Friday, May 31, 2002

[ 4:33 PM ]

"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Jack Valenti, visionary, testifying before Congress in 1982. Compare with Valenti today talking about the digital menace to the motion picture industry, and demanding built-in copy protection on everyone's computer. (via Slashdot)

[ 3:53 PM ]

Here's what happened regarding the MacSlash domain hijacking (see yesterday's entry), step by step:

  1. Dotster was MacSlash's domain name registrar.
  2. Dotster sent a renewal notice to MacSlash's e-mail address.
  3. MacSlash's e-mail address was a address.
  4. is Apple's free e-mail service.
  5. Without informing its customers, Apple has been filtering and blocking e-mail as spam.
  6. All e-mail from Dotster has been blocked by Apple as spam.
  7. MacSlash never received its renewal notice.
  8. The domain expired.
  9. The domain was snapped up by some Spanish fellow.
  10. The Spanish fellow forwarded the address to MacMall via an affiliate program, so that anyone who went to and subsequently bought from MacMall would generate affiliate earnings for the Spanish fellow.
  11. Mac users prepared a big can of whoop-ass with MacMall's name on it.
  12. MacMall protested its innocence and promised to do something about it.
  13. Now, when I enter "", I get forwarded via the affiliate, via MacMall, to — MacMall has done something about it.

[ 1:40 PM ]

Picked up copies of The Iron Giant on DVD and the Star Wars: Episode II soundtrack over lunch. I had been worried that the latter would be copy-protected and bugger up the computer — frankly, there's not much point in my buying music unless I can play it on my iPod — but it's playing just fine on my work PC as I write this (whew). Update: I hear popping noises occasionally, though, which I seem to recall is a deliberate attempt to downgrade the quality of music played on computers. We'll see.

[ 12:05 PM ]

Putain de bordel de merde! (via SportsFilter)

[ 11:17 AM ]

Out of Control: "This is the story of what happens when a na�ve 15-year-old prodigy collides with an upward-reaching football program, some of whose players feel like they own the campus." A harrowing account of statutory rape and the power of sports programs on university campuses. (via

[ 10:48 AM ]

Just got off the phone with Paul, who was able to give me a front-line assessment of the situation. It's not quite as bad as the media is portraying it, though you could hardly call it good. The level of care was apparently not egregious, especially as far as the reptiles are concerned, but, with all those exotic mammals, there were simply far too many animals given the size of the townhouse in which they were kept. Frankly, 300 snakes would not have posed as much of a problem, but when most of those 300 animals are mammals and birds, that requires a level of effort, care-wise, that one person would be hard pressed to manage.

[ 9:48 AM ]

Exotic animals seized from home: the Ottawa Citizen provides the most detailed coverage, especially in terms of what's being kept — that's a gray-banded kingsnake in one of the photos — and the conditions in which they are being kept. Unfortunately, it looks like it's a club member (though not an active one), and, oddly enough, someone who works in my building. This may not be pretty. And with animal by-laws coming up for review this year. But the system as it stands works: the animals were seized. What the implications are for those of us with substantial collections (though closer to 30 animals than 300) remains to be seen.

[ 9:34 AM ]

News coverage of the exotic animal seizure: the CBC Radio story is now online. Over 300 animals, including lemurs. Lemurs! (Keeping primates is doubleplusungood.) I'll try to find out more.

[ 8:06 AM ]

We may have a situation on our hands: a large animal collection in Kanata has apparently been seized. (On grounds of neglect?) I'm told that the collection includes reptiles. Some club members are looking into the situation. It's hit the media — Paul Goulet, who was called to help identify some of the species, was on CBC Radio this morning. Stay tuned.

[ 8:03 AM ]

Watched 12 Monkeys last night (another page). Everything you'd expect from a Terry Gilliam movie, i.e., it's brilliant and strange and hard to describe. Liked the plot and exposition: several mysteries being unravelled at once.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

[ 2:30 PM ]

Florence reports that my Black Pine Snakes are mating. And here I had written them off for this year. Time to update the price list.

