A Test

February 7, 2008
Which of these things is not like the others?
n ñ
n N

Open Letter to Congress

March 6, 2006

I sent the following letter today to each Senator and Congressman supposed to represent me, after having read this frankly horrifying post.

I recently learned that Senator Frist has threatened to change the bipartisan nature of the Senate Committee on Intelligence unless the Committee agrees not to investigate the warrantless NSA wiretapping. Even ignoring the fact that he is trying to derail an investigation before it begins, it is reprehensible that he would hold a crucial committee hostage in this fashion.

» » Continue reading . . .

Averatec 3150 overheating: solved

January 31, 2006

I’ve had my Averatec 3150 laptop for about 18 months now, and it’s served me well the whole time. It’s tiny enough that I had a hell of a time finding a bag small enough to carry it in comfortably, and I’ve been able to leave it running for weeks at a time with no problems. After a while, my habit of leaving Firefox running for a week with a few dozen tabs open made me want more RAM, so I added 384 megs’ worth. The touchpad started failing on me after a year of heavy use, but with a little help from eBay I was able to swap in a replacement part. I wished I had a DVD burner in the thing, so I replaced the original optical drive. (The hardest part was cutting a corner off the new drive‘s faceplate so it would fit in the provided opening.)

In short, I really like this machine—I only wish the battery held more of a charge—and I’m not afraid to open it up and tinker with the insides. Of course, buying it refurbished and thus having the warranty end after 90 days probably helped my courage. You might not be so ready and willing to tear off your stickers marked “Warranty void if removed” if their threats aren’t meaningless.

So when I recently noticed a disconcerting tendency for it to hard crash during heavy CPU usage, I naturally wanted to fix the problem. Whenever I was doing anything very CPU intensive, like compressing a lot of audio (or video for that matter), playing a game, or even running an innocent CPU torture test, my computer would do two things: (a) get very hot and (b) turn itself off. Naturally, I suspected the cooling system.

As it turns out, this was the culprit:
dust bunny
Apparently having a solid wall of dust keeping any air from flowing over your heatsink is a bad thing. Who’da thunk?

Here’s some more pictures of the disassembly/reassembly process for anyone who gives a damn about these things. » » Continue reading . . .

Pædophiles, and Videogames

December 22, 2005

Before I begin, I should make it clear that I have the utmost admiration for Roger Ebert’s movie reviews. Even in the rare instances where I completely disagree with him on a film, I can understand his viewpoint since he explains it so clearly. There have been times, too, when I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a movie but been unable to articulate why, only to read his review and have him elucidate my own opinion for me. His crusade against pan & scan home video is also something I approve of wholeheartedly.

That said, here are excerpts from things Ebert has written [reasonably] recently. I’m using one movie review and some Answer Man columns as the basis from which I’m extrapolating what may or may not be his actual point of view, and I hope I’m not misrepresenting him. I’m not writing this out of malice.

Here is the first.

The reason we cannot accept pedophilia as we accept many other sexual practices is that it requires an innocent partner, whose life could be irreparably harmed. We do not have the right to do that. If there is no other way to achieve sexual satisfaction, that is our misfortune, but not an excuse. It is not the pedophile that is evil, but the pedophilia. That is true of all sins and crimes and those tempted to perform them: It is not that we are capable of transgression that condemns us, but that we are willing.

Here is the second.

Yours is the most civil of countless messages I have received after writing that I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control.

I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.

And here’s something in the same vein.

As long as there is a great movie unseen or a great book unread, I will continue to be unable to find the time to play video games.

What I gather from this is that Ebert is much more tolerant and understanding of pædophiles than of videogame players. Pædophilia, by his thinking, is “a deep compulsion, which is probably innate,” and the struggle against it lifts the pædophile to transcendant nobility. Making a film about this topic, then, Reveals Something So True For All Us Sinners, which as any filmmaker knows is a very good way to Make A Real Difference In The World. Or something.

