Saturday, March 31, 2007

I want that

From perpetual kid: Remote-controlled solar system light! How cool and educational is that? = Using science for good!

nanda: this little clock takes off and runs away when you've hit the snooze button too many times. = Using robotics for evil.

Pertinent Buffy quote, plus a two-sentence excuse for my absense

Willow, reading the course calendar: Ah! "Introduction to the Modern Novel. A survey study of twentieth century novelists." Open to freshmen. You might like that.
Buffy: "Introduction to the Modern Novel"? I'm guessing I'd probably have to read the modern novel.
Willow: Maybe more than one.
Buffy: I like books. I just don't want to take on too much. Do they have an introduction to the modern blurb?
Trying to be productive. Back later.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Interweb: the short version

Witold Rybczynski. car porn. typing games. semi-wacky news. funny videos. i love firefox.

It always comes down to which browsers I have a crush on.

The Interweb: Executive Summary

Things which can be found on the interweb:

  • Porn
  • CSS hacks to make rounded corners
  • cute baby animals
  • Artsy pictures of beautiful, sulking women in various states of undress

Things which cannot be found on the interweb:
  • Anything interesting

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Looking foxy, and black-and-whitey

rockandroll2 profilepic, originally uploaded by jocelynb.

I am feeling even more rock and roll than usual. This shall be my new generic profile picture. We all have the right to take fifty photos of ourselves before we find one we like. Our online reputations are at stake, people! VOGUE!

Listening to: Billy Bragg, A New England.
"I don't want to change the world
I'm not looking for a new england
I'm just looking for another girl..."

Quick report on the state of The Simpsons movie

7-Elevens are ostensibly being converted into Kwik-E-Marts as marketing for the new Simpsons movie.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An excellent dietary source of green

cucumber 006, originally uploaded by jocelynb.

Come on, use it as your desktop wallpaper. Do it...

[2. Pretend Trade]

WTB +intellect or +stamina enchants to pyjama pants and t-shirt... pst

Five articles I never would have guessed even existed

Pot Roast Is Political: Domestic Ideology in Victorian and World War II Cookbooks By: Parkinson, Kirsten L.; Midwestern Folklore, 2003 Fall; 29 (2): 12-24. (journal article)

Feeding the Imperial Appetite: Imperial Knowledge and Anglo-Indian Domesticity By: Procida, Mary; Journal of Women's History, 2003 Summer; 15 (2): 123-49. (journal article)

'One Quart Milk, Five Eggs I Should Say': Marginalia in Anglo-Canadian Cookbooks By: Golick, Greta; Variants: The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship, 2004; 2-3: 95-113. (journal article)

The Rhetoric of Cookbooks in Eighteenth-Century England By: Norris, Christine Michele; Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 2004 Sept; 65 (3): 917. Purdue U, 2003. (dissertation abstract)

Domesticating Imperialism: Curry and Cookbooks in Victorian England By: Zlotnik, Susan; pp. 72-87 IN: Floyd, Janet (ed. and introd.); Forster, Laurel (ed. and introd.); The Recipe Reader: Narratives-Contexts-Traditions. Aldershot, England: Ashgate; 2003. ix, 246 pp. (book article)

I could try to explain to you why I was even searching for this... but it would never make sense anyway. The article I actually need, How to write a concise yet fascinating blurb about Eliza Smith, the author of the first cookbook ever published in the United States, is not on the list. (By the way, that article would be published in the journal, Obscure Information Compiled Specifically For Jocelyn, on the Off-Chance She Might Someday Need It. I know why I subscribe to it... but why do those five other people?)

Putting the "why?" in YMCA.

For no reason other than funniness: sacrilicious!

From Esquire: The Napkin Fiction Project.

An online exhibition called The Willand Suitcase Exhibit. The contents of people's suitcases as they were admitted to a mental institution.

Monday, March 26, 2007

9:22 AM and already being productive.

Nigerian scam email generator. Doesn't have quite the customizability I would appreciate, but still useful, if you get tired of working. As Homer would say, "I can't take HIS money. I can't print my OWN money. I have to WORK for money." Well, not anymore!

Slate asks: Will corporate ownership ruin Television Without Pity? As much as I love TWOP, I think I can answer the titular question in a single word: inevitably. Still, let us not depair. As one internet superpower falls, a new one rises to take its place. Think of it as the recap equivalent to the end of World War II.

What's really in a chicken nugget? I am not sure why I feel compelled to include this page, other than the fact that, like the previous link, the question can be answered in a single word. In this case, "toxins."


I wish I could tell you where this graphic comes from, but I can't. I myself know not; stumbleupon found it. I have always wondered this, though; I feel fascinated.

There is a Douglas Coupland book where he talks about the point, now crossed, where humanity's effect on the planet becomes irreversible. I tried to find it and failed. So just imagine a Douglas Coupland quote here:

Sunday, March 25, 2007


POST NO BILLS {notes}, originally uploaded by striatic.

A rhinoceros and a political party can fall in love... well, you know.

