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+ raelity bytes
+ paul e. [LJ]
+ Rain Graves
+ gnat [use Perl;]

Syndication feeds:
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My other sites:
- Silicon Valley Scale Modelers
- Book page for Programming Web Services With Perl

Other journals I read:
= DJ Adams
= rebecca blood
= Tim Bray
= Margaret Cho
= Warren Ellis
= Neil Gaiman
= Rafael Garcia-Suarez
= John Gorenfeld
= Lawrence Lessig
= Michael McCracken
= Jeff Vogel
= Norm Walsh
= Wil Wheaton

My journal at use.perl.org:
· Restless
· RPC-XML-0.57.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.56.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.55.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· Forgive Me, Bretheren Monks
· Extry Extry: Winer Leaves the RSS Advisory Board
· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
· Errata Tracking Page for PWSWP
· Image::Size 2.992 Uploaded
· Props to Portland PM
· Lightning Talks
· OSCON, Tuesday
· OSCON Plans Now Set

» Blogs that link here

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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

My Birthday Says This About Me... 2003.06.30.22:06


Beautiful but full of melancholy
very empathic
loves anything beautiful and tasteful
loves to travel
can be influenced but is not easy to live with
good intuition
suffers in love but finds sometimes an anchoring partner.
# [/funny]

Making Iraq Safe From Democracy 2003.06.29.23:15

Yes, I said safe from, not safe for. The following story is at the Washington Post Online, which likes you to register. If you don't already have an account, use the username/password "freethepresses" (same word for both username and password):

SAMARRA, Iraq – U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.


"They give us a general," said Bahith Sattar, a biology teacher and tribal leader in Samarra who was a candidate for mayor until that election was canceled last week. "What does that tell you, eh? First of all, an Iraqi general? They lost the last three wars! They're not even good generals. And they know nothing about running a city."

I know that there will be those who would comment that we have to first ensure that things are running again, without the risk of Saddam loyalists and Baath party members re-establishing a hold on local power. But this just doesn't strike me as the way to do it. We've claimed from the outset that the people of Iraq truly wanted our help in getting rid of Saddam and his regime, but now we aren't interested in giving them a voice in replacing him. And military officers? Generals, no less? How certain can we be that they opposed Saddam, versus telling our reps just what they want to hear, in exchange for being given seats of power?

# [/politics]

28 Days Correction 2003.06.29.07:30

The stickers I got at the midnight showing of 28 Days Later... actually read, "The end is extremely fucking nigh," not "really fucking nigh." Oddly enough, I find the difference in wording very significant. Something about the usage of "extremely" just works in that context. And no, I'm not giving the second sticker away. Not without hefty favors in return, at least...

Something else about the movie– more about the setting. Since this was a midnight showing, sponsored and promoted by a college radio station, it wasn't just sold out, it was packed with mostly college-age types. Which made for a fairly rowdy time before the movie started. One thing I nearly choked at, during the previews, was this: the preview was for The Eye, a new horror film from Hong Kong. Which looks really good, by the way. I plan to see it when I can. Anyway, the trailer opened with a voice-over of the phrase, "The sensation that's sweeping Asia." To this, someone in the audience shouted, "Oh no! SARS!" We pretty much missed the first third or so of the preview itself.

But despite the trend set in the time right before the movie and during the previews, the audience was pretty rapt throughout the movie. It really grabs you and holds your attention. Have I admonished you yet about the need to see this film?

# [/entertainment/movies]

More new TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0348913">Dead Like Me</a> 2003.06.28.10:18

I'm kind of a sucker for anything with a dark or death-related theme. And with a cast that includes Mandy Patinkin and Rebecca Gayheart, I couldn't let myself miss it.

The premiere episode sets up the main character, George (short for Georgia, played by Ellen Muth), a listless 18-year-old who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. After pissing off a placement worker at a temp agency, she gets a crappy filing-clerk job. Returning from lunch on her first day, she's struck and killed by a falling piece of the Mir space-station (I won't say what type of piece, it's better to see it yourself). Much to her surprise (and dismay), she isn't headed for Heaven. Nor Hell, it would seem. Instead, she's chosen to join a group of "grim reapers" under the management of Patinkin. Once she's filled her quota of retrieved souls, she'll be allowed to move on. They're responsible for grabbing the souls of people about to die violent deaths (preferably moments before the fact, to lessen the shock to the soul), and none of them know what their quota is, only that when they reach it they can finally move on.

The first episode was not as strong as the starter for Out of Order, but it is funny. Jasmine Guy adds a little sullenness (but a humorous sullennous) in a supporting role, as do several others. Some of the developments are pretty easy to see coming, but some parts are still fresh. And it has the obligatory return-to-the-family bits, that were handled a lot better than many directors would have. Definately worth watching the next few episodes to see how it goes. The previews for the second episode look much more promising.

