one of the panels. With it came a bunch of plaster and wallpaper. The ceiling above the ceiling was collapsing.

We refocused on our original task. Take down the wood panelling. And it came down pretty easily once we took out the plastic, faux-wood moulding... and the rest of the drop ceiling. These super-cheap ceiling panels have the advantage that they don't break if you try to move them like more traditional ceiling panels do. They came right down and did so in a condition that means I could put them back up if I chose. And even though they don't support light fixtures, they do, apparently, support crumbling plaster.

I dismantled the drop ceiling framework while Yummy started pulling loose wood panelling. When the framework came away from the walls the wood panels came down easily. That exposed beams attached to old plaster walls. Along the interior wall that plaster had kind of a falling out with the lath it covered. Falling out? Maybe a falling off. This wall we intended to repaint became, with minimal encouragement, a pile of rocky debris on the floor.

The ceiling soon joined it. Hey, it's a lath ceiling with holes in it. Why should we try to keep it? Yummy discovered the joy of playing the top of the lath like a xylophone and watching it fall away. She also realized that a determined person with a hammer can level a house in just a few hours.

Above that ceiling was a horrible mix of modern wiring and the original knob and tube wiring that the house was built with. We can also see enough of it now that we can start rewiring. Particularly since we now have a Jeffries Tube running over all the rooms. What? It's easier to convince a geek to crawl around in the Smurf sized attic and run wire if you use Star Trek terms.

Of course, after about 5 hours of work we found ourselves in a room full of partially exposed brick, bare wires, visible studs, and shin deep debris. Contractor bags are handy, but we could use some smaller ones. Start throwing debris in those bags and you've barely gotten started when you have an 80 lb bag of rocks. The wood performs better. It makes for a more impressive bag... of tetanus. But at least those nails aren't going in the bottoms of your shoes anymore. My demonstration of that hazard convinced Yummy she needed to change shoes.

We didn't get the room completely cleaned up. With the ceiling light gone we were dependent on daylight. It's January. Sunset is around noon. We went home, Yummy looking like coal miner, my hair feeling like a cast on my skull.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Inauguration Day

There's some kind of big to-do down near the Capitol Building. It means I don't have to go to work. And gives me an excuse not to have to come up with something to write today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Saturday Links: January 19

A parrot with it's own car.

The happiest animal in the world. [link]
Sort of the opposite of Tard (a.k.a. Grumpy Cat)

Why the high frame rate version of "The Hobbit" looks weird. [link]

A man takes his elderly, arthritic dog out into the lake for several hours a day so it can sleep. [link]

The most expensive copy of Star Wars. [link]

A good way to get yourself killed.

The White House responds to a petition to build a Death Star. [link]
Be sure to look at the URL.

Remember the tales of a possibly Star Wars live action TV series? There are 50 hours worth of scripts written. They were considered too expensive to film. Disney isn't opposed to the idea of the series. So it's not dead yet. [link]

Dubstep birdie.

Oh! So this is the Australian dust storm I keep hearing about! [link]

Video demonstration of a hover drone aboard the ISS. I'd been wondering what happened since I first saw them 10 years ago or so. [link]
Now we can interrogate the princess about the location of the rebel base.

Those who are spiritual, but not religious have more mental issues. [link]
What? I didn't say anything!

Cable TV to shrink for the first time in it's history. [link]
And don't you wish you could see my 'in your face' dance?

Morgan Freeman narrates Morgan Freeman really true facts. [link]

What Dr. Seuss meant. [link]

What the Huygens Probe saw on the way down to Titan (a moon of Saturn).

Man receives threats for helping 6 kids not killed at Shady Hook. [link]

Obama's plan to reduce gun violence. [link] [better list?]
Remember: Almost all this must be done by acts of Congress. I know a lot of people are freaking out and claiming Obama did it already. No, there will be a war in Congress to get the real stuff done. And even disaster relief is hard to pass. The executive orders are mostly about research and enforcement of existing laws. 

More about the research Executive Order. [link]

General suggestion list.

The special calendar event for 2013. [link]

Old flu treatments. [link]
Ah, the hypo-spray. One area where Star Trek was wrong.

