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Saturday, November 29, 2003

  Buy Nothing Day slow to catch on in the States. A woman was trampled and seriously injured at a Friday sale offering US$29 DVD players. The clever people are seeing this as being very symbolic of something, I'm sure.
  Buy Nothing Day. Yesterday, as I went downtown to forage for supplies, I saw a cluster of those bedraggled anti-everything nihilists holding a banner proclaiming Buy Nothing Day. They had also plastered their signs on every second lamppost. I naturally felt a bond with these idealists leading the assault on our commercial system, so aside from $180 worth of groceries, a computer game, a fast-food meal, $20 worth of tea, a movie ticket (The Missing, which is very good), and a $90 bottle of Scotch, I didn't buy anything. Fight the Power!

Next year they should have a Breathe Nothing Day. I'll fully participate in that as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

  Ah, the subtle art of political commentary... A cartoon of a nude Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby against the backdrop of a burning Palestinian city has won first prize in the British Political Cartoon Society's annual competition.

(from Instapundit.)
  Scamming the scammers. Through Samizdata, I've learned of an exciting internet sport known as scam-baiting. How it works is that instead of deleting those Nigerian scam emails, you answer them and try to string along the scammer for as long as you can (usually by promising you are about to send the money). Part of the fun is making these con-men do demeaning things. 419eater is a site that archives some of the email exchanges, and they really are extremely funny (crude too). Check out the photo of the scammer tricked into holding a sign saying, "I shag sheep".
  Cat in the Hat should be put to sleep. Judging by the comments at IMDB and some of the reviews, this movie ranks on Hollywood's all time stinkers list. I never planned to see it and certainly won't see it now, but am bothered that it even exists. Seuss himself was very much against the unchecked commercialization of his work during his life, but after his death his estate has sold his images and stories for as much cash as they could get. I've nothing against people making money, but what these people don't realize is that they're destroying their brand (their only asset) by cranking out all this junk. Sad.

The only Dr Seuss movie worth seeing is The 5000 Fingers of Dr T, a live action movie written by him in the 50's. A very unusual film.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

  A Day in the Life, Part II. Okay, here it is, more information than anyone needs to know about a typical day for me. This is mostly so I can remember these days in the future, but I got good feedback for the last time I did this, so maybe there is amusement to be had in reading it.

3:37 Normally it is the babies that first wake me in the morning. But today my stoopid dog -- who yesterday had ripped open a briefly unattended garbage bag and devoured the contents -- needs to be taken outside. Now! Or else! And out I go, wearing nothing but my bathrobe. And it's windy and cold out...

4:42 I'm still awake for some reason. It could be because The Beastie Boys' Brass Monkey is looping endlessly through my head. Stoopid dog. Stoopid Beastie Boys.

5:05 I am not awoken by Talia's screams because I am still awake. It's too early to get her up, Michelle and I agree, so we let her continue and hope she'll give up soon.

5:25 Talia wins the battle of the wills. I go in the babies room to see if I can calm her down -- but she's not getting a nurse! I try to settle her in her bed by putting her on her back and putting her cover over her. She's not interested and keeps screaming. I pick her up and sit on the couch with her. It's still dark and we can see the stars through the window. It's the first time she's seen the stars (or at least really looked at them) and I point out Orion to her, which is just above the horizon. I whisper some more things to her and she starts to rub her eyes. Back in bed for her, and I'm skeptical she'll go back to sleep, but back to sleep she goes. For all of Talia's noise, Max never even woke up.

6:00 The alarm goes off. Time for Michelle to get up and get ready for work. She'll give the babies their first nurse and put them back to sleep. I get to stay in bed.

7:15 Michelle leaves the house, waking me and Max up as she does so. Luckily we both manage to fall back to sleep.

8:10 I wake up and realize the kids are still asleep. I use this time to grab a shower and get dressed. As I dress I hear them making noise, talking to each other. "Dah, dah, dah, DAH!", Talia says. "Buh!", Max says. Talia giggles.

8:16 Get the guys up. Change them both and take them downstairs (one at a time). Only wet diapers this morning, no poopies.

8:20 I sit them on the floor so I can squeeze in some breakfast. A large coffee accompanied with some Honeycomb cereal. They're happy and playing. I get a bit of time to surf the web.

8:52 I make a fire in the woodstove. Max likes to watch me make fires.