This is another Showtime original series, so look for it there.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0289043">28 Days Later...</a> 2003.06.28.09:59

This movie kicks the asses of mankind.

I'd been hearing buzz about this for months (it was out in Britain back in October), though the title threw me at first– "28 Days Later" sounds like a sequel to a bland Sandra Bullock vehicle. But it isn't; it's a horror film from the same directory who did two of my favorite films, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. And then there was the buzz...

I don't know how best to describe the film... equal parts 12 Monkeys, Blair Witch Project and Resident Evil. Of those, I'd only really recommend "12 Monkeys" to a friend. But this film works. It's suspenseful, it's scary and it gets under your skin. It isn't heavy on visual special effects, but it really needs to be seen in the theater to appreciate all the imagery on the screen at once.

The thumbnail overview is this– animal-rights activists break into a lab in Cambridge to free test monkeys. Only, the monkeys are infected with a highly-contagious pathogen that turns the infected into a bile-spewing, mindless, rage-filled killer within minutes. After the chaos, noise and blood of the lab scene, the screen suddenly cuts to black and displays the words, "28 days later...". We're shown a hospital room where a man wakes up to find the hospital, and the whole of London, deserted. After wandering the streets, he sees newspaper headlines and posted notices about evacuations and missing persons. Finally, he finds two other people who explain what has happened to the entirety of England in the last 4 weeks.

See this film. This is everything Blair Witch tried to hype itself as, but failed. It is more original than the Summer of Sequels we're currently in. And I can (almost) promise that you'll jump at least once or twice.

(I happened upon a midnight showing here in Campbell, that was apparently sponsored by KSCU, the campus-run radio station for Santa Clara University. 28 was the kick-off of a summer midnight-movie series they're running which will include a lot more great movies. They did some trivia-questions for prizes before the movie, and handed out cool stickers afterwards, with the catch-phrase "The end is really fucking nigh." I got two, but I'm still deciding where to put them.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Lawrence and Garner v. Texas 2003.06.27.06:49

As numerous sources and friends have pointed out, today the Supreme Court of the United States handed down their ruling in the Texas sodomy law case, Lawrence and Garner v. Texas:

The Supreme Court Thursday struck down a Texas state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex in a decision gay rights groups hailed as historic.


"This is going to carve out protection for private sexual behavior," Hassel said. "As long as it's between consenting adults, this ruling would appear to cover it."

There is some additional legal analysis, and of course Justice Antonin Scalia is outraged. (Note that he also refers to Roe v. Wade, and alludes to the fact that he does not feel that there is any Constitutional basis for privacy.)

This is drawing much attention from many directions.

# [/politics/glbt]

OoO: Fourth Episode Perspective 2003.06.24.09:09

They haven't introduced any characters that look more like you and me. The show is still populated by the pretty, as I noted in my initial take. But they took on the whole show-about-a-show shtick that I wasn't too keen on, and made it work. The characters have all become very likable, and you feel a kind of sympathy to see them making mistakes simply because they don't have the perspective of the whole scene that you do. Eric Stoltz just seems to be better and better with each episode, and Felicty Huffman's character has developed a lot more than I would have thought.

The next episode up is supposed to be the season finale. I guess that they've made six hours' worth of programming for the first testing of the market for it; the first episode was two hours long, so while the one I just saw was the fourth airing, I guess next week will mean six hours overall. I wish they'd have shown more faith in the show and given us a bigger bite to start out with, but I'll be just as happy if they bring us a second season relatively soon-ish.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Monk is Back 2003.06.24.08:40

I really like USA's Monk. Unfortunately, because of the time it usually airs, I keep forgetting to either watch it or at least tape it (insert your favorite pro-TiVo argument here– I don't watch enough TV weekly or monthly to justify the cost). What I did see of the first season I really enjoyed, and apparently I'm not alone. The series has been a big hit with viewers, and (for a while at least, maybe still?) in an unprecedented move it was picked up for re-airing by ABC (the first time a "major" network has asked to re-syndicate a basic-cable show).

So anyway, it's back for its second season. Same cast, same set-up. New theme by Randy Newman (very catchy, and the lyrics are hilarious if you pay close attention). It also has a little better budget, so they get things like name-stars (Andrew McCarthy in the season-opener, though I suppose there are arguments as to whether he qualifies anymore). The writing is still sharp, and the jokes are still (mostly) subtle. I nearly did a spit-take when, during a chess game, Monk's assistant licked her queen before making a risky move (knowing that he couldn't bear to touch the queen in order to take it). And it goes without saying that when he stands in as a substitute teacher, the students have a field day with him.