Who is the NRA? These guys. [link]

A dollhouse... with a fallout shelter. [link]

Are you crying!? There's no crying in space! [link]

Great laser cut paper windows. link

OK. I'm done. The rest of these require real reading.

Friday Links: so sorry

No Friday Links. There may be a Saturday Links tomorrow. No promises, though.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

H.R. 152

At long last Congress voted for and passed a bill providing victims of Hurricane Sandy some aid. Much, much, slower than aid for... well, pretty much any other disaster. But there was opposition to providing the people of New York and New Jersey with aid. "Sure, their homes and jobs were destroyed and they're homeless and penniless. Big deal." they say. Who could be so heartless?

Roby, Martha
Rogers, Mike
Aderholt, Robert
Brooks, Mo

Griffin, Tim
Womack, Steve
Cotton, Tom

LaMalfa, Doug
McClintock, Tom
Cook, Paul
Miller, Gary
Royce, Ed
Calvert, Ken
Rohrabacher, Dana
Issa, Darrell
Hunter, Duncan

Tipton, Scott
Gardner, Cory
Lamborn, Doug
Coffman, Mike

Miller, Jeff
Southerland, Steve
Yoho, Ted
DeSantis, Ron
Mica, John
Posey, Bill
Webster, Daniel
Nugent, Richard
Bilirakis, Gus
Ross, Dennis
Buchanan, Vern
Rooney, Thomas
Radel, Trey

Westmoreland, Lynn
Price, Tom
Woodall, Rob
Scott, Austin
Collins, Doug
Broun, Paul
Gingrey, Phil
Graves, Tom

Latham, Tom
King, Steve

Labrador, Raúl
Simpson, Mike

Roskam, Peter
Hultgren, Randy
Kinzinger, Adam
Schock, Aaron

Walorski, Jackie
Stutzman, Marlin
Rokita, Todd
Brooks, Susan
Messer, Luke
Bucshon, Larry

Huelskamp, Tim
Jenkins, Lynn
Yoder, Kevin
Pompeo, Mike

Guthrie, Brett
Massie, Thomas
Barr, Andy

Scalise, Steve
Fleming, John
Cassidy, Bill

Harris, Andy

Benishek, Dan
Huizenga, Bill
Amash, Justin
Camp, Dave
Upton, Fred
Walberg, Tim
Rogers, Mike
Miller, Candice
Bentivolio, Kerry

Kline, John
Paulsen, Erik
Bachmann, Michele

Wagner, Ann
Luetkemeyer, Blaine
Hartzler, Vicky
Graves, Sam
Long, Billy

Nunnelee, Alan

Daines, Steve

North Carolina
Ellmers, Renee
Jones, Walter
Foxx, Virginia
Coble, Howard
Hudson, Richard
Pittenger, Robert
McHenry, Patrick
Meadows, Mark
Holding, George

Fortenberry, Jeff
Terry, Lee
Smith, Adrian

New Mexico
Pearce, Steve

Amodei, Mark
Heck, Joseph

Chabot, Steve
Wenstrup, Brad
Jordan, Jim
Latta, Robert
Johnson, Bill
Gibbs, Bob
Tiberi, Pat
Joyce, David
Stivers, Steve
Renacci, James

Bridenstine, Jim
Mullin, Markwayne
Lucas, Frank
Cole, Tom
Lankford, James

Walden, Greg

Kelly, Mike
Perry, Scott
Thompson, Glenn
Shuster, Bill
Rothfus, Keith
Pitts, Joseph
Murphy, Tim

South Carolina
Wilson, Joe
Duncan, Jeff
Gowdy, Trey
Mulvaney, Mick
Rice, Tom

South Dakota
Noem, Kristi

Roe, David
Duncan, John
Fleischmann, Chuck
DesJarlais, Scott
Cooper, Jim (The ONLY Democrat to oppose aid)
Black, Diane
Blackburn, Marsha
Fincher, Stephen