9:05 It's breakfast time for the kids. Today's menu: cereal and pear sauce. Max has developed an annoying and messy habit at mealtimes of sticking his tongue out and blowing a raspberry when he has a mouth full of food; and today he's at it again. He thinks this is very funny and I try to counter with my most blank and serious look so he won't be encouraged to continue. Unfortunately, it is very funny so I'm not so sure he's receiving the message correctly.

One scoop of pear sauce went in Talia's mouth just as she was about to sneeze. She put some good distance on it when it came out again.

9:32 The babies are cleaned up and playing on the carpet.

9:48 Talia has had enough time on the floor and wants to sit next to me on the couch and try to poke at the laptop keyboard. She'll scream if she doesn't get this so I let her get away with it. Max is lost in his little world.

10:22 Teletubbies starts at 10:30 and they enjoy watching it. Their diapers were both poop free this morning, so they've probably made up for that by now. I should change them before the show. I pick up Max and take a good sniff at his backside. Nothing. I take him up to check anyway. Still nothing. I take him to the basement and set him in front of the TV with a few toys. He gets a few minutes of Paper, Scissors, Glue before Tinky-Winky, La-La, Dipsy and Po come on.

I take a sniff of Talia, and yes, we have a poopie. Upstairs for a change and then downstairs for Tot-TV. (She had a small green and solid poopie, in case you're interested. She usually has such wonderfully coloured and textured modern art poopies, so this was a little unusual.)

I never imagined myself to become one of those parents sticking their noses into their children's backsides and inhaling. But of course I never imagined I'd ever know the names of all the Teletubbies either...

10:52 Blue's Clues (which I like) is on at 11:00, but these guys need a nap. Talia has grown cranky as the show progressed and was only quiet when sitting on my knee. Now she's starting to complain again. Into bed with both of them. Another sniff of Max's rear -- still nothing. He's been a little plugged lately so I'm a bit worried.

11:00 I have some time to myself! There's so many jobs that need to be done, but I'd rather read more of my blogs and do some writing on the tiresome piece you're currently reading.

12:10 They've had a good sleep and are awake in their cribs now. But they're not crying, they're playing and talking to each other. Max is saying, "brap!", and "aap!", and Talia is giggling at his wit.

12:20 Time to get them up. Better to take them from their beds when they're happy than wait until they demand my attention. Sniff. Still nothing going on in the poopie department in Max's pants but I change his wet diaper anyways. They sit on their carpet with their toys while I get their lunch together.

12:30 Lunch consists of squooshed peas, the pears they didn't finish for breakfast, and their favorite, plain yoghurt. I put on Southern Culture On The Skids' Dirt Track Date to accompany the meal. Max once again makes his annoying (but amusing) raspberries.

12:52 Lunch is finished. I put them in their jumpy things to await Mama's arrival. Boingy, boingy, boingy...

1:12 Talia is tired of jumping. (Max is still having fun -- boingy, boingy...) I take her out and whirl her around and dance to Whole Lotta Things.

1:20 She's stinky, so I take her upstairs for another new diaper. (Still green, but bigger and a little softer, if you must know.)

1:23 As I'm doing a check in Max's pants (still nothing!), Michelle calls and says she's going to leave soon. Both babies are starting to get a little frantic for Mama's Magic Milk, so I tell her not to dawdle.

1:50 Michelle arrives and the babies get their second nurse of the day.

2:10 Oma and Opa arrive for a visit as Michelle and I are (finally) eating lunch.

3:00 Other people are here to look after the babies! I internally transfer away responsibility for their care (without mentioning it to them, of course) and get started on the One Concrete Thing I try to do every day -- today it's putting up the Christmas lights. I need to get extra bulbs, so off I go to the hardware store.

3:20 My lights this year are red, orange and yellow in a random pattern. Last year I had green and purple, but that looked too cold. I work in the basement putting new bulbs on seven strings of lights.

4:00 Oma and Opa leave just as I start hanging the lights.

4:10 Michelle takes the kids (and the stoopid dog) for a walk, as I continue struggling with the lights.

5:30 I finally finish the lights and come in with numb fingers as Michelle feeds the babies their dinner. What did they get? More peas, more pears, more cereal, and more yoghurt -- yum!

5:48 Another nurse for the kids as I warm my hands up doing the dishes.

