December 2004 Archives

Star Wars Stuff

| | Comments (0)
I just watched the Star Wars trilogy on DVD. I'd heard about how they changed Han Solo from making a preemptive attack on Greedo, but I didn't know they removed the Yub-Yub song from the end of Return of the Jedi! And just when I thought that was the worst Lucas could do ... they show Hayden Christensen as the spirit form of Anakin Skywalker.

George Lucas, you, sir, are a cad.

Re: Any number large enough

| | Comments (0)
TorgoX quotes someone else, "How many more nations will have to, for example, prove that gun licensing works, or that gay-marriage legislation is a moral imperative, or that health care for all is mandatory for a nation's well being, before America finally looks at itself and says, whoa, damn, we are so silly and small and wrong?"

There's no evidence that gun licensing "works," and even if it did, it would say little if anything about whether or not it is compatible with liberty, which is the entire point.

There's no evidence that gay marriage legislation is a moral imperative, as this is opinion, not fact.

There's no evidence that universal health care is a good thing; indeed, there is more hard evidence against it than for it, as it tends to screw an economy, hurt jobs, decrease the average quality of care, and thereby lower the overall national "well being."

Precisely how "more nations" can "prove" things that no nations are currently proving is a mystery.

Return of the King DVDs

| | Comments (0)
Two years ago, I got Fellowship of the Ring extended edition on DVD, a few days before it was slated for release. The next year, I got The Two Towers in the same way. This year, I could not find Return of the King early, but instead got it the day after it was released, and then the first disc was corrupted so I had to return it a few days later and get a new copy.

I think I used up all my karma on the first two films!

But it does look good. I have another new TV (the HD TV I had new last year was a lemon), and I watched all three films over three nights. Amazing stuff. I only half-watched RotK as I had some work to do, but I will watch it again soon anyway. :-)

Voting For Electors

| | Comments (0)
My idea: vote for electors a year or two before the Presidential election.

You vote for actual electors, not who those electors are pledged to. You vote for people you respect, who are knowledgeable, before you even know who the candidates are (except, perhaps, for the case of a first-term President).

This would have one big obvious problem: if you vote for an elector because you like/dislike the incumbent, your feelings could change by the time the Presidential election comes around. But this should only make us more willing to vote for electors regardless of their party affiliation, picking people who can make good choices for the people they represent.

And of course, it would only further entrench the electoral college, which some people don't like anyway. But I don't care: that's not the topic here. If you don't like the whole idea of the electoral college, that's a separate issue.

It would produce tremendous benefits. To a greater degree, candidates would be campaigning on a higher level, not needing to talk down to Americans, because their audience is the electors. The primaries and caucuses would not change much, except that they would not need to hold them all so early, because there's less need to get them over with to get the campaigning started.

And of course, it would help provide some of the benefits Hamilton discussed in Federalist 68. One of the main reasons they had the electoral college was to decrease the tumult and disorder caused by everyone voting for the one man to lead us. Clearly, this objective is not being fulfilled, and this plan would help fulfill it: we go back to voting for several instead of one, and we get it out of the way a long time prior, even before we know who the candidates are.

And because the campaigns would cost less and rely less on good press, that means the candidates would also be less beholden to special interests, whether corporate or Congressional, helping to fulfill others of Hamilton's most important desires.

Of course, this won't ever happen, because the people erroneously believe their voice is more likely to be heard the closer they get to direct elections. The truth is quite the opposite. The more direct voice we have in who the President is, the less actual voice we have, because there are too many factors more powerful than our voices: the press, money, the party machines, and our own fickle natures.

I am not against democracy, but I think the Framers were wise to keep Senators and Presidents out of the direct hands of the people, and put a buffer in place, and that buffer has already been all but destroyed. Whether or not you agree with that buffer, it is all but gone, and we should either re-establish it (and this is one plan to do so), or finish the job by moving to direct election (which will give us far more chaos and special interests and pain than we have now ...).