I love this wikipedia article on The Rhinoceros Party of Canada. My parents have nostalgaic stories of voting for this party in their heydey. The list of campaign promises of the RPC is particularly gratifying. Campaign promises included...

  • building sloping roads and bicycle paths across the country so that Canadians could "coast from coast to coast"
  • Demolishing the Rockies and using the resulting gravel to make a national nature trail
  • adopting the British system of driving on the left; this was to be gradually phased in over five years with large trucks and tractors first, then buses, eventually including small cars and bicycles last (this is my mom's favourite)
  • as an energy-saving idea, putting larger wheels on the back of all cars so that they will always be going downhill
  • selling the Canadian Senate at an antique auction in California
This article also notes that, "A British Columbia splinter group proposed running a professional dominatrix for the position of party whip... and merging with the Progressive Conservative Party so as 'not to split the silly vote.'"

Fun bonus multimedia link: Vancouver musician Geoff Berner ("The Maginot Line! The Maginot Line!") once ran in an election on the RPC ticket. He has a new song available for free download entitled "Don't Play Cards for Money With Corby Lund." Warning: this song contains elements of the ludicrously tragic.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From BoingBoing: Homeowner Holdouts. People who refused to sell their homes so the land could be redeveloped. Inspired by the current news story of a Chinese woman whose house is now inaccessible, in the middle of a building site.

Book Truck Parking.

Book Truck Parking., originally uploaded by Jeffrey Beall.

i love lamp

lamp 001

I made this lamp. I mean, not the electrical part. But the shade is 100% coat-hangers, Sprite boxes, and IKEA wrapping paper.

For best results, hum "the circle of life" from The Lion King while you watch.

I may just be feeling particularly vulnerable today, but this video from national geographic almost made me cry. A hippo and an antelope can fall in love, but where would they live?

Man, nature stresses me out. "The younger animals have not yet learned that the same waters that support life... can also bring DEATH."

From the archives: "At the time, under the veneer of sloshed cynicism, I couldn't help thinking how different things would be if we were watching the seal documentary. "The seal has finally found a meal, ensuring her survival for another harsh Antarctic winter." Well, maybe I don't want to be on Team Penguin, Morgan! Maybe I want to be on Team Seal!"

Friday, March 23, 2007

Choose your own entry... adventure. Blog. Thingy.

OK, I know my whole generation has this nostalgia for Choose Your Own Adventure books that can barely be sated. This entry is thus just a drop in the bucket. But I am doing my best...

There is a CYOA Wiki in which you can add pages. Much like the original CYOA books, literary quality is not guaranteed, and declines the further "in" you go.

Jeremy David acts out the will of the website reader, implementing the CYOA model into his own life! And hilarity ensues!

From Something awful: Choose Your Own Adventure Books That Never Quite Made It. My favourite is entitled, "In Soviet Russia, The Adventure Chooses You."

It's now time for another episode of... OEC of the day!

Pridnestrovie is the Obscure European Country of the day! "Part of The New Europe!"

[Edited Saturday, March 24 to add: Places that don't exist: an interesting BBC documentary about Pridnestrovie.]

friday links? unheard of!

ChangeThis: a site for depositing and displaying manifestoes. Sound fun? It is! I should write one about Lorne Gunter, global warming, the end of authenticity, modernity, and the end of the world. (Which would make me seem suitably crazy. People who write manifestoes are always crazy. I did not invent this rule.)

Sorry about our president: Americans aplogize to the rest of the world for electing the Head Dumbass. This co-incides with a Talking-To-Americans style video I watched yesterday in which various Americans agreed that they supported George Bush in his invasion of several different countries--each one being actually Australia mislabelled on a map. Note to the United States: the rest of the world hates you. This website seems like a step in the right direction.

File under projects: a literary clock. Make a clock out of a book! I like clocks, I like books, it makes sense.

Sometimes I have to ask myself, "what's the freaking point?"

and the answer is, THERE IS NO FREAKING POINT.

The coffee place in my neighbourhood--"my neighbourhood coffee place," if you will--is never open in the mornings when I got to school. What is the point of a coffee place that is not open in the mornings, ie., the most important time for coffee, and also, co-incidentally, the time that people are on their way to school/work? I will tell you. There is no point, to any of it. I am not trying to be a downer when I saw this, BUT LIFE DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE.

Further proof of my "The world does not make any sense" claim: Lorne Gunter. Not only does he constantly behave like an ignorant baby-animal-killing conservative idealogue, but he also never gets me coffee. He's Canada's answer to "jerk."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

what Wittgenstein would call a family resemblance; the delicate question of monkeys, and what they can be trained to do;

and also, some Suppositions on the fairere Sexe and the Writing of Poemes and Blogges.

the gender genie: based on an algorithm that analyzes keywords, this little widget will tell you if you are male or female based on a sample of your writing.

I submitted four excerpts from this blog and it said two male, two female. On one essay excerpt it said male. Those statistics don't impress me much. I mean, a trained monkey with a pointing-stick could do equally as well. Or maybe I write like a man... I wouldn't put it past myself. That would explain my large feet. You know what they say about girls with large feet: they use typically "male" keywords in their blog writing. Or so the trained monkeys tell me. Um... urinal. Fighter jet. Boobies.