6:02 Playtime with Mama and Papa.

6:20 Talia has had enough playtime and is already getting cranky. I take her up and get into the bath with her. I'm pretty tired by now and the bath feels great. I lie back and get a couple of those warm, tingly waves that roll up your spine and leave your mind in a semi-blissful fog. I could fall asleep right now but I'm supporting a naked little girl that is standing up, holding the edge of the tub and bouncing up and down.

6:30 Talia is exchanged for Max -- who wants to stand up, hold the edge of the tub, and bounce up and down. I let him.

7:00 Both babies have had their final nurse and are tucked into bed. Michelle has been into Georgian food lately (Georgia the home of Stalin, not the Georgia where NASCAR racing is popular) and makes Labda and some kind of stir-fried cabbage for dinner.

8:00 We're both beat. We decide to go to bed early, and after doing the dishes, feeding the animals, walking the (stoopid) dog, cleaning the cat box, and putting the toys away, we do.

10:01 I'm still writing this long and tedious chronology. But now I'm done and am going to sleep.

I've got the Teletubbies theme looping endlessly through my head.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Max had a nice poopie as I hung out the lights. I wouldn't want anyone to needlessly worry.
  A year of blogging. My blog is one year old today. Granted I never really started writing regularly until January, but if a date has to set to the beginning of this blog, November 25 is it. I'm going to celebrate by compiling another Day in the Life, featuring all the little events today. Let's get self-indulgent!

Monday, November 24, 2003

  European report on anti-semitism buried for stating an uncomfortable truth. The EU's Monitoring Centre on Racism has released three reports since 9/11 on anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe. But it has decided not to release a report on anti-semitism because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian, leftwing and anti-globalization groups were behind most of it.

I think this perfectly illustrates the lengths people will go to prevent their illusionary view of the world from being muddied by something as unimportant as reality. The ugly anti-semitism of the middle east is slipping into Eutopia, but they would prefer to ignore it.
  Bush deserves better press. Few people will remember anything about Bush's trip to the UK than a number of career protesters shouting and chanting and parading around their creative signs and props. That's a shame, because he made some strong statements that deserve a listen, whether you are a supporter or a detractor:
Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability. Long-standing ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold. As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found.
We've heard much high-minded rhetoric in the past from previous US presidents and other world leaders and rightly should be skeptical of more of it, but Bush has actually done something to suggest he means what he says. Unlike those others, he has shown he is willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices that are necessary. Two countries have now been freed from authoritarian regimes, and the oppositions in others still existing is being emboldened.

You might think that those protesting would be in favour of rejecting those former cozy relationships with tyrants, but it's pretty obvious that they are rooting for the festering status quo.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

  'Blame America' troops out in force in the UK. Lots of grins to be had in reading this report from the anti-American protests in London. With pictures!
  Permalinks now working. I finally figured out how to fix the html in my blog template to get the permalinks to work. Now, should I ever somehow write something that someone finds interesting, they will be able to link to it. Imagine!

I'd like to say that it was due to the help of the Blogger support people that I was able to fix this, but I can't -- they only gave me a link to a help page (that wasn't much help). They were great with my partial page loads problem, though, so they've earned a bit of slack, I guess.
  My second visit Planetside. In this visit I really enjoyed myself. I started to get a feel for how the game worked and why there were so many people willing to subscribe to it. At the end of the session (only an hour long) I actually considered joining myself for a few months.

I started out in the same base as I ended in last time. Trouble was, in the day between visits, this base had changed hands and now was held by one of the enemies. I was in an enemy base and no one was here. I wandered around inside and found no defenders and no security guards to check my ID. Creepy. But it made sense -- why would anyone want to play on guard duty? But outside was different. There were automated defenses set up all around and I found myself under attack.

Fighting little gun turrets didn't interest me, so I accessed the 'instant action' feature that transfers you automatically to a place where a battle is taking place. After a delay period (in which I was crouched behind a barrier) I joined a large force attacking another base. This base was on a volcanic continent and the terrain was completely different from where I had come from. It was very mountainous and rocky and again quite beautiful. A huge battle was going on here, larger than the one I had been in before. Aircraft were sailing overhead, flack bursts all around, tanks were firing, tracers were flying madly out of the base. There was a lot of messages scrolling up in the chat window making requests, announcing successes -- though it looked chaotic, there was some kind of order here.

