September 2002

Monday, September 30, 2002

[ 11:54 AM ]

Elsie Wayne issues forth in righteous indignation and, once again, gets it wrong. Furious that the Queen wouldn't be reading today's Speech from the Throne, Wayne accused the government of pandering to Quebec — but, as it turns out, the Queen herself begged off from reading the Speech.

[ 11:52 AM ]

People complaining about .Mac are apparently capable of holding two contradictory opinions at once:

  1. .Mac is too expensive because it does not offer enough useful services for its price (US$49 for iTools users, US$99 for new users).
  2. Offering useful services to .Mac subscribers, such as sharing iCal calendars or computer-to-computer synchronization via iSync, that are not available to non-subscribers is "pathetic" and another reason to be angry about Apple.

In other words, some people want it both ways: to complain about Apple not offering enough features in .Mac, and to complain that features available to .Mac subscribers are not available free through some other method. Contradictory? Yes; but they just don't want to pay the money. They'd only be happy with .Mac if it was free — i.e., if it was iTools.

Speaking of iTools, some people also forget that iTools wasn't all that reliable and had frequent downtimes. Now they're complaining about .Mac's uptime and reliability. Apparently .Mac was down for a few hours over the weekend. This sent some people into paroxysms of fury — how dare Apple charge money for a service that is not 100 per cent reliable! People, it happens! Web servers go down all the time, even the ones you pay for. Try spending your morning unable to connect to the Internet over ADSL or being unable to do your online banking because the bank's systems are down. Compared to that, a few hours without .Mac is petty. (For the record, my Mail program checks three accounts: one from my ISP, one from my address, and one from .Mac. All three had connection errors over the weekend. Guess which one had the most problems? I'll give you a hint: it wasn't .Mac.) Even the members-only discussion areas at are full of complaints; I'm beginning to think that some people paid their US$49 simply to complain to/about Apple some more.

The discussion was polarized long ago: .Mac bashers accuse .Mac subscribers of being blind Apple loyalists in whose eyes the company can do no wrong; .Mac supporters dismiss their opponents as whiners who expect everything from Apple to be perfect and free of charge. I believe I'm in the latter category (they whined about the iPod, the flat-panel iMac, and Jaguar, too).

It was never my intention to be an Apple apologist, but the criticism the company is getting from some members of its own user base is so ludicrous that the company's decisions are utterly sensible in comparison. Without more effective critics, Apple is essentially getting a free ride. (Hmm. Where have I heard that before?)

[ 11:49 AM ]

Found two more dead red-sided garter snake babies last night, as they were being fed. The rest are doing fine. Dichlorvos-flavoured mite treatment is scheduled to begin tonight.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

[ 5:34 PM ]

iSync was released today as a public beta. Many things do not yet work right or smoothly, according to the accompanying documents (an example). Based on my experience, most of the problems seem to involve connecting the Palm; all sorts of fiddling in HotSync Manager was required in order to enable iSync Palm syncing — Palm Desktop is clearly not AppleScriptable. I suspect Palm problems may be the main reason why it's only a public beta at this point — a bit of a retrenchment from the July 17 announcement that it would be available in September.

Bottom line, it seems to work. Though synchronization is actually much slower than with Palm Desktop, which surprises me given that we're dealing with not very much data, and text at that, on an unsaturated USB port for the Palm and a 400 Mbps FireWire port for the iPod. I think it must have to do with how Address Book and iCal store their data; the process iSync must go through to parse that data is probably not insignificant. And, to be sure, it's the first pass-through. I had to do it twice, though, because renaming the PDA was nontrivial. Data duplication is inevitable if you've been using the Palm as well as Address Book and iCal already; I avoided this by selecting the overwrite option and duplicating the contact data manually up until this point (gave me a chance to update it). Unfortunately, I re-synced the data when I renamed the Palm from "Jonathan Crowe" to "Palm m505", and didn't overwrite the second time, which created all sorts of duplication errors. The Palm does not handle the data very well, it seems.

