Sunday, August 31, 2003

Here's How to Improve Matters in Iraq:

What we need to do is to pull our current forces out of Iraq, let things percolate for a few weeks, and then bring over a new army to conquer Iraq all over again. We didn't have any trouble with terrorism and civil disorder during our first war, and we won't during the second invasion either. That'll be a lot better than how we're doing now. I'm sure our second army will learn from the mistakes of the first and do a better job. It will take a few weeks to precision-bomb all the new military targets we have recently found, and for our tanks and Bradleys to secure the country again. That will buy us time to do some real postwar planning. It will also limit our casualties, which are apparently higher in the peace than in the war. The real beauty of this strategy is that if we're still not satisified with the results, we can do it over until we get it right.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Inside Out Food:

Now that Reese is making Inside Out peanut butter cups, I’d like to see some other inside out foods:
Inside Out Oreos: making it easier to eat the middle first.
Inside Out Eskimo Pie.
Inside Out Rollups.
Inside Out Stuffed Grape Leaves.
Inside Out Roast Turkey: the bones and stuffing you know where.
Getting More Difficult:
Inside Out Shishkebab: the stick is outside the food.
Inside Out Mint Juleps: You might try to pour the drink into a Klein Bottle.
Last but not least:
Inside Out Upside Down Cake.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

How to develop an instinct for Chinese stir-frying (and many other cooking styles as well):

Pick a dish you’d like to cook, find a version of it in every relevant cookbook you have, and borrow four to six more cookbooks from the library that cover the same dish. (Or download some versions of the recipe from the Internet.) Read all the versions of the recipe before (and after) you make it. Do this for a couple of different recipes. By seeing what varies and what doesn’t, you’ll learn how understand a cooking style. (Of course you'll be better off if you can find a good teacher.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Foot so Deeply in Mouth as to Resemble a small Moebius Strip:

In dropping their lawsuit, , Fox News spokeswoman Irena Steffen said “It’s time to return Al Franken to the obscurity that he’s normally accustomed to,…”. Ignoring the possibility that the extra “to” might imply instability on Fox’s part, let’s just state the obvious:
Too Late!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

If you can stay calm, while all around you is chaos:

Then maybe your priorities are sensible. Never forget that while you have priorities, the company you work for has its own different priorities; your boss and your closest friends have different priorities as well. Your own priorities and goals should be affected by the people around you that you value, but should not be a mindless copy of them. Understanding how these differ, and not losing sight of your own, greatly helps in dealing with job satisfaction, pressure and emergencies. If you make the mistake of adopting your company's, your customer’s, or someone else's priorities as wholly your own, you’re setting yourself up for much pain and frustration.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I have to tie up my milk:

If you can’t or don’t want to do something, you can say so without making a lame excuse. “I’m sorry, I can’t join you for lunch tomorrow” is usually better than . “I’m sorry, I can’t join you for lunch tomorrow because I have to wait home for the cable guy” (whether true or not). People will usually imagine an excuse for you that is nicer than the truth. If they’re going imagine something nasty, well, probably nothing you could have said was going to stop them from assuming the worst.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Like Clowns from a Mini Cooper:

The Philadelphia Eagles (USA football) have allocated only 28 parking spaces for the handicapped at their stadium. But they’re quite proud that they’ve provided 685 wheelchair-accessible seats inside the stadium. I want to see those 685 people climb out of those 28 cars. Maybe the Eagles should be a little more gracious about their parking.

Friday, August 22, 2003

My other car is better than your other car...

I can hardly wait to own a car with a big digital display on the back. Then I can display short messages like: STOP TAILGATING or YOUR LIGHTS ARE OFF. This feature has to be economical within ten years. Just give me a giant display with big fat pixels that the driver behind me can read sixty feet away. By the way, I’ve already invented the first joke for this exciting new medium, a message that says: MY OTHER CAR HAS VIDEO.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

You sue mine, I’ll sue yours:

Well it had to happen: After announcing it would also sue its “own” endusers (of Linux), SCO has formed an alliance with the RIAA. You’ll be reading all about it soon at the big web news sites. Apparently SCO will sue music lovers for helping to make any number other than one copy of copyrighted material. And the RIAA will be suing the developers and users of LINUX for making source code and modules publicly available for download and pirating. The RIAA stands to gain a lot from this alliance, as the anger of music lovers will shift away from them and towards SCO. And once again, SCO’s motives are nearly unfathomable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The $20 Challenge Response:

The twenty is our most counterfeited bill, and in October a new multicolored version will be released that is much harder to copy. But my friends at the Mint tell me an even more amazing twenty will go into circulation early next year. This paper bill will have a little display window showing a number that changes every minute. When you receive a twenty, you will call an 800 number and speak the current number in the window. If the bill is genuine, the voice you hear will speak back the serial number of the bill. New homeland security federal regulations will require us to check each twenty, every time it changes hands. (If you call from a cell phone, the feds will also track the bill’s location.)

Delete my file, you know you want to:

One of the goals of Artificial Intelligence is to make computers seem more human and able to “reason” like humans. If a computer could think and act more like a person, you couldn’t trust it any more than you can trust people. Maybe your spreadsheet says you will make a profit because your spreadsheet knows how much you want to make a profit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. The first one will quit in the middle of the project.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Can you go blind, trading with yourself?