Someone asked if I wanted to join a squad, I accepted, and my display changed to show status bars for the twenty other members of my team with numbers on my minimap to designate where they all were. I admitted to my new friend that I was a complete newbie and didn't know what was going on, and he just said if I needed any help, just ask. What a nice guy! My team was moving into the base and I followed.

It was now mostly a mop-up job on the base. Control was largely in the hands of the Terran Republic but nothing was operational. I gathered by reading the chat that the base had to be 'hacked' into so that our side would own it. Players who had the hack skill initiated this, but then there was a delay before the change-over took effect. To prevent the hack from being cancelled, players from my squad took defensive positions outside all routes to the computer room. These guys knew what they were doing!

Eventually the base was in our hands and defenses were set up in it. I was just wandering around and then noticed that there weren't too many others nearby. The next base had been targeted and we were moving out. Someone said something about transports and I decided to get on one. There were some trucks in the courtyard and I climbed in.

We were in a convoy to the next enemy base. I could look around but not fire my weapon; this vehicle was completely defenseless. But aircraft covered us from above and tanks drove on our flanks, so I felt a little safer. I got out near the next base by a smaller structure that had been captured. This would serve as a respawn site for those lost in the coming battle, so that our force would not be diminished. I was interested in taking the next base, but it was late and time for me to go to bed.
  Mike Fumento vs the blogs. Michael Fumento is a journalist that uses hard research to take the unpopular side of many public science issues. He was among the first to doubt the 'heterosexual AIDS crisis' back in the late 80s, has debunked 'Gulf War syndrome' and 'multiple chemical sensitivity', and now writes about the wrongs of the Atkins diet and SARS hysteria. He seems to enjoy ripping apart the arguments of his foes and has a large and humourous archive of email 'debates' he has had.

Recently in (ironically) the 'bloggish' section of his site (no direct link, you'll have to search), he wrote some things about blogs that got some blog people upset:
In reality, with very few exceptions (perhaps ten at most), nobody gives a squat about what bloggers say except other bloggers. That, indeed, is why they can't publish anywhere but on their own sites and are obsessed with linking to other sites in hopes of a reciprocal link. Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Drudge, and a few others can actually influence outsiders. Others have no influence beyond their readers but they still have lots of readers because they have interesting things to say. But other than that, bloggers are basically in a giant chat room and may as well be discussing the meaning of Star Trek Episode VI while typing in Klingon. That's why they call it a "blogosphere;" they're in their own tiny little universe.

Essentially these guys are Karaoke singers. Yes, blogging has lowered the bar -- so low that literally any idiot with a keyboard can boast that his material is on the Internet. He is beholden to no one for quality or accuracy, and need not have a single reader.
As you might imagine, this got a few people upset, so much so that his latest hate mail archive is mostly on this topic. No punches pulled here! He rips the bloggers apart with the same glee he does with Erin Brockovich supporters.

So the burning question that no one wants to know the answer to is: what do I think of this? I have to say he's partially right -- in general, most blogs are of little interest to anyone except other bloggers and bloggers' friends. But rather than the Karaoke singers that Fumento characterizes us as, I would say we're more like the would-be folk singer at the back of the cafe or the painter trying to sell her work on the streetcorner. I think everyone has a need to express themselves in some way, and just because their works are not going to be played on the radio or hung in a museum shouldn't (and generally doesn't) dissuade people from doing it.

Our culture is richer not just from those who's works are remembered in history books or celebrated by the media, but by the jazz enthusiasts playing for free at a bar, and the woman who puts so much time and effort into the window display of her vintage clothing store. All of these small things -- created by uncelebrated individuals -- add more to anyone's experience of the world we live in than a Brittany Spears -- or a Michael Fumento. Style in music, architecture, design, art and literature are the results of the collective, unorganized work of many people. Now journalism is getting this treatment as well through small, insignificant-on-their-own blogs. The promiscuous linking of blogs that Fumento sees as a desperate search for hits (which it often is) is also a new way of filtering ideas. Blogs that Fumento acknowledges have actual clout, such as Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan, would be nothing without the rest of the blogosphere.

