Main | September 2005 »

August 31, 2005

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    People do puzzles for many reasons. Chief among them is that puzzles give the solver a feeling of being in control. Most of life's challenges don't have black-and-white solutions, and many have no resolution at all. We jump into the middle of problems and muddle through as best we can. With sudoku - or any other human-made puzzle - carrying it through from start to finish, and finding the perfect solution in the end, can produce a feeling of great pride. - NY Times

    Although I am not entirely convinced of this explanation of why people like puzzles, I AM convinced that this kind of puzzle - Sudoku - is a new craze, mainly because I saw a girl doing one on the subway last week. Yes, the New York Times is the kind of paper where you can read about what the girl on the train next to you was doing earlier in the week.

    So, for those of you even farther out of the loop than I, Sudoku is a computer-generated puzzle where you've got a grid (like the one you see above) and you've got to fill the grid with numbers so that every row, every column and every 3-by-3 box contains the digits 1 to 9, without repeating. It's based on the Latin Squares introduced by mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1783, grew to popularity in Japan, and made its debut in the NY Post in April.

    To find out what the people on the train WILL be doing, like a month from now, you'd have to go to an edgier, more underground source. But the New York Times is just perfect for reading about what all the trendcasters have already spent a month yapping about.

    Full Article: A Few Words About Sudoku, Which Has None
    (Via NYT > Week in Review)

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 8:05 PM

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    "Other religiously impelled abuses of scientific information, supported by conservatives, include claims that social science supports the effectiveness of abstinence education, that condoms aren't very good at preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer or mental illness in women, that adult stem cells have more research promise than embryonic ones or can even replace them for scientific purposes—the list goes on and on. But it is only half the story" &mdashThe Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney

    I would just like to briefly point out this book I came across from a Wired Review.

    To be clear, I haven't read the book (yet) but the title seemed so interesting and the cover design so gosh darn slick, well, I got very excited.

    The book, as I understand it, tells the sad tale of how politics, religion and money all play a role in Republicans bending science to support their agendas. Not that Republicans are the only ones guilty, but dang, they sure do have a lot of money to do some wacky things.

    So, that's about it. I can't say more until I've read it, as it might be some raving, nonsensical disaster. That being said, it looks like an interesting item that might provide some background and context for the *ahem* evolving *ahem* debates concerning Intelligent Design.

    Full Article: The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney
    (Via Wired)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 7:53 PM

August 24, 2005

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    ANGER

    "This isn’t about incremental change. It’s a revolution. Break out of linear and limited entertainment. Leave passive, one-size-fits-all fun behind. Unleash the power of human energy." &mdashGamestop.com - Xbox 360 Ultimate Bundle

    Could the gaming industry become any greedier? I'm going to wager $1,199.83 (not including shipping) that it can.

    That's right folks, for only $1,199.83 Gamestop is selling their 'Xbox 360 Ultimate Bundle'. Keep in mind Gamestop defines ultimate as "the $399.99 Xbox plus 11 really crap games."

    Banking on the failure of the Xbox 360 to sell, Gamestop is hoping to just shovel heaping loads of dung quickly and in large chunks. I'm not even sure some of the games they are offering are launch titles. Buyer beware, even if Xbox games were priced at $60 per shot, eleven games would still only cost you $660. Not to mention you get to pick which games you'd like. I suspect the person who buys the Xbox 360 to throw in Madden NFL '06 is not the same person who would be psyched to dabble in the princess-y shape changing magic of Kameo.

    The official list of what your 1,200 bones will get:
    1. Xbox 360 System
    2. Perfect Dark Collector's Edition
    3. Project Gotham Racing 3
    4. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    5. Dead or Alive 4
    6. Call of Duty 2
    7. GUN
    8. Quake 4
    9. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
    10. Condemned
    11. Madden NFL 06
    12. Kameo
    13. Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
    14. Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit
    15. Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery
    16. Xbox Live 12 Month Card
    17. 1 Year Product Replacement Plan
    18. Swift kick in the pants

    Full Article: Gamestop.com - Xbox 360 Ultimate Bundle
    (Via Money Whores)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 7:42 PM

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    "I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping" &mdash I AM BATSHIT INSANE (quoted from Reuters.com)

    Whew...Thank Pat's god!

    Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, host of the 700 Club and a guy who is decidedly more pro Bush than a bored suburban dad with a topiary fetish, is tired of all this pussy footing around with other countries leaders, as quoted from his recent 700 Club broadcast:

    We don't need another $200bn war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator.

    After basically calling for the assassination of the current (elected) Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson cleared things up a bit by making sure people understood that 'taking him out' could mean anything. Pat then intimated that only a higher power, such as God or Karl Rove, actually had the jurisdiction to kill people.

    Asked to respond to the statement the White House's U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replied "our department doesn't do that kind of thing," which resulted in one member of the White House staff snorting and accidentally spitting his gum out onto the press core.

    For those who like to connect dots, or just do some critical thinking, a reminder that Venezuela is the fourth largest oil supplier to the states, and Chavez ain't too happy with the old U.S. and is generally spooked about that thing we shall refer as the "don't do that kind of thing"-thing. Chavez has also offered to sell discounted fuel directly to impoverished areas of the U.S., bypassing American oil companies. That makes Exxon cry.

    Chavez's response to the whole Pat Robertson situation?

    "I don't know who that person is" - Pres. Chavez

    Full Article: U.S. evangelist backs off Chavez assassination call
    (Via Reuters)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 6:01 PM

August 23, 2005

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    "The girls are off to Vegas, baby! And it's sinfully delicious, what with all of the cocktails, birthday cake, flashing and wet 'n' wild group showers--yes, that's right, group showers!" &mdashE! Online

    Well, reality doesn't hit much closer to home than this, folks. Hugh Hefner has removed the opaque you're-not-fooling-anyone-i-know-that's-not-an-old-navy-catalogue black wrapper surrounding the Playboy Mansion and its infamous residents.

    In this eight-part series we'll be able to follow the 78 year old tomcat, who not only basically gets to sleep with these airbrushed beauties for a living; WHO NOT ONLY lives in a gigundo mansion filled with boobies and legs; But the man who has totally made walking around all day in his silk pjs not just acceptable, but expected.

    [Little personal note here. When I was a youngin' living with my folks, pjs past 7:30am would usually result in being called Oscar Madison, and I would be showered with yard work instead of beautiful blonde women.]

    So anyway, Hugh has three "girlfriends" with whom he "shares" the spotlight. They kind of all look like alien clones, but hey, to each his own, where own is getting three hotties to sleep with your geriatric (though personable) self. I like Hugh, I do. The idea of putting a camera in there kind of destroys some of the mystery and fantasy of the whole thing, seemingly for a buck and some cheap money shots, but I'm sure it will be done tastefully. Mostly though, I just watch it for the articles.

    Full Article: "Girls Next Door" — E! TV
    (Via [Heard About On] Air America)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 11:03 PM

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    "We've added a new section to the site offering Beastie Boys A Cappellas for you to download and use for your own personal remixes. So pull your shit together and make a remix." &mdashOfficial Beastie Boys Web Site

    This is a little bit of coolness. Before it was 'cool' to be a rapping Jew the Beastie Boys were sharing their personal thoughts on White Castle, the ladies and exactly what are and are not your rights. With a smile, some marijuana, a little 'joshin' somehow we all grew up the better for it. You, Me, Mike D and the Boys.

    Now the Beasties are sharing some more of the love by encouraging fans to download a cappella tracks for the purpose of remixing their own Beastie goodness. They were even so kind as to give the beats per minute. I have now finally been able to complete my opus...Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Beastly Onions!

    Accept no imitations

    Full Article: Beastie Boys - BeastieBoys.com - Official Beastie Boys Web Site
    (Via Boing Boing)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 7:37 PM

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    I guess the name really says it all: sundry items perched on cats. No, it's not very sophisticated. But come on, you chuckled. Don't lie.

    For more goofiness, check out the site:

    Full Article: StuffOnMyCat.com
    (Via k10k.net)

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 6:46 PM

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    "Tests performed on monkeys that were subjected to 30-36 hours of sleep deprivation revealed an average test performance accuracy drop to 63 percent, but that performance was restored to 84 percent after administering CX717" &mdashSlashdot

    I have been known to do some pretty silly things when I'm tired. One of the most ridiculous and apparently inefficient things I do when I'm exhausted is to go to sleep. It might be hard to imagine the sheer numbers of drool hours I have racked up, but let's just say on the last Dreamland gubernatorial race I was actually a write-in. That all ends now. I'm trading in my pillow time for some good old-fashioned American bastardized science. A pill that will reverse the effects of sleep deprivation.

