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04/14/08

  11:31:25 pm, by Nimble   , 67 words  
Categories: Restaurants, Thoughts

Final Death of an Iconic Restaurant

The Westin's iconic, classy Owl's Nest restaurant, after morphing into the "O. N. Grill", which I did not have the chance to visit, has finally packed it in. What do we have there instead? A Keg.

I do not like fancy restaurants, by and by, but the Owl's Nest was one of those few such places that were worth the experience.

I will miss you, Owl's Nest.

03/30/08

  12:52:09 pm, by Nimble   , 3060 words  
Categories: Journal

Adventure With Cellulitis

On Sunday, one of the scratches on my leg was getting somewhat infected-looking. I had been feeling like I was coming down with something, but it felt like the flu or a cold. I had a sore throat. There was the stress of moving, and a lack of sleep from the dogs joining us after a week of the in-laws graciously taking care of them, to keep them out of the painters' hair.

The wound looked a little ugly, but contained. It was not to remain so, however.

I went to work on Monday, feeling just bagged tired. I attributed it to lack of sleep. It felt like lack of sleep, anyhow. I plodded along at work, working on some simpler visual program bits instead of deep design, but eventually, I just had to give up. In addition to feeling tired, I felt nauseous. I told Keith that I must have mischaracterized what it was. There was a red streak in both directions around the wound on my leg.

I headed home for the first sick day I had taken in... well, I can't remember (apart from the one obligatory for laser eye surgery). I just don't take sick days; I don't require them.

I must have been feeling wretched. I remember how incredibly long the transit rides and waits seemed that day.

Full story »

02/23/08

  03:53:07 am, by Nimble   , 178 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense

Calgary Transit's Sonic Assault

Well, well.

I just had to blog about high-frequency young-person annoyance devices, didn't I?

Just this past week, Calgary Transit has been piping in a rising and falling very high pitch tone at McKnight station...

JERKS!

It's pretty much constant, except for when they play the jungle bird sounds (I kid you not), but this respite is all too brief.

This is all great fun sitting on the LRT platform, waiting for a train to arrive (our bus driver has been several minutes late most of this week, just making us miss the usual train), with nowhere else to go with this bloody high-pitched siren noise, with no loiterers anywhere around to justify playing the sound. I wouldn't mind it so mind if it were driving roving gangs of yobs away, but to just leave it playing in a bloody loop!

It penetrates the train car when the doors are open, leaves my ears ringing for a good 10-20 minutes afterwards, and has made me cranky all this week.

Time for that great Canadian tradition: the written complaint letter!

02/16/08

  12:14:48 pm, by Nimble   , 559 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Religion, Science

In Which Ben Stein Shows His Edumacation

I've been a little preoccupied answering and posing questions over on the Expelled! blog. It's a blog related to the upcoming movie, Expelled!, which purports to show how "mean Big Science" is "unfairly oppressing" "noble truth-seeking Intelligent Design proponents". That's a lot of scare quotes to put around something, but that's because the movie is by all credible reports is little more than an exercise in swiftboating. It was projected to be such a movie, the blog entries and trailers led credence to it being such a movie, and Dan Whipple's review clinches it.

With all the protestation from the main personalities associated with this movie about "free speech", when really, as university and college employees, it should be all about doing your job, which also includes academic and intellectual integrity, it is funny to me that their press conferences are all about softball pre-screened questions.

Even there, with a chance to make sure that Ben Stein comes out looking good, he managed some total howlers. Dan Whipple lets us in on the story again.

To quote from the media extravaganza (all the quotes that follow are from the Expelled staff's transcript of the phone call):

Paul Lauer: You mentioned that Darwinism appears to be lacking on certain fronts. From your research, and your travels, and interviews with many different scientists, what are some of the areas that scientists are, perhaps, increasingly saying are problematic with the theory of, Darwin's Theory of Evolution?

Ben Stein:Well, just a couple of them, I've already hit one is: Where did life come from? Second one is: How did the cell get so complex? Third one, which I think is overwhelming, and just sort of blows the whole theory of Random Mutation out of the water, is, at least, let me say, raises big questions, that is. Assuming it all did happen by Random Mutation and Natural Selection, where did the laws of gravity come from. Where did the laws of thermodynamics come from? Where did the laws of motion and, of heat come from? Where, I guess that's the same as thermodynamics. Where did all these laws, that make it possible for the universe to function, where did they all come from? Why isn't all just chaos and everything collapsing in on itself and killing everything? I think that`s where the universe works. Who created these perfect laws, that keeps the planet in motion, keeps the blood pumping through our bodies? So, I think, all these are giant questions that need answers.

Assuming it all did happen by Random Mutation and Natural Selection, where did the laws of gravity come from??!???? .. ?!????

That's not just stupid. That's napalm stupid. The stupid, it burns, and it doesn't stop.