Music RSS Feed

| | Comments (0)
I put up an RSS feed on my music page.

I'd thought about doing it, but never got around to it until brian d foy gave me a nudge. Why do we not do things we want to do until someone asks us?


| | Comments (0)
Maybe something like this already exists, but I just wrote a quick little script that I call "highlight." It takes one argument, then reads STDIN and highlights that string on output with ANSI coloring (red).

my $word = shift;
while (<>) {

So I can do fun things like:

% somebigdebuggingoutput | highlight 'what i am looking for'

It works great in conjunction with ls, locate, grep, etc.

The Daily Show Phenomenon

| | Comments (0)
I love The Daily Show. I watch every episode, and usually laugh a heck of a lot when I do.

But I have a problem with the show. Well, not the show per se, but the fact that so many people take what Jon Stewart says seriously, when he is in fact joking.

Like last night, Stewart was taking shots at the people Bush gave medals to for their work on the war on terror: George Tenet, J. Paul Bremer, and others. Stewart made it sound like these people should be marched up and shot, instead of honored.

There's a grain of truth in that, since they did make mistakes, but of course, reality is more complex. But humor does not like complexity. So Stewart simplifies things into black and white terms and exploits it for a well-deserved laugh.

That's all well and good, but people then take this seriously. They say, yeah, Stewart's right, George Tenet really WAS totally incompetent!

And this reaction is pervasive. You hear it in the audience reactions every night, you see it on IRC and in Slashdot discussions, you hear it all the time. I know it's not only TDS that feeds into this simpleton mindset, but it seems to be the most common precursor.

I suppose there's not much that can be done about it. People will continue to be simplistic and cynical and hateful; it's the nature of man. But it does get tiring, especially since these people partially ruin what is otherwise a good show by turning it into a spokesman for their stupid little causes, whatever they are.

But it is not that. It's a bunch of jokes. It's not real. When Stewart says it is fake news, he isn't kidding. It really is fake. Almost everything perspective he gives about current events in his news segments is significantly, intentionally, erroneous in one or more ways. And people who say most of the news they get is from TDS are just wearing a sign saying "I R Ignorant."

The saddest part is that this needs to be said at all.

Fixing Overscan

| | Comments (0)
All TVs have overscan. That is, the picture signal received by the unit is larger than the area that is displayed. This happens for various reasons, mostly good ones. But on a high quality display, you want to see as much of the film as possible on your component or DVI inputs, and any overscan is annoying.

Not only is it bad for a nice film that you want to actually see all of, rather than losing 10-20% to overscan as on most TVs, but it sucks for when you plug your laptop into the DVI input and you have no Dock or menu bar.

So that means going into the service menu to fix it.

I have a Sony KF-60WE610 TV, and the normal things I found for Sony TVs didn't work (perhaps because mine is an LCD?). But I found some clues, and I discovered some things. Here's the procedure I followed.

  • Turn off TV
  • Press Display, 5, Vol+, Power to get to service menu
  • Use Video and Wide until you get the input and aspect ratio to adjust*
  • Put some sort of test pattern on the display (my Avia DVD has an overscan pattern)
  • Press 2 until the top service menu reads "MID4" (MID2 for 480i signals)**
  • Use 1 and 4 to scroll through items under MID4
  • Write down values for DHPL, DHSL, DVPL, DVSL***
  • Adjust the values, starting with *PL (which anchors the top/left part of the picture), then *SL (which stretches/shrinks the picture)
  • Make sure to check the geometry too, using a test pattern for that (optimized for your aspect ratio)
  • Write down new values when satisfied***
  • Press Mute and Enter to save permanently
  • Power off/on to resume normal operations

* The overscan settings appear to be unique per input/signal type/aspect ratio.

** I used MID4 for my DVD player on Video 5 and MID2 for PS2 on Video 4, even though both are component, because the DVD player uses 480p and the PS2 480i (usually; if I get a 480p game, I'll make sure to calibrate it, later).