I'm a big fan of Fumento's, but I'm surprised that an advocate of free markets is so dismissive of what is really a free market in ideas. Thoughts that have appeal and value are passed around, debated and expanded on while those that don't remain in obscurity. I'd rather have things this way than have editors at a handful of news agencies determine what they feel I should be told about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

  Back online. The wonderful wireless router that I praised so highly back in the summer had become a monster that was trying to drive me insane. For the last couple of days my little network was crashing so often that there was no point in rebooting everytime. Amazon readers report the same problems I've been having. So I finally got rid of it. I've got a brand new Netgear box and evrything is humming. For now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

  My first visit Planetside. If you were to climb into the Way-back Machine and travel to, say 1981, and visit the 16 year-old sad nerdling with the bad haircut that would someday be me, and tell him about the computer game Planetside, he would be so excited that he would be roused enough from his typical inertia to overpower you and steal your Way-back Machine to come to the future and play the game himself. The only thing it lacks in satisfying all the fantasies of teen-age male nerds are aggressive, beautiful women that are fascinated by teen-age male nerds.

Planetside is, essentially, a massive, sprawling, non-stop pick-up game of cops-and-robbers. Sony has created a virtual world with its own rules and history and allows (for a price) nerds from all over the world to enter, pick up powerful virtual weapons, join one of the three teams, and start fighting. There's a free, 7-day demo for those of us who don't want to hand over our credit card number. I decided to download the 1.4 Gbyte (!!!) file program and give it a whirl.

I worked through some of the training missions (solo) and sent my character FibDynamo of the Terran Republic down to planet Emerald to join the fracas. And then the game crashed.

After rebooting my machine, loading new drivers on my video card, and rebooting my machine again, I tried again and was successful. I was in a "spawning tube" where players start or are revived after death. I got out, moved around the building, and made it outside. I was on a sanctuary continent where no fighting takes place. There was a building a little ways away that had "Shuttle" written on it. I figured that was my way to the action.

In the shuttle, I was given a look at the world map and allowed to pick where I would be dropped. The map showed some continents as being completely pacified and other being contested. I picked a spot next to some red forces (my team) and down I went.

Popping the hatch of my drop pod, I found myself in a rocky, scrub forest terrain. There were the towers of some buildings in the distance, and two moons in the blue and pink sky. I started walking towards the buildings. Beautiful surroundings. The trees were fully rendered with twisted trunks and sprouts of leaves. Looking at the ground you could see tall weeds and individual rocks. As I got closer to the buildings I could see shapes moving around. Other players were running around what I could now see was a fortress. By the green lettering on their names, I knew they were friendlies. My side was defending a base.

I went into the center of the base and was impressed by the number of other players there. There's a little mini-map window in the corner of the screen and on it I saw dozens and dozens of green dots moving around. As well as the foot soldiers (all wearing what appeared to be colourful leather motorcycle racing suits), there were tanks, troop transports and in the sky a couple of aircraft. Very cool, but what was going on?

From reading the chat window, I learned that the enemy was attacking from the NE. I wandered over in that direction, climbed onto the ramparts along the base and took a look. There was another mini-base nearby that was enemy controlled and was being used to launch an attack. It was screened by trees, but I could see the occasional tracers from shots being fired. I figured, let's join the party.

I headed out of the base and moved towards the action. The other base was on a hill, so I was not able to see what I was walking into. Overhead, aircraft passed over me. I could hear the sound of gunfire. Here I was, a total newbie, walking into battle with a weapon that was probably a popgun compared to what everyone else had. I made it to the crest of the hill. Hmm, enemy Tank -- not good. The smartest thing to do would have been to run. But I decided to take a shot at it; I had my AP ammunition loaded, after all. I did negligible damage to it and soon I was dead. But it wasn't the tank that got me, it was all the other bad guys standing around beside the tank.

I re-spawned back in the base, but it soon became apparent that we were losing this battle. Bad guys were everywhere and everytime I turned a corner there was someone taking a shot at me. I called it quits there, but will return to fight another day.

  Steyn on anti-Americanism. Dubya is visiting the UK this week and the crazed anti-Americans are pulling out all the stops to create the Mother-of-all-protests. Mark Steyn (as usual) does a wonderful job of pointing out the hypocracy and blindness of this ideology:
The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist.