Bart: What's everyone's problem? I'm glad we're stranded! It'll be just like the Swiss Family Robinson, only with more cursing! We're gonna live like kings! Damn hell ass kings! And every night the monkey butlers will regale us with jungle stories.
Nelson: How many monkey butlers will there be?
Bart: One at first. But he'll train others.
I talked to my parents on the phone tonight. My mom told me that my dad was sneakily trying to trick her into heating up pre-made pasta sauce, instead of cooking it from scratch, and then he broke down and confessed that he had bought seven jars of it, on sale. He had some hidden in his office so my mom wouldn't know.

So you see, Internet, I was doomed to eccentricity from an early age. Nature or nurture, either way I was screwed, weirdness-wise.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are going to co-star in a new Wuthering Heights movie. I can't stop wiggling. You know who is going to have to go see this movie with me, right? EVERYBODY. It makes sense that Heathcliffe and Catherine would be played by the two best-looking people in the world.

In other news, since late March 2006 (ie., in the past year) I have read 76 books. It seems like I should be prepared to make some kind of summative statement, such as, "most of these books were good" or "I learned about the human condition" or "some of them were longer than others." The best ones, a top 8 list:

  1. Matthew Battles' Library: An Unquiet History
  2. Neil Gaiman's Coraline
  3. What I Meant to Say: The Secret Lives of Men [Ian Brown, ed]
  4. D. M. Cornish's Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling
  5. Simon Winchester's The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
  6. John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels
  7. Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy
  8. Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated
I don't have the heart for a "worst of" list. It wouldn't be that long, anyway. "Soft-hearted, sympathetic, optimistic Jocelyn," that is what they call me.

dodge, duck, dip, dive, and... dodge

The MySpace Music Downloader: lets you download streaming music from myspace pages as an MP3. Streamlined, intuitive, and... probably illegal. Oh well. Deletia: Law breakers and heart-breakers!

In the year 2041...

The clock on this school computer is set to March 21, 2041. All the security certificates on the WHOLE INTERNET are expired, not surprisingly. In the year 2041 I will be 58. I had better be done my MLIS by that time.

OpenCongress: using the collective intelligence of the World Wide Information Superhighway (The W-WIS) to keep democracy responsive and responsible. It's a nice idea. Does it actually work? I have no idea.

library-scented perfume. Point of clarification: is it actually made out of old books? Because that is sort of gross. I mean, I like the smell of old books as much as the next library-ladder-craving, card-catalogue-using, subject-heading-applying dork, but that doesn't mean I want to smell like that all day long. [Via 50 books]

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I am all about finishing assignments more or less on-time, the open-access journal movement, pork chops, pillows from wal-mart, multi-tasking on my GIANT MONITOR, and the pussycat dolls' song "buttons" (i know... i suck).

I shall type ever onwards. I am making good progress on the week's assignments... little quick math...

31/35 (that's right, I have 4/35ths of an assignment left to do, you got a problem with that?)

I am 46/70ths done! w00t.

This is an experiment... and you are part of it

the 1000 journals project has been going on for years, but by now many of the journals have returned home. Excerpts from them are being published in a booky book! I know, exciting! It makes a great gift for your favourite overworked grad student, too, or so I've heard.

I am all about projects that involve mail, glue, and journals.


From five and a half: photo journals
From not martha: marble magnets

I switched conditioners, and now my hair smells like coconuts. You might think that sounds nice, but it is actually confusing. Real-time report of what is going on in my brain, roughly once every three minutes: "Whoa... coconuts. Wait... does that mean I can drink piƱa coladas now? If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain... Wait, what? Why does my hair smell like that?!?"

I am at school, working. The mountain of work that is paralyzing me is diminishing, although not as fast as I might like. My apologies. Believe me, internet, you are not the only thing I like that I am neglecting.

Monday, March 19, 2007

File under: things you can buy for $10, part infinity

Meghan and I went thrift-store shopping yesterday and I would say Rosie, the sassy and fickle goddess of thrift-store luck, smiled on us.

thriftstore 003 thriftstore 002

On the left is a fabulous flamingo lamp. It looks like glass but is actually made of little plastic globules that are melted together. I think this makes it virtually unbreakable, and also, possibly, a fire hazard! But a gloriously kitschy fire hazard. I don't know what I will do when the bulb burns out because, much like a computer, it has "no user serviceable parts inside."

On the right is an orange General Electric space heater that provoked the following conversation:
Jocelyn: Meghan, you are my friend. I need you to tell me the truth about something.
Meghan: What?
Jocelyn: Do you think I should buy this space heater?
Meghan: Does it work?
Jocelyn: I think I want to buy it regardless of whether it works.

I then carried it around the Goodwill store, cutting off circulation to my fingers, because I was afraid some other orange-appliance-loving person might snatch it.