Ben Stein, you may be trivia smart, but your pretensions to knowledge outside your field are inexcusable. Evolution is a result of other natural laws. Nobody in their right mind claims it's the other way around, and that's not even a good argument against those physics oddjobs who claim spawned universes with different laws of physics... and it still wouldn't be an argument against biological evolution.

Mind you, this whole escapade could end up being a Visine-for-the-brain learning opportunity for the entire country for those who realize what a gaffe-a-pa-looza this is, and might be able to shake religious moderates out of their reverie.

02/13/08

  12:29:13 am, by Nimble   , 141 words  
Categories: Distractions

Seeing Through Simulated Colour-Blind Eyes

There is a nifty site called VisCheck, a particularly interesting feature of which is the feature they have to show a web page as it appears to the colour-blind.

It simulates three kinds of colour-blindness: Deuteranope, Protanope and Tritanope. Deuteranope and Protanope are two different kinds of red-green blindness, although in Protanopia, the reds are actually dimmer or more invisible than in Deuteranopia.

Full story »

  12:00:45 am, by Nimble   , 14 words  
Categories: Announcements [A]

Happy Darwin Day

Darwin Day

It's his 199th birthday! Stay safe, and keep yourself in the gene pool, kiddies!

02/12/08

  08:31:02 pm, by Nimble   , 328 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Common Sense

Too High A Hearing Range

Adam was wondering about my 17.4 kHz comment...

What it relates to is that there's a device in Britain which uses high frequencies to annoy teenagers away from the premises:

A controversial weapon in the war against antisocial behaviour should be banned, the children's commissioner will warn this week in a move that threatens a new Whitehall battle over 'hoodies' rights'.

The row centres on the so-called Mosquito, a £500 device that emits a high-pitched whine loud enough to drive away teenagers in the vicinity. Marketed as the 'ultrasonic teenage deterrent', it is increasingly being adopted by shopkeepers, local councils and even private homeowners to disperse gangs of young people because it operates on a frequency that can be detected only by under-25s, whose hearing is more acute.

If you want to check out your hearing, you can check out the Mosquito Ringtones site. It's particularly amusing that someone pointed this out, because this relies on the same hearing differences, in this case, to be able to sneak things by adults.

I found through this that I can hear up to 17.4 kHz (I'm fairly sure my headphones are reproducing the even-higher pitches), which is a good 13 years or so out of my age range. 17.0 kHz and below is particularly annoying. This might put me in the range of the Mosquito's output, since it sends out a modulated frequency between 17.5 and 18.5 kHz.

That may explain one of the more annoying episodes I had once upon a time at work, where they put a server in my room that ended up squealing at a particularly high frequency and driving me mad, and I begged and pleaded for the server to be placed elsewhere. Clearly, though, people thought I was crazy, for they heard nothing.

We'll see how this British thing pans out. It's supposed to not be painful, just annoying, and takes a little while to become annoying, etc. etc. but I'll leave such judgment for my first encounter with one.

02/10/08

  05:39:59 pm, by Nimble   , 390 words  
Categories: Reviews, Books, Science

Fantastic Voyage : Kurzweil and Grossman

Fantastic Voyage: The Science Behind Radical Life Extension, is a bit of a weird book.

Full story »

02/07/08

  02:37:17 am, by Nimble   , 341 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Ethics, Politics, Religion

Levantine

I doubt that I would see eye to eye with Ezra Levant on many things. The Reform Party is pretty antithetical to my views, and even within the Reform Party context, I thought Preston Manning was a gentleman, and Stockwell Day, whom Ezra supported, was a man who couldn't keep his religious fantasy out of his politics.

That aside, there is a shameful thread that ties the threats against Jyllands-Posten for posting cartoons depicting Muhammed to the threats of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission against Ezra Levant.

You can read the original complaint by Syed Soharwardy to the Commission. This is not a worthy complaint, on top of which Syed seems to go into great detail about why the caricatures were so offensive - by cherry-picking the Qur'an and avoiding abrogation and the Hadith considered canonical by many Muslims, in particular the more militant sects like the Wahhabi/Salafi sects that have caused Saudi Arabia to react by clamping down on moderates.

The complaint also comes only after trying unsuccessfully to get the police to arrest Ezra for publishing the cartoons (!).

That's not to say that an organization like the AHRCC would not be a useful thing, but they should have had processes for discarding this tribunal in the early stages.

In my estimation, this farce will cause more to damage general relations with the Muslim community than the publication of the cartoons could ever "hope" to do, if that ever was their intent.

I've been impressed at the outpouring of support, and that includes all manner of people who do not share his political views. One of my favourite grumpy heathens, Pat Condell, has a brilliant rant.

Some of the critics have been pretty decent in their response, some less so. I'm a bit disappointed that it looks like Ezra may engage in libel chill instead of issuing his own statements, though I guess I'd marginally agree with the commenters that in that case, at least, it's him shelling out for his own legal fees with definite legal processes.