Videogames, on the other hand, are nothing more than a waste of time that might occasionally feature a pretty picture displayed on a screen. And they are incapable, by definition, of ever becoming anything more. Moving pictures on a screen, as we all know, are only capable of artistic merit when the author is in control. Interactivity is the kiss of death when it comes to art, by this logic. (Much more on this later.)

The worst part is that people who play videogames are actively making a choice to become worse people. They have the audacity to use their leisure time on something other than reading Great Works of Literature (or watching Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit of course), which is an unforgiveable transgression against society. Videogames, and by extension the players of them, are to be written off as a loss. A sadly avoidable loss, but not a tragic loss because tragedy is an art form.

It is not that we are capable of transgression that condemns us, but that we are willing, and wasting those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic may be the worst transgression of them all. So a child rapist who is honest-to-God sincerely trying to reform (and, let’s say, reads Tolstoy in his spare time) is presumably a better person than a guy who plays a game or two of MLB 2005 to unwind after work.

» » Continue reading . . .

So I don’t forget.

October 20, 2005

Lastehaiglas olles mul ei tulnud õhtul uni,
ikka olin üleval ja kuni hommikuni.
Haigla oli varem olnud mingi elumaja —
olid toad ja esikud ja vannitoad, kus vaja.
Minu palat oli kohe vastu vannituba,
uksetahvel aga klaasist, läbipaistvast juba.
Oli aeg, kus enam polnud, kuid ei olnud veel
matti klaasi, jääklaasi — nägi läbi veel.
Õhtul tehti tuled surnuks, lapsed unne jäivad.
Ma ei jäänud, piilusin, kuis õed ja tädid käivad.
Vahekojas põles tuli — üldse mitte hele —
mina olin keskendunud oma ootusele.
Ja ma nägin igal õhtul — kui tal oli mahti — ,
kuidas õde vanni läks ja jättis ukse lahti.
Siis ei teadnud, miks ta jättis, nüüd ma tean, et liiga
palav oli vannitoas, seepärast tegi nii ta.
Miks, ei ole tagantjägi enam oluline,
oli vaid see vaatepilt, see vanniskäigu-ime.
Kuidas viskas kitli varna, kuidas vaatas varvast!
Ihu liikus, vesi tilkus ninast, käest ja karvast.
Ilu igas liigutuses — kaunim luulest, filmist;
olin tummas vaimustuses arstitädi Silvist.
Oligi see kogu ravi. Siis sain haiglast välja.

Ravi kestab.
Tema mõju
ma ei mõelnud välja.

My apologies to Juhan Viiding.

The Allentown Report

April 4, 2004

When I bumped into Corinne at the Port Authority bus terminal, she didn’t seem amused by the fact that I didn’t see the final performance of the Cooper student production on Friday. When I re-bumped into her at the Wescosville bus terminal, she seemed amused by the fact that I was in Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania to see the Muhlenberg student production (more on that later). I hope her foot is doing better.

After a little walking tour of picturesque Allentown, Marika and I lunched at some Chinese place, then headed over to the legendary Giant (more on that later) to pick up circus peanuts and mixers (more on those later), whereupon we returned to her dorm. We chilled for a bit and rented some movies for later, and then it was time for the dutiful little sound board operator to go and do her pre-show preparations and what have you. This left your faithful narrator with an hour to kill before showtime.

My first idea, watching some NCAA Final Four action, was shot down by the fact that there seemed to be some kind of semiformal event going on in the student union. I wandered around for a while, taking a few pictures of stuff that I thought might photograph well (see below). Then inspiration struck.



I still had 45 minutes or so before I needed to be in the theatre, exchanging my ticket for the opportunity to sit in a chair and be entertained. Surely, I thought, it would be possible for me to navigate to Giant and back in that time, despite the fact that I hadn’t really been paying any attention to the directions when I walked there earlier and the fact that it was dark out already so I wouldn’t have recognized anything anyway. One very obvious wrong turn and several more slightly subtler wrong turns later, I found myself buying some Gatorade at an Exxon, losing hope of ever making my way to Giant in time to make my way back in time.