Monday, November 17, 2003

  Lileks in Vegas! I'm a big Vegas fan. Been three times so far and have a feeling I'll make it four within the next year. I don't really gamble, so it's hard to say what I like about it. I think it's just the goofy ambiance of the place, but I have a hard time describing it. But James Lileks does a pretty good job.
  Getting the giggles with Talia. We have a nighttime routine worked out with the kids that is guaranteed to quiet them down before bed and ensures they will sleep through the night. Every time.

Well -- actually we're still working on this routine. So far we've got it so they usually will sleep through the night. Not quite good enough, but not bad either. Here's what we do. It all starts with the 6:00 feed. They have their full course meal with cereal, fruit, vegetables, and maybe some cheese or yoghurt. This is topped off by a nursing session which is not usually that intense because of the big meal they just had. Then there is a period of about a 45 minutes for them to enjoy the company of their parents as we eat our dinner. They sit at the table and get little bites of things so they can taste. Then it's bath time. Whoever is deemed the most tired will get to join me in the bath for about 10 to 15 minutes. After that they get an extended solo nurse with Mama as their sibling has their bath. Then it's into bed for a peaceful night's sleep.

Yesterday Talia was the first into the bath and the first to nurse and the first into bed. But she didn't want to stay there. About the time that Max had really tucked in and started to nurse furiously, Talia told us she wanted up. We tried to convince her to go to sleep, but she was quite opposed to this idea -- she wanted more to drink. I took her into our bedroom and plopped her on the bed so Max Max could finish his quiet time with Mama.

Talia loves animals. Max Max loves them too, but not like Talia. She shows her love by opening her eyes wide and giggling madly -- it's really a sight to see. Usually animals just pass within her field of vision and she just gets a few chuckles out of it, but last night all three of our cats were lying on our bed waiting for bedtime. She was already in a bit of an odd mood, and being placed in the center of three furry toys made her go bananas. She started giggling, laughing, SHRIEKING with glee at them. Our cats are not afraid of our kids and seem actually to be quite fond of them. Samba went up to Talia, rubbed against her and lay down in front of her. Talia went even more bananas and leaned forward and buried her face in the cat's fur.

I was not unmoved by Talia's excitement. I went from smiling to laughing out loud as she played with the cats. Her laughter was infectious and I found myself unable to stop. She was watching me and laughed even more. We had the giggles.

It eventually cooled down and she went to sleep after a quick nurse. Babies are funny creatures.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

  Master and Commander. Michelle and I got out to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on Friday. We're both very big fans of all 20 of Patrick O'Brian's books and were excited (and a little apprehensive) to see what a trip to Hollywood would do for Stephen and Jack.

Given the limitations of a movie, I think Peter Weir did as good a job as you could have done in putting them on screen. Most aspects of their characters were shown, and even viewers that haven't been exposed to the books could get to know them in their short time in the theatre. Jack was shown to be playful, intense, driven, stubborn, and heroic, while Stephen was dry, dedicated, distracted, and a bit of a fish out of water. All in all, a job well done.

The movie also captured the feel (as I imagine it) of a British warship at the beginning of the 19th century -- many superstitious men (and in this case, one hobbit) crowding a small space far, far from home. The ship was shown as a society with a political structure and a way of doing things that was more than just a some rules written in a book.

But there were a few liberties taken from the books. In the book The Far Side of the World, the enemy was not French but American (the Norfolk), and the story took place in 1812, not 1805. I'm not sure, but I also think the way they dealt with their enemy in the book was different than how it happened in the movie. The victory in the movie was similar to the victory in Master and Commander, the first book of the series.

Despite these minor problems, we both really enjoyed this movie. But you have to enjoy it for what it is. It isn't an action-adventure story along the lines of Gladiator, but more a careful study of the characters and the period.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

  Nana comes to visit. Max and Talia with their Nana:

  Reuters denies existance of any terrorist attacks in Israel. According to Reuters chronology of the major terrorist attacks of the past few years, none have taken place in Israel. According to them, a bomb on a French supertanker that kills one is terrorism, but a suicide bomber killing over 20 during a passover meal is not. This is shameful, even for Reuters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

  More bad album covers. You know, I'd like to write some more interesting pieces on economics or on international affairs but I just don't have time. My babies have colds, my mother is visiting, my computers are giving me extreme grief. This in addition to all the regular stuff I've got to manage. I've barely had time to peek at the news.