Gohmert, Louie
Poe, Ted
Johnson, Sam
Hall, Ralph
Hensarling, Jeb
Barton, Joe
Brady, Kevin
McCaul, Michael
Conaway, Michael
Granger, Kay
Thornberry, Mac
Weber, Randy
Flores, Bill
Neugebauer, Randy
Smith, Lamar
Olson, Pete
Marchant, Kenny
Williams, Roger
Burgess, Michael
Farenthold, Blake
Carter, John
Sessions, Pete
Stockman, Steve

Bishop, Rob
Stewart, Chris
Chaffetz, Jason

Wittman, Robert
Rigell, Scott
Forbes, Randy
Hurt, Robert
Goodlatte, Bob
Griffith, Morgan

Hastings, Doc
McMorris Rodgers, Cathy

Ryan, Paul
Sensenbrenner, James
Petri, Tom
Duffy, Sean
Ribble, Reid

Lummis, Cynthia

For a more detailed breakdown you can see the voting record at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brad Meltzer

Tonight Brad Meltzer is signing his new book, "The Fifth Assassin", at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC. In this interview and this interview, the novelist and comic book writer talks about how his inspiration came from an invitation behind the scenes of a little known Army museum.

The museum in question is the National Museum of Health and Medicine, formerly of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And the invitation was offered by My Krodie, formerly Chief Archivist at the museum, collaborator on a few medical books with me, expert on the subject of cancer in comics, and long time victim of this blog's site feed.

My Krodie and I will be attending and getting books signed. Alas, I don't have any of Brad's comics. At least none that I can easily find.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I've worked in a lot of programming languages over the years. Some I taught to myself, some I took classes in, some I tutored others in, some I developed curriculum for.

   Apple Basic
   Atari Basic
MS-DOS Batch
J++ (a.k.a. MS-Java)
CNC G-code
A couple of versions of some fax server language.

I've even dabbled in COBOL and ColdFusion, but only deep enough to help others fix their code.

Right now I'm trying to learn Objective-C so I can write some iPad apps. This is proving to be the hardest language I've ever tried to learn. I'm used to my programs all belonging in one big file.
Declare stuff at the beginning.
Use it later.
Maybe call in a few libraries from somewhere else.
If you want to get really fancy you make multiple systems each with their own languages talk to each other.
With Objective-C you start with five different files that call several other libraries. Each Object you create adds two more files to the mix. And when you go looking for help in forums you can find code but have no idea where it's supposed to go. Or if you know, they haven't mentioned the line that needs to be added somewhere else. Nothing is only done in one place.
I find myself working with two books, an online reference library, and three different video tutors that I skip between with a fourth that claims it's downloading now. But none of these sources really answer my questions when I get in trouble. There's multiple ways you could do something, but then you have to know whether you refer to it by putting things in brackets or separating them with dots or what.
The error messages are more useful than "Error #652" or "Check Engine", but they often leaving me back at, "OK, there's a mystery line that has to go somewhere. I wonder where." or "look, you clearly understand what I'm trying to do. If you won't fix it can you point me to somewhere I can look the answer up?"

Monday, January 14, 2013

For Der Muffinmann

Der Muffinmann had an announcement while I was home this Christmas. He's going to have twins. I'm sure his wife helps some.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Links: December 11

I'm trying to find space for one of these. [link]

Old cast iron pans can be interesting. [link]

Healthcare costs of obese people is now greater than that of smokers. [link]

Cats domesticated themselves. [link]

There's a limit to how many of certain British coins shop owners are required to take. [link]
That is, if you try to pay your electric bill all in pennies they don't have to take it. 

Almost half of federal prisoners held for drug crimes. [link]

Apple products that never were. [link]

Wood maps. [link]

Les Miserables apparently holds the Guinness world record for longest musical about a minor parole violation. [link]
I still plan to see it. I just liked the review. 

Instructions for drawing for King of the Hill. [link]

Dr. Oz is a quack. [link]

Calories aren't measured the way we were told in school. [link]

10 strange things in the 'fiscal cliff' bill. [link]

12 speeches that were never heard. [link]

this and then this

The best pickpocket in the world. [link]

Doc Brown was a Time Lord!

