Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fun With Numbers

On one my previous posts, Mr. Kendall took me to task for my statistical naivete when it came to air travel. Let's say just for our purposes that the chances of a plane disaster was 1 in 100 (a fake number to be sure). Now, as Mr. Kendall told me, this is not to say that after flight 99 that I was doomed to die on the next flight, or that each successful flight would bring me closer to the one that would be my oblivion; since each flight still only has a 1 in 100 chance of coming to a disastrous end no matter how many I take.

Of course it's always revealing to see where people put their money to find out how they really feel. So let's say that I have two plane passengers and I'm firing up a dead pool on them. There'd no entry fee, but say it was paying out $10,000 and you could only bet on one of the people. Now one of them has never taken a flight before in his life while the other one has logged 99 flights, which one would be the one to bet on the fact that they were going to die in an airline disaster, given the 1 in 100 odds?

Oddly enough, what got me thinking about this was the horrific midwestern summer weather going on. More specifically, while I was driving to downtown Cincinnati, which sits in a bowl and seems to get some of the worst summer weather on the planet. Of course the whole state of Ohio (and much of the midwest) gets this 'hot, humid, no wind' thing going on and, even though this is merely the fate of geography, the Global Warming nutjobs inevitably come out of the woodwork to tell us how our sins are what is making it hot. Never mind the fact that last year Cleveland's summer was cool and pleasant, because that was due of global warming too (don't ask, I know I shouldn't have). It's the typical conspiracy - any facts which would refute the conspiracy's existence to a sane person is only further proof to the nutjob that the conspiracy is true.


A shot of downtown Cincinnati I took today. Also pictured: humidity.

What's this have to do with numbers? I harbor a secret hatred towards weather man who talk about the 'normal' temperature (yes, I guess I'm that bored) because I think they're in cahoots with the nutjobs. What's a 'normal' temperature? The temperature 10 years ago? 25 years ago? 100 years ago? Hell, I think the 'normal' temperature is the one it is outside right now. I mean, space aliens aren't using a death ray to bake/freeze the planet. As well, if you lived in some freak place where it cycled 30 degrees for four days and then 100 degrees the fifth day and back around, you'd have snooty weather man talking about how weird the temperature was from the 'normal' temperature of 44 degrees. Of course it's not the normal temperature at all since it's never that temperature - it's the average.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Another Urinal of Interest

Cecil Adams usually has lame 'link of the day's, but this one's interesting for it's $7,000 urinals...


Professional Football Gambler

Most of the time when players opt for free agency, it's because they know they have an almost definite offer on the table which will pay more than the contract with their current team. However, it looks like one Cleveland Brown started believing his own press.

Cleveland Brown's (former) left tackle Ross Verba was sick of playing for the Browns, which given their back to back 3 and 13 record, is pretty understandable. From The Plain Dealer:
Verba vocalized his desire to be released when the club reacted coolly to his demand for a new contract and then signed free agent L.J. Shelton to replace him. He had two years left at a $2.9 million annual salary.
Three million a year! That's a lot of cash! I guess the Houston Texans is the team most interested in picking up Verba (well, apparently the only team), and what's their killer offer?
In a one-year contract situation, the Texans are potentially offering the minimum base salary to Verba, which would be just $665,000, commensurate to his number of credited seasons in the league.
Whoops!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Korean Hate Watch

Justin links to a site that has pictures of an art display in Korea that consists of art produced by school kids. The one that stuck out at me was the one below...

A volcano, which is quite noticeably in North Korea, spewing forth destruction upon Japan. It reminds me of the story told by an American visiting North Korea where he saw Korean schoolkids, who were actually inhabitants of Japan, singing patriotic songs (i.e. commie) about the destruction of the U.S., Japan, etc. Old Kim knows how to play this up, and I often question how much more the apparently ignorant South Koreans trust the Loon of the North over Japan.

Update (6/25/05): Eric dropped me a note to bring up the fact that these works of art are from South Korean School kids. I didn't think to note it since the country is always depicted as one in map form on the art, so obviously they themselves don't see much of a difference (though they always use the South Korean flag instead). Unification may be a dream of some sort for the South Koreans, but they should draw some caution from the woes of German re-unification.

Update (6/27/05): I chanced upon the web site of the American who visited North Korea, this is what he said:
One of the largest North Korean hard currency sources is donations from these 'overseas compatriots' in Japan. Chances are, if you've ever played pachinko in Japan (since most pachinko parlors are owned by these Korean-Japanese) a part of what you paid was donated to North Korea.