    Thank you CX717. Not only do you sound like some bleak, post-apocalyptic call sign but you also have the added benefit of making sure I never have to pass out from my Chinese Food induced comas ever again. I can keep eating, long into the next morning and not have to worry about carelessly flushing my keys down the toilet or accidentally calling my parents' house instead of ordering more delicious cheese fried wontons.

    Purportedly this pill can possibly replace such stimulants as caffeine. And we all know by the time I'm at hour 32, the only thing my coffee is stimulating is my bladder. Yes, it's a brave new world on old CX717. If all else fails in my life, at least I know there is a job keeping monkeys awake and stimulated for 36 hours straight waiting for me. Science!

    Full Article: Drug Reverses Effects of Sleep Deprivation
    (Via Slashdot)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 5:52 PM

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    Wired: The Daily Show really exemplifies that sort of new model. It's on a cable network, not broadcast. It's among the most popular shows traded online. People download and watch the whole thing, every day. Were you guys aware of that?

    Karlin: Not only am I not aware of that, I don't want to be aware of that.

    Wired: Well, don't go shutting it down.

    Stewart: We're not going to shut it down - we don't even know what it is. I'm having enough trouble just getting porn.

    Inspiring things this week include the announcement via this Wired Magazine interview that The Daily Show is among the most popular shows traded online. Not only is it exciting that angry, smart, funny folks trying to keep the political machine honest are getting heard, but it's also inspiring to learn that people ARE, in fact, interested in TV that doesn't suck! Take that, Reality Television!

    Although I do realize that this new non-television based TV creates the need for a newer, sneakier kind of advertising. We'll have to see what they come up with before truly doing the celebration dance.

    Full Article: Wired 13.09: Reinventing Television
    (Via )

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 5:11 PM

August 19, 2005

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    - image courtesy The Sun

    Everybody run! It's catching! First it was unbridled greed leading to war in the middle east, then squashing domestic religious leaders in the name of the "War on Terror," and now it's secret extended vacations! What did George Bush pass along to Tony Blair on his visits? Did they share a straw? Did they make out? Is there a cure?

    About three weeks ago, it turns out - before Mr. Blair went on vacation in early August - David Hill, his director of communications, wrote to the nation's editors asking them not to divulge the prime minister's vacation whereabouts on security grounds after the July bombings, a spokeswoman at 10 Downing Street confirmed today. The editors agreed. - NY Times

    It's all just shady. It's shady, and The Cheeky Monkey doesn't like it.

    Full Article: Forget Waldo. Where's Tony Blair?
    (Via NYT > International)

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 3:37 PM

August 18, 2005

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    "The feeling that I get back here, looking in the eyes of real people, where I knew where they were two years ago or a year ago -- they've changed..." —Sen. Chuck Hagel, Reuters.com

    There's a quiet whisper going through the heartlands of America. A whisper, that turned into a roar, threatens to tear wheat fields and Walmarts asunder.

    "Boy, eoirl sure is gettin' 'spensive these days"

    Reuters is reporting that in Nebraska some Bush-ites may be experiencing buyer's remorse. Nebraska, a state that went more red than an Irish girl on a sunny day last election seems to be feeling the bite from high gas prices. Apparently the combination of $3 per gallon gasoline and the added burden of having to haul around all those "Support Our Troops" magnets on their cars is making some Nebraskans say "WTF?"

    "Why are we there in the first place?" is one elderly woman's brain-boggler. Is the country slowly starting to wipe the fairy dust out of its eyes? Probably not, but it looks like Joe Average is starting to actually feel some of the ripples, just a slight tingle, the faintest baby's breath of the actual war raging halfway across the world. And Joe Average don't like it none at all.

    We need to get the country focused again. Back on track. The War on Terrorism may be the Struggle Against Extremism now, but hell, there's still money to be made people! Look for a NASCAR event to be closed due to 'terrorist' activity in the near future.

    Full Article: Top News Article | Reuters.com
    (Via Reuters)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 4:59 PM

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    "Several players had their characters beaten and robbed of valuable virtual objects, which could have included the Earring of Wisdom or the Shield of Nightmare"&mdashNew Scientist

    We all fear it. That 4:00 am phone call. "Mom, mom...calm down, I'm ok, listen..I was just coming out of Ye Old Shoppe and this bot jumped out of nowhere and...I'm ok, my armor stats are shot but Mom, he took the of Shield of Nightmare."

