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:: Friday, August 31 2007 ::

Random tech post - I saw this last week, and someone has a working demo now, apparently. TechCrunch pointed out this video of a method of resizing images that detects 'seams' in the image, and expands them. So, for example, make the big blue sky bigger, but don't stretch the people on the beach. You have to see it to really get it, but it's probably something you'll be seeing really really soon on your favourite websites.
:: David (10:08 in Michigan, 16:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Thursday, August 30 2007 ::

I hadn't heard about this before, but apparently R.A. Salvatore, a fantasy author well known for his books set in the Forgotten Realms, has gotten involved with a video game company, building a massive online game. His explanation, in a recent interview, for why he got involved is interesting - he describes his first visit to an online game:

"Just keep running!" they implored me, because so many monsters wanted to make a snack of my low-level avatar. But I didn't want to keep running. I wanted to walk, slowly, and to see everything. I didn't just want to kill monsters, I wanted to know why they were there (besides giving me something to smash). Why were there camps of bandits? Why floating disembodied eyes in the gorge? What was the story behind the goblins in Runnyeye?
and how the visit made him realize that his role as a creator of entertainment (in his case, fantasy novels) was going to change dramatically:
I knew my job as a novelist, as I said before. I invite you the reader to adventure along with my characters on some epic quest. In a video game such as the one I'm now working on with 38 Studios, that job changes profoundly, because the most important character in this adventure will be, has to be, the one you, the player, creates. You don't want me or any other author writing your adventure for you; you want to "write" it yourself, through your adventuring. My job, the designer's job, then, is to make a world both fantastical and believable, a world that makes sense.
It's an interesting idea, and one that TV people have been talking about for years and years (remember 'interactive TV'? The idea that never took off? Yeah...). I expect he has a very good idea of where things are headed, or at least one direction they are headed.
:: David (10:36 in Michigan, 16:36 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, August 29 2007 ::

A friend asked me to defend liberalism, and I got up on my soapbox. I reproduce it here:

Liberal is tough - it's like that whole 'turn the other cheek' thing (I would argue they are very closely related). I believe in certain absolutes - good and evil, for example. I think helping other people is good, absolutely (knowing -how- to help people can be tough, but that's a different question). Generally speaking conservatives believes people help themselves. I don't disagree that we have a responsibility to care for ourselves, but I do believe that most people who are poor, uneducated, etc. are not that way because they are lazy or stupid, but because they didn't have the opportunities necessary to pull themselves up. I also believe, no matter how lazy or stupid you might be, that leaving you to sleep under a bridge and wade through garbage for food is immoral. I am (relatively) rich, you are poor. Am I impoverished if I give you a small portion of what I have so you can have enough to survive? No. Even a tax higher than any that currently exists would leave me well enough off to be comfortable. Obviously even better than treating the symptom, however, is treating the cause - education can save us so much money in the long run.
That's all - thought I would share.
:: David (10:08 in Michigan, 16:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

I know I'm not supposed to be in the market for a camera, but if I were, the EXILIM EX-V8 and Optio Z10 would be at the top of my list. How in the world do you get a 7x zoom in a camera that skinny?
:: David (9:23 in Michigan, 15:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

So we headed up to Pine Knob (a pseudo-local concert location which is actually a big hill they let you sit on for fifty bucks while a band plays at the bottom) to watch Rush last night. Overall a rather mundane concert, promoting the band's '100th or 200th album' as the lead singer put it, but it had some humorous moments, as when they showed the south park versions of themselves playing one of their songs as lead in to actually performing it. The high point, however, may have been when the lead singer, Geddy Lee, pulled out his handycam to film the crowd, and indicated he was 'on a mission from the Canadian prime minister, Jean Poutine'. See this wikipedia article if you don't get the reference. I can't decide if the audience was intended to get the joke or not, but we laughed, anyway.
:: David (9:08 in Michigan, 15:08 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, August 28 2007 ::

Oh, this is fun. Take a modern product. Reimagine what the ad campaign would have looked like 50, 75, 100 years ago. Gizmodo pointed me to the contest at worth 1000. It's worth taking a look!
:: David (12:12 in Michigan, 18:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

To watch in the coming weeks: Turkey. They just elected a new president, who is a little too religious for the staunchly secular military. Could be some fun times ahead - we might even get a coup if we're lucky!
:: David (10:34 in Michigan, 16:34 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 27 2007 ::

A successful weekend of ebaying - assuming there are no problems at the post office, the whole matter will be out of my hands by this afternoon. I hadn't realized how many fees there are associated with auctioning an item - we'll be paying somewhere between five and ten percent of the total on various fees. Admittedly, this probably includes three percent to some credit card or another.
:: David (9:20 in Michigan, 15:20 in Paris) - Comment

