The Emotional Pumpkin


Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Seems I'm fighting a lot of it these days. This time I'm trying to avoid reading the Sin City graphic novels, of which I have received 6 of 7, before the movie comes out this Friday. I am likely to enjoy both immensely, but I think it's best not to read the books before I watch the movie. To be scrupulously honest, I did give in a bit with the first book, The Hard Goodbye, but read only to the last point that I already knew about (for those of you who've seen the trailer, up to where Marv goes: "I'll be right out"). The movie looks promising, from what I can discern from the trailer; a number of the scenes look just as they've been drawn in the books. Good stuff. I can hardly wait until Friday.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bad news

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra Monday close to where a quake triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing across Asia, residents and officials said.

The latest quake had the potential to cause a "widely destructive tsunami" and authorities should take "immediate action," including evacuating coastlines within 600 miles of the epicenter, the Pacific tsunami warning center said.
Full text of article here.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Here's one of the first

hands-on reviews of the PSP. I gotta tell you, if the console didn't cost so much ($259 MSRP), I'd get it and Wipeout Pure in a heartbeat.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

All this (to my mind, premature) talk of

the domino effect in the Middle East aside, here's an interesting (and these days, increasingly common) take on the historical perspective by The Functional Ambivalent:
So, as a Democrat, I'm wondering: What do we do if President Bush was right?  What do we do if the Mideastern dominoes start falling and President Bush goes down in history as Winston Churchill, while we go down as Neville Chamberlain, howling weakly that diplomacy works and military force is no longer necessary?  What if our most conservative President goes down in history as a great contributor to the liberal ideals of freedom and tolerance, while we Democrats -- we liberals -- go down as cold-hearted and fearful, unconcerned about the suffering of our fellows while we sit contentedly in our affluence?

If that happens, are we even liberals any more?
Read the whole thing. (Via VodkaPundit)

Can I get extra credit for this?

As Stephen Green puts it, "Coolest. Project. Ever.":
As US coast-to-coast crimewaves go, it is not in the league of Bonnie and Clyde. It lacks both violence and avarice and is further hindered by an overabundance of pre-publicity.

Undeterred, a couple of students from Cornwall are intent on making American criminal history by spending their summer breaking as many US laws as possible.

Starting in the liberal state of California, they hope to evade the attention of local police officers when they ride a bike in a swimming pool and curse on a crazy-golf course.

In the far more conservative - and landlocked - state of Utah, they will risk the penitentiary when they hire a boat and attempt to go whale-hunting.

If they manage to outwit state troopers in Utah, and perhaps federal agents on their trail, they will be able to take a deserved, but nevertheless illegal, rest when they have a nap in a cheese factory in South Dakota.

"There are thousands of stupid laws in the United States, but we are limiting ourselves to breaking about 45 of them," said Richard Smith, from Portreath, Cornwall.
Original article here.

VodkaPundit's Stephen Green

writes an interesting essay on the similarities between the war in Iraq and the battle for Iwo Jima1 during WWII:
Today's atom bomb is democracy in the Middle East – and it's been dropped on Iraq. The fallout has spread far and wide, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt, to Palestine, and perhaps even to Syria and Iran. Its effects could well bring an early conclusion to today global war, sparing thousands of lives on each side.
Read the whole thing.

1 "Iwo Jima" is the common romanized spelling of the island's name. Taken exactly from the Japanese, it is actually one word: "ioujima" (long "o" sounds are commonly romanized as "ou") or 硫黄島, which means sulfur island. FYI.

Another suspicious memo?

Power Line has more. The evidence on both sides is mostly circumstantial and inconclusive, but keep watching. (Via InstaPundit)

UPDATE: More here.

If you haven't heard about this already,

here's an interesting article about the Times of India's shutdown of a media criticism blog through legal threats. (Via InstaPundit)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not to be alarmist,

but this is pretty scary:
At 35 000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder -- a structure over 8m high -- had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside.

Mercifully, the crew was able to turn the plane around, and by steering it with their wing and tail flaps managed to land at their point of departure in Varadero, Cuba, without loss of life. But as Canadian investigators try to discover what caused this near catastrophe, the specialist internet bulletin boards used by pilots, accident investigators and engineers are buzzing.