    A man in Japan, let's call him 'Japan Man', was arrested for allegedly 'beating up' and 'mugging' other player characters in the MMORPG (if you don't know, look it up) Lineage II. So cowardly is this cowardly coward that he couldn't even swing the sword himself, instead hiring out bots (ok, this one is A.I. controlled characters) to do his dirty work for him.

    Bruce Schneir (New Scientist bills him as "a renowned computer security expert") forecasts a grim future:

    Perhaps every method of stealing real money will eventually be used to steal imaginary money, too.

    He then goes on to foretell of people within online gaming universes charging $60 to buy the 'Mirror of Alternate Persona' and then charging $20 a month just to use it, despite bugs, patches, downtime and character balancing issues. No refund for unused mirrors is expected.

    Really my biggest issue with this is who the hell is still playing Lineage II? Game sucks dude.

    Full Article: New Scientist Breaking News - Computer characters mugged in virtual crime spree
    (Via New Scientist)

    Image Courtesy of Bruce County Medieval School Program [check it out!] robo_01.jpg
    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 3:47 PM

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    "I call it the panic du jour," said Dr. David Kritchevsky of the trans fat fears. Dr. Kritchevsky is a dietary fat and cholesterol researcher at the Wistar Institute, an independent nonprofit research center in Philadelphia. Trans fat, he added, "is an easy whipping boy." - The Panic Du Jour: Trans Fats in Foods - New York Times, August 14, 2005

    From margarine to egg yolks, certain folks never seem to tire of warning, admonishing and advising the general public about what we should and should not be eating, even if it turns out to be entirely made up or blatantly false. This time, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the New York City health commissioner, went as far as to ask restaurants to stop serving trans fats altogether, despite the fact that:

    The National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Food and Drug Administration have all come to the same conclusion: Trans fats are on a par with saturated fats, like butter or lard. Both increase cholesterol levels and most people would be better off if they ate less of all of them. Period. (Ibid.)

    Apparently, Americans eat four times as much saturated fat as trans fat, making saturated fat much more of a health risk. But does anybody bother with the actual FACTS? Nooooo. Why bother, when pulling the fire alarm is so much fun? And you get so much attention! Who cares if there's actually a fire?

    Full Article: The Panic Du Jour: Trans Fats in Foods - New York Times

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 2:51 PM

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    "...buyers will be able to purchase a no-frills version for $299.99 or a bells-and-whistles version for $399.99."&mdashMicrosoft sets price for Xbox 360 - Aug. 17, 2005

    Well blow me down. Bells-and-whistles version? Apparently the 20GB hard drive (not standard on the $299.99 version) counts as either a bell or a whistle and, according to the article, you won't be able to play current Xbox titles without a hard drive. Backwards compatibility also a 'bonus' feature.

    XBL out of the box? Well possibly not, unless you shell out the extra $100. The Xbox live headset also only comes with the $399.99 version.
    [Edit: Apparently a wired headset comes will come with the $299.99 version and a fancy wireless headset will come with the $399.99]

    Oh this one is awesome. Wireless controller? Well the $399.99 'suped-up' version has one, but the $299.99 model only comes with a wired controller that needs to be plugged in to play.

    So really people, make no mistake the Xbox 360 costs $400. I'm not so much miffed at the price point, but marketing a watered down $299.99 'Lite' version seems like a slap in the face. Keep in mind that consoles have never broken the $300 mark on launch, so Microsoft is probably trying to say "Look we're competitively priced", but really it's not the system they've been advertising.

    Kids make sure you put "Dear Santa, I would like 1 Xbox 360 (the $400 one only, don't go cheap on me now!)" on your Xmas list this year.

