La Pulcina Piccola was featured on This American Life’s annual poultry show this week. Love’s Fowl is an opera sung in Italian featuring Chicken Little (La Pulcina Piccola), acted using puppets by the Clothespin Repertory Theater. Unfortunately, the Pulcina site doesn’t have any audio or video clips, but you can hear the entire Poultry ‘99 This American Life show in RealAudio at thislife.org.
Y2Kaos documents one person’s attempts to discover if common household items are Y2K compliant. In the same vein as Letters from a Nut, several companies from Quaker State to Elmer’s Glue were sent emails that in a round-about way asked about Y2K.
The Kooks Museum has been “dismantled, compacted, frozen, laminated and reassembled” for your viewing pleasure. As it’s laminated, no new additions will be made to the museum. In its place is Book Happy, a print magazine with some on-line content about collecting weird books.
The swiss cheese I’m making begins three months of hibernation in the back of my fridge tomorrow. It’s been sitting out for the last three weeks, and indications are that the eyes have formed beautifully. It smells just like a nice swiss cheese, too. I guess I’ll find out for sure in late February.
I’ve agreed to do a review of the Hasbro Interactive Diplomacy game for the Diplomatic Pouch, the webzine for the internet Diplomacy community. First impressions: looks good, great for learning the game, doesn’t come near matching having seven human players sitting around a table.
SPRIL News is the official newsletter of the Subatomic Particle Rights League. This was published in print form by Tom Jones primarily at New Mexico Tech, and consisted mostly of “psuedo-scientific satire”. After Tom left Tech, a few issues were published on-line, including a selection of Dr. Staff’s Greatest Hits. Dr. Staff is/was a scientific genius who taught about a third of all classes offered at Tech (that is, if you went by each semester’s course catalog) who took the time to answer reader’s questions. Tom also served as student body president and editor of the official school newspaper, Paydirt. He brought a new new era of quality to the paper, but having a satirist n charge of the official news brought forth some very interesting issues.
I can’t say enough good things about Mike’s Weblog. The content this last week has been beyond compare, and includes a few places he just beat me to.
French geophysicists have proposed the theory that gravitational tugs by the sun and moon have caused mass volcanism at key times in Earth’s past, the most recent responsible for the rise of the dinosaurs. This article, from the BBC, doesn’t get into any of the details, like why it’s only happened a few times. I need to see the original research I guess to understand this.
Resistance, nothing. I found Diplomacy (see below) on sale, and have already bought it. At first glance it looks real good, but I’ll let you know more as Iplay it.
You Are Where You Live shows off the power of gathering demographics. Type in your zip code and get told what kind of people live there. Where I grew up: “Shotguns & Pickups” and “Back Country Folks“. Yeah, that’s true. Where I live now: “Towns & Gowns” and “Southside City“. If you’re a travelling salesman, you gotta know the territory, and this’ll get you almost all of the way there. (from Robot Wisdom)
The Forum Romanum is your portal to all things of the Roman Empire. Among the many goodies here is the full text of the ancient cookbook De Re Coquinaria by Caelius Apicius. If your Latin’s not so good but you still want to have an authentic toga party, English translations of many of the dishes can be found here.
The Galileo spacecraft is scheduled to begin today what’s described as a daring low-altitude flyby of Jupiter’s moon Io. The craft will pass within 186 miles of Io’s surface (closer to the surface than the International Space Station is to Earth’s), passing over the moon’s south pole. Closest approach will be tomorrow evening. On its way, it will pass by the moon Callisto tonight and the scientificly-popular Europa tomorrow morning.
Where have I been? Habro Interactive has released Diplomacy for the Mac & PC. Avalon Hill had a version in the 80’s that was very poor, even for then, and that’s all there’s ever been available commercially. This game looks fantastic, and includes full AI players (that you can negotiate with) and multi-player capabilities. It even accepts input from (and output to!) the various Diplomacy Adjudicators out there. One of the giants in the email diplomacy community, Marcus Hand, published a sneak peek into the game earlier this year. At $50, it may be more than December’s budget will allow me, but I don’t know how I can resist buying this game.
Kevin Smith, director of Dogma, protested his own film in his hometown of Eatontown, N.J. I sure do like that guy.
Microsoft Story #84,613: Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap
A friend of mine recently bought a new Gateway computer for his family. He’s a playwright and an English professor, and so does plenty of writing. The computer came pre-installed with Microsoft Word 97, which he was beginning to get comfortable with. He told me the other day that he was having a problem he needed help with — he was writing a script that contained a character with a mild potty mouth, but every time he wrote the “S-word”, it got instantly replaced with XXXX. What’s worse, in another script, a period piece with archaic English, MS Word would replace those four letters with XXXX even if they were parts of two different words, such as “‘Tis hit!”. These four letters show up surprisingly often in English of a few hundred years ago, and this was driving him crazy.