(Why did I bother renaming the Palm? iSync uses the User field and truncates it to the first word, so my iSync panel originally read ".Mac", "Jonathan" [for Jonathan Crowe's iPod] and "Jonathan" [for "Jonathan Crowe" for the Palm]. Renaming made sense in that regard. Fortunately, renaming the iPod was easy in iTunes; renaming the Palm user in the HotSync Manager created two Palms in iSync initially, so much fecking about was required.)

I've been looking forward to iSync for a while, partly because I didn't much like the Mac version of Palm Desktop (and didn't particularly want to use Entourage, given the data-corrupting reports I've heard), but mostly because I found the idea of a single source of contact and calendar data spread over multiple applications and devices to be extremely compelling. Right now, my Address Book data is used by my e-mail application and my Palm, and you better believe that I want to do that with my cellphone, too (but I need a new one for that).

Friday, September 27, 2002

[ 8:29 PM ]

A smaller Bluetooth SDIO card that uses less power is coming soon from Toshiba that will work in Palm handhelds; I wonder if it will be cheaper, too: Palm's lists for US$130 but shows up at Future Shop's web site for $250.

In other gadget news, Sony is about to announce its first Palm OS 5 handheld; it will essentially use the just-discontinued NR70V's unusual twist-clamshell form factor. (see previous entry)

Thursday, September 26, 2002

[ 3:25 PM ]

Clint took a picture of one of his rubber boas eating. Nice! Did you know that I covet rubber boas?

[ 3:24 PM ]

God damn it, but I'm touchy lately.

[ 3:23 PM ]

Dabba wallahs: 5,000 mostly illiterate persons deliver lunches to 200,000 office workers in Mumbai (Bombay) every day with a 99.99% success rate. (via Boing Boing)

[ 3:22 PM ]

Teenagers can't get up in the morning: they can't help it; their internal body clock makes them that way. So start high school classes at noon. Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

[ 12:44 PM ]

Time Cube's Gene Ray has a posse. I think. (via Metafilter)

[ 8:05 AM ]

After Princess Mononoke shot my brains out with a rail gun with its magnificence, I've been preconditioned to be on the lookout for all things Hayao Miyazaki. (Must make a serious effort to find My Neighbor Totoro once it's released on DVD.) So of course I'm looking forward to Spirited Away. It's only in limited release right now, but the reviews are coming in. John Shirley, writing on Locus Online, loves it; the Slashdot reviewer thinks it's excellent; but Kottke is a bit disappointed. That covers the early geek/SF opinion so far, at least.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

[ 12:16 PM ]

I presented the OARA case before the Emergency and Protective Services Committee yesterday. But first, some background.

I spoke to the key official in by-law services by phone on Sunday afternoon and got the very clear message that our proposal of three metres for snakes and two metres for lizards, unamended, would encounter some resistance. Without city staff's approval, we would have great difficulty convincing councillors of our point of view.

We were not going to get everything we wanted, so I quickly decided, after some negotiating, to pick my battles and to ask for what was most important. Here are the criteria I considered:

  • Which animals are small enough that arguing for an exemption wouldn't seem like a stretch? (Arguing for rosy boas is easy. Arguing for boa constrictors is more difficult.)
  • Which animals have unproblematic care requirements? (More challenging animals would be harder to make a case for, since it was quite clear that city staff were concerned that animals with advanced care requirements should not be kept.)
  • Which animals are widely available in the pet trade? (It's more important to get an exemption for something that is widely or increasingly available than for something hardly anyone sees.)
  • Which animals are bred in captivity? (Arguing for ridge-tailed monitors is easier than arguing for chuckwallas.)

As a result, I decided to propose the following as a compromise position:

  • Exempt from prohibition boas (Boidae) and pythons (Pythonidae) that reach an adult length of not more than two metres.
  • Exempt from prohibition monitors (Varanidae) that reach an adult length of not more than one metre.

This, I thought, safeguarded the animals I thought ought to be protected. This meant that all erycine boas (rosy, rubber and sand boas) and medium-sized boas and pythons (rainbow boas, ball pythons) would be allowed in the City of Ottawa. Many of the former municipalities had prohibited all boas and pythons previously, so this seemed to me to be a great improvement, and one certainly worth fighting for.