So, if you haven't watched it yet, give it a look. This is some funny stuff.

# [/entertainment/tv]

The Story of the Break-Ins 2003.06.23.03:26

(For those I haven't had the chance to tell, or those I told the story to this weekend at the party who might have missed parts due to noise and/or distraction, here's the scoop...)

First, some set-up material. One of the symptoms of my "mental issues" is being borderline-OCD, making me very prone to a "packrat" mentality while at the same time generally being very aware of where things are, how they are arranged, etc. Additionally, in my apartment there is only one room that remains closed off– this is the room I keep my modeling kits and materials in, so that I can keep my cats from getting into them and getting fur all over the place, and so on. Very touchy about that room in particular, and the rest of my stuff in general.

So Wednesday I get home from work pretty late, and the first thing I notice is that the door to my modeling room is open. En route to check this out, I also note that a small stack of CDs sitting by the foot of my computer desk are knocked over (these being CDs awaiting their turn through the ripper). After closing the door, I happened to look in the main bedroom (where I actually sleep). I had written off the open door as my having not pulled it completely shut the last time I was in there, and the heat must have popped it open. But there on my bed was a magazine that I knew had not been on the bed when I left that morning.


# [/misc]

A Lovely Party 2003.06.23.00:18

Went to a really great party this weekend, a house-warming for a quad of friends who just got a place in San Francisco. I was only at the party for about 1/4 to 1/3 of the total party time (it spanned from 4 on Friday to 4 this afternoon, but I had other things I had to get done this weekend). But the party was great, the food was great, and most of all, the people there were fantastic.

I so want to have a reliable circle of friends like this. It's not just that the people themselves are so very affectionate and caring towards each other, it's more of an overall sensory effect created by the combination of inputs: they care, ergo they are not afraid to show it; they show their affection (and outright love/attraction) openly, and thus a sense of closeness and bonding is apparent from all angles; the sense of bonding readily welcomes new people on the belief that if someone invited them or brought them as a guest, then known or unknown they are probably a good, likable person. As a result of that, even a shy introvert like myself left feeling very warm and appreciated, and I can say I made some great new acquaintances that (if fortune should favor) may blossom into new friendships.

At the same time, I felt some jealous pangs, because my shyness does keep me on the outside more than I want to be. I still feel like I'm trying to catch up, to make up for time lost when I was deeply denying my own true nature and feelings. So seeing these four people who have achieved the kind of household I dream of, I can't help being a little envyous of them for their happiness. On the plus side, it also shows me that it can and does happen. To ordinary people, just like me. And that beats sitting at home thinking that there is no hope for ever seeing people achieve such goals.

(On the other hand, I am insanely jealous of the house itself. It is almost exactly the kind of floorplan and layout I am hoping to find when I start looking to buy next month.)

# [/thoughts/rships]

Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate? 2003.06.20.23:56
# [/tech]

(I Look Just Like) Buddy Hobbit 2003.06.19.04:10

A thread on one of my Perl-related mailing lists (of all things) gave me this ge(r)m, which I now share with thee, my good readers. May it haunt you as well. Credit (and blame) goes to Chris Devers on the london.pm mailing list:

(To the tune of "Buddy Holly" by Weezer, in case you couldn't already tell.)

    What's with these Ringwraiths, dissing my Shire?
    Why do they gotta front?
    What did we ever do to these guys
    That made them so violent?
    My-pre-cious, but you know I'm yours
    My-pre-cious, and I know you're mine
    My-pre-cious, and that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that

    Don't you ever fear, I'm always near
    I know that you need help
    Your tongue is twisted, your eyes are slit
    You need Gandalf the Grey
    My-pre-cious, but you know I'm yours
    My-pre-cious, and I know you're mine
    My-pre-cious, and that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that

    Bang, bang a knock on the door
    Another big bang and you're down on the floor
    Oh no! How do we feel?
    Don't look now but I missed my meal
    I can't run and I can't kick
    What's a matter Bor' are you feeling sick?
    what's a matter, what's a matter, what's a matter you?
    What's a matter Bor', are you feeling blue? oh-oh!
    And that's for all time
    And that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
# [/funny]

War poll uncovers fact gap 2003.06.18.01:04

A third of the American public believes U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. Twenty-two percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

I have a theory about what the far-right's plans might be for the next few election cycles. I'm not ready to post it, but the above would fit perfectly into it, were there any indication that there was intentional mis-information of the public taking place. But again, I've always believed that one should not be so quick to attribute to malice that which may be more easily explained by stupidity. Especially when the mass-media-consuming public are involved.