One former Airbus pilot, who now flies Boeings for a major United States airline, told The Observer: "This just isn't supposed to happen. No one I know has ever seen an airliner's rudder disintegrate like that. It raises worrying questions about the materials and build of the aircraft, and about its maintenance and inspection regime. We have to ask as things stand, would evidence of this type of deterioration ever be noticed before an incident like this in the air?"
(Via InstaPundit)

More good stuff

on Big Journalism and its ever-increasing loss of credibility.

One more time, with feeling

So I got a call yesterday from the California chapter of NOW. They were looking for donations to help them lobby against conservative judicial nominations for the Supreme Court by the Bush administration. Now, I'm a single female living in one of the most better-dead-than-red1 areas of the country. I have a more-or-less solid Democratic voting record, and have been known on occasion to contribute to charity. I'm pro-choice and against the Bush administration's attempts to get the Christian right a stronger foothold in the highest court in the land2. They should have had me in the bag. Instead, the NOW representative began by reading some inflammatory and blatantly false anti-Republican rhetoric about the "false election" and "losing Roe v. Wade". And within 5 seconds, she lost me. I was disgusted. I don't want to keep harping on this, but here it is again. Even given my demographic information, I think it's folly for these far-left political groups looking for my money or my vote to assume that I agree with them. It's the complacency that kills me. If they are so good at alienating someone who is pretty close to exactly ideologically aligned with them, how will they be at getting the support of someone who's more moderate than me?

1 A clever turn of phrase borrowed from this Rolling Stone article mentioned in a post I linked earlier.

2 For the record, I'm against the far left getting more of a foothold in the Supreme Court, also. Most of America is solidly between the two extremes and I think that ideologically, the Supreme Court justices should represent that. Besides, ideology should not make much of a difference when getting into the nuts and bolts of interpreting law.

OK, so as you have probably noticed,

my blog posting frequency in the last six months has dropped off drastically. This is mostly due to a significant reduction in my web-surfing time, some intentional and some not. As a result, I am getting ever further behind in my monitoring of my favorite RSS feeds. Why am I telling you this? Because it's my excuse for posting on old stuff. Here's an interesting post on the increasing influence MoveOn wields in the Democratic party, and why it can only be bad news for the left. It harmonizes quite nicely with my liberal-disgusted-with-the-Democratic-party song.

I have fixed the

Flowers template so that it works in the latest Windows and Mac OS versions of Internet Explorer.

Monday, March 21, 2005

You may have noticed that

I made some minor changes to the Spring template. One was a redesign of the banner graphic, which I felt was too busy. I opted for something more stylized, and in my mind at least, much more attractive. The second thing i did was to lighten the top and bottom blocks of color on the sidebar. To update your template, you can either re-download the source, or if you've made customizations and don't want to mess with them, do the following:

In the style descriptions for the .sidebar-top and .sidebar-bottom classes, change the background image from leaf_green_bg.png to lt_leaf_green_bg.png. It's that simple.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Oh this is so cool!

I Like Your Colors! is a web tool that will extract the colors from the CSS of any website you specify, and display swatches thereof.

Where am I finding all these cool links? From What Do I Know, a design-oriented blog I found from the links section on squidfingers. Make sure to check out the links in the Enjoying section, especially this and this. Jieun, you especially will like this.


Check this out. Very sexy.

This is pretty cool,

even if it doesn't much benefit Mac users:
Beginning in 2006, Microsoft says it will ship with its operating system and other software products six brand new typefaces created especially for extended on-screen reading.
This is especially timely for me, since as you know I've recently been redesigning/restructuring my various websites for cleanliness and user-friendliness; I have spent much of the past few days worrying about font choices and ease of reading for users, since most of my content is written and long.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Most people probably know about this already, but

here's a pretty neat blog/website: Cooking for Engineers. It's cool not just for its content, but the way the website is programmed.

While we're on the subject of cooking and geeks, I have to admit that I am a Good Eats junkie. It appeals to the engineer in me. If you don't watch this show regularly, you should.

Seems like

Blogger has fixed the timestamping bug.

And in the spirit of

early mid-life crisis, here's a link to Bowling for Soup's hilarious video for 1985 (Quicktime required; go here to select another format).

I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork.