Both are electrically operational! Thank you, Rosie, I owe you one!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Using the historical tale generator, I wrote a rather touching story entitled A Woeful Historical Tale of Sadnesse and Ultimately Redemption. I think it has quite a bit of pathos, clown school, no commas, a dog that reminded me of Toby, and only a few typos. I am devestated to say this, but I cannot link to it, because the gallery feature does not work. I can only suggest you go write one of your own.

more photos... of myself.

The image mosaic generator takes an image you choose and renders it, made of tiny images from Flickr. Now if only it could make the big picture of me out of lots of little tiny pictures of me... oh well. someday my megalomaniac's dream will come true. [Via how about orange...]

jocemosaic1 jocemosaic2

The only problem being, it's hard to know whether you are winning or losing

I just spent a silly amount of time playing this inexplicable Asian flash cooking game. It's fun. I don't know how to win, though. I got up to 76 delicious finished biscuits (pancakes? English muffins? hamburgers?) and the little man still berated me soundly.

Stupid interweb.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's sacrilicious!

2007 Roman Priest Calendar: You can order this calendar of moody black-and-white pictures of hot Catholic priests. It doesn't even seem to be a joke of any kind. Unfortunately the website is all in Italian, so it is a bit difficult to decipher, but it seems if you are yourself a hot Catholic priest, you can apply to be in 2008's edition: CALENDARIO ROMANO CASTING 2008

a mistress, but never a wife

This article on Get Rich Slowly is hi-larious: Get Your Money Right: The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. This new non-profit network tries to harness the popularity of hip-hop and hip-hop celebrities to teach kids some financial intelligence.

"'I took my homeboys to the club, buyin’ bottles, got the rims — you know what I mean,' said Slim Thug, 26, a Houston rapper whose prized possessions include a $460,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom. 'Then I couldn’t be paying the rent! Homeboys can’t help you now.'

They’ve learned, they say, some indispensable lessons."


I fell off the wagon is a kind of community art project which displays fifteen 15-second videos submitted by users. Obstensibly this is based on the famous Andy Warhol line about fifteen minutes of fame--except in the sped-up online Information Superhighway world, apparently, everybody only gets fifteen seconds.

I wasn't going to use my fifteen minutes of fame, so I gave it to Lindsey Lohan.

For my children's lit class I am reading Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. Like many people born in the 80s, I guess, I am only familiar with the Disney version of the story. I shall hum "Kiss the Girl" (far and away my favourite Disney song) while I read.

"In the middle of this clearing was a house built of the bones of shipwrecked men, and there sat the sea witch, letting a toad eat out of her mouth just as we might feed sugar to a little canary bird. She called the ugly fat water snakes her little chickabiddies, and let them crawl and sprawl about on her spongy bosom." There you see her... Sitting there across the way. She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her... and you don’t know why,/But you’re dying to try,/You wanna kiss the girl...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Diegesis, vampires, and gummi bears

From the astonishing bowels of the interweb: a fairly pretty chandelier made of gummi bears. Gummi bears are a good choice for lighting because they are sort of luminescent. On the other hand, you could just eat them, because they are luminescently delicious.

Yesterday James pointed me in the direction of some interesting theoretical math related to the vampire population in Buffy. However, this whole supposition is based on the idea that every time a vampire kills a human, that human then becomes a vampire, which (at least within the diegesis of the show) is patently false, as established in the first episode. "To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly, they're just gonna kill you." I am linking to this article nonetheless, because I admire the amount of time and abstract thought that went in to it, but i think it constitutes a fairly radical interpretation of the text.

[Edited March 17 @ 11:11 AM to add: James: "I think the problem is that they have applied the zombie model to vampires." Jocelyn: "Exactly."]

weekend haiku
making scrambled eggs
and law and order c.i.
doth a weekend make.

more musings from the computer lab

Is it just me, or is "Wilson OmniFile FT Mega Edition" a database name that conveys very little professionalism? It sounds like something you would order from Burger King. "I'll have the Mega Edition, with a side of information."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Promiscuous girl...

metaspy: refreshes every 15 seconds with searches being performed by other internet users. Fewer people than I expected are searching for porn. More are searching for casinos, tennessee real estate, and "medieval times."

Someone who goes not understand how to use quotation marks in searches (aka phrase searching) is also searching for something like "great travel deals". Hmm. I wonder if any sites contain that exact text. It seems unlikely, does it not? Moron.

In my web design for usability class today we were debating whether it is always the web designer's obligation to build sites that meet users' needs and expectations to the greatest degree possible. I mean, there are a lot of morons around. I fear living in a world that has to be idiot-proofed because 5% of the population can't figure out how to use travel mugs (warning: contents may be hot), pedestrian crosswalks, and snack food packaging (To open: tear open). I am not calling for the return of eugenics or anything, but if these people can't figure life out, maybe it's for the best. I value the viability of the gene pool.

On another note, I am so crushing on the new Nelly Furtado album right now. Lame? Maybe. I care not. As I type this, I am doing a little bum-dance in my chair. Inspired by her, I am trying to be a "maneater," except other than wearing high heels I am not sure what that involves. I would hazard that blogging probably has nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Because I could not stop for death,/He kindly stopped for me...