[ 12:32 PM ]

Stewart has started a field herping blog. Very neat! (This is an excellent use of the team functions of Blogger, by the way.) There aren't nearly enough blogs out there that focus on reptiles. Other than my own, Nyx's weblog covers her reptile collection from time to time, and neither of us focus solely on this. I'm really, really glad to see this project, Stewart: blogs and field reports go well together.

[ 10:39 AM ]

MacSlash, a Macintosh news site, is the latest victim of domain hijacking. Depending on how the DNS fairies have propagated themselves, you may be able to read MacSlash's own thread on the situation, or you may be taken to a generic Dotster page. I've been getting Dotster at work since yesterday but got MacSlash at home this morning. Not yet clear how this will turn out. Domain hijacking has been a frequent topic of discussion lately on Metafilter, where I posted this item this morning — see previous discussions on the hijackings of, and, which should get you up to speed on the subject.

My only source of comfort is that is weird enough that no one else is likely to want it. Domain thieves seem to search for names based on certain keywords and snag them that way — that's how the Indian River Reptile Zoo's web site was snatched up and turned into a page advertising South Asian pornography (thus I do not link). Unless the gay wet-boy fetishists take a shine to the name. (Scottish gay wet-boy fetishists, maybe?) Besides, and are registered at two separate registrars; I lose one, I can slide everything over to the other. I hope.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

[ 4:26 PM ]

A list of Second World War era U.S. Navy ships that will no doubt be of great interest to my father. Notable in that it includes such neat trivia as naming conventions for each class of ship, plus other neat data. (via megnut — what, you were expecting SDB or something?)

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

[ 10:31 PM ]

I am surrounded by (am related to; date) cat owners, who will no doubt appreciate this page on how to bathe a cat. (via FARK)

[ 12:02 PM ]

I've got my western hognose snake back; she was staying with Andrew and getting fed all this time, because she wouldn't feed with us — between September and February she ate a total of one pinky mouse. (She was hibernated for a couple of months, mind you.) She does not appear to have any problems eating right now. Of course, now that she's with me . . .

Meanwhile, my female red-sided garter snake looks more massive each day. A large litter is no doubt imminent.

[ 9:48 AM ]

Handspring has announced the Treo 270, an integrated GSM phone/Palm handheld with a keyboard and a colour screen, and the Treo 90, which is the same idea, sans phone/pager functions, i.e. it's just a handheld.

Monday, May 27, 2002

[ 7:53 PM ]

Rented Clear and Present Danger over the weekend. Apropos of that, some people say that Harrison Ford acts like he's about to throw up. Some people say that Ford looks constipated when he acts. My lack of god, they must have been thinking about this film when they came up with that.

[ 4:10 PM ]

Here's a weblog all about the Toronto Transit Commission. Not by the TTC; about it. (via boing boing)

[ 3:45 PM ]

Il Coppardo wants to put up a few short stories on the ole site, so I suggested that he make them available in e-book format. Not that I like the prices vendors are asking for e-books, but I do like the format, particularly on handheld devices, so I like distributing content in that format. Great, says Dave, now how do I go about doing that? Well, Dave, since you asked, I thought I'd do a little digging. Things have changed since I last tinkered with e-books, anyway. I'm going to look at three formats: Microsoft Reader, Palm Reader, and PDF.

For Microsoft Reader files, there is a free program called ReaderWorks, which I haven't tried yet, but I will look into it. Windows only, natürlich. The last time I made Microsoft Reader files, I used a web-based program that is no longer linked to from the MS site (now mams up, probably).

Palm Digital Media has released a commercial software program called Palm eBook Studio, which is a WYSIWYG e-book editor that runs on both Windows and Macintosh (OS X native!). Costs US$30. I may get it, depending on how badly I want painless Palm Reader e-book production (I've only made one so far). Because the alternative is a PITA called DropBook, which requires you to hand-code the Palm Markup Language (PML) files, which is most definitely a PITA.

For PDF files, Windows-using schmucks have to use Acrobat, but in OS X, which implements PDF natively without using any Adobe code, you click on "Print" in any application, then click on "Preview". I love doing that.