The students we saw were part of a North Korea affiliated high school in Japan. While we talked and took pictures they took turns breaking into smaller groups to sing songs eulogizing the two Kims, North Korea, Juche, etc. The singing and, apparently very real, fervor were unbelievable. Even Mr. Baek was giving them some odd looks as they continued their emotional, non-stop singing. To grow up in a place as modern and open as Japan yet still subscribe to this ideology and regime . . . wow. The memory of those earnest young faces fervently singing away is one of the strongest of the whole trip.

The left lets us down again...

Interesting that all the liberal Supreme Court justices agreed that it's okay for local governments to steal peoples property for the good of the wealthy developer. This more or less proves the case that the modern American left is more asserting their command and control of society than looking out for the well being of the average American citizen.

Mr. Kendall also comments (much more extensively).

(It is worth noting that the ruling changes nothing in respect to the glorified property theft by local governments. The fact that these schemes are still tolerated around the country is mildly disheartening, though citizens in Westlake,OH recently used a ballot initiative to beat back an attempt to take their property).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bento Watch #19


I had a leftover okonomiyaki, and I added a cucumber salad and a couple lychee fruits (which, although I like the taste, my one buddy referred to as tasting like a crossbreed of strawberries and furniture polish.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Toronto Stay

Toronto turned out to be much larger than I thought it would be, I guess I should have read up on it before they sent me out here.


View from hotel room. Mr Kendall may be careful to note the Hooters on the bottom right portion of the picture.

I managed to check out a Blue Jays game as well...



A beautiful stadium with a retractable roof


Toronto at night


A giant carved moose in the lobby of the hotel.

I can't resist a little bit of commentary here as well. A favorite oft sited stat is that the only countries that ban private health insurance are North Korea, Cuba.....and Canada. Much like Japan, I think the people of Canada deserve better than the lot they draw from their government (also much like Japan, Canada be full of Asians!). I think the parliamentary system of government has proven to be, at best, lacking in many respects; and it has let down more than one country on the planet (the fact that it was recently implemented in Iraq doesn't fill me with a lot of hope).

The Canuckler

I'm out of town for a few days of training in Toronto, Canada. It really is quite a beautiful city, but you'd never know it from their butt ugly airport.


Here's the puddle jumper I took over to Toronto. The puddle in this case being Lake Erie.

And just to show you how advanced the Canadians are...


DJ TIESTO!

Friday, June 17, 2005

HDD Cleaning

I found these puzzling images on my hard drive, where do I get this crap?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Word of the Day

I guess the losers that Coke has on board to do their marketing are going to put out an updated version of the nauseating 'like to buy the world a Coke' commercial. Russ Smith comments:
The retrofitted Coke spot, called 'Chilltop,' shows a bunch of demographically correct young adults on a rooftop in Philly, promoting the forthcoming diet beverage Coke Zero.
Now I want to say I've seen it before, but this is the first time it flew out at me. Of course the dating sidebar ad for the web page hosting the article has pictures of attractive singles that, as a DJ for Oxford's 97X used to say, 'look like the Power Rangers'.

BTW, don't get that Coke Zero, it tastes like crap; stick with Pepsi One if you're into that kind of thing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Long Term View

From a Network Solutions e-mail on domain name (i.e. blogspot.com, etc.) renewals...

100 YEARS! Is that a pony any sane person would bet on with the way technology moves?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bento Watch #18

My buddy sent me over some mystery Japanese packed goods and I decided to check one out today:

It appears to be some sort of canned dim sum (steamed meat dumplings), though they weren't literally canned, just vacu-sealed. They came with a wasabi powder that's...well I don't know since the whole package is in Japanese; so I put it in the steam water. I packed them in this microwavable bowl that my sons $1 ramen noodles came in. Good move since after one taste of these foul little stinkers, I didn't have to feel bad about sealing them up and throwing the whole dam thing away (no wonder he sent them to me...). I also had some noodle thing that's somen instead of ramen and comes with a miso paste for a soup base. Pretty tasty, though not radically different from regular ramen noodles.

Now yesterday though...

My workplace gets deli trays from the local grocery store for their 'working meeting lunches' (which yesterday happened to be with the PO'd Japanese customer of our plant). I never have to attend these wretched affairs myself, but I'm always more than free to make myself a 'dagwood' with the several pounds of top grade cold cuts that are inevitably left over; because no one at those meetings has the balls to make a sandmich like I make 'em!