Honest movie posters from last year. [link]

Australia so hot that new colors were needed for the weather map. [link]

The next Kindle?

Curiosity proves it's a bit OCD as it tries to sweep a planet. [link]

Pics from the Centralia, PA. The town above a coal mine fire. [link]

More on the upcoming Justice League movie. [link]

Ever noticed the messed up priorities of the newspaper in Back to the Future 2? [link]

The corporation as carpool passenger case now moves to the next level of courts. [link]

Peter Hollens sings "Far Over the Misty Mountains".

Giant sperm spy craft. [link]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Razzies

Academy Award nominations are out. The radio made damn sure I knew about it. That and Obama's new cabinet nominee. But the Academy Awards are stupid. You can usually figure out who is going to win by looking for the most boring, whiny, emotional movie they can find. I'll agree that "2001: A Space Odyssey" was a piece of great cinema, but it's also a great cure for insomnia. And they usually run along those line. I'm not going to argue for "The Hobbit" winning, but there's no way they needed to wait three movies for "Lord of the Rings" to finally win.

I'm much more interested in "The Razzies". They're the awards for worst movies of the year.
Looking at this list you'll see something of a pattern. Whoever put the list together was not a fan of Twilight movies. Or Battleship. Or Tyler Perry. Or the movie "That's My Boy". But there's some other stuff mixed in.
I don't think the nomination of Kristen Stewart for "Snow White and the Huntsman" is due to her being that Twilight chick. She really was an anchor that drug down what was otherwise a good movie. I'd have tried putting her and either one of the male leads in the Worst Couple list.
"Battleship" was not a good movie, but I think it would have had a better draw if they'd changed the name. For a movie whose whole premise was "we want to cash in on a Hasbro property. We're hiring you two to come up with a script." it could have been much worse. Or maybe I was expecting something truly horrible and was surprised when my eyes didn't start to bleed.
I've never seen a Tyler Perry movie. I really doubt that I ever will. If he didn't put his name at the front of everything he does I'd probably have no idea who he is. Why aren't there more black people in Hollywood? Because the ones they let in turn in to Tyler Perry or a Wayans brother.
I've seen the first three or four "Resident Evil" movies. I didn't pay for any of them.
"That's My Boy" is an Adam Sandler movie. That's all you really needed to know about it. It's possible I just don't "get" him. But more and more I'm beginning to think that drunken frat boys have stopped getting him either.

And the nominees are...

Worst Picture
Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
That's My Boy!
A Thousand Words
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Worst Actress
Katherine Heigl
One For The Money

Milla Jovovich
Resident Evil #5: Retribution

Tyler Perry (In Drag)
Madea's Witless Protection

Kristen Stewart
Snow White and The Huntsman & Twilight S.B.D. #2

Barbra Streisand
Guilt Trip

Worst Actor
Nicolas Cage
Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance & Seeking Justice

Eddie Murphy
A Thousand Words

Robert Pattinson
Twilight S.B.D. #2

Tyler Perry (Not in Drag)
Alex Cross & Tyler Perry's Good Deeds

Adam Sandler
That's My Boy!

Worst Supporting Actress
Jessica Biel
Playing For Keeps & Total Recall

Brooklyn Decker
Battleship & What To Expect When You're Expecting

Ashley Green
Twilight S.B.D. #2

Jennifer Lopez
What to Expect When You're Expecting


Worst Supporting Actor
David Hasselhoff (as "Himself")
Pirannha 3-DD

Taylor Lautner
Twilight S.B.D. #2

Liam Neeson
Battleship & Wrath of the Titans

Nick Swardson
That's My Boy

Vanilla Ice (as "Himself")
That's My Boy

Worst Director
Sean Anders
That's My Boy

Peter Berg

Bill Condon
Twilight S.B.D. #2

Tyler Perry
Good Deeds & Madea's Witless Protection

John Putch

Worst Screen Couple
Any Combination of Two Cast Members from "Jersey Shore"
The Three Stooges