So the short answer, Dave, is that you can basically take a Word, RTF or HTML file and push it to several formats without too much difficulty, theoretically. The hash these programs will make of the source files' format remains to be seen. Watch this space.

[ 12:58 PM ]

A new impotence drug can produce erections for as long as 24 to 36 hours, tripling Viagra's 8-to-12-hour reported maximum. I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say this: Who in god's name needs to have a stiffy for that long?!?

[ 11:58 AM ]

People name their iPods. Hell, I haven't even come up with names for half my snakes, or for my turtle — hey, you keep over forty of 'em and figure out names for them all! (But I digress.) Naming gadgets? Sheesh. (via

[ 11:27 AM ]

Mucked around Mud Lake yesterday with a few other OARA types, and found dozens of Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata) basking, along with at least one Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingi) — oh, for a proper telephoto lens! — and a Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), mucking about underwater. Lots of frogs: several Green Frogs (Rana clamitans) and Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana), including one loud and boisterous calling male we couldn't catch. Also heard American Toads (Bufo americanus) calling nearby. And one angry Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), not at all happy to be disturbed. I have photos; they'll be uploaded one of these days.

I bought some two-way radios to use on field trips, and tried them out here, but interference from nearby kiddies within the two-mile range, who pressed the call buttons repeatedly with great glee, made them damn near unusable. (Tragedy of the commons, as usual.) Pity: they were great help on Pelee.

Later, in the evening, while visiting Jennifer in Hull, I heard Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) calling across the street from her apartment. She gets to have frogs across the street: not fair! (At some point I will have to say something about Jennifer on this weblog, though I don't know exactly how to begin. Ears just pricked up amongst my miniscule readership.)

[ 10:45 AM ]

Wild bee populations are declining, and with one-third of our crops requiring pollination, this is a serious cause for concern, not only for the environment but for our food supply. Discussion is taking place on the NatureList, an e-mail discussion list for eastern Ontario naturalists, on this very subject: where have all the bees gone?

Thursday, May 23, 2002

[ 10:32 AM ]

Kyocera's rumored upcoming Palm OS smartphone has a really interesting design.

[ 10:13 AM ]

I am surprised by the frequency with which Mac sites talk about their own financial situation and hit their readers up for money, without really providing a compelling reason for their readers to hand over their money. I quite frankly haven't seen a lot of material on these sites that is compelling enough for a subscription; it's mostly preaching to the converted, crowing about defections from the dark side, Microsoft-bashing, Apple-nitpicking, regurgitating press releases, and offering tutorials on things so stunningly easy that I'm surprised a tutorial is even necessary. They need to be more professional about it; I won't pay for amateur work.

[ 9:25 AM ]

Bribes comprise 12 per cent or more of the Russian GDP. Il Coppardo should maybe take a little extra money with him when he goes to Ufa next month. (also via boing boing)

[ 9:21 AM ]

Shower Shock Caffeinated Soap, for the caffeine addict (hi Steve) in your life. (via boing boing)

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

[ 8:21 PM ]

On Victoria Day weekend, I and four other crazy herpers from Ottawa travelled down to Pelee Island to join 18 others from Toronto and vicinity, Barrie, Peterborough and northern Michigan at the Wilds of Pelee Island Centre for Conservation, to help restore habitat and build hibernation and nesting sites for endangered reptiles and amphibians, and perhaps to catch a glance of the elusive Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii). In spite of forecasts calling for rain throughout the weekend and rather cold temperatures, we did pretty well — while it was quite chilly, the weather obliged us by only raining at night. We had a huge number of people on site, which made our assigned tasks all the easier and quicker. We also had a great (albeit strange) group of people and had a lot of only slightly sordid fun.

While the total number of reptiles spotted was somewhat lower than last year, that was mostly as a result of a change in our activities: we omitted a survey of the Centre property and a check of the tin and boards along a lane near the Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve — both of which produced copious numbers of Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) and Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi) last year. And we missed finding adult Lake Erie Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon insularum) — we found lots of them mating along the road last year — but found a number of juveniles.