# [/politics]

Hatch On Illegal Music Traders: 'Destroy Their Computers' 2003.06.18.00:58

A powerful U.S. senator says he favors an online seek-and-destroy assault on computers that contain music illegally downloaded from the Internet.

Umm, yeah. Linux users around the world are probably thinking the same thing I am: "Bring that shit on, bee-yatch."

# [/tech]

Children Find Baby Sitter Dead in Bathroom, Show Body to Friends 2003.06.18.00:53
# [/twisted]

SCO: Coming to a Co-Lo Near You 2003.06.17.06:58

(Brought to my attention by way of Ditherati. The news.com.com site still crashes my Mozilla, as well as Galeon, but I was able to read the full story with Konqueror.)

SCO said that the termination of the AIX license means that all IBM Unix customers also have no license to use the software. "This termination not only applies to new business by IBM, but also existing copies of AIX that are installed at all customer sites. All of it has to be destroyed," Sontag said.

(The person quoted above is Chris Sontag, representing SCO.)

For those who haven't been following the story, SCO has filed suit against IBM, claiming that IBM allowed copyrighted UNIX source code to migrate into the Linux source base. SCO also wants licensing fees from all Linux distributors.

Last week, SCO gave IBM an ultimatum. In response, IBM essentially gave SCO the finger. Today, SCO yanked IBM's license, and in response IBM is effectively giving them the finger again.

# [/tech]

U.S. Warns AIDS Group on Funding 2003.06.16.23:16

The San Francisco organization, STOP AIDS, has been given what is effectively a cease-and-desist order:

The Bush administration yesterday ordered a San Francisco AIDS prevention group to immediately halt a handful of explicit programs that "appear to encourage or promote sexual activity" or risk losing as much as $500,000 a year in federal grants.


After a two-day site review last year, CDC investigators concluded that the "design and delivery of STOP AIDS prevention activities was based on current accepted behavioral science theories in the area of health promotion," Gerberding wrote in February.

Note that the Post asks for some small boon of demographic information before letting you view their stories.

Shortly after that second quote, the article indicates that CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding (referred to above) had decided that the local review process was no longer sufficient and that she was planning on changing it.

This begs the question of what does warrant funding– abstinence-only programs? Do they think that will be at all effective in stopping the spread of HIV?

# [/politics/glbt]

DOJ/Pride Follow-Up 2003.06.15.15:39

According to this article, the DOJ has partially back-pedalled and will allow the DOJ Pride group to have their annual pride celebration. Provided they pay for the use of the facilities. The claim is that they never meant to exclude the group, only that the event would no longer be sponsored. Some people quoted in the article dispute this, but the article doesn't go into delicate-enough detail to say for certain. At least they get to have their event.

# [/politics/glbt]

B.D. Wong 2003.06.15.15:28

This is an excellent, very touching interview/story:

B.D. Wong's real-life journey to becoming a gay father

And yet, silly goose that I am, all I could think, was, "Wow! B.D. Wong is gay?"

The first thing I saw him in was Jurassic Park, playing a pretty typical Asian actor role– scientist. The first thing I saw him in that made me think he was actually a pretty talented actor was the (sadly) short-lived Margaret Cho vehicle, All-American Girl. Again, a "model-minority" role (a doctor), but in the context of a comedy, where he was able to play up those mannerisms and poke at the stereotypes.

But the role I've seen that I really respected him for was in the HBO series, Oz, where he played the prison chaplain. Dealing not only with unrepentant inmates, but with prison politics, religious intolerance, and the weight of having so many other people's problems, with no one to go to with his own. He's done tons more than this, of course, but I don't watch a lot of TV, so this is what has grabbed me the most.

He's just published a book about the struggles he and his partner of 15 years had in becoming parents. The interview/story is well worth a read.

# [/thoughts/glbt]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0317740">The Italian Job</a> 2003.06.15.07:01

I kinda went into this movie not expecting much. I think that most of the cast are prety good actors, and especially like Charlize Theron, Seth Green and Jason Statham. I even have to grudgingly admit that Mark "Marky-Mark" Wahlberg has grown into a pretty skilled actor as well. I also admit that I've never seen the original (though I will probably rent it soon, for comparison). So I didn't have to worry about my expectations not being met.

It's a fun movie, with plenty of laughs. For a caper film involving hardened criminals, there's surprisingly little blood in it (we only see two deaths in the entire film, and Wahlberg's character is celebrated at one point for pulling off a heist without anyone having to point a gun at anyone else). Even though stories have abounded about Edward Norton playing his role strictly due to contractual obligation, he is still a good actor and does a good role as the slimy villian. Theron actually has the harder part, needing to cover a wider range of emotions than anyone else.