It's worth noting that nonvenomous snakes that are not boas and pythons may be kept up to a length of three metres. This means that bullsnakes and indigo snakes, for example, may still be kept. It seemed to me that there were not enough boas and pythons between two and three metres worth fighting for, and that there was considerable resistance to the suggested three metre limit. So I went for two metres, rather than gamble, lose, and get nothing at all.

The one metre exemption for monitors would allow Storr's and ridge-tailed monitors, which are increasingly being bred in captivity in Canada and which are just now getting very popular. I didn't want them banned just as they were becoming available, and I wanted monitor enthusiasts to have an available outlet so that they wouldn't just go out and get a Nile monitor.

I did not put up a fight for Teiidae or Iguanidae, simply because there weren't enough animals that fit the criteria and for which I could make a solid case. Nobody's breeding dwarf tegus, basically, and there are not, to my knowledge, any iguanids that aren't hauled out of the wild except for green iguanas, and we wanted green iguanas out of circulation. Nor could I put up a fight for Chelydridae — common snappers would be covered under a provincial licence, i.e., you can keep one if you have a licence, but I couldn't then make a sound argument for alligator snapping turtles. If you have one now, it's grandfathered: you can still keep it, but you can't get more of the same.

So that's where things stood Sunday night. I wrote my little presentation on Monday morning, showed up at the committee room around 1:15 pm, and waited my turn. Saw a lot of strange people arguing for cats and birds. Cranks. Zoo Check, bless their hearts, did not decide to make an issue of exotic pet keeping, and chose instead to ban circuses. We, along with Little Ray's and one other facility, got an exemption from a ban on animals in entertainment — we probably don't need it but it's good insurance to have.

When my turn came up — about an hour behind schedule — I presented my case and the bureaucrats from by-law services agreed with my proposals; councillors nodded their heads in agreement. In other words, if the city staff was okay with it, they were okay. Alex Cullen then got up and made an issue of a gecko bite he witnessed — probably a Tokay Gecko — which I probably couldn't do very much about. I did my best; in any event, the other councillors, who recognized a grandstanding when they saw one, were rolling their eyes.

People who did not negotiate in advance with city staff had a much tougher time of making their case — I don't think, for example, that Chris will get what he wants in respect of tarantulas. PIJAC proposed the Toronto by-law as a template (as we did last February) but it didn't seem to generate much of a response. In other words, I think the approach I took was probably the best course of action: better to get what we really want rather than try to get as much as possible and run the risk of losing it all.

Media coverage afterwards is strange. The CBC seems to think all snakes will be banned (they have chimps working there?); the Ottawa Sun focused on the circus issue; nothing in at least the online version of the Citizen.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

[ 6:00 PM ]

Holocaust survivors with Alzheimer's are forced to relive Auschwitz. "At Baycrest's Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged in Toronto, 50 per cent of patients with dementia are Holocaust survivors for whom the loss of short-term memory condemns them, once again, to the death camps." (posted to Metafilter)

[ 5:58 PM ]

I have discovered the Wikipedia. I'm done for; I was up until 3 a.m. last night editing and contributing entries to this online open-source encyclopedia. My contributions to date.

Friday, September 20, 2002

[ 12:21 PM ]

Intelligent Mac writing isn't easy to find on the web (see previous entry), but it is out there. I've been trying out a free trial subscription to MWJ and have been impressed with the insightfulness of their content, including, for example, very in-depth explanations of Rendezvous and the reasons behind Apple's sometimes-mystifying decisions. It's US$10/month for a subscription to this weekly, PDF-based magazine; now I have to decide whether I can afford it, or whether I can afford to do without it.

And I just stumbled across Jim Heid's Macintosh Digital Hub Site, which, much like and Blogroots, is a site that supplements a published book, or in this case a book/DVD combo. You can tell he's a pro because the stuff is well written and actually useful. This description of what's new in iDVD 2.1 (as opposed to iDVD 2.0), for example.

[ 12:03 PM ]

Suddenly lots of news on the Palm front (though I blinked and passed by the announcements of three new Sony handhelds over the summer).