But that was more than made up for the fact that we found more Eastern Fox Snakes (Elaphe gloydi) this year than last — including at least two juveniles born the previous year and several magnificent adults that had not yet been tagged. And we did see a Racer! Note that I said "see", not "catch" — not ten minutes before the Ottawa crowd had to leave the site to catch the noon ferry on Monday, Stewart spotted one in tall grass, but in spite of the efforts of the entire herping party, the snake eluded us. Oh well; at least that's an improvement over last year's expedition, when we didn't see anything at all!

We also saw at least half a dozen Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingi) — what, Jon, you drove all the way to Pelee Island to see turtles that are common as all get-out in eastern Ontario? — a juvenile Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) and a big Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina), all at Fish Point Nature Reserve, the southernmost tip of the island. We also found several salamanders in the Blue-spotted/Jefferson/Smallmouth Salamander complex (Ambystoma laterale, jeffersonianum and texanum), one of which may have been a pure texanum (which are only found on the southern part of the island). Few anurans were spotted. On the other hand, Chantel reported seeing well over 40 different species of birds!

I'm setting up a web page to showcase photos, movies and writing made by the participants in this little expedition. Check that space for updates. I've got some good pictures, if nothing else.

[ 11:40 AM ]

I saw Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones on Thursday evening and my head's still buzzing from the sensory overload. I may have to see it again, or think on it longer (thereby failing once again to seize the moment), before I can post on it coherently. (Also had Pelee Island over the weekend, which kept me hopping.)

[ 11:36 AM ]

New iBooks announced yesterday now have 750FX G3 processors (600/700 MHz with 512 MB of L2 cache), a 100-MHz system bus across the range, hard drives up to 40 GB, and a 16 MB ATi Mobility Radeon graphics chipset. Apple has also rejigged the video outs. Composite video now goes out through the VGA port via a dongle, whereas in my iBook it goes out through a modified headphone jack: this causes some occasional problems with DVD playback, because the computer sometimes thinks that headphones are an A/V cable attached to a television, and blacks out the iBook's LCD screen as a result. So this is an improvement. The dongle also handles S-video; I imagine it isn't backwards compatible. (Keeping up with Apple announcements lately is proving to be quite the challenge — I want what they're munching on in Cupertino!)

[ 11:30 AM ]

I don't have to show you any stinking badges!

Thursday, May 16, 2002

[ 12:15 PM ]

Follow-up: QuickTime video stream of Apple's Xserve introduction.

[ 12:13 PM ]

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Jon, I know what to do if I encounter a polar bear in the wild, but what I really want to know is, if I meet a polar bear and he rips my arms off, what lessons will I learn from that? (via Metafilter)

[ 12:05 PM ]

Lost footage from a pivotal scene in The Empire Strikes Back. (via USS Clueless)

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

[ 4:58 PM ]

News flash: sex is warm. From the Ottawa Citizen: "Y Tu Mama Tambien, which comes to Ottawa Friday, is a boldly erotic road film about two teenage Mexican boys who go on a holiday with a sexy older cousin and come of age in the warmest, most energetic, most graphic way imaginable. . . . Indeed, there wouldn't be much left of Y Tu Mama Tambien without the sex — the warm, generous, explicit sex — of the film." Hmm. I may have to pencil this one into my schedule.

[ 1:06 PM ]

Wherein I fuck up on Metafilter.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

[ 2:53 PM ]

In 1996, Apple introduced a dedicated server product called the Network Server. The 500 and 700 models had 604 or 604e Power PC CPUs running at between 132 and 200 MHz, and ran AIX, IBM's proprietary Unix. They sold poorly and were discontinued about a year later. The only other Apple server products have been ordinary desktop computers running server software, like the recent G4 Server — essentially an ordinary Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X Server instead of plain OS X.

Today that changed: Apple announced a dedicated, rack-mounted server they're calling, with questionable taste, Xserve. It's a 1U server, which means it's 1.75 inches high, and you can fit a lot of them in a rack (42 of them in a 42U rack, for example). It comes in single- or dual-processor versions (1 GHz G4 in each case) and has four hot-swappable ATA/100 hard drives up to 160 GB in size and DDR SDRAM at 266 MHz (both of which a first for Apple). It even has an old-style DB-9 serial port for connecting a hardware Unix terminal — no other Macs have serial ports any more. Dedicated server? You bet.