*** So you can revert back later if necessary. Once written to NVRAM, it's permanent, so keep a written record!

Magic Bathroom

| | Comments (0)
mako132 notes that he does some of his best thinking in the bathroom.

Many of us are similar. As Dana Carvey noted in Opportunity Knocks, important decisions are made not in the boardroom, but the bathroom.

It's to the point where if I have a difficult problem to solve, and I run into a mental block, I go to the bathroom, and almost inevitably, I have the solution before I leave, often within a few minutes.

Today I could not figure out a regex problem, so I finally gave up on my own powers and trusted the Magic Bathroom to help me. Well, "trusted" is a bit strong: I brought Camel 3 with me. But after a few moments I put it down, and trusted in the Bathroom. A minute or so later, I had the answer.

I washed my hands and returned quickly to the computer and typed it in, and it worked. And then I had to have a coworker help explain to me why it worked. I think the Bathroom revealed this to me, but it didn't stick. Or maybe it didn't reveal it all to me, but just what was necessary.

Whatever. I love you, Magic Bathroom.


| | Comments (0)
Today UPS brings some capacitors to me so I can try to repair my dead graphite AirPort base station. I've essentially verified it's the two capacitors that are blown; hopefully, I can fix the sucker up.

I gave it to my father-in-law, and he needs it to connect to a modem connection, so third-party options are limited for replacement, and the Apple replacement costs about $200. I could always give him mine with a modem and buy a new one, but I want one with an antenna port (which I am planning on buying soon, the Dr. Bott one), and only the $200 base station has an antenna port.

So I am hoping this $13.50 repair ($1 parts, the rest shipping and handling) will take care of it.

If I don't post a followup soon, it's because I burned my fingers and can't type.

Intel Bill

| | Comments (0)
So many people have attacked Rep. Duncan Hunter over refusing to support the intelligence bill, because, in his opinion, it did not protect the access that battlefield commanders had to tactical information on the ground.

How is this worthy of being attacked? It's a perfectly valid concern, and obviously many other people shared it because they followed his lead. And now, as soon as that one issue is resolved, Hunter supported the bill, and the House passed it.

This is how legislation is supposed to work. Don't slam people for raising concerns and then voting accordingly.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner is another story. He is opposing the bill not because of what is in it, but because of what is not in it, and what is not in it is something that has nothing to do with the core purpose of the bill: reforming the intelligence community. He opposes it because the bill doesn't have provisions about immigration reform.

His immigration concerns are valid, but beside the point. There should be a separate bill about immigration reform, because it is a separate -- though related -- issue. Why refuse to pass a bill we have ready to go now to try to include something that will make the bill take much longer to pass?

The answer is clear: it will be harder to pass an immigration bill, and Sensenbrenner was trying to force people to agree to those controversial provisions by piggybacking on a bill they are ready to vote for.

Don't lump Hunter and Sensenbrenner together. One was blocking a bill that he believed would do harm. The other is blocking a bill because he was unable to attach controversial and off-topic provisions to it.

New Year

| | Comments (0)
About this time every year, I am puzzled by why people make such a big deal over the fact that the calendar year increments by one.

So I wrote a song about it. And now I have recorded it. Well, I recorded it before, but it was a crummy demo with the PowerBook mic. So I recorded it anew with GarageBand and stuff. Go listen to it!


New Year

It's a new year
And it's been a long time
It's been a long time since last year
It's been a whole year

Well, it gets a guy to thinking
About the time that passes by
Lots of time in one year
365 and 1/4 days

And I can't go back
I can't go back to last year
'Coz there's one whole year between us

365 days
Or maybe 366
I can't remember
It's been a long year

12 months
365 days
8,760 hours
525,600 minutes
31,536,000 seconds
It's been a long year

And it's been a long time
It's been a long time
It's been a long time
It's been a long time
It's been a long time since last year
It's been a long year

Module Updates

| | Comments (0)
I've started going through some long lost bug reports for my modules. Hooray. I've gone through most of what I have in RT, except for MP3::Info. Next up, I go through all my e-mail for ones saved there, getting through non-MP3::Info bugs. Then I do all the MP3::Info bugs.