I have absolutely no desire to see the movie 300, considering the how incensed and upset I became after watching Sin City, but I have read a few reviews of it with interest. The general consensus seems to be that this movie sucks, in a sort of violent, homoerotic way. This confirms what I thought when I saw the trailer, which was, "Troy, without the plot, and made into a music video."

If you care about the environment--and who doesn't, besides the Conservative Party?--consider the green alternatives to traditional burial. This means avoiding the embalming fluid, mainly, as well as airtight coffins covered with lacquer. Every day I find new things to feel guilty about.

a mystery for some 21-st century version of Encyclopedia Brown

You know that little icon that appears in your browser next to the URL, the one that for my site used to be a little "d" which I made myself, until it was replaced by the hegemonic blogger "b"? I am currently pondering the question of why my online banking site and the web usability site have the same one. Is it a conspiracy? Can you download them somewhere? Is there a haunted amusement park? And sub-question... why did I notice this?

Life is full of mysteries, some of them more mysterious than others.

I am at school "writing a paper," so you can probably expect many more pointless but diverting updates as the afternoon wears on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seattle photos

seattle 010

These are the stairs that lead to the ocean and then, directly, to Asia.

seattle 014

My favourite thing about Seattle is the cherry trees. It doesn't seem fair that other people get to live in places with pink trees, while the rest of us are stuck with brown and green.

seattle 016

My dog, Toby and I bonded very early in our relationship over our shared affinity for sloth. Here we are lying in bed, thinking about cheese. Also, we are both very cute.

Monday, March 12, 2007

west coast update

I saw the play MacHomer last night, which is MacBeth (more or less) performed using exclusively voices from The Simpsons, by one guy. It was pretty intense, as even that brief description probably suggests. It also made a surprising amount of sense. Mr. Burns was King Duncan, of course. Marge as Lady MacBeth didn't disturb me as much as I expected. And Grandpa Simpson, Otto, and Apu as the three murderers was downright hilarious. (Apu, of course, being the only one with even the remotest murdering competence.) Rick Miller, the guy who wrote and performed it, is hilarious, so it you get a chance to see any of his plays I highly recommend it.

Today I get to go to the 826 Seattle space store, Fred Meyer (my parents' favourite American store for some reason), and to the beach near my parents' house. I shall search for some kind of airplane postcard to send to my friend Caleb. It has been raining here nonstop since I arrived in Vancouver. It took us an hour to get through American customs on Saturday, presumably because they are being extra vigilant about terrorists on weekends.

Things you can's buy at the grocery store in Seattle: sesame bagels
Things you can buy at the grocery store in Seattle: booze

It is nice to see my dog again, but he seems older and wiser now. He has lost a bit of his previous goofy charm. I am here by myself right now (parents at work), and he flops down on the floor nearby wherever I am, and then gets up and follows me if I move around, as if he feels he needs to warily keep an eye on me. The experience of my parents moving away and all his people being split up has obviously been very hard on him. And no, I am not doing that thing dog-owners do where they project their own problems onto their pets. Not at all.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

I am going to Seattle to visit my parents. Back on Tuesday. Stay out of trouble.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Overheard today in library school:

"The feel-good puppet show of the year"

A Flickr photoset: NYC Subway Sketches.

Oh yeah...

I was trudging through the melty snow tonight on a side-street on Edmonton's south side when I encountered two boys selling lemonade. It was about 2 degrees outside. I had to reward their bizarrely optimistic business sense by buying some lemonade, which I then obligingly drank. Even though, honestly, it wasn't exactly a lemonade kind of moment.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A mnemonic device, invented by me, to remember the -Stans*

Optional: Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire

*Well, OK, technically 6 -Stans and 1 -Jan.
**Also, do not forget India. It's a biggie.

Other sets of countries that go together nicely, for reasons that generally have to do only with word structure and not geography: Bhutan and Bahrain (extraneous H); Cambodia and Cameroon; Yemen and Qatar (both go consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant); Albania, Angola, and Algeria (both begin and end with 'A'); Ethiopia and Eritrea (Begin and end in 'E'; also, both in Africa); Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea. Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chad(guay).

Sets of countries that go together nicely, because they used to be one country: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro; Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo; Czech Republic and Slovakia; Western Sahara and Morocco (I think).

I am still trying to improve my score on this country-naming game, in case you could not guess the reason for this extravagantly insignificant post. The goal is to get to the point where every country name makes me think of another country name instantly. That, or I run out of typing time. I am up to 145/245. I attempted to justify this activity to someone yesterday, and utterly couldn't. However, I am thinking it must be good for the brain, all questions of information responsibility aside. "Thicker, bushier dendrites," as Douglas Coupland would say.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A diagram to accompany my previous post

Emotional state, and music preferences


I have now relieved another 2% of my self-pity by making Microsoft Paint diagrams.

Sure-fire signs that I am having a bad day

  1. I cut my hair on a whim. I had a dream last night that I cut my hair, and I woke up, and I was like, I should cut my hair! And then I DID. That's what passes for inspiration these days, folks.