DROP THE BOMB

I liked the first DDR MAX, but the lack of any feedback from the game made the point at which songs were unlocked feel completely arbitrary. We had played it for a while with what we thought were all the songs when my son unlocked one months after the previous song had been unlocked (even though it was played near constantly). Although the song, 'DROP THE BOMB', appears in other versions, I believe this is the only time this particular mix makes an appearance. I looked it up on the Internet and found that you had to play 500 songs in order to unlock it (or beat the virtually impossible Oni hardcore mode). Of course it wasn't but a few months later that the memory card that contained the save was stolen while I was traveling. Depressed that the fruits of so much physical activity (unusual for me ya' know) were stolen away, I was left with only one alternative (well two, but I didn't want to fork out $40 for the privilege) - play DDR Max until DROP THE BOMB was unlocked again, which I did this morning; more than a year after the last one was taken.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

J-Snack-Attack

Here's a couple Japanese food snacks I've acquired fairly recently:


Hot and Happy Octopus Bites

I don't mind products like this, but I much prefer the shredded variety of squid. These spicy octopus treats were pretty respectable though. How about a close up?


Keep in a sealed bag or the cats will be knocking down your door,



Mystery Squid-on-a-stick

I was reading the engrish on the label...

...and I figured it had to be a bad translation, surely they didn't candy dried squid; they mean it's a treat, as if it were candy, right? (And yes, the label does say "Whenever you cat them...", 'cat' having such a close meaning to 'eat', it's easy to get it screwed up. I might guess that they used a VERY butchered meaning and abbreviation of the word 'concatenate', but I don't think so...)

Unfortunately, the pack contained what appears to be a product that tries to approximate the taste of candied cadaver foot, with a smell strong enough to level a city block. No cats this time, even they weren't into it (despite what the package said).


Japanese Cheetos

I picked these up on a whim at an Asian market, hoping they would taste like a brand of rice cracker my buddy brought back from Japan. Although they don't taste like the product I was looking for, these are quite tasty in their own right. They're basically little, sweetened rice crackers with a hit of roasted seaweed flakes. I've worked these into my general junkfood diet.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bento Watch #17

Chow mein type noodles, shrooms, garlic, onions, tofu and okonomi sauce. I don't mind tofu, but it has absolutely no sticking power - my stomach is always like "that was nice...now when you gonna eat some food?"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bumper Watch

I don't care to have 'bumper sticker' polictical discourse, but I couldn't resist a chuckle when I saw this thing on a car in a local 'burb...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Let Them Eat Walmart

What an idiot. I live up here and I didn't even know this 'Wal-Mart in Cleveland' thing was an issue. The complainers in the city talk about how undesirable the jobs are, which is snobmania to say the least: "Well I would never do a job like that", I'm sure you wouldn't poindexter, but if Wal-Mart can't find anyone who wants to work there, isn't that their problem, not yours? I mean, what kind of jobs do they want? Right now they have 'none', wouldn't Wal-Mart jobs be better than none? Why can't you have more than one kind of Job? I'm sure if they were seasonal jobs down at the stadium that involved putting mustard on dogs, the city jerks would be talking about how corporate welfare was lightening the unemployment roles. I'm equally sure the city would have no problem sucking up to any corporation not named Wal-Mart that seeks to bring the number of jobs A store would bring in.

Well, at least the critics certainly can't cite Wal-Mart was ruining the mystique of the area.

(And yes, I still don't care for Wal-Mart, but at least I'm not so arrogant as to presuppose my shopping preferences should be forced upon the rest of mankind).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bento Watch #16

Pretty simple, steamed carrots, leftover applewood smoked beef, and rice filled tofu pockets.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Rental Maven

Lazy, lazy summer; of course even lazier than you might think. I took the opportunity over the long weekend (and subsequent week) to catch up on some of my rentals:

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The Aviator

Comments: It was okay I guess. It was pretty cool seeing the 'Spruce Goose' fly, something you'll never see in real life.

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House of Flying Daggers

Comments: I don't quite get these high concept kung fu movies. Crouching Tiger was OK, but attempts to make the cheezy respectable come off rather awkwardly. It's like someone got a hold of a really good kung fu movie and took out half the fighting and sucked the rest of the fun out of it by pumping it full of 'female issues'. (As an FYI, Jet Li's Twin Warriors is one of the best Kung Fu movies ever).