Sony has — already! — discontinued the NR70V in Japan, leading many to speculate that a newer, even more frightening model is imminent. Sony's product cycles are two to three times as short as Palm's or Handspring's; it's just insane.

RIM is suing Handspring for allegedly violating a RIM patent on thumb keyboards; as wags at PDABuzz (and elsewhere) have noted, RIM's business plan of late seems to be little more than suing the bejeezus out of its competitors.

But the biggest buzz is about the three new handhelds that Palm is set to announce next month. A stripped-down, low-end handheld — the "Zire" — is scheduled to be released on October 7; has a photo (via Palm Infocenter). Two high-end models are scheduled to be released on October 28: one running Palm OS 5 on a 175MHz ARM processor, the other a GPRS-based, high-resolution, colour smartphone (with a keypad — paging RIM!) running Palm OS 4.1.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

[ 8:39 AM ]

Globe and Mail columnist Roy McGregor questions whether "attention deficit" is in fact a problem. "I never understood why the school system thinks there is something wrong with overactive minds."

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

[ 10:24 PM ]

I've been battling a flare-up of my ankylosing spondylitis over the past few weeks; it's been particularly excruciating during the last week. Posting here has as a result been sporadic, since I haven't been able to summon up the mental energy required. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet, unfortunately.

[ 10:24 PM ]

I may be sounding a little testy here, but it's interesting to note that those who aren't in the club are having more conniptions than we are. Maybe I'm lulling my minions into a false sense of security, but I think that it's rather a case of us knowing what the situation on the ground is. For many of us the situation won't change much: pythons are already banned in most parts of Ottawa, for example. It might get a little worse; if we're lucky, we'll be able to make it a bit better. But in the end, enforcement will mean more than anything else. After all, people have kept boa constrictors in this town for decades without getting into trouble.

[ 10:17 PM ]

Steve Jobs's Apple Expo Paris keynote lacks the polish of his Macworld efforts.

[ 12:03 PM ]

Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act, has died on the Order Paper with the prorogation of Parliament. The Bill was first introduced in April 2000 and has died once already, back when the election was called in Fall 2000. This time, despite opposition from all sides of the debate, it actually made it through the House of Commons last June, and only needed to work its way through the Senate before its eventual royal assent and coming into force; as a result, I thought it was all but a done deal. All but. It will have to be reintroduced during the new session of Parliament. All over again.

[ 12:02 PM ]

The Ottawa Citizen reported yesterday on the responses of the Ottawa Humane Society and the City of Ottawa's By-law Services staff to the proposed Animal Care and Control By-law. The Humane Society wants a ban on exotic animals used in exhibits and displays; it's not clear to me whether this includes the educational displays we've done in the past. The staff report is a follow-up to the consultant's report released last month, but indicates, in percentages, the number of people supporting or opposing each provision. The OARA response, which is largely concerned with the niggling details, does not appear on this report's radar. The staff report is available on my iDisk in Word format; select the "By-law" folder and download "S3 ACS2002-EPS-BYL-0014.doc".

Sunday, September 15, 2002

[ 8:15 AM ]

The Ottawa woman whose 259 exotic pets were seized last May has been charged with 26 counts of keeping prohibited animals by the City. Most of the prohibited animals appear to have been mammals. Doesn't look like Sue is out of the woods yet. (see previous entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Saturday, September 14, 2002

[ 3:09 PM ]

Baby corn snakes nos. 4, 7 and 12 ate today. Out of 13. This is progress, believe it or not.

Friday, September 13, 2002

[ 6:17 PM ]

Yet another iCal/WebDAV tutorial. (via Forwarding Address: OS X)

[ 5:52 PM ]

Slashdot has accepted my story about publishing iCal calendars locally; already readers (and Pudge) have posted a bunch of additional suggestions. Interesting to see that the PHP version I've installed may not play nice with WebDAV, for example.