Overall, this is a good matinee movie. I saw it in the evening out of boredom, but I wouldn't recommend paying full price for it. There's a funny cameo by Napster "celebrity" Shawn Fanning (and an extra in-joke in the form of a Metallica poster in the background of the Napster flash-back), and more than enough car-chases and action to satisfy most people. It's not really a clever movie, but it's a good escape for a few hours.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Worse Than Spam 2003.06.12.07:59

For several months now, I've been getting an increasing number of bounce notifications, mostly from mailer-daemons in the ru (Russia) TLD. This annoys me even more than spam itself does. These are reaching me because spammers are sending out messages whose forged "From" headers point to my main Perl-related domain, blackperl.com.

I don't like spam, but I can filter a reasonable chunk of it and ignore the rest. But this feels even more offensive, somehow. It's actually easier to filter for (though I only just now got around to configuring that), but I can't help feeling that much more offended that my domain is being tarnished by these spammers.

Not that I can do anything about it, of course.

# [/tech]

Now <i>These</i> Are Small Robots 2003.06.11.23:11

It's small enough to "turn on a dime and park on a nickel," or so say the inventors of a 1cm-tall machine that lays claim to being the world's smallest robot. Make that the smallest man-made robot, for the device developed by the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., would be a Gulliver in the world of the Lilliputian "machines" operating inside living cells.

(Appropriated from Warren Ellis' blog.)

# [/tech]

Special-Effects Whiz Gets Hollywood Star 2003.06.11.23:00

Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animation master who created legions of movie monsters and aliens, now has earthly evidence of his achievements: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I honestly cannot think of a more deserving icon of visual effects. Congratulations are due, and I plan on finding and photographing the star the next time I go down to SoCal.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Woody Allen Becomes Pitch Man for France 2003.06.11.22:32

Film director Woody Allen, known for his fierce devotion to New York, is working as a pitch man for France, urging Americans to eat french fries, to French kiss and travel to the European nation.

Ummm, the French do understand that most of us here don't take him seriously anymore, right? That he's more of a joke punch-line that even they are? And really, the last thing I want to see or hear is a man who married his pseudo-stepdaughter encouraging the rest of us to French kiss.

# [/entertainment]

Baboon Eats Baby 2003.06.11.10:19

(And herein introduces a new topic group, for twisted shit that I probably shouldn't be propagating to other eyes.)

Serious "ick" factor ahead at the link:

Baboon eats baby in front of mom

(Only click if you really want to read more)


# [/twisted]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002RN9/rjrayorg-20">Respighi - Ancient Aires and Dances</a> 2003.06.10.10:44

[cover] I'm more than a little behind in my original pledge, even despite my burst of resolve a few months ago. So let me now return to this effort with a collection of light four-movement suites from the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi.

I picked this up a few months ago, in a sort of mourning state. I had been looking for this excellent CD I had, that featured Respighi's "Pines of Rome", "Fountains of Rome", and an excellent performance of Moussorsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". But it seems that the CD was victim to one of the two times my car was broken into. I cannot find it anywhere, even by mail-order. So I happened across this CD while moping around the Respighi section at the storefront I buy most of my classical from (yes, it's a Tower Records, but it has an excellent classical section).

Funny thing is, after the first two or three listens, I wasn't that keen on it, and had decided not to recommend it. But it was "passable enough" to add to my classical play-list of Ogg's (same function as an MP3, no licensing problems) for a while. And as it would happen, it has really grown on me over the last few weeks. I find myself humming along to the principal themes, which not only means I'm enjoying it, but that it's imprinted on my memory as well. So I've decided to recommend this one, after all. It's Respighi, it's Neville Marriner conducting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, what can I say– I shouldn't have judged it so hastily.

(Not sure if I should call this my "March" selection, or just quietly overlook the three months I've missed...)

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

Introducing <a href="http://www.nukekiller.net/pollxn">Pollxn</a> 2003.06.10.07:33

pollxn I have now added comments to this journal, by way of the nifty pollxn package. Given my high allergy rate, I couldn't resist the irony.

For now, my pages are still being statically rendered at regular intervals, which means that comment counts on the pages will only update on the half-hour. Clicking the link, though, should bring up the comments themselves in real-time regardless of clock position. As with the other dynamic parts of this site, I will be working on a solution for this. But at least people can comment for the time being, and I can see if people are even reading any of this...

# [/tech]

Sleeping Too Much 2003.06.09.08:28

I'm sleeping too much.

I mean, a lot. Enough to interfere in what I'm trying to actually do with my days. This weekend, I've averaged over 12 hours a day. I slept today until nearly 4 in the afternoon, and I feel tired now. I have to finish my presentation for OSCON by Tuesday. I have all my notes, and I know what order I want things to go in. But I'm too tired all the time, I feel like I'm walking around in a fugue-state.