  2. I got said hair cut at West Edmonton Mall, and it cost $18, and when I paid for it, the woman told me, "You need your eyebrows waxed," and offered to wax them for a few dollars extra. Like I am some kind of body-hair pity case. What happened to the customer always being right? When I told her that I didn't want my eyebrows waxed, she sort of scrutinized me, as if she were trying to figure out of I was ignorant, miserly, or just retarded.

  3. With said hair cut I now look exactly, and I do mean EXACTLY, the way I did in fifth grade. Except in fifth grade I was not allowed to have my nose pierced, and to tell you the truth, I don't think the thought would have even occurred to me at the time.

  4. I accidentally wrote a whole paper on the wrong topic. I am not kidding.

  5. I went to this information session about job interviews today, and I realized, as if it was a message from God (*Zoolander talking into his tiny phone* "God?") that I am never going to get a job. My pre-workshop idealism and ignorance were far preferable to the state of career-related misery in whcih I now find myself.

  6. On the way to West Edmonton Mall, on the bus, enroute (unbeknownst to me) to be verbally abused my a Chinese woman with bouffant blonde hair, there was a very old man. He was a thousand years old. He wanted to get off downtown, but the bus was an SuperExpress bus, and they never stop. He had to go all the way to the west end because he could not get off the bus. (a)I felt sorry for him, and this made me depressed. (b) Then I realized that the ancient man who cannot get the bus to stop is like a metaphor for my entire life. (c) Then I felt sorry for myself, and also like I was being sort of melodramatic and Mariah-Carey-ish.

  7. I am watching Mysterious Skin, and it's good except it's very upsetting. And for the past three days I have been walking around feeling sort of dirty and sad, thinking about sexual abuse, in this kind of sexual-abuse-funk. If you have never had that feeling, let me tell you: it is not a good one.

Making this list relieved 12% of my self-pity but only 4% of my inner turmoil.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mmmm... *in Homer Simpson voice* army of free interns...

The Patent and Trademark Office will be soliciting help from outside "experts" to deal with their patent application overload. How Web 2.0!

[And you thought I would never find another opportunity to use my patents tag! how silly!]

Facebook: A Three-Act Play.

I. Facebook... so much potential.

II. Facebook: Pathetic?

[I think I like this just because it is a reference to Enrique Iglesias. Would you dance?/If I asked you to dance...]

III. Facebook: Evil?

Two things I can get behind:

  1. The Camel Book Drive. This is a charity site for a camel library in rural Kenya. Kind of like a biblioburro... only with a camel.

  2. In just over two weeks it shall be computer shutdown day. I might do this just as a bizarre experiment in withdrawl. I check my email in the morning in a vegetative state. In fact I probably check it in my sleep.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Links for the lovely

Monday is always link day, in which you, Gentle Reader, develop an awareness--perhaps beyond your own level of comfort--of what websites I have discovered over the weekend. This is how it was, is, and always shall be.

  • Oprah's Ugly Secret. From Salon. This one has been popping up all over delicious, reddit and digg, and it's worth reading all the way through. To wit:
    The promises of Oprah culture can seem irresistible, and its hallmarks are becoming ubiquitous. Believers may be separated into tribes according to what they believe, but they do it in pretty much the same way, relying on a "Secret"-style conception of "intuition" --- which seems to amount to the sneaking suspicion that they're always right -- to arrive at their tenets. Instead of the world as it is, constantly changing and full of contradiction, they see a fixed and fantastical place, where good things come to those who believe, whether it's belief in a diet, a God, or a Habit of Successful People. These believers may believe in the healing power of homeopathy, or Scripture or organizational skills -- in intelligent design, astrology or privatization. They all trust that their devotion will be rewarded with money and boyfriends and job promotions, with hockey championships and apartments. And most of all they believe -- they really, really believe -- in themselves.

  • The Letter Project. It's quite simple really: send this guy your address, and he will write you a letter. Sounds like a good deal to me.

  • An interesting fraud from the tawdry world of classical music. From the Gramophone. After her death, it was discovered that pianist Joyce Hatto had released the recordings of other performers under her own name. In this article, her husband explains what happened.

  • Finally: LEGO ice cubes. I listened to a sad story on This American Life today about the EPA cracking down on the delicious cocoa-scented smoke from a chocolate factory. My upstairs neighbour, silent for many months, is having another rage episode. In the midst of all this, it serves to remember that the world is not all self-help conspiracy, screaming personality-disorder suffering upstairs neighbours (who never seem to go to work), and reputation built on fraud. It also contains the unexpectedly marvellous.

Astronauts vs. cavemen; Batman vs. Wolverine, revisited

As I may have mentioned already, I have a love of the movie The Prestige that borders on obsession. My appreciation for this film is such that I don't even really need to watch it to enjoy it; I just think about it. I bought the DVD when it came out, and watching the bonus features was great, this total affirmation of why I love the movie; the director named about 4 things that I had independently concluded are great about it, in a sort of "this is what we were trying to do here" kind of way. It's always nice to know that these things do not happen by accident, that a movie is (or can be) the result of an articulate-able set of ideas, a creative process, and emerge from that process recognizable by the audience. It's such a careful, intentional movie, in which every line of dialogue actually seems to prefigure what is coming. If, as the movie asks, you are "watching closely." It's all very comforting, owning the DVDs of movies one loves so one can be reminded, regularly, of why one loves them.