[ 12:02 PM ]

Another tutorial on configuring WebDAV on OS X so that you can share iCal calendars from your own Macintosh, rather than .Mac or a remote WebDAV server. This one looks more promising than the last one (see previous entry), if only because of the presence of apachectl graceful restart (familiar to me from installing PHP) in the instructions. For calendar subscription and sharing only, not web publishing. As an aside, I've found that the calendars that iCal publishes on the web have a better interface than in iCal itself: you can click on events and days, for example, which you can't do in the program. (via MacNN)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

[ 9:17 PM ]

I almost forgot. If, for some reason, you want to read my carefully reasoned, eight-page respose to the City of Ottawa regarding their proposed animal by-law, it's available online in PDF format. Deadline for written comments was last Friday, so of course I submitted them last Friday afternoon. (see previous entries: 1, 2, 3)

[ 7:08 PM ]

Star Trek: ten movies, five plots. (via Slashdot)

[ 3:50 PM ]

Publishing iCal calendars requires either a .Mac membership or a WebDAV server. WebDAV servers aren't usually offered by ISPs or hosting companies; mine certainly don't. But when I learned that WebDAV ran under Apache (which comes with OS X), it occurred to me that you could publish calendars to a shared folder on the computer or local network, and share calendars among that local network or among users of a single computer. Here's how you do it, according to Mac OS X Hints.

[ 2:44 PM ]

For those of you who, like me, are annoyed by idjit tourists who run after bears in parks, some encouraging news: a Whistler, B.C. couple is facing charges for feeding bears. Two bears were destroyed after becoming used to human food. "Doyle said he cried when the animals were destroyed." That's why you don't feed them, fuckwit.

(I remember hearing about someone who fed alligators in Florida; the alligators were of course put down. What next, feeding the mambas in Africa?)

[ 12:08 PM ]

Pantone holds a monopoly on colour — or rather, they have a monopoly on colour standards: names, numbers and descriptions of a given colour. Pantone is the point of reference for engineers, fashion designers, printers and computer software — the price of an expensive program from Adobe or Quark includes what those companies pay Pantone in licencing fees, for example. Now they're moving into colour forecasting, e.g., predicting what colours will be "in" this season.

[ 12:01 PM ]

If you're interested in an explanation of some of the less-publicized features of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, you might be interested in watching Phil Schiller's Seybold San Francisco keynote (QuickTime 6 required) from last Monday. Steve Jobs's keynote at Apple Expo Paris, delivered on the same day, got all the attention, but was essentially a reiteration of his Macworld New York presentation with a couple of extras. Schiller's, on the other hand, is aimed at a professional audience and covers features that wouldn't show up at a consumer show, such as Quartz Extreme, PDF, JPEG2000 support, Inkwell, Image Capture, ColorSync, AppleScript, fonts and printing (CUPS and Rendezvous). Useful demos of some of the new OS's underpinnings.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

[ 9:58 AM ]

All three black pine snake babies have hatched; the one with the club tail (see previous entry) is absolutely full of piss and vinegar, but its siblings are somewhat more sedate. Black pines are supposed to be fairly strongly patterned when they hatch, but these ones are very, very black. They get blacker as they get older. They're going to sell out fast, I can just tell (he said, rubbing his hands with greedy anticipation).

Meanwhile, Florence's second clutch of anerythristic corn snakes has hatched earlier than expected. It's busy over there.

[ 8:51 AM ]

Will you see Max, the controversial film about the early years of Adolf Hitler? I think I will. Like many commenters on this excellent MetaFilter thread, I don't think you diminish Hitler's crimes merely by pointing out that he was a human being — more to the point, his evil was all the more troubling because a human being was capable of it.

[ 8:42 AM ]

Apple released iCal, their calendaring application, yesterday — it was first announced at Macworld New York. Here's an early review (via Mac OS Rumors). I too am finding it a bit sluggish in switching views and I'm not 100% happy with the UI, but it's still head and shoulders above Palm Desktop. I also really like the publishing feature — it was one of the reasons I decided to sign up for .Mac. I'm using it to publish the OARA's calendar of upcoming events.

Monday, September 09, 2002

[ 12:12 PM ]

Begin with this MetaFilter thread and learn why it's never a good idea to link to someone else's images and pass them off as your own. As for me, I've thought about the risk of having my mountain and snake photos kiped — kiping is hard to prevent, but linking to them on my server costs me money, so I'll indulge in some .htaccess trickery at some point. For the moment, my logs say it isn't happening. Yet. (It's good to be obscure and hardly noticed.)