For the second time in as many days, I was contacted this morning by a friend from high school whom I hadn't talked to in at least 5 years. It was...surreal. This is also, by the way, the year of my 10-year high school reunion. And as stupid and cliche as it is, I can't help but start thinking about where I am in my life and if it's what I wanted. Luckily I didn't think about it too long. I guess I didn't have much expectation one way or another back then of how my life was going to be in the future, so what my life is today has no dream to be compared to, and found lacking. In case you're wondering, that's a good thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Gasp! Can it be?

According to this article (thanks to Matt for the link), Microsoft plans to release an IE 7.0, which should support tabbed browsing and transparent PNG rendering. Unfortunately, it is as yet unclear how much of the CSS2 standard they plan to support. This last would have been the most important feature in my book, but evidently Microsoft doesn't seem to think so.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Is liberalism dead?

Both liberal and conservative pundits seem to think so. I don't know that I would agree, living as I do in that unassailable fortress of liberal thought that is northern California. Do I think liberalism is dead? No. Do I think the liberal movement is a headless, directionless mob of elitists? Hell, yes. (Via InstaPundit)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blog templates alert

I've had several e-mails from template users that the comment links in the post footer don't work. In all cases, the reason seemed to be an extra greater-than symbol (>); more on this later. So I checked (and rechecked, and checked again) my template code. It looked fine. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Today, however, I noticed that, even though the code on the server looks fine, most browsers seem to add the extra > character, I guess because they think the code is wrong. Here are the gory details: according to the Blogger reference on comment tags, the comments link in the post footer should look like this:

<a href="<$BlogItemCommentCreate$>"
<$BlogItemCommentCount$> comment(s)

And this is what I've put in my template code. Browsers seem to think the syntax is wrong, however, that the opening <a> tag is never closed properly, and add the extra > to fix the "error". So when you view the source for the template, you'd see the following (only sometimes, though, and this is another mystery to me):

<a href="<$BlogItemCommentCreate$>">
<$BlogItemCommentCount$> comment(s)

So the moral of the story, kids, is that when you copy the template source, watch out for that extra > symbol and remove it if a good samaritan web browser has added it. Note that I've also posted this information on the blog templates download page.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

CSS, templates and more IE frustrations

So I've recently kicked off a massive effort to rewrite all of my various websites, and yes, some blog templates, to use CSS positioning instead of tables for the layout, and XHTML 1.0 Strict syntax. I already finished one part of my personal website, with near-success. Typically, IE for both Mac OS and Windows does not display it properly, or at least, does not display it like all the other standards-compliant browsers. It could be that it's wrong, or that it's just stricter than the other browsers. I'm leaning towards wrong: I've got an element that has a higher z-index than the rest of the page inside a fixed-height div, and which has both its and its parent's overflow properties set to visible. So if its content exceeds the fixed height of its parent, the element should still be fully visible, floating over its parent element, right? That's how Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape and Safari render it. But not IE, oh no. IE cuts off the element where the parent div ends. Just lovely. Did I say "AARRRGGHHH" already? No? Well, AARRRGGHHH. Thank you.

What I'm reading:

So after a long hiatus in my reading activity (movies were my main source of entertainment for a while), I've recently finished a few books:
  • Guardians of the Keep by Carol Berg: I got started, got sucked in, broke off for a while at a good spot, got sucked in again, and finally finished it a couple of days ago. Another worthy effort from that always excellent author. I think I'll take a bit of a break before I start Soul Weaver, the next (3rd) in the series.
  • Monstrous Regiment, the second-to-latest Discworld novel from Terry Pratchett. I am a big Terry Pratchett fan, and have read every (or at the very least, almost every) Discworld book he's written. Moreover, I have loved all of them. This one, however, was a cut above the rest. But I say that every time.
Next up: China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, which is much-hyped, and promises to have a Neil Gaiman/William Gibson/Neal Stephenson kind of aesthetic; I believe the word is steampunk. More later, but I have to say that although I'm only a page or so in, the beauty of the writing tells me I'm going to like this one:
The river twists and turns to face the city. It looms suddenly, massive, stamped on the landscape. Its light wells up around the surrounds, the rock hills, like bruise-blood. Its dirty towers glow. I am debased. I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers. It is a vast pollutant, a stench, a klaxon sounding. Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in the deep night. It is not the current which pulls us but the city itself, its weight sucks us in.