This I know from nothing. I've learned a lot about servers lately so I could report somewhat intelligently about this.

[ 11:12 AM ]

I enjoyed Sir Vidia's Shadow enough that I've been looking into other of Paul Theroux's works, in particular his travel writing. I wanted to start with The Great Railway Bazaar, his first, but the library's copy was out. So instead I picked up The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas, and I'm already 128 pages in — i.e., the Guatemala-El Salvador border (he's travelling by train from Boston to Argentina). Hard to put down. Enjoyable.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

[ 9:28 AM ]

The FBI had Albert Einstein under surveillance for years, according to a new book by Fred Jerome, and accumulated a dossier on him over 1,400 pages long. (via Slashdot)

Saturday, May 11, 2002

[ 9:26 AM ]

Margaret Wente gets the last word on the Marc Hall story: "I don't suppose that many Catholics will be scandalized by Marc Hall's prom date. They're much more scandalized by the scandals in their own church. Most of them believe that if anyone's disordered, it's a church hierarchy that's even more incapable of dealing with criminal sex acts than it is with legal ones. Top church officials have zero tolerance for homosexuals with a romantic life, for priestly marriage, or for ordaining women, but they're not so sure about zero tolerance for their own sex offenders."

Friday, May 10, 2002

[ 10:38 PM ]

Apparently, my upstairs neighbours have a yappy little puppy, a squeaky bed, and not enough soundproofing between their floor and mine. Not much in the way of stamina either, from what I can tell . . .

[ 5:08 PM ]

"Once again, Apple is adopting an elitist approach and asking its faithful customers to fork out more cash and upgrade their graphics card or replace their computers in order to be able to fully benefit from Mac OS X�s features." Like many Mac users, Pierre Igot has something new to complain about: Quartz Extreme. He's by no means the only one to argue that Quartz Extreme's minimum requirement of a 32-MB 2x AGP graphics card renders "obsolete" many Macs sold to date — some people are much more obnoxiously whiny about it — but this column is typical of Igot's miss-the-point nitpicking in respect of Apple's offerings that has irritated me in the past.

It's quite simple: Macs with compatible graphics cards will be able to offload Quartz rendering to the graphics chip. Those that don't will have their performance unchanged. Not every feature can be made backwards compatible. Now, to be fair, Igot isn't saying this, but many complainers (see the usual Mac boards) are: they're essentially arguing that no new feature should be implemented in the OS that cannot run on their system, un-upgraded. The fact that their system may be only a year or two old is beside the point in the case of Quartz Extreme: this is a limitation of the technology, and it's not Apple's fault that hardware Quartz rendering is not possible on the ATI Rage Mobility 128 (8 MB) found in my iBook. (Should Apple have included more powerful graphics accelerators in the first place? I thought you said Macs were too expensive already. Or do you not want the company to make a profit?) Mac OS X 10.2 will not render my iBook obsolete. Get over it, people.

[ 3:26 PM ]

Excellent news, though quite predictable. Marc Hall can take his boyfriend to his high school prom (more coverage here). The Catholic school board argued that allowing him to do so would not be consistent with the Church's teachings. (Priests molesting little boys, on the other hand . . . ) Individual rights should always trump group rights, in my opinion. While I'm at it, why are Catholic schools receiving public funds if they don't want to adhere to section 15 of the Charter?

[ 1:52 PM ]

Anti-abortion protesters make a point of demonstrating at the intersection of Bank and Sparks — as close to the nearby Morgentaler clinic as, I presume, they are allowed to come. I always found their signs comparing abortion clinics to Auschwitz a tad offensive (especially since Morgentaler is himself a Holocaust survivor). Today, however, they've outdone themselves. If only I had my camera with me. They held up, for drivers on Bank to see, large placards with photos of aborted fetuses. Someone should counter-demonstrate by holding up similarly sized placards with photos of women who died as a result of botched back-alley abortions. Really, the righteous ought to be punched square in the mouth.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

[ 10:03 PM ]

Eddie's going to be the new editor of the Globe.