[ 9:01 AM ]

Omigod, holy crap, etc., etc. Clarion's lineup of instructors for 2003 will be Howard Waldrop, Nalo Hopkinson, Richard Paul Russo, Kelly Link, James Patrick Kelly and Maureen McHugh, with Scott Edelman as editor-in-residence. I have to go. I mean, Howard.

[ 8:27 AM ]

Black pine snakes are hatching. First one out has a stubbed tail right out of the egg; wonder how that happened?

Sunday, September 08, 2002

[ 10:07 PM ]

Finally saw Y Tu Mamá También today (see previous entry). It is, finally, a foreign film chock-a-block with graphic sex without being so bloody miserable about it. Excellent characterization, especially the two lads. I'm trying to figure out if the ending was properly foreshadowed; Jen and I were discussing this afterward — was the foreshadowing simply scraped across too much bread (to paraphrase B. Baggins), or are we simply too used to laying it on a little too thick that subtlety is elusive (M. Night Shyamalan, I'm looking at you), or are we missing cultural references that make it too thin for me, but clear for the Mexican audience?

[ 9:58 PM ]

Digital rights management cripples the Mobilphile, Toshiba's putative answer to the iPod: it encodes music in a proprietary format on the fly as it loads the music player, which makes what is supposed to be a speedy USB 2.0 interface (480 Mbps burst) not all that much faster than USB 1.1 (12 Mbps). And people are supposed to buy this because . . . ? (via Boing Boing and Gizmodo)

[ 10:46 AM ]

I now have Unreal Tournament running on my iBook on Mac OS X. I bought the boxed version at the local Mac store — the price was good enough. I installed it and updated it with the latest patch and gave it a try in Classic mode, with the Rave drivers that were supposedly compatible with my iBook's ATi Rage 128 (8 MB). Seemed chunky; the audio cut out in bits and I found it hard to navigate. Also, the mouse response seemed very wonky.

I then downloaded the OS X Preview 3 version of UT, which is a surprisingly small download; it seems to piggyback on the installed base of files but is not itself a patch, but a separate program. The video drivers switched to OpenGL support and maybe that's why the game seemed to run much more smoothly; the music soundtrack was also discontinued, though, and I was running it at 640 x 480 with medium detail. Still, quite playable. My brother no doubt awaits the opportunity to execute me many times.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

[ 8:27 AM ]

Palm is offering a refund or a free game to m130 owners as a result of the disclosure that the m130's screen is 12-bit colour, rather than 16-bit. (see previous entry)

[ 8:22 AM ]

Baby corn snake #4 has eaten a thawed pinky; the others (so far) have refused. Pretz has a finicky bloodline, and I think she's at least part Miami corn (that locality doesn't take to pinkies right away; they're lizard eaters). If any of the remainder eat, I'll be delighted. Otherwise, it's film cannisters, and possibly live pinkies. (Update: #8 ate, too.)

[ 12:00 AM ]

You may not have noticed, but I tend to complain a lot about what passes for commentary on Mac-focused web sites. (Oh really?) Yes, really, and here's another dumb example: According to Dirk, here, Jaguar is "deeply flawed" basically because one thing isn't working right for him. For the record, I have exactly the same modem as Dirk — the Alcatel Speed Touch — and it's working just fine (but then I've got it hooked to an AirPort Base Station). Just because one thing doesn't work right for one person doesn't mean the whole OS is flawed, but you'd have to have your head outside your anal cavity to recognize that.

But I really like Daring Fireball, a new blog by John Gruber — it's, dare I say it, insightful. And substantive, and well written. I'm shocked. Check out this pertinent passage (which I've edited heavily here) on why OS 9 users whine so much about OS X, and why Unix geeks are generally gaga for it:

[Mac OS X is] wildly popular with everyone except Mac OS 9 users. . . . Unix-heads love Mac OS X, and are switching to it in droves. . . . For Mac OS 9 users, plugging in a peripheral and having it "just work" is not an amazing feature, it is a baseline. Linux and its brethren are terrible at nearly all the tasks at which Mac OS 9 excels. Thus, the appeal of Mac OS X: from the perspective of someone accustomed to desktop Linux, Mac OS X is much more usable in nearly every aspect. Only Mac OS 9 users see anything to complain about with Mac OS X, because they�re the only people accustomed to something even more polished.