I'm putting that MP3::Info to the end, in case it wasn't clear by now ... it's not been updated in nearly two years, and I have a small pile to get through; most are not serious, just lots of little things, but will take some testing, etc.

I am thinking of giving up MP3::Info after the next update. I don't use it much anymore, as I've recently reripped my entire CD collection to AAC with iTunes.

Mac-Glue-1.22 Released

| | Comments (0)
Mac-Glue-1.22 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.22, Monday, December 6, 2004
   local()ize $MacPerl::Target in Mac::Glue::Common. (Alan Olsen)
   Fix bundle targetting under Jaguar. (Ken Williams)

Posted using release by brian d foy.
Mac-AppleEvents-Simple-1.15 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.15, Monday, December 7, 2004
   warn, don't die, if app path cannot be found, because we might
   succeed anyway (if LaunchServices DB not updated for some reason,
   and app is open).

Posted using release by brian d foy.

Mac-Apps-Launch-1.91 Released

| | Comments (0)
Mac-Apps-Launch-1.91 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.91, Monday, December 6, 2004
   Fix tests for when launched apps are already open.

Posted using release by brian d foy.

Energizer Election

| | Comments (0)
What's been happening in the Washington state governor race:

Republican Dino Rossi was declared governor-elect this week by the Secretary of State, after winning the recount by 42 votes.

The state Democratic party vowed to call for an additional recount, as is their right. They can call for recounts only in certain places, or statewide. They must make a payment of $.25 per vote for a hand recount, $.15 for machine. If the recount overturns the result, they get their money back. If it is a *partial* recount that overturns the result, then a full recount (paid for by the state) results.

John Kerry gave them a third of the money they needed, $250,000. Howard Dean made a nationwide appeal for donations that brought in much of the rest.

Everyone knew a partial recount was politically a no-win for the Democrats. If they lose, they just wasted everyone's time. If they win, then they waste everyone's time AND money, especially if the statewide recount flips it back to Rossi. So a full recount is the only good way to go.

After realizing that the money would be there for a full recount, Democrat Christine Gregoire said she would concede unless they had a full recount. (Magnanimous of her, don't you think?)

The Democrats ponied up the dough, and filed a lawsuit with the state supreme court to change the way votes are counted.

The (Republican) Secretary of State announced that no new votes would be included in this recount. It would be a recount: the exact same number of ballots in the last count would be in this count. This is vitally important, because it's the difference between trying to scrounge around for votes, and making sure we counted the votes properly the last time.

I have no problem with a recount, per se. Follow the legal process. And I am glad this will be a real recount, not including additional votes. I am not even necessarily against the Democrat's lawsuit, if they can prove that the current rules violate someone's rights under the state Constitution (I doubt that is provable, but I don't know the state law or Constitution well [note that Bush v Gore can apply, since though this is not an election for national office, the 14th Amendment specifically includes "the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof"]).

But what really bugs me is the idea that a hand recount is necessarily more accurate. Maybe in the case of punchcard ballots it would be, since we know those have many physical problems more easily identifiable by hand. But optical scanners do not have such significant issues, and the possibility of simple miscounting by human handling is likely greater than the possibility of machine error.

Anyway, this whole thing should be over by December 23, said the Secretary of State, barring legal challenges.

Which means it probably won't be over by December 23.

Christmas Music Fun

| | Comments (0)
Try sorting your Christmas music playlist by song name. Then compare the different versions of each song!

In ascending order of preference, of the versions of Rudolph, I like John Williams/Boston Pops, then Burl Ives (from the Rankin-Bass special), then Barenaked Ladies, then The Ventures. BNL's is a nice jazzy little number, but it just doesn't have the raw rockin' energy of The Ventures. Of course, Burl Ives is the classic rendition, but it's just a bit overdone.
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2004 is the previous archive.

January 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.