I thought it was a simple matter of setting the auto-correct feature in MS Word, that maybe cuss words were now censored by default. I told him how to disable the feature, or at least how to remove those letter combinations from the lists. He told me a few days later that it didn’t help, that even with auto-correct completely shut off he was still plagued with XXXXs in his scripts. I told him I’d gladly come over and take a look.
When I did, I found he was correct, that I had told him wrong. I scoured Word for some kind of “child protection” feature, but could find nothing anywhere. Out of curiosity more than anything, I opened WordPad and tried to type the word, and it was instantly replaced with XXXX. I opened NotePad, and again XXXX. I realized then that it was a global Windows 98 setting and had nothing at all to do with Word. In the control panel, I looked in Users, Accessibility Options, and anywhere else I could think to look for child protection features, and came up blank. Finally, I noticed that in the Start menu was the item “Log Off DEFAULT”. It struck me that in all the many times he and his family had booted up the computer since he bought it, no one had logged into Windows under their own name, that everyone was using the DEFAULT user.
I restarted Windows and logged in as “eric”. All of the XXXXing was gone, and I was free to type what I wished. I logged on again as DEFAULT, and censoring began anew. I gave him the solution, and he was happy.
I’ve now scoured the web for some mention of this “feature” but have found nothing. I tried logging on as DEFAULT on my own computer, and when Windows started I got an error (advpack not started — missing dll — something like that), so it seems that this may be something built in by Microsoft for some reason. The only thing I can guess is maybe it’s for store floor models so some kid can’t go leaving dirty graffiti on the screens. Of course, Gateway sells direct by mail-order, so that’s not an issue here.
Anyone ever heard of this before? Is this something for Risks Digest? Certainly, real professional work was being prevented by this seemingly undocumented feature. Let me know if I should have known about this before, and if it’s new to you, well, here you go. Interestingly, very few words were censored in this way. I could be plenty raunchy with nary an interference, but say the “S-word” or what CAP calls the “most foul of foul” words, and I was silenced.
Wax, or the Discovery of Television among the Bees is a very strange movie set (in part) in Southern New Mexico. It is the bizarre fictional story of Jacob Maker, aka Hive-Maker, weapons-guidance designer and committed beekeeper. When the bees drill a hole in Jacob’s head and insert a television whose supernatural images control his will, Jacob enters an hallucinatory alternative reality. Its first public screening, I believe, was in the weekly film series shown at the college I attended, New Mexico Tech. I see now that you can view the entire film on the web, and every frame is a clickable link to somewhere. As the site says: “click inside the video to enter a shot.” It claims to be the first full-length film to be broadcast on the internet, on-line since 1993. I’ve never seen anything like it, both the movie and the website.
Oh, my! I’ve just found Athens’ Beer-o-meter, where you can see who’s got the best beer prices of the day. Now, Athens is known for its cheap beer (“Um… I’d like three PBR bottles, a Bud draft, and a shot of JD.” “OK, that’ll be $3.25.”), and this “tool” is just what’s needed to keep the prices down.
The ‘’Super Bowl'’ of dogfighting was busted up by police over the weekend, several towns over. Apparantly, folks from all over the South-east were charged with felony counts of dog-fighting and nearly 20 pit bulls were recovered.
The Athens bus system installed bike racks on the front of the busses last week, becoming the first bus system in Georgia to do so. Each rack holds two bikes, and allows the rider to take his bike to his bus destination. This, coupled with bike lanes that are beginning to appear around town, is a wonderful thing. When I moved to Athens two years ago, all I had was my bike to get around. Although there are many bikers here, Athens was a terrible town to try to bike around in. Sprawl has put many of the shopping areas outside of the reach of bikers, and too many cars on the road made even the short rides dangerous. I lived within a mile of where I work and took one of the “safest” roads Athens had, but still got hit by inattentive drivers several times — luckily without injury to me. Finally, out of necessity, I bought my first car this summer (at age 28!).
Last year, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article titled D’oh! An analysis of the medical care provided to the family of Homer J. Simpson. They compare and contrast the medical care provided by Drs Julius Hibbard and Nick Riviera, and offer a suggestion on which one doctors should emulate into the 21st century. The editorial discussing the article is just as funny, and nominates instead Dr. Bones McCoy for TV’s only true physician. (From Memepool)