But I have found time to find more bad album covers. This page and this one claim to have the worst of all time, but after looking at these from Sweden, I'm not too sure.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

  Some people have forgotten why the 70's were the worst of all decades. This site, featuring horrible record album covers from the period, will remind you.

(from -- you guessed it -- Dave Barry's Blog.)
  Europe vs America. A couple week ago I noted a piece in the Globe about how the rift between the US and Europe is all the American's fault. Mark Steyn takes a look at the issue and (as you might expect) comes to a different conclusion.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

  Million Dollar Idea. While feeding the babies recently, I came up with the idea that will keep me and my descendants living comfortably for years to come. It's called a Feeding Collar, and it will revolutionize the way babies are fed solid food in the same way that the bottle did for liquids.

Right now getting food into the tummies of babies and toddlers is a difficult task. Sitting in their high chairs, they can twist and dodge and throw up their hands to block to spoon. And after the food is smeared on their cheeks or their chin, they can get their hands into it when the parent is not looking and make an extraordinary mess in a very short amount of time. With the Feeding Collar though, such messes will become a thing of the past.

The Feeding Collar is a truncated stiff plastic cone that fits around the neck of the baby at the narrow end, and extends down the body to cover the arms and prevent hand access to the face. The wide end of the cone has a curl in which any food that drips off the face will be collected. Without the hands interfering with the process, mealtimes will be much easier and faster.

Some might argue that this is rather demeaning for the child to be restrained in this way. I would suggest that the Feeding Collar is no more demeaning than the playpen or those child leashes.

In fact, I'd argue that there is more restraint that could be added to the high chair. For those parent with really difficult children, the Feeding Collar can be used with attachments that will restrict body and head movement. I call it the Imobilizer, and it will be sold separately. It will be fully compatible with all name-brand high chairs.

I am testing the prototypes now. Look for the Feeding Collar and the Imobilizer in better big box retailers soon.


Of course I'm not serious about this. It's unfortunate that I have to point this out, but some people cannot understand this kind of humour. I don't want child protection services knocking on my door so I say again -- this is just a joke.

Feeding the babies is a pleasure and I look forward to it. They duck and dodge, I coax and counter. It's fun. There's usually a mess made, but it really isn't a big deal.

That's why I have the high pressure water hose in their holding pen.
  Almost Live. Here's a photo of the kids taken just a couple of minutes ago! Of course if this was a live photo you would see that they are now screaming for their breakfast. Gotta go...

Monday, November 03, 2003

  More odd Asian translations. Driving back from Loblaws this afternoon, I remembered a great site that featured comical Asian ads: There's a few days of goofing off stored at this site -- enjoy!
I feel a piece of cigarette very gentle,
when I feel easy at home after the daily work.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

  Chinese product poetry, translated. From Golden Ring Broad Beans:
When I was a child
My favorite was Golden ring Broad Beans
Carved into the shape of a ring
Fried crispy over slow fire
And processed with refined condinments
By nimble mum
Bravo! The taste
It is indeed beyond word
The cool breeze blows gently
Accompanies my grandpa sitting
In the field
Past stories flashed through my mind
Golden ring Broad Bean, when I see you
Each makes the mouth full of fragrance
Go out and get some now!

Saturday, November 01, 2003

  Odds and Ends. I'm too zonked to write anything coherent so I'll just dash off a few notes about things I feel I should mention.

Donald Luskin, who I praised mightily a few days ago for his diligence in debunking Paul Krugman, has turned out to be a bit of a wacko. He's suing another blogger for allegedly claiming that Luskin was stalking Krugman. This is a really dumb thing to do and goes against the unwritten code of the blogosphere. Defend yourself with words, not lawyers. I know hardly anyone cares about this, but I don't like to be on record as praising someone this goofy. So I'm taking back my praise.

Talia is right on the verge of crawling. She has been rolling over and over for the past few days and tonight she started crawling backwards. It was very frustrating for her, but very amusing for me to watch her get further away from the toy she wanted to get to. But she will definitely have learned how to control this new mobility in a few days, so I guess I better finish getting the house childproofed.

Back in August I claimed that the S&P 500 would be down to around 850 by Halloween. It's actually around 1050 now, so I'm obviously way, way off. I still think the general direction of the market will be down, as there's still so many unresolved issues in this economy; but I guess one should never underestimate the effects of the current firehose blast of money from the Fed.

OK, that's it. I gotta go do things that don't take any brain power...

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