02/06/08

  01:06:27 am, by Nimble   , 238 words  
Categories: Internet, Spamming

Phishers Impersonating Paypal

Just poking a quick heads-up here, since this particular scam isn't being caught by some anti-phishing filters. It's entitled "PayPal Resolution Center - Remove Account Limitations", and it points here.

You get the typical bullshit that phishers use to scare you into clicking:

Notice of account temporary suspension

Dear PayPal Member :

#

we were unable to process your most recent payment. did You recently change Your bank,Phone to ensure that Your Service is not interrupted, please Update Your Account Information Today,by

Or Contact Paypal ® Member Services Team. We're Available 24 Hours aday, 7days aweek.

Security Advisory: When you log in to your PayPal account, be sure to open up a new web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Netscape) and type in the PayPal URL to make sure you are on the real PayPal website.
For more information on protecting yourself from fraud, please review the Security Tips in our Security Center.

Click Here Remove Your Limitations Here

If this situation is not solved within the next 24 hours your account will be permanently suspended.

Sincerely,
PayPal Resolution Center

Ah yes, and what phish scam wouldn't be complete without a link for tips on protecting yourself from fraud. Funny stuff.

It looks like a pretty simple script. It doesn't use any credit card checksum verifiers or anything, so feel free to flood these assholes with either abuse or plausible-looking information that they will spend a while trying before they discard.

01/27/08

  12:05:20 am, by Nimble   , 91 words  
Categories: Distractions

What Brings Out The Hulk

I like the little story behind the Hulk Out List, that Kevin Koster, assistant director of JAG, just passed Kenneth Johnson a list of all the reasons that made Bill Bixby's skin turn green and destroy yet another shirt, but not the pants.

As detailed as it is, I wish it had references. #106, poison sushi?

I guess if I'm ever crazy enough to own the whole series and then also crazy enough to watch it, I'm going to have to have a printout of this list to check these things off :)

01/25/08

  03:05:38 am, by Nimble   , 602 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Science

Quantum And Consciousness - Gah!

If discoveries with the advance of time have taught us anything, it's that despite how special humans are, we have been removed from occupying front and center stage of the entire universe. The corollary of this is that if you look into the universe and see something pointing right back at you, you should double-check your work.

It seems, though, that wherever we have anything for which we lack all the details, and one of those things involves humans, someone is trying to tie them together. It's Human Chauvinism of the Gaps, and it often travels under some respectable cover.

Full story »

01/18/08

  12:23:23 am, by Nimble   , 656 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Spamming

The High Price of IQ Test Sponsors

Online IQ tests are ever so much fun, especially when you do well in them, especially after someone issues a challenge. Such was the case with the popular IQ Test on Facebook.

Nevertheless, there was one question I didn't like - I've taken many such tests and I could swear that one of the questions in this one had multiple answers - and so I wanted to know which question it was that I got wrong and what the answer was.

Well, you have two options: you can either break out PayPal or you can kindly go through pages that are sponsored by companies.

What do you suppose is through door number two?

Full story »

01/06/08

  12:59:53 pm, by Nimble   , 298 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense

Alphabetizing the DVD Collection

It was about high time to redo the DVD collection, which had been accumulating without room to put the titles. Well, we ejected the VHS tapes, and the photo frame, and the microbes, and were on a mission to sort the whole collection...

There may be nicer ways of doing this, but when you have a collection that is almost entirely out of order, this brute-force approach works quite well.

I started a spreadsheet - I used OpenOffice Calc, but Excel, of course, works in a pinch. I made a few columns (I was interested, for example, in which ones were special editions and whether the DVDs were fullscreen/standard, widescreen or both), the most important of which, for sorting, were simply name and a "pile number".

I brought up stacks of DVDs, 10-20 titles in a pile, and entered their names. I entered a pile number for the whole lot of them (in Calc, you enter it once, Copy it, highlight all the other cells and Paste it to save you some typing) and then I sorted that pile alphabetically, and then placed it strategically on the floor. I repeated this for the entire collection, which does take a while!

I then sorted the spreadsheet by the column with the movie name in it, and printed the thing.

With each pile sorted, as long as you know the rules by which computers sort text, the next title to put up in the shelves is always on the top of one of the piles, but the pile number still comes in quite handy. This part is quite the back workout, but took us a relatively short amount of time.

It's a lot easier with a collection that's already sorted, of course :)

What techniques for sorting your DVDs have you used?

01/03/08

  08:31:00 pm, by Nimble   , 57 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

DNA Through Coder's Eyes

The site DNA seen through the eyes of a coder is a pretty decent introduction to how DNA and some of the surrounding processes work.

Some things are a little hard to make analogies for - it doesn't go much into good analogies for proteins and protein transcription itself, for example, but I can't fault it too much :)

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