The BBC is reporting that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned. It will be interesting to see if the next appointee is a moderate.
:: David (9:14 in Michigan, 15:14 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Thursday, August 23 2007 ::

Did you all know that craigslist had added a best of section? It's hilarious! More fun that a barrel of monkeys! Seriously. Be warned - it's also possibly NSFW, and offensive.
:: David (15:54 in Michigan, 21:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Wednesday, August 22 2007 ::

Heh - if you are the CEO of a big company, say, Spirit Airlines, you should be even more careful not to hit the 'reply all' button. Otherwise it will get posted on the internets.
:: David (17:35 in Michigan, 23:35 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, August 21 2007 ::

It's been a crazy busy week, and it looks to continue through the weekend, as we'll have a friend staying with us. I've finally managed to schedule some quality time with a dentist to figure out why the (very expensive) work I had done didn't... ah... work, and in addition all the usual fun and excitement of language study, etc. There's also been a bizarre assortment of random little chores to get done, like paperwork for my new insurance, taking the cat fountain back (we finally decided kitten was unimpressed), etc. I feel like I haven't had time to even read the newspaper!
:: David (17:08 in Michigan, 23:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Sunday, August 19 2007 ::

A nice lazy weekend, for the most part. I got to visit a friend, laze about, do some shopping, and generally relax. I also managed to dispose of three computers over the weekend, listing two on ebay, and giving one away. The one I gave away, an old imac, was sorta funny. I used freecycle, and I posted the message at 2:48pm, according to the official yahoo clock. At 2:55 I had two messages, by 3:01 I had five, etc. The first person in (by seconds) took it away this afternoon. And now we can have our laundry room back!
:: David (23:28 in Michigan, 5:28 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Thursday, August 16 2007 ::

The editor of a UK money magazine was interviewed today on the BBC, and her explanation of the market troubles currently going round the world struck me as amusing enough to note here. Paraphrasing:

Imagine a butcher has ten pork chops, and he knows one of them is bad, but he doesn't know which one. He could take the loss, and not sell any of them. But instead he grinds them all up into sausage, knowing that while people may get sick, they'll only get a little sick. But once word gets out that he put a bad pork chop in the mix, noone wants to buy any of them.
So there you have it - risky loans as bad meat.
:: David (9:25 in Michigan, 15:25 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, August 15 2007 ::

I'm pretty excited about some recent findings concerning Ankgor Wat in Cambodia. According to the BBC, satellite photos indicate the temple complex was much larger than expected, up to 3,000 sq km (1,150 sq miles), and could have supported half a million people, thanks to a complex waterway, also newly discovered. For comparison, Paris at the end of the high middle ages might have had two hundred thousand people.

I visited Cambodia a few years back and jotted down my impressions, as well as taking several photos.
:: David (13:24 in Michigan, 19:24 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, August 14 2007 ::

I know it's obvious. But if you don't think about it, it's pretty easy to buy. The New York Times today decided to debunk the theory that men have more sexual partners than women. The math simply doesn't work.
:: David (8:09 in Michigan, 14:09 in Paris) - Comment

Ah, Fukuoka. I used to visit you at least once a month. Now look at you, with your citizens who assault their neighbours for not participating in the communal exercise event. Where did you go wrong?

To be fair, it's pretty rude not to show up when all your neighbours are doing it, but that doesn't mean they should beat you with a golf club. Thanks to masked owl for digging that up.
:: David (1:03 in Michigan, 7:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Monday, August 13 2007 ::

The French speaker's group I go to met on Sunday to have a quiche party - it was actually pretty funny, as there were at least a half-dozen quiches there and no two were alike. Lots of good conversation (and food), several actual French people, the works! And I finally got to meet the cat I have had many conversations about (it's embarrassing how much like a parent I am when it comes to talking about my cat. Fortunately my friends seem to be forgiving).
:: David (23:57 in Michigan, 5:57 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, August 11 2007 ::

Just in case you thought Canada and Russia were all alone in their various grandstanding attempts to prove they own the north pole (and thus, one presumes, Santa Claus), the Danes are stepping up to prove that they, too, want a piece of the action, with an underwater 'investigation' of whether the north pole is actually part of Greenland (which is, of course, Danish).
:: David (9:38 in Michigan, 15:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Friday, August 10 2007 ::

A local story made the big time, as my alma mater Eastern Michigan University blundered into the spotlight after a student was killed and the administration concealed the details. It's been covered by local papers, the New York Times, and even the Guardian did a little blurb. And of course, the fired pres went on the TV talk show circuit - I saw him while I was at the airport, chatting with Larry King, a well known CNN presenter.
:: David (15:49 in Michigan, 21:49 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Thursday, August 9 2007 ::

Our trip to DC, as told by someone else.
:: David (13:21 in Michigan, 19:21 in Paris) - Comment

Intentional, or accident?