Think maybe my depression isn't as under control as I would believe it to be. That, or it's the thyroid stuff. I haven't had any medication for that in months. Maybe I need to see my doctor and get that prescription refilled...

# [/thoughts/health]

Static-Clingy 2003.06.09.07:40

I've completed the transition to static rendering for the most part. On the plus side, this should mean much faster response times for readers of the journal (assuming there are any). Unfortunately, not everything fits itself well to this model. The elements that are more volatile are still suffering, and I have to forcibly re-render at regular intervals to make sure that new stories show up and that the calendar/archive remains up-to-date. But I'm still looking at ways to fix those. Things like the lists of books and other web-log links, etc., I have made into SSI links. This was important if only because that represented about 10% (or more) of a given page's content in bytes, and there was no reason to replicate it over the entire archive tree.

I still plan on adding a comments system, as well as restoring the random-nature of the top-of-page quotes and such. But I have other deadlines to process in the immediate-term.

# [/tech]

New TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0329476">Out of Order</a> 2003.06.09.07:26

With the passing of 4 of my regular TV shows, I've been wondering if there would be anything new to threaten my productivity. A few contenders on the horizon, and this is one of the first new ones I've seen.

It stars Eric Stoltz, Felicity Huffman and Kim Dickens. Also appearing regularly are William H. Macy and Justine Bateman. Stoltz and Huffman are a husband and wife screenwriting duo, starting to show strain after 16 years of marriage. It's completely and totally soap opera, but I admit I really like it so far, after just the pilot episode.

Everyone is flawed. None are malicious. Huffman's character suffers from depression, but is choosing to self-medicate, and it isn't working. She sees it, but can't quite stop herself. Stoltz tries hard to be supportive even through the worst trials. The other characters drift in and out of this orbit with their own shortcomings and problems. Aside from the usually Hollywood fare where everyone is pretty, the characters all seem very much the sort you would expect to have living next door to you, or passing by in the aisles at the local grocery. Some of the dialog is a little silly, and the narration perspective (Stoltz narrating as though we're the audience for his latest film... get it?) seems fairly overdone. And the very end of the pilot episode is quite hokey.

This all said, I do plan on watching the next few episodes. I think this one could develop into something really interesting.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/tiger_redirect?HPBO_1&/Title?0266543">Finding Nemo</a> 2003.06.08.10:28

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a total sucker for Pixar's animations. From the shorts I saw in college, to the amazing Toy Story, I've been hooked. So I went to this knowing I would like it, and of course I did.

It's cute, it's funny, and it has a few in-jokes for us older types in the audience (the big shark in the trailers? Named "Bruce"). The rendering is awe-inspiring. The voice talent is very good, with some surprises in the line-up, such as Geoffrey Rush, Barry Humphries and John Ratzenberger. It's easy to see why this was #1 in the box office last week, and I imagine it will be again this week (though the brain-vacant "2 Fast 2 Furious" might draw enough summer-break teens in to win this weekend, it will fade much faster than Nemo).

My only beef is that they re-did the old Pixar short, Knick Knack. This is shown at the start of the film. In the original, there were two different bikini-clad girls who had, shall we say, pneumatic personalities. Since this is a G-rated kid's flick, they re-rendered it so that the girls were more flat-chested than Christina Ricci in the first Addams Family film. On the one hand I can sort of understand, but I don't really see how the lack of oversize cleavage makes that much difference– the bikinis were the same barely-there strips of cloth. Oh well. Small price to pay.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Shifting Priorities 2003.06.08.10:13

One of the things that kept my "re-launch" from being 100% complete was that I wanted to have static rendering of at least the main page and archive pages. But I have a number of dynamic elements present here, such as the random quote at the top and the calendar on the right column. So I haven't made it a priority yet.

Thanks to one or more crappily-written robots, I'm causing unacceptable load levels on the machine that hosts this domain. So I'm having to move this up in priority. For now, the fix is to prevent search engines from indexing, but I want to allow well-behaved robots like Google's.

So, spin up some old-skool ABBA, and off I go to try and make this work.

(The other element I planned on adding was a comment system based on the pollxn (pronounced "pollen") system. But this puts that into doubt, as well.)

# [/tech]

Politics of Exclusion 2003.06.07.10:29

From a friend's LiveJournal:

US Justice Department forbids Gay Pride event at headquarters


Homosexual employees of the US Department of Justice have been forbidden to hold an annual "Gay Pride" event at the department's headquarters, a gay DoJ employee said Friday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft "will not allow us to hold our annual pride ceremony in the building," said Melissa Schraibman, who works in Justice Department's tax division.