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Napoleon Dynamite

Comments:More high school skit than actual movie, I lost interest and turned it off about half way through when I realized it was cutting down on my video game time. It drew some chuckles out of me though. It would probably make for a good movie to watch while trapped on an airplane.

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Tenchu: Fatal Shadows

Comments: The Tenchu series of games seem to get good press (though I always suspected it was because they're about teen girl assassins in hot outfits), so I decided to pick one up. Since the game takes place in medieval Japan, it works better than most stealth games since the lack of any electronic gear makes the limited alerts work. The artwork and level design are also stellar. However, the game reminded me of why I hate stealth games (after MGS2 almost made me forget). First there's the fact that levels must be mastered in order to pass them. Get killed by the last guy on the level? Have fun playing the whole friggin' thing all over again (and again...and again...and...again)! Add to that the fact that the camera was iffy in stealth mode, when timing is of the essence, and the aggravation level goes through the roof. I finally gave up on the game when I tugged left on the movement pad and the character went right, leading to a quick kill - of me, not for me. (Did I mention the hot outfits?)

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Samurai Warriors

Comments: Although developed and published by the same shops as Dynasty Warriors, this iteration found a way to be an inferior product. The Warriors engine is bad for 'disappearing' enemies to keep the framerate humming, but this game one ups previous efforts by a) Not registering hits on vanishing opponents, and b) Making sure the most powerful enemy is one of the first to vanish, inevitably leading you to have your back to a boss and setting you up for a thorough pummeling. Add to that the torturous random castle levels (which much like any randomly created level, is completely bland and pointless), the drab, depressing environments (as opposed to the rather bright Chinese motif of the Dynasty series), and the soul sucking voice acting and I was done with this bad boy.

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God of War

Holy mackerel! It's pretty astonishing when the first five minutes of a game are more fun than the first five hours of play put into the previous two games. This will sound bad, but I knew right away that this game was way too much fun to have been developed in Japan - the controls are tight, the difficulty is manageable, the plot makes sense and the hero is, to put it mildly, not a closeted homo (the game, unsurprisingly, turns out to have been developed by Sony's SCEA Santa Monica studios (PDF link)). The artwork is amazing, all the areas look to have been customed designed. Many of the enemy interactions are custom. The hero's moveset is deeper than any fighting game character. It's a bit too heavy on the jumping puzzles for my taste, but there's more than enough favorable content to make up for that. (While searching for in-game pictures, I came across this moral lamenter who took it upon himself to play the whole game, he mentions the following aspects which I missed:
- Ripping the heads off of gorgons
- Tearing undead soldiers completely in half
- Splitting the head of a minotaur in half by shoving a blade through its mouth
- Breaking the back of a siren and snapping her in half like a twig
- Standing on the back of a harpy and ripping its wings off
- Cutting the legs out from under a centaur and then slitting its throat
- Various other forms of decapitating, eviscerating, and amputating limbs of enemies.

Oh yeah, and he forgot the cool one where he impales the knight on his own sword and kicks his feet out so that he lands on it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Court Overturns Arthur Andersen Conviction

From WaPo -Court Overturns Arthur Andersen Conviction:
The ruling [in a unanimous opinion no less!] is a setback for the Bush administration, which made prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following accounting scandals at major corporations.
Setback for Bush!!?! F@#$ Bush on this, what about all the wealth that was destroyed, and the poor people who had to find another job?
...the conviction of the Chicago firm forced it to surrender its accounting license and stop conducting public audits. Some 28,000 workers had to find other jobs, and the company was left a shell of its former self.
Nice job a$$, all that destruction for some good publicity.
I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. It doesn't matter if a business shreds documents if they fit in with the document retention policy of the organization. The mail server where I work even has the capability to force delete old e-mails for exactly this purpose. Of course everyone at my company is a royal pack rat, so we don't use that particular feature; but this conviction forced everyone to be a pack rat:
A ruling against Andersen would have had onerous consequences for businesses, whose discarding of files is an everyday occurrence. Experts say companies would have to keep all files for fear that any disposal, however innocent, could subject them to potential prosecution.
According to Andersen attorneys, notes and drafts of documents were thrown away under the firm's document-retention policy in part because they were preliminary and could have been misconstrued.
The woes of arbitrary 'justice'. Shudder in fear should the feds take an interest in your place of work!

UPDATE: it appears the Supreme Court agrees (PDF link) with my statement on document retention:
Under ordinary circumstances, it is not wrongful for a manager to instruct his employees to comply with a valid document retention policy, even though the policy, in part, is created to keep certain information from others, including the Government.