Then the cashier informed me that Giant was basically right around the corner. I wasted no time in trespassing on a few people’s property, cutting through their back yards, and scaling a hill and a guardrail. “Strip mall with Giant franchise,” I announced to nobody in particular the strip mall with a Giant franchise, “I have arrived.” Soon enough, I was making my way out of the Giant floral department with my victory in hand (hey, sound board operators need love too). I went back to Muhlenberg, following a marginally less-circuitous and -inefficient path than I’d taken a few minutes earlier. Then it was time for…

New Voices 2004
  • The New Voices Menagerie of Mystery
    Interesting idea, and done very well. The lighting and placards felt perfect, and everybody stayed in character perfectly. Three-shrieking-heads and dog-boy, in particular, deserve kudos for being so perfect.
  • The Journal
    I liked the Prelude a lot, and the play functioned nicely as a continuing narrative extending through the various themes of the evening’s performance (and the levity it provided between the comparatively much heavier later pieces was certainly appreciated), but as a play it really didn’t do anything for me. The gay stuff just seemed silly. Though Halley Cianfarini, I must say, played the fortune teller with tremendous aplomb.
  • What’s the Story?
    A very fun play to watch. Gary Onomotopoeia is an awesome character, the cartoon-style fight scene was very well done, and the multiple layers of meta-play were amusing and not overbearing.
  • Holidaze
    Probably my favorite part of the show. The blurb by the author printed in the program described it as a ‘comedy’; I feel it necessary to register my disagreement with that assessment. Sure there were funny lines, but as a whole it deals with some pretty serious (and mind-numbingly terrifying) issues. It’s a play by, for, and about people in my approximate station in life, and I liked it. Also, Uncle Bob kicked ass and Christopher Shepard played him to the fucking hilt.
  • Beyond Our Control
    Certainly thought-provoking. I smelled the gay rape coming pretty early, and — whoops, looks like I spoiled the climax for you. If you plan on seeing this play and want to be surprised by it, I recommend against reading the previous sentence. Sorry. Anyway, it’s a nice character study and the whole people-taking-turns-delivering-lines presentation was effective. The character of Madison seemed underexplored, though.
  • Stained
    Another gritty drama. It was certainly well-acted, but the dialogue felt just a little stilted and artificial. That’s only a minor quibble, though.

In other news, the costuming was very spiffy for the whole show, what with each play getting its own distinct colour palette and everything. The use of “We Suck Young Blood” and “High Hopes” as background music made me happy, and to my untrained ear it sounded like all the sound cues went off without a hitch. ;)

Afterwards, the mixers were mixed, a little drunken dialing was had, metal demonstrated its power in forming friendships, and I had a flashback to mid-February.

On the bus ride back to the city, the guy sitting next to me kept leaning his head on my shoulder in his sleep. After a literal shrug availed me of nothing, I shrugged metaphorically and fell asleep myself, with the sound of Menomena in my ears.


If you were too lazy to read the above, here’s a little summary: weather.com is full of lies. I don’t know why I keep going back.

Song of the Moment: «Method Acting» — Bright Eyes


March 20, 2004

Greetings, and welcome to the new face of Kablammo. I just spent hours learning regular expression syntax, manipulating text files, migrating archives, reconfiguring DNS settings, and installing blogging software just so that you, my dear readers, can have a better Kablammic experience.

I hope you appreciate the effort. The new server and better hosting should be a boon to everyone and to everything, and the fact that I’m no longer reliant on Blogger for anything should simplify matters on my end. Whee!

That means that, of all the various things I wanted to accomplish over this spring break, I’ve accomplished one. Hey, that’s better than my usual performance. I still have to do a bunch of stuff like changing the stylesheets and templates from their default settings, putting my links back in place, maybe changing the default titles provided for all my old posts, &c, but it’s cool for the moment.

Song of the Moment: «Altar of Sacrifice» — Slayer

Powered by WordPress with Hiperminimalist Theme design by Borja Fernandez.

Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.