Mackenzie Foy (as "Little Renesmee") & Taylor Lautner
Twilight: S.B.D. #2

Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart
Twilight: S.B.D. #2

Tyler Perry & His Drag Get-Up
Tyler Perry's Madea's Witless Protection

Adam Sandler and either Leighton Meester, Andy Samberg or Susan Sarandon
That's My Boy

Worst Screenplay
Atlas Shrugged: Part II
That's My Boy!
A Thousand Words
Twilight S.B.D. #2

Worst Screen Ensemble
The Entire Cast of Battleship
The Entire Cast of Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure
The Entire Cast of That's My Boy
The Entire Cast of Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn, Part 2
The Entire Cast of Madea's Witless Protection

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Stormtroopers vs Aliens

See the picture below? I'd see that movie. Scroll down below the picture to see how I think the movie would go. 

Used without permission from Robert Shane

It's a dark time for the Empire. Rebel Bothans having completed a desperate raid on an Empire controlled space station are evading pursuit. As the opening scroll ends the camera pans down to a small, smoking, carbon scored ship desperately trying to dodge shots from pursuing TIE Fighters. They're being forced down onto an unexplored planet. They make a controlled landing, but they'll never take off again without repairs. A strange alien craft is crashed nearby so they turn to it for shelter, parts, and a hiding place. Inside they find a field of organic pods that's strangely familiar to the viewing audience. Naturally, Stormtroopers are close behind. The Bothans are looking for a way off the planet and ignore the pods after a quick "huh, weird". The Stormtroopers report the discovery and receive orders to examine and retrieve samples. Droids take several pods back to a
shuttle. A few Stormtroopers guard the rest of the pods. We know what happens to them. Most continue pursuit. Several Stormtroopers and Bothans are either shot or ripped apart. Unable to get the systems of the alien ship running or find useful parts, a few Bothans sneak back on a shuttle in the chaos and hide. A few Stormtroopers make it back. Some with "indigestion". Some deliberately left behind to slow the alien creatures.

The shuttles and fewer TIE fighters than in the start of the movie all return to the Death Star. Well, a smaller version. A prototype. Proof of concept. With the power to blow up a moon or a Star Destroyer. Droids are unloading pods. The Captain who led the pursuit of the Bothans on the planet wants to know what the higher ups want with the pods. He orders a Stormtrooper to take one of the pods to his quarters. With the ship unloaded the Bothans sneak out of the shuttle. They're looking for a transmitter so they can get their recovered plans to a waiting Ambassadorial Ship. The Stormtroopers with indigestion don't last long and release an alien in general barracks and mess. The Captain finds an open pod in his quarters, but no Stormtrooper. After a brief search and fight the facehugger gets him. When his chest bursts his alien is bigger and badder than those from mere clones. And he's loose on the command deck. The rest of the pods are sent off to Stormdoctors who plan to test a couple on prisoners.

Aliens are shot, acid eats through decks, Stormtroopers die. For some reason there's a cat.

Things keep getting worse, but the mess is working out pretty well for the Bothans. For the most part the station's personnel are distracted. But they do get captured. That's when acid eats through the bulkhead above and drips on top of his helmet. He dies horribly. But the Captain's alien sees the Bothans through the hole and targets them. We see him take off looking for a way to the lower deck. When he eventually finds them he kills all but one Bothan before Stormtroopers manage to open fire on it and actually hit it. The Bothan kills the gravity for that section so much of the acid blood remains as mist and floating globs. It ends badly for the Stormtroopers that charge into the mist in pursuit.

Alternate scenario: The Bothans were captured on the planet, brought back for interrogation, and thrown in the brig. The doctors intend to test the pods on the Bothans. They escape either due to acid eating through from an upper deck and destroying the door or some critical component. Or during a prisoner transfer acid drips on the Stormtrooper's helmet and ... well, what I wrote above.

The final fleeing Bothan finds a storage chamber full of alien webbing and several strung up Stormtroopers and staff. Some with holes in their chest plates. Some with holes pending. When he finally finds a room he can transmit from the Bothan finds a Stormdoctor also making a transmission. He's reporting what a great weapon these creatures would be against rebel planets. They fight. The doctor dies. The transmission of Death Star plans is made. He looks at another panel. It appears to be a motion sensor. Two large groups of dots collide. The scene cuts to a formation of Stormtroopers marching down a corridor. Suddenly... Aliens. On the motion sensor screen most of the dots wink out. That's the scene in the picture.