In 2002 Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, the most important DoJ official after Ashcroft, was at the event. Thompson's presence however resulted in sharp criticism from influential conservative groups.


Schraibman said that other groups of DoJ employees – including those belonging to ethnic or special interest groups – continue to use the Department building as a meeting place.

Thank goodness the Bush administration is even-handed, fair and inclusive. I'd hate to see what they would try to get away with if they weren't. I mean it, I'd really hate that.

# [/politics/glbt]

Happy Cows Come From California 2003.06.06.23:23
# [/funny]

Part of the Reason Learning Java Feels Dirty 2003.06.06.07:43

Sun, JBoss Square Off
Sun is considering taking the JBoss Group to court over its use of J2EE terminology.

(Link and byline taken from the Dr. Dobb's Web Site news archive. Be warned that something in the news.com.com page has caused Mozilla on my Linux desktop to crash consistently.)

This is the sort of thing that makes me resistant to Java and Sun in general. Sun would have the (programming) world running Java, but only their Java, under their terms. But we're supposed to support them because they are helping "fight the good fight" against Microsoft's encroaching monopoly efforts. By attempting to create their own monopoly.

# [/tech]

A Pesky Homework Assignment 2003.06.06.07:15

My shrink tasked me with something that should be much easier than it has proven to be. In reaction to my ongoing frustration with relationships, I was asked to make up a list of the things I want in a relationship.

See, while I do suffer most of the complaints that your average Silicon Valley Single Make Geek does (social awkwardness, limited exposure to potential dating partners, etc.), the problem that plagues me the most is that I tend to sabotage my chances before I even get so far as to complain about my lack of chances. I'm a crappy housekeeper (stuff laying everywhere, bathroom a mess), I get phone numbers and then forget to ever call, I talk myself out of even making an effort.

Even this task has proven to be almost beyond me– I spent the first several attempts getting distracted by personal traits, not sure if I should be looking for what I want in a relationship or what I want in a partner. Of course, it was a moot point; I had just as much trouble with either list. And I'm not going to list what I did come up with here, anyway. But it made me wonder how many other people there are out there who are stuck in relationship cycles because they confuse what they want in the relationship with what they want in a partner.

# [/thoughts/rships]

Best Part Is the Gender-Openness 2003.06.04.21:57

Brothel Offers Free Sex to Returning Troops

Here's the subtle-but-sordid part:

The first 50 servicemen and women through the door will receive a sexy knockoff of their military-issued "TA-50" kits of personal hygiene items. Instead of toothbrushes and soap, Hof's kits contain condoms, lubricant, an adult magazine and a certificate for free sex. (Emphasis added.)

And the jewel in in the crown:

Thirteen men and three women in uniform have shown up so far to claim their gifts.

Cue the '70s porno soundtrack! Three uniformed women, yeah baby! Don't ask, don't tell!

# [/funny]

In Praise of the Graphic Novel 2003.06.04.09:07

A number of the books on my favorites list (to the right) are graphic novels. Generally, they're collections of storylines that ran as serial issues in a regular (monthly or bi-monthly) title. Most were recommended by friends, though I managed to stumble across "The Invisibles" on my own.

The graphic novel is a curious beast. When I bought comics on a more frequent basis in high school and college, the format was still very experimental in a lot of ways– there were a few original ideas, and a few collections (in those days the collections were of limited series such as "The Watchmen" and "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns"). Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" was very much a ground-breaking title; it was a completely new story, not a collected serial. It won pretty much every award it was eligible for, and went into at least 5 printings (the copy I have is from the 5th printing). My last year of college (well, the summer between my junior and senior years) I was even able to take a philosophy course titled, "Philosophy and the Modern Graphic Novel" that looked at how some of the themes explored in these heavy-paper comic books could be traced back to the core philosophical questions. To me, it was a relatively easy "A" for a summer spent (re-)reading a lot of Alan Moore.

Now, when I go to any of the local shops I buy from, I barely look at loose issues anymore. If it's a good title, I can count on it being collected at some point. I may have to wait an extra year or two, but one book is easier to keep track of and store on my shelves than six. Seven half-inch volumes span the full collection of "The Invisibles". I'm getting into Garth Ennis' "Preacher" title these days, and it's infinitely easier when you can get the story in these pre-sized chunks. Enough story to make a really good, gripping evening's read. Enough to leave you ready for more (I'm through the first three volumes, and I'm anxious for my next trip to the store).