Synopsis: Jocelyn likes The Prestige. A lot.

Earlier post: "And a pickle for the lady." [January 2007] [Note: since I posted that original entry about The Prestige, I have had the opportunity to ask a number of people about their opinion on the Batman vs. Wolverine issue. Nearly everyone agrees with mine and Meghan's original opinion, which is that Batman would simply be no match to Wolverine in straight-up fisticuffs. The only dissenters are James and Becky, who have made a persistent argument for Batman. Becky also insists that the context is important, and we would need to know which one of them was fighting for good and which for evil.

Jocelyn: Neither of them is evil. [trying to concoct a situation in which two non-evil superheroes would fight each other] Well, maybe they have both been captured by a supervillain. And unless they fight to the death the supervillain will destroy the world, or something.
Becky: That doesn't mean anything. Batman would sacrifice himself.

Maybe so, folks. Maybe so. Thus far the Batman vs. Wolverine question remains unsolved.]

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I am definitely either going to bed, or typing the names of countries into a little text-box.

Earlier we had a game to test US state knowledge. This game has a version for all 245 countries in wikipedia, or all 192 UN member-states. (I'll give you a hint: the UN version is easier.) I got 120/245, but it was painstaking, friends. And I missed a few I definitely SHOULD have gotten.

Earlier post: Enough mind games.

Freedom to Read Week: Last Gasp

Two tidbits concerning Freedom to Read Week:

  1. There has been a recent kerfuffle over the children's book The Higher Power of Lucky, a Newberry medal-winning book which contains the word "scrotum." The public debate over this book has been incredible. I first encountered the story in the New York Times (in an article that, unfortunately, is not available without a subscription). The Times reported that school librarians were pulling the book from their shelves after deciding innocent children should not be exposed to the (perfectly scientific and polite) name of a body part. (Because we all know that children are embarrassed by any discussion of body parts, especially body parts with funny names, and will shy away from discussing them. Right?) Publishers Weekly covered the story quite extensively. Neil Gaiman weighed in, quite articulately, on his blog. The author herself, Susan Patron, defends her writing in an article in the Houston Chronicle. Perhaps the funniest response was this list of other children's books containing "scrotum". Apparently, unbeknownst to us, the silent scrotum threat has actually surrounded us for some time.

    Obviously, this is a story that has been reported to death and it hardly seems necessary for me to weigh in. But its timing couldn't be more ironic, as many of the publications co-incided with Freedom to Read Week. What a timely, and yet ridiculous, reminder of the limitations and challenges that still occur in schools and libraries.

    What makes me sad about the situation is that the people who have publicly voiced their disapproval of the book have been "librarians," (or in some cases, probably, school media specialists) but in the initial scrimmage we didn't see any librarians' views from the other side of the fence. Librarians all over the world go to the wall about intellectual freedom ALL THE TIME. They are activists who defend the public's right to access information in an unrestricted, dignified, and private way. In the United States they are one of the few groups systematically keeping track of the Patriot Act and its repercussions for freedom, privacy, and democracy. I would just like to see more of that getting reported in the news. The media seem hell-bent on perpetuating the portrayal of librarians as repressed, repressive disciplinarians.

    Of course, the real winner in this debate is the book's author, Susan Patron. Her book has now been brought to the attention of millions of people all over the world. At least some of those millions are bound to buy it--whether to burn it in a school parking lot, to give it to their nieces and nephews, or to see what all the fuss is about. At the time of this posting, her book is already #9 on Amazon's children's bestseller list.

  2. An excerpt from Matthew Battles' excellent Library: An Unquiet History, from the chapter "Knowledge on Fire," about libraries and book-burnings during the Nazi regime:
    But if German librarianship barely survived its Faustian bargain with the Nazis, libraries flourished elsewhere, even where Nazi annihilation reigned supreme. As David Shavit writes in Hunger for the Printed Word, libraries were part of survival in the ghettos and camps of the Final Solution. ... In the Vilna ghetto, amid awful degradation and constant threat of transport back to the death camps, Jews built a library. In October 1942, the librarian Herman Kruk prepared a report on the first year of the Vilna ghetto library. An extraordinary document, it now resides in the collection of the YIVO Institute in New York, where it was translated by Zachary M. Baker. It is at once a work of cool library science and a cry of mingled hope and despair. (174)

    The most popular circulating book in the Vilna ghetto library was Tolstoy's War and Peace. Another popular title was All Quiet on the Western Front, which had been banned by the Nazi authorities. In 1943, the librarian, Herman Kruk, was deported to Estonia, where he was burned to death in a concentration camp. (179) During the 1930s and 40s, Battles estimates that one hundred million books were burned by the Nazis. (167)

If you are interested in these issues at all, please please check out future librarians for intellectual freedom. That blog is far more thorough than mine. And I sometimes contribute, so you might catch a glimpse of me over there as I fold myself into my glamourous, library science limousine. (Little-known fact: all librarians ride around in limos. As professions go, it's pretty hot.)