And the movie ends somehow. Very likely the Death Prototype blows up. Probably using a code recovered from the Captain's body and one good officer (or at least one who recognizes the threat) working together with the Bothan. They might fire on the planet, too, destroying the pods and aliens down there. So the Death Prototype explodes in a manner a physics professor would approve of while orbiting a planet with a sizable chunk of it glowing.

Then, for those who last saw Star Wars in 1977, in a rebel briefing room beside a hologram of the Death Star a woman in white sadly says "Many Bothans died bringing us these plans."

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Audio book review: Ghost Story

Long time readers know I'm a fan of the Dresden Files books. Looks like I didn't do a review of the book "Changes". I probably listened to it, and I'm not good about reviewing the books I've listened to.

In "Changes" Dresden's girlfriend, Susan, from the early books showed back up. Readers had been waiting for her return ever since she got turned into a vampire and Dresden promised to find a cure. She came back with the announcement that she had a daughter, it was Dresden's, and she had been kidnapped. As the story progresses Harry's beat up old VW bug is destroyed beyond repair, his apartment blows up, Harry is forced to agree to be the new Knight for the Winter Court of Fairies, Harry manages to cause a spell the Red Court of Vampires is casting against him to backfire and wipe out every last one of them, and then he's shot by a sniper, falls into the lake, and is presumed dead.

The first thing you notice about "Ghost Story" is the change in narrator. Lionel Luthor from Smallville replaces Spike from Buffy/Angel. And he does a lovely job. But he's not Spike. It helps if you think of the different voice as a consequence of Dresden's new non-corporeal state. Like how when Frodo wears the one ring everything looks different.

"Ghost Story" opens in the afterlife. Or, rather, Between. Between what? You're better off not asking. Here it's explained that someone cheated. "The Opponent" did something to interfere and that skews whether Dresden's spirit should go up or down. So he must go back to Chicago to solve his own murder. He returns to Chicago 6 months after being shot. Without the Red Court of Vampires to keep folks in check, hundreds or thousands of supernatural baddies have popped up around the world and are causing problems. The Wardens can't keep up. Chicago has remained in relatively good shape because of the mob, Dresden's friends, and someone known as "The Ragged Lady".

This book is different from the rest of the series. I can't put it all on the change in narrator. Maybe it's because Dresden is now a being made up of memories that there's an absurd amount of flashbacks, and TV and movie references even for him. There's just something different about how it flows.

The next book is "Cold Days". Harry once again has a body and has Spike doing his voice.

I do recommend these books. If you don't want to start at the beginning then you do need to start at "Changes" since "Change", "Ghost Story", and "Cold Days" were clearly planned together.

Monday, January 07, 2013

They're innocent because they're athletes

In Steubenville, Ohio girl was drugged, peed on, paraded around, and raped. The rapists were on the football team so most of the rapists weren't even arrested. The prosecuting attorney's son is on the team so you know the two kids who were actually charged aren't going to have to fight much. But Anonymous is on the case.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Friday Links: December 4

6 companies that rigged the game. [link]

To Low Earth Orbit AND BEYOND! [link]

Gunshot triangulating systems placed in some of the worst neighborhoods. [link]

NukaCola may not be bad for you. [link]

Swatch scarf. [link]

Christmas cards from brutally honest companies. [link]

Christmas light OKed to give neighbors the finger. [link]

How to play chess.

A tornado passing an Alabama Walgreens.

Both sides of the 2nd amendment argument in two paintings. [link]

Frost flower pictures. [link]

Some art that amuses me. [link]

It sucks to be a drone pilot. [link]
A tad worse, I'd say, to be a drone target.

Top 10 YouTube videos of last year. [link]
Where does Lindsey Stirling get these great settings for her videos?

Underwater Enterprise.