    Grumble Grumble

    Full Article: Microsoft sets price for Xbox 360 - Aug. 17, 2005
    (Via CNN.com - Technology )

    Image Courtesy of http://bastien.pons.free.fr/

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 1:49 PM

August 17, 2005

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    Although not actually new, it's certainly news to me: apparently there's a whole set of gene activators & deactivators called epigenomes, or Demethlyation agents. So, even though you start out with a certain genetic package (pre-disposed to pancreatic cancer but immune to chicken pox), these epigenomes can either activate or deactivate what you've been given. The good news is that they might be able to activate the cancer-suppressing gene, but the bad news is that in the domino setup of your genetic makeup, turning on one light could mean inadvertently knocking out the electricity for a city block. At the moment it seems like a great big mess of unknown, but with amazing potential. They're starting to map it all out, though. So, hopefully the answers will be clear sooner rather than later.

    Here's more information than one human can possibly assimilate. And that's just gene 6.

    Human Epigenome Project

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    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 5:55 PM

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    "Game Boy micro measures just 4 inches wide, 2 inches long and 0.7 inches thin. It weighs 2.8 ounces, about the weight of 80 paper clips." - Nintendo Press Release

    Nintendo released more information today about its creepy, premie-birth handheld the Game Boy Micro (apparently named after Nintendo's latest console market share). After years of trying, they have finally gotten the Game Boy to weigh the same as 80 paper clips, which resulted in Microsoft buying the copyright on things that weigh more than 80 paper clips but less than 97 thumbtacks. Sony basically ignored the news and opted to buy a portion of Saturn with its PSP returns.

    Along with an MSRP of $99.99 (the same price as the Gamecube, mind you) Nintendo also states that:

    The edgy hardware will come in both silver and black versions, each with three removable, fun faceplates so users can personalize their Micro depending on their mood.

    WAIT!!.OMGZ!!1!!1 Please make one with FLAMES (and/or skulls)!!!

    The black Game Boy micro will include one faceplate with a "Flame" design...

    !!!!!!! GGGGGGAALAKJLJKL!!! Now only if it had sick, like totally l337 blue neon lig...

    ...and Start/Select buttons that glow with the cool, neon-like blue found on many cell phones.

    BLLLARRRGG!!1!!1!SHIFT+1!! Oh thank you Nintendo GODS. I've finally found something to replace that gaping void since calculator watches went out of style. Man, Nintendo you truly are GAMERZ! ROxXoR! Crap, be right back, my Nintendog is wiping his ass all over the screen.

    GB Micro Press Release: (Via Nintendo.)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 2:43 PM

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    "Warren Smith, the publisher of an evangelical Christian newspaper in Charlotte, N.C., compares the movie 'Jesus' to the jawbone of an ass."

    The New York Times has an interesting little story about a group called the Jesus Video Project America that is distributing (spamming) America with a free DVD of a movie chronicling the life and times of everyone's favorite martyr. A movie for which no other title could do save Jesus: A Man, a Corndog and a Dream (later shortened to just Jesus).

    Yes, Jesus has returned, and on DVD no less. Apparently the group shotgun-blasts this DVD all over town hoping that the locals realize high definition Jesus love is for real this time. Unlike that No-Money-Down-Real-Estate-Jesus horse doodie that came in the mail last week. The Devil is a clever fellow...

    Putting Jesus in Every Mailbox - (Via: New York Times)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 1:32 AM

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    "The complete soundtrack to Super Mario World, covered by one man using dozens of instruments" – Girls Won't Talk To Me

    Take a listen: Title Screen

    This 21 track homage to Super Mario World is a testament to the talent, creativity and utter abundance of free time that this level of crazy has to involve. I mean, I guess you get about five songs into this kind of thing and suddenly you don't know where the days have gone, nor your girlfriend...friends......the dog. In the end you'll gain new things, like respect. And that's what they'll remember, and if they can't appreciate your vision it's probably because they haven't heard it after a euphoric, finger staining, orgy of Fritos and Cheese Doodles.

    It's actually not that bad, for better or worse. I think I'm just jealous because the most I've done with my Pro Tools setup is make less room on my desk for other big ticket items. WHATEVER, it's not a waste of money.

    I've had sex.

    Check out the full joy: XOC – SMW (Via Kotaku.)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 12:17 AM

August 16, 2005

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    Look you've found Queens!
    I remember Amazon's little search baby A9! Awwwh look, now it has maps!

    Where Google has gone the Enemy of the State "we combine the tiny chip in your head with fancy satellite technology to show your location" route, A9 seems to take a more "your mom with a digital camera" vibe. Now you can see just how crappy your destination will be before you even leave!

    (Via Hack the Planet.)

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    Kid Sunshine

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 11:10 PM