This Freedom to Read Week I feel lucky to live in a country where we have so much freedom, when so many others (like the Jews in Nazi Germany) fought to have any access to their own documents and stories. At the same time, we live in a society where we are always having to fight to keep that freedom. We can't be complacent. I don't know about you, but I like a little scrotum in my children's books, thank you.

It's starting to get to me...

From defective yeti: The cliche rotation project. No one is saying we need to stop using cliches; but let's try to replace some of the old and tired ones with new ones-- preferably new ones that only kind of make sense!

Example: instead of "back to square one," one submitter suggests, "Back to world 1-1." Hot.

The television show of This American Life is debuting soon on Showtime. Here's the trailer.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

There was a blinding flash of light...


If the impression you get from this screenshot is that I am standing around congratulating myself on my new level-60-ishness while my party members are killed by ill-tempered elite dwarves, then you are not far from right. However, no one actually died because of my short ego-break.

Our guild name explained in a segment from Futurama:

Leela A: This is getting confusing. Why don't we call our universe "Universe A" and this universe "Universe B"?
Bender 1: Hey! Why can't we be Universe A?
Fry 1: Yeah!
Amy 1: Yeah!
Farnsworth 1: We want A!
Zoidberg 1: It's the best letter!
Fry A: We called it first. Besides, this place kinda feels like a "B", y'know?
Leela 1: Alright, you can be crummy Universe A and we'll be Universe 1.
Fry 1: Or "The Mongooses". That's a cool team name. The Fighting Mongooses!

Jocelyn wakes up, and wants to make out with Saturday.

I am going to get to level 60 in warcraft this weekend. Today, even. Let it never be said that I don't set goals.

Something funny: Haiku Error messages.

Something else funny: The funniest, and crudest, blog entry I have read in awhile. [From The Erin O'Brien Owner's Manual for Human Beings]

Something less funny: Who wants to save the aye-aye? [Speciesism is a serioius matter. We have a zero tolerance policy here at deletia hq.]

Last week I spontaneously declared it Dress Like Your South Park Character Day. I tagged Matt and James as the next participants. Thanks to them for being such good sports.

Friday, March 2, 2007

the world is giving me a headache today:

USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes. [From the Washington Post.]

"Ventria has developed three varieties of rice, each endowed with a different human gene that makes the plants produce one of three human proteins. Two of them -- lactoferrin and lysozyme -- are bacteria-fighting compounds found in breast milk and saliva. ...

Deeter said production in plants is far cheaper than other methods, which should help make the therapy affordable in the developing world, where severe diarrhea kills 2 million children each year."

Grab your credit cards and run.

deletia: we keep you posted on the internet tshirt situation.

  1. Cascading Style Shirt. I have heard that everyone wants to make out with you if you wear a shirt that is a CSS joke. Although I am not guaranteeing anything. [There are more.]

  2. SpamShirt: have your favourite spam subject line printed on a shirt, such as, "here is the info you requested," or "she will say it's too long." Techie and weird.

  3. Spreadshirt seems to be an upscale version of cafepress. You can make your own t-shirt shop which sells shirts that say things you want, such as, "BOYS PLEASE" or "Let's just be friends." I do not understand how websites make money.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Enough mind games.

Perhaps I am the only one who enjoys Trying to name all 50 American states in 10 minutes, but then, if there is another such person, the internet is surely the way to find them. [From ironic sans]

Also, I apparently do not know how to spell Massachusetts or Connecticut. It is good to know these things sooner rather than later.

I got 38 out of 50. Go and try, then report back. (I'll give you a hint, punk: Oklahoma exists. At least according to this website.) You are expected to do better than me if you are actually American. Since you know I can name all the provinces and territories, sucka. Of course, it helps that there are only 12.*

*I am kidding. I know there are 13. And 70% of the people reading this website just learned something. I am all about the learnin'!

Is no social networking site sacred?

Have you guys heard about this? SpikeTheVote was a kind of pyramid scheme for digg, in which members received credit for digging other sites, and once they have received enough credit, they could submit their own sites to be fake-dugg by other members. [The site was recently sold on eBay, ended up in the hands of digg itself, and was shut down. Or should I say digg shutt itt down.] Wired article: Herding the Mob.

What have we learned from this, aside from a nifty new word, "crowdhacking"? That sometimes harnessing the collective intelligence of users is stupid!

Conceptual art to make you go, "huh."

Cai Guo-Qiang's "Head On."

Normally I don't take much of an interest in things of this nature... but here is a rather hilarious series of photographs documenting the age-old struggle: man vs. bee. Of course, man has the technology advantage because of his access to paint thinner.

Another weird one: Normal-sized things photoshopped to look like miniatures.

My class was cancelled today, so instead, I went and had a drink at a bar on campus with some friends. This is truly the life. I never want a job.