In 2000, when Merrill Lynch hired 23-year old Daniel Gordon to jump-start their energy trading business, he allegedly (and quickly) embezzled $43 million, using skills more often associated with 30- or even 40-year old embezzlers. Now he is charged with this and possibly other embezzlements as well. We know that justice is rarely swift in the case of stupendous white collar crime, but I want to assure you that if, in addition, he has shared any copyrighted music files on the Internet, he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

If all of your previous attempts to waste time have been unsatisfactory:

Here’s the list of all 135 qualified candidates for governor of California. Fortunately not all of them are actors, otherwise it would be impossible to see any movies on network TV in California at all due to political equal time regulations. Now here’s your chance to get to know them! Many of them have websites, and you can certainly discern their abilities by checking out the quality of the sites they each link to.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Duck that Tidalwave!

This week’s Northeast blackout is a reminder that we Americans rely casually on a techno-social fabric that is quite flimsy; many rare occurrences could easily destroy it for a long period of time. Most of us, well off and very lucky by world standards, have never had to deal with destructive war within our borders, prolonged social anarchy, failing delivery of all basic goods, tidal waves, a massive earthquakes centered in the biggest cities, flooding of major cities. We tend to take their absence for granted. If the most important things to you are your material wealth, the stuff you pack your home with, your standing in the community, your ability to thrive in a particular type of business, then your well-being relies on this delicate balance that might be gone in a moment. Better, perhaps, to take, as your goals, matters more selfless and more ineffable. Well thanks for listening! I’ll lighten up again tomorrow, I promise.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Let’s rescue the Book Publishing Industry:

It’s time for book publishers to learn from other industries, where the norm is to sell the bare minimum, accessories purchased separately. You know what I mean: batteries not included, cables not included, etc. It’s time to stop selling dust covers with hardcover books! First, the books can be sold for just as much without the covers. Second, the publishers can call the dust covers “skins”. (Who needs to cover dust, anyway?) Third, publishers can sell alternate skins for the same book, at high profit margins, and they’ll love those customers who come back for a second and third skin. Can’t you imagine kids buying new skins for their Harry Potter books every few months? Fourth, the publishers can “license” the skins and make them non-transferable. You borrowed Moby Dick from me? Got to buy your own skin. Now I hear you objecting that books NEED those comeon covers to attract purchasers in the first place, but that brings me to fifth: the books can be sold with a flimsy stickon cover (just covering the front) showing a lurid picture having nothing to do with the book, calculated to bring in more buyers. (Publishers don’t do that already, do they? Pinch me if I’m dreaming.)

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Reverse Telephone:

I’m sure you’re familiar with the game of Telephone: the first person privately speaks a phrase or sentence to the second person, who privately passes it to the third and so on; the last person announces publicly what they heard, usually a piece of total gibberish with no resemblance to the original. Now, if you’re tired of this game, try playing it backwards: the LAST person says something meaningless to the next to last person, who passes it privately to the previous person and so on. When the first person announces what they’ve heard publicly, it will be a clear, polished sentence or phrase.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

How old will you be when...:

How old will you be when you are able to say “I’ve been out of school for more than half my life.” You could probably have said it when you were five, if you had thought about it. I got to say this when I was 46. This is an interesting statistic (unless you are an academic), because the “real” world is quite different from school. How do we properly prepare ourselves to manage life in our thirties, while spending so much of our previous lives in school? (What do you think: should we try to make real life more like school?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Have you ever been in a truly silent place?

It can be very pleasant and relaxing to be someplace where there is absolutely no sound. Most houses and (sub)urban environments produce sounds all the time, heating, air conditioning, creaking or the hum of alternating electrical current. I found my silence on a mountain desert in Arizona – no breeze, no rustling leaves, no insect or bird sounds, no wires, no traffic noise. Of course, if I had gone to many loud rock concerts, my damaged ears would be able to find silence almost anywhere; don’t get me started…

Monday, August 11, 2003

An Excerpt from the Shippin, Slippin Blues:

This here's an excerpt from the Shippin, Slippin Blues...
"Oh, little Software, why are you so cruel?
Oh, little Software, why are you so cruel?
I just made a couple changes,
You ain't actin' like you used to do.

Friday, August 08, 2003

The road to…

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour had their “Road” movies. Since Ben and J. Lo seem intent on making more movies, will these be their “Road to hell” movies?
Also, one quick question about Jennifer Lopez: Is she planning her own wedding?

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The deal of a Solar System:

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has launched his own space program and wants to send tourists into orbit. This could be a terrific bargain: I'm going to wait until they offer free shipping.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Minuet in anticipation:

Tschaikovsky was once asked what he did while waiting for inspiration. He replied, "I compose music." (Not a silly answer, when you think about it.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Offshore Palm PDA Applications hit the spot:

Good, accurate programming comes to the Palm Pda from many countries, but the documentation is often not as well-tested as the software. When the application itself seems of dubious value, the program descriptions tend to the bizarre. Here are some genuine application listings for your PDA:
Piggy Bank: Do you know how much in your piggy bank?
Task Manager: Track status of every task in your life.
My HouseKeeper: Help your keep track everything in your house.
Confident Up Up Up: Built Up confident with your single, tiny achievements...
Easy Laundry 1.0: Never forget to pick your clothes up [They mean: At the laundry, see, it makes sense].
Problem? Solution! Oh...Problem? Yes...Solution!
but best of all:
Baby Care: Having baby is not a problem anymore.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Down Under:

Someone invited me to go around the world, but I said I’d rather visit some other part of the body.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Slam that door (oops, try again):

You slammed that car (house, whatever) door and somehow it bounced loose; now you have to slam it even harder, right? Wrong. A door will almost always close with moderate force if it is accelerating when it hits the frame. If you follow through, hold on and make sure the door speeds up as it approaches it destination, it's likely to close the first time. Just a little acceleration is all you need.

Friday, August 01, 2003

How long is a Nanocentury?

A billionth of a century is roughly Π (Pi) seconds. Well, within a few hundredths of a second, which IS pretty close.