Big Ben to lose its bongs
London's famous 13-ton bell to fall silent for the first time since 1956 for restoration work
Obviously, the story isn't as interesting as the headline.
:: David (11:51 in Michigan, 17:51 in Paris) - Comment

Better to be a housecat than a lion fighting with buffalo and crocodiles. I'm going to sit Mina down and make her watch this video. I was almost surprised the lions didn't wiggle before they struck.
:: David (11:38 in Michigan, 17:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Wednesday, August 8 2007 ::

A local soft drink manufacturer, Faygo, is 100 years old this year. It's always funny when you realize something you've known all your life, and assumed was nationwide, is really a local thing. Of course, I got to do that all over again the first time I went abroad, and realized what wasn't (and what was) worldwide.
:: David (16:09 in Michigan, 22:09 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Tuesday, August 7 2007 ::

This sounds familiar: the IHT is reporting that in Korea, many people are angry at the Korean hostages in Afghanistan for going to a place they were told not to go. They quote one posting on a bulletin board: "let's pray for their safe return, only if to see them kneel down and apologize to the people for the Protestants' arrogant and blatant behavior".
:: David (16:44 in Michigan, 22:44 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 6 2007 ::

The headlines of all the Detroit papers today have variations on a theme: big changes at Chrysler. Two days after the number three American automaker (well, sort of) was purchased by a private equity firm, the top job has been taken over by an outsider known for running a tight ship, often at the expense of employees. People are quite excited about it, at least those who think the American auto makers matter (I am not one of those people, but there are many of them around here).
:: David (14:35 in Michigan, 20:35 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

My French vocabulary word for the day: fièvre aphteuse - in english that's foot and mouth disease. This is in the news because, once again the UK has found animals with the disease. This last happened in 2001, and was quite hard not only on the agricultural sector, but also on tourism, as many sites were closed to prevent the spread of the disease. I was in the UK at the time of the last outbreak, and have several photos showing preventative measures taken, and closed tourist attractions. According to people I spoke to in the tourism industry, last time the response taken by the UK government did more economic damage than the disease itself did, because tourism was so badly hit by the disease. We'll see if the same holds true this time.
:: David (13:11 in Michigan, 19:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Sunday, August 5 2007 ::

Well, it wasn't perfectly on time, but it will do. We're now seated on flight 75 to detroit, and should arrive before 11pm. We went kitten shopping twice with Misty, so we're really looking forward to getting home and seeing Minakitten. She seemed to find a cat, but the process is really drawn out, so we won't know for like a week.
:: David (21:35 in Michigan, 3:35 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Saturday, August 4 2007 ::

We made it to DC without hassle (thank you Southwest airlines!) and now we are enjoying DC traffic. The goal is to get to the Smithsonian, but I'm not sure we'll get there before it closes, as we only have six hours....
:: David (14:19 in Michigan, 20:19 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, August 2 2007 ::

Le Monde reports on the American housing crisis, and its effects on the rest of the world (well, Europe):

In a domino effect, the American housing market crisis looks today to be menacing the stability of the worldwide banking system. In Germany, the serious difficulties of IKB bank, linked to its investments in the US, have provoked a panic in Berlin, to the point that the minister of Finance, Peer Steinbruck, has interrupted his summer vacation. Par un effet domino, la crise du marché immobilier américain semble aujourd'hui menacer la stabilité du système bancaire mondial. En Allemagne, les graves difficultés de la banque IKB, liées à ses investissements aux Etats-Unis, ont provoqué un mouvement de panique à Berlin, au point d'obliger le ministre des finances, Peer Steinbrück, à interrompre ses vacances.
And when someone's vacation is interrupted, it is serious!
:: David (11:44 in Michigan, 17:44 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, August 1 2007 ::

Of all the things in the world, I find australia's stolen generation one of the most bizarre. But now a court has awarded a large sum of money to one of the victims - hopefully the first of many to be compensated (as if such a thing were possible).
:: David (23:55 in Michigan, 5:55 in Paris) - Comment

The BBC is reporting an interesting story in Columbia, where a man trying to get the government to strike a deal with the rebels on an exchange of prisoners, in the hopes that his son would be one of those freed, has finished his walk across the country, to be met with huge crowds of supporters in the capitol, where he plans to live, in the main square, until his son is freed. I think the photo in the story says it all.
:: David (21:23 in Michigan, 3:23 in Paris) - Comment

We're up extra late this evening, as Sasha is about ten pages from finishing Harry Potter. So I feel no compunctions about making this into a HP discussion post, complete with spoilers. Say what you will in the comments, as we've both read the book. It goes without saying that the comments contain HARRY POTTER SPOILERS, so don't read them if you haven't read the book!
:: David (0:04 in Michigan, 6:04 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[8]

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