Some reviews and recommendations to come. Soonish. In the mean time, if it's Alan Moore, Frank Miller or Garth Ennis, it's probably safe to buy. Neil Gaiman or Warren Ellis, you should already have it anyway. And Kyle Baker. And Judd Winick's comedy material (the Barry Ween and Frumpy the Clown volumes). But I'll get to some specifics later.

# [/entertainment/books/comics]

Gangsta in tha Stra' 2003.06.04.02:03

As I turned the key in the lock of my apartment this evening, two very different vehicles happened to converge on the street behind me. They passed each other, probably oblivious to the strange juxtaposition they had just created.

Vehicle #1 was an ordinary car, driven by an ordinary person, probably a teen. Blasting from the speakers of his sound system was some fairly hard-core rap. (I'm more of a goth/industrial fan with a taste for classical, so I won't pretend to know what it was.) Not overly-loud, about the volume you'd expect from a neighborhood kid in the mid-evening.

Vehicle #2 was the local ice-cream truck, noodling along at a slower pace and trying to lure kids out into the still-somewhat-hot evening. To attract their attention, he was playing that timeless classic, "Turkey in the Straw."

And as it would happen, the tempo and beats of the two sound streams matched up perfectly, creating what may best be described as "Gangsta in tha Straw (Neighborhood Street 2003 Mix)".

# [/funny]

Recent Movies: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0290334">X2</a> and <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0234215">The Matrix Reloaded</a> 2003.06.03.22:11

I think people put way too much expectation into sequels, and as a result they tend to be overly-critical when the movies actually arrive. I've heard a lot of grousing on both of these movies, more so Matrix than X2.

Since this is so long after the release (relatively-speaking), I'm not going to actually bother with reviewing either film. You may or may not have seen them at this point, but my reviews or opinions aren't likely to change your mind.

Rather, I'll share this observation I made in conversation with a friend in Colorado. She liked X2 considerably more than Matrix. She didn't so much dislike Matrix, of course. But she felt that X2 was a better sequel. I thought about it for a bit, and then later that day I called her back. It strikes me that people tended to find the first X-Men somewhat weak in a lot of ways (usually top of the list is the regrettable dialog Halle Berry was saddled with). In contrast, most were simply wowed by the first Matrix film. So, I suspect that people come out of X2, having seen a pretty good film, and when they view it in the perspective of the first film it looks really fantastic. But when they come out of Matrix Reloaded, they're comparing it to an original that was much more highly-regarded than the first X-Men was. So they hold it to that, and as a result many see it as a weaker film than X2.

Personally, I thought they both kicked the asses of men. I've seen Reloaded twice, and will see X2 again soon, probably after seeing Finding Nemo.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Um, Yeah 2003.06.03.05:31

It did cause LJ to spew up the last 15 or so entries. Thank goodness I tuned the configuration of stories down for the RSS feed, or there would be 40 of 'em. Err... sorry.

# [/misc]

Unveiling at 95% Complete 2003.06.03.04:14

I still have one more feature I plan to integrate into the new version of rjray.org, but for now it is clean and purty enough to re-roll-out.

The most significant differences should be pretty much all under the hood; Rael's release-candidate version of blosxom 2.0 was the main goal of the upgrade effort. To this, I have added a host of plug-ins, including a better archive-calendar (low on the right-hand column) and, most importantly, proper Etag and Last-Modified headers. Not only on the web page proper, but also on the RSS feeds.

Which brings up the next change: I have made the default RSS feed a v1.0 feed, and made the older (0.91) feed accessible via a different URL (index.rss91). I hope this improves the overall quality of the syndication at the LiveJournal feed for my journal, rjray_rss.

And lastly, one of the changes I've made is a subtle-but-significant overhaul of how the permanent links are crafted, as well as the location of about 7 of my journal entries. The logic goes a little like this:

First, I had been using a hack in the earlier version of blosxom to make the "permalink" stay the same whether you were reading the story from the main page or from a sub-category. The newer blosxom has a better way to track this, so I'm using that. In addition to that consideration, the XHTML spec disallows the "/" character in an anchor's (that's the <a>) "name" attribute. I use the permalink there as well, for cross-references and in the feeds, etc. So I use a plug-in to translate all the "/" into "_" to keep XHTML validators happy.

But that also exposed a problem in that I name my entries with numbers. That way, I don't have to worry whether the nifty title I just thought of is already the file-name for an entry two months ago. But the 7 or so entries at my top-level ended up with identifiers that were just plain numbers, which also annoyed the XHTML validator. So, I merged them into the "misc" category, for lack of anywhere better to put them.

I am going to assume that all of this sudden change will almost certainly make LiveJournal's syndicator very confused and probably display the last 15 or so stories again. For this, I apologize in advance. I hope that I don't make any more changes on this scale again anytime soon.

# [/misc]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


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30 31          

Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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