Tricorder 1.0? [link]

Sensors for Tricorder 2.0. [link]

TL;DR version of Wikipedia's longest entry - Timeline of the Far Future. [link]

Tiny spider makes decoy large spiders. [link]
So far they're found at face level and near trails. Is that because that's close to where their eyes would happen to be or have the spiders figured out how to keep people from walking through their webs?

Got my shopping for next Christmas done. [link]

Footage from an RC helicopter w/ camera flying around a Pakistan mountain. [link]
Clearly the Canadian government has drones now, too.

It's smaller on the outside! [link]

A new type of matter and magnetism which I really don't understand at all. [link]

Bing uses Google results. [link]

I always enjoy reading about the largest manmade vortex ever. [link]

The same gun fired the first shot by an allied army in both world wars. [link]

10 uses for a Raspberry Pi. [link]

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Another day another stupid class

Do you know why the US government uses so many contractors? Because the actual government employees are too busy taking mandatory classes that have nothing to do with their job to actually accomplish anything. I spent yesterday (ALL of yesterday) taking one of these classes.

It should have taken an hour and a half, maybe two hours. The class was taken online and involved a mix of answering questions and then reading sheets telling us what the answers should have been. Kind of backwards from your normal teaching methods, but the subject was obvious enough that it wasn't really a problem. At the end you're supposed to get a certificate that you can send in every time the government loses track of the one you did before and starts claiming you haven't taken the class yet. Then you take a quiz and get another certificate. That's two certificates for a single class.

Here's where things really went wrong. My government issued laptop runs Windows 7 and a bunch of software restricting what you can do. If you create or download a file that file will be gone the next time you turn on the computer. All settings go back to their defaults. So I have to turn on pop-ups in IE every time I turn on the computer so I can go out to this website to check my government required e-mail, because that website requires pop-ups. I can't open a file by double clicking on it. Some programs can't be run by me. Anything I download can't be run by me.

So, having completed the class, I have one chance and one chance only to print the certificate. But the laptop has no printer installed. I can see our printer, but the right driver isn't on this computer. I can download the driver from the Canon website, but can't run what I downloaded to install the driver. And even if I could, the driver would be gone next time I turned on the computer.

Can I print to a PDF?
No. That's not installed and I can't install it.

How about that "Print to File" box?
Yes, I can print to a file.
No, there's no suffix and we're not going to tell you what kind of file it is.

Can I open it in TextEdit or NotePad or Word to find out in the header what kind of file it is?
No. This is the one document in all of computer history that can't be opened like that.

Want to try printing again? Take the class all over again! Weeeeeee!

I e-mail the file to myself so I can work with it on a Mac but still get nowhere.

I try retaking the class on the Mac since there's no restrictions on who takes it. Safari and Firefox can't handle the forms on one part of the class so they both come to a stop. Chrome works clear through, but only prints a black box. Yeah, even if I print to a PDF.

What if I use a coworker's computer? Someone with their own printer installed.
Then their browser says the website is down. WHAT!? WHY!?
Because fuck you. That's why.

I finally figure out the suffix of the original certificate. There's a program on the laptop that should open it if I put the suffix on the file. Still, double clicking the file won't work. And for some reason I'm banned from opening the program so I can open the file that way.

But now that I have the right suffix on it, IE will display the certificate! I still can't print, however, because of reasons.

Can this type of file be opened on a Mac? Five forums say "no. You should install TinyPDF and make PDFs instead." This is true, but not at all helpful. I did finally find two programs for the Mac that will open the file created by "Print to File" and manage to print it. And then I went home.

I took that class seven times yesterday. I spent almost as much time trying to figure out how to either make a government laptop print against it's will or how to open the file created initially. It's a different version of the class I had to take to get my computer ID card. I have a couple dozen more classes to go and will have at least six new ones that need to be taken by the time I've finished with these. And if the government decides to be real dicks about it, I'll have to fly to Texas to take a few of them in person rather than just accept proof that I've take the exact same class already here in Maryland.

Today I'm not taking a class. Today I'm being productive.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


I can't stand to look at this thing right now. Not even up for telling you to "sod off". Tune in later. Maybe Friday.