I can tell that this is going to be required reading from now on.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

[ 11:45 PM ]

A baby snake update. One of the wandering garters that wasn't eating ate tonight; two of the red-sided garters were found dead. (An article on dead garter snakes is probably forthcoming.) It doesn't look like the baby corns want to eat right now — they're going to be as much of a pain as their siblings were last year, I can just tell.

[ 9:31 AM ]

Is nuclear power a possible solution to the problem of reducing greenhouse gases? The Canadian Nuclear Association would like you to think so. I'm inclined to agree; I was arguing in favour of nuclear power as an environmentally friendly option back in my teenage policy-wonk days.

When it comes to power generation, there is no such thing as a free lunch: fossil fuels pollute the air, hydroelectric dams flood large tracts of land and leach mercury into the water, solar and wind take up space but generate comparatively little power. Granted, we should use less; granted, nuclear power is not without its risks. But balance that against the alternatives.

One has to ask the alternative. Would I buy a house within five miles of a nuclear reactor rather than live surrounded by no danger whatever? Of course not. But would I rather live close to a nuclear reactor or Love Canal? Close to a nuclear reactor or near a Union Carbide plant producing methyl isocyanide? Close to a nuclear reactor or to an oil refinery with stored oil? Close to a nuclear reactor or in a slum? Believe me, I would choose the nuclear reactor every time.

— Isaac Asimov, Yours, Isaac Asimov, p. 236.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

[ 12:36 PM ]

Here's what Jan, who runs a German-language garter snake site, has to say about this site:

Jonathan Crowe hat auf seinen Webseiten einige ganz besonders interessante Artikel �ber uns Nattern verfa�t. So berichtet er z.B. von der Haltung und Aufzucht der N�rdlichen B�ndernatter, Butler's Strumpfbandnatter oder der Wandernden Strumpfbandnatter und gibt ausgezeichnete Literaturempfehlungen und bietet au�erdem portable PC-Dokumente zum Download an. Das ist insbesondere f�r Fans unserer Muttersprache ein unbedingtes Mu�!

Word. I'm planning to do more along those lines but I suffer from a distinct lack of copious free time at the moment.

[ 12:28 PM ]

Slate's Bryan Curtis lauds Michael Okuda's text commentary on the new two-disc "Director's Edition" DVD release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Okuda not only provides technical details and trivia, but points out inconsistencies of logic and continuity. It's unexpected — you're surprised that the studio allowed it — but it's useful. Imagine the fun when the "Director's Edition" of that legendary stinker, Star Trek V, is released.

[ 12:22 PM ]

Cory Doctorow's report on the Hugo awards includes links to free downloads of the nominated stories.

Monday, September 02, 2002

[ 7:46 PM ]

Hugo Award winners. Personally, I'm delighted to see that Chiang's "Hell Is the Absence of God" (see previous entry), included in Stories of Your Life and Others, won for best novelette; it deserved it. Am in the process of tracking down a copy of American Gods.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

[ 8:36 AM ]

Not that I have ever used much slide film, but I bought the Nikon Slide Copying Adapter for my Coolpix 995 yesterday. I've got a number of my father's slides of mountain trails we hiked in 1988 that I'm eager to put up on the trails page, and I have slide-film-using friends who might like the services of an adapter/camera combination with a resolution far higher than slide adapters for flatbed scanners can provide (2048 x 1536, Stewart — how do you like that?). Expensive at C$99.95, though, considering that no electronics or lenses are involved. Still, "slide adapter" is a preset on my camera; selecting that gave me perfect results (backlighting notwithstanding).

[ 8:14 AM ]

"I'm an asshole-ee-o-ee-o-lee-o-lee-o-lee-o!" That marks the third time I've been called an asshole online. I'm starting to enjoy it.