[ 3:04 PM ]

Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott, who won a bronze medal in the 5-km pursuit at the 2002 Winter Olympics, may have her bronze medal upgraded to silver. The current silver medallist, Larissa Lazutina, who tested positive for darbopoetin after the 30-km classic and was stripped of her gold medal in that event, also tested positive for darbopoetin in a test administered in December 2001, which would nullify all of Lazutina's results since then.

[ 12:41 PM ]

OS X browsers in a nutshell:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1: Default browser. Loads quickly, fast UI. Quirky CSS and HTML rendering. Takes a long time to render pages. Poor bookmark management. Crashes occasionally. My bank won't let me use it. A new version may be coming soon.

Mozilla 1.0 RC1: Stable as a rock. Most compatible browser I've used; excellent HTML and CSS compliance. Horrible, XUL-based interface is slow (loading, windows) and doesn't look like a proper Mac app. Doesn't take advantage of OS X-specific features. Bloat: adds mail, newsreader, HTML editor.

OmniWeb 4: Uses Quartz to anti-alias text, looks very nice. Awful CSS compliance (or lack thereof).

Chimera 0.2.7: An offshoot of Mozilla, still in early development. Missing a lot of features. Quartz anti-aliasing like OmniWeb, but with good stylesheet support. Crashes a lot.

[ 12:26 PM ]

E-mail as a weapon in the down-and-dirty battles of office politics: "Strategies for manipulating e-mail in the workplace run the gamut, from the carefully targeted attack — blind copying someone's boss with incriminating information on a co-worker — to what you might call 'the Suicide Bomber,' a disgruntled employee's company-wide flame designed to stir up trouble for his employer with little regard for his future reputation or financial status."

[ 10:48 AM ]

The Red Army's orgy of rape in World War II targeted not only German women, but Polish and Russian women held in concentration camps, according to historian Anthony Beevor's new book on the seige of Berlin. From the Telegraph article: "How many German women were raped? One can only guess, but a high proportion of at least 15 million women who either lived in the Soviet Union zone or were expelled from the eastern provinces. The scale of rape is suggested by the fact that about two million women had illegal abortions every year between 1945 and 1948. . . . The fact, highlighted by Beevor, that Soviet troops raped not only Germans but also their victims, recently liberated from concentration camps, suggests that the sexual violence was often indiscriminate, although far fewer Russian or Polish women were raped when their areas were liberated compared to the conquered Germans." (via Metafilter)

[ 10:37 AM ]

Palm Infocenter has posted a review of Sony's new NR-70V handheld, which runs the Palm OS on a 66 MHz processor, includes an MP3 player and 100-kilopixel digital camera, and uses an innovative twist-clamshell design and a high-resolution (320x480) screen.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

[ 1:35 PM ]

The Ottawa Citizen is publishing a five-part series this week on the Ottawa Public Library's main building: how, after only 28 years, it's now considered inadequate and an architectural eyesore; and what kind of replacements are possible. I'll be keeping an eye on this series.

Monday, May 06, 2002

[ 3:25 PM ]

From Steve Jobs's WWDC keynote, a taste of what's coming in OS X 10.2: QuickTime 6, Sherlock 3, dynamic IP discovery, finder improvements (yes, yes, you're getting your damn spring-loaded folders back!), and 2D graphic acceleration through the graphics card — this last one will require 32 MB and AGP 2x, which renders ineligible all G3 iMacs, all iBooks, and all TiBooks before last week (I presume, however, that the remainder of OS X 10.2 will be useable). And lots more. Plus an AIM-compatible chat client called iChat. Oh, and rackmount servers are coming next week.

[ 10:45 AM ]

I bought an iPod yesterday, but I haven't lost my mind. It's all part of my plan.

I've decided to get the iPod instead of a television, the logic being that a TV would not only involve around $900 for a decent set, but also at least $500/year in cable fees: easier to justify when there are two people, less easy when there is just one. It would also involve my sitting on my ass a lot to extract good value for money from it. Sitting on my ass is the worst thing I can do with ankylosing spondylitis, and I do enough of it already at work and sitting in front of the computer. I need to be more active, and decided that an entertainment product that was compatible with that need made more sense.

Now, it's fallacious to conclude that buying an iPod will make me exercise more; it's simply a piece of a larger strategy that sees me focusing on being outside the apartment more, and equipping myself accordingly. If I can find the time this week (and I hope I can; still lots to do in terms of snake-sitting, stuff-moving, and apartment-setting-up), I'll get my biking equipment in shape and start biking again. I haven't biked recreationally in years, and it's imperative that I get on that again. (Can I bike with an iPod? I think so. Traffic noise drowns out those earbuds quite nicely, it turns out; and I'll limit its use to bike-only trails, to be safer.)

The corollary to this is doing without the television. It makes sense financially (especially if I've just dropped $600-plus on a music gadget), and it also makes sense in terms of reducing my couch-potato-ness. But the simple fact is that, for what it costs, I wouldn't miss it that much. I've now spent over two months without one and I don't feel that I've suffered overmuch. I've had the television on when I was over at the old place looking after the snakes and making a half-hearted attempt at packing, and I was surprised at how little was on that I actually wanted to watch. Considering that there is only me in this new apartment, it's not likely that a television and cable subscription would get that much use — an hour or two each night, at most? And that's time I'd probably rather spend surfing, coding, reading, or writing. Or (gasp) being sociable. So, paradoxically, not getting a television might do wonders for my quality of life.

As for the iPod, it'll keep my brain serene and happy whilst I trudge or bike about. If it encourages me to trudge or bike about more, then so much the better. But it also is part of another fiendish plot of mine to start rediscovering music again (I stopped sometime during my Ph.D. program, when I stopped having fun in general). As for the gadget itself, I've been paying so much attention to this product since it was first announced that taking it home and setting it up was very matter-of-fact. Nothing exceptional, since I was already accustomed to its exceptionality. It's nice, though. Great sound. Except that my left ear doesn't seem to be well shaped for earbud headphones.

[ 10:21 AM ]

Current reading: Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents by Paul Theroux.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

[ 10:28 PM ]

Back from seeing Spider-Man. A nearly full theatre at the World Exchange (which is only a few blocks away), the largest in the cineplex, which is too wide, and I ended up seeing it from too close and at too oblique an angle. Not terribly profound but well put-together, with some nice scenery-chewing performances from the supporting cast (especially J. K. Simmons as JJJ). The film's two acts were meshed together well enough; even so, each part — the first part in Queens and relatively down-to-earth, the second in Manhattan and much more supernatural — was distinct in tone as well as in scene. A lot of fun. You could do worse. CGI definitely looked like CGI, though.

At the very end, somebody in the audience shouted "Dumbass!" when Peter declined MJ's love. But it made sense in the context of the difficult lessons Peter learned. He grew and developed through the film. Character development in a blockbuster: amazing.

[ 8:50 AM ]

"A giant welfare cheque, written in blood." Margaret Wente on the seal hunt in Newfoundland: "even animal-rights agnostics say the hunt makes no commercial sense. It exists for one reason and one reason only: politics. The seal hunt is in reality a welfare scheme for a few thousand voters, subsidized by the taxpayers of Canada."

Friday, May 03, 2002

[ 5:27 PM ]

New species at risk designations from COSEWIC, including a few that concern species I keep (which I've underlined). I'm going to have to take a very close look at the final version of the Species at Risk Act if it ever gets passed.

Extirpated: Western Pond Turtle (Clemmys marmorata); Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer).

Endangered: Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii), designation reconfirmed.

Threatened: Eastern Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera spinifera), designation reconfirmed; Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola); Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus); Northern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis), Atlantic population.

Special Concern: Great Plains Toad (Bufo cognatus); Western Skink (Eumeces skiltonianus); Common Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica); Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus); Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum); Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora); Northern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis), Great Lakes population.

Not at Risk: Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea principis); Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon); Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi).

Data Deficient: Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi); Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina).

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

[ 2:01 PM ]


[ 1:15 PM ]

Philip K. Dick at the movies: movie adaptations of Dick's works don't much resemble what was in the books.