Thursday, December 23, 2004


As a developer of software code, I'm always grappling with issues of what licensing scheme to release my code under. (Thanks tort-lawyers!) Here's the latest candidate:

 * ------------------------------------------
 * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
 * <phk@FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file.
 * As long as you retain this notice you
 * can do whatever you want with this stuff.
 * If we meet some day, and you think
 * this stuff is worth it, you can buy
 * me a beer in return.   Poul-Henning Kamp
 * ------------------------------------------

hat tip: Jesse

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


My good friend Steve recently started experimenting with the built in RSS reader in the Thunderbird Mail client and asked me to recommend some good feeds for him to subscribe to. I scanned through the list of feeds I check daily and culled a few I thought he'd be interested in. I left out poliblogs and milblogs on the assumption that he wouldn't be interested. (We are on opposite sides of the electoral divide.) For the record, I use and recommend the Sage feed reader extension for Firefox, although the beta of Onfolio 2.0 looks promising and works in both Firefox and Internet Explorer. Be forewarned, though, Onfolio is Windows only and requires the installation of .Net runtimes, which can be a hefty download. In case you are anything  like me and enjoy a daily digest of technofocused conversation sprinkled with topicality and philosophy, here's the list I sent Steve:

Ars Technica:
my work blog:
my personal blog:
Kathleen's blog: (former associate and current personal friend -she's a very good writer)
Jon Udell: (smart guy, always has something clever to say)
Ned Batchelder: (former Loti, also smart & interesting)
Jeremy Zawodny: (developer extraordinaire at Yahoo, big LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) advocate
Iraq the Model: (three brothers living in Iraq)
Gizmodo: (the gadget's weblog)
Mozillazine feedhouse: (clearinghouse for all Mozilla related blogs)

FOF = feed of feeds

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Sometimes I need to remind myself that I have a lot to be thankful for. Today is the seventh day of Chanukkah and Lorraine & I just returned from her sister's second son's bris. All went well and mother, child (not to mention father, grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles) are fine. Lorraine barrels along in to her ninth month and we excitedly anticipate our family's pending expansion by 50%. I am thankful for all of this, which was barely conceivable to me a little over a year ago. My two best friends, Manny and Chuck, also got married recently, making this a most auspicious year for the three of us. I continue to find happiness and intellectual stimulation in my chosen profession, which is all I can really ask for besides enough compensation to live on. My car works, my apartment has heat and my new laptop is in the mail.

Happy and healthy Holiday season and New Year to all. (Rather, Wendy, the only other known reader of this blog.)

P.S. Friedman gets it right for the first time in awhile (IMHO.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004


If you've been following events in Iraq, you are probably aware of the brouhaha surrounding the apparent marine shooting of a subdued, unarmed insurgent. In times of war, these things -inexcusable as they are- do happen. The idea that somehow 150,000 heavily armed, trained and primed soldiers mostly in their late teens and early twenties under severe stress somehow posses the diplomatic skills and judgment of an ambassador under hellish conditions is ridiculous. These kids make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are criminal in nature, if not intent. We shall see what U.S. Military justice decides the appropriate fate for the individual under investigation is. What we should not do is somehow draw the conclusion that we are no different than the enemy we face. We are quite different and clearly on the side of moral and civil values in this conflict. There should be no mistake about that. Additionally, we should not shoot the messenger. Kevin Sites, the MSNBC reporter who shot the footage of the incident has been an exemplary correspondent throughout this conflict. At all times he has shown respect, admiration and forged deep friendships with the soldiers he embeds with. To suggest that his actions are traitorous and agenda-driven is odious to me as it should be to anyone who has been following Kevin's adventures on his blog. His recounting of the story can be found here.

UPDATE: From a Marine who was there.

UPDATE II: This is from a US Army future combat systems scenario demonstration. It's worth noting that all of the systems being used in the animation are either in service now or in active development. The small peanut-shaped drone, in particular, has eerie shades of Star Wars in it. Life is not going to be getting any easier for enemies of the US Armed Forces anytime soon.

Monday, November 15, 2004


if you've ever asked me about my profession, programming, and whether I'm any good at it, I've probably said that yeah, I'm a decent programmer. What I do is mostly along the lines of scripting and integration, i.e. programming the glue that holds different high level prebuilt components together. Such sexy pursuits include: integrating Lotus Domino with third party LDAP servers and document management products, etc. I do some medium-wieight programming as well, but nothing, strictly speaking, that could be considered rocket science. The true rocket scientists of the trade, I always said, are the game programmers. These guys -they are all men as far as I can tell- design complex mathematical engines for the creation and management of incredibly realistic audio-visual experiences that perform seamlessly and enjoyably -to the delight of millions of ardent game players worldwide in four dimensions. They are the Einsteins (and Von Brauns) of the computer science trade. Backing up my assertion is the realization that John Carmack, a leading member of this august group, is indeed a rocket scientist in his spare time. Carmack co-founded and co-owns id software, which published some of the most popular action games of our time. I first began following Carmack's other company, Armadillo Aerospace, almost two years ago when my interest in the x-prize began. I've found this small company to be my favorite of the contenders, notwithstanding the realization early on that Scaled was going to be the team to beat. Carmack and his small cadre of hobbyists are seriously vying to build an affordable and reliable space transportation device. Check out their site, it's fascinating stuff.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Happy birthday to me! I'm a palindromic 33 today. Yay! The lovely Lorraine threw me a beautiful birthday smash last night in the new (and Improved!) Chez Ochs on the Hudson Passaic. I got an Aeron chair for my office nook, so I'm one happy camper this morning. Thanks Sweetie!

Who would swipe a yellow "support our troops" magnet off of a car! It's unpatriotic, that's what it is.

South Park was singularly and uncharecteristically awful this week, bwaah!

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Did anyone catch Ashlee's screw-up on SNL? Apparently, the wrong taped vocals started playing when it came time for the not-Jessica to perform her second song. Ashlee oh-so-cleverly goofed around for ten seconds and walked off stage. Great recovery, kid, you're a star! Don't let anyone not in your family tell you otherwise.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Add Krugman to the list of 'Times columnists who would destroy the Republic in order to "save" it. Now he says the elections are already rigged by the all-powerful Republican/Bush cabal.

So the Yanks lost. Big deal. I'm more upset that the Sox are going to the series. Not a big fan of Boston, I am.

Gonna be out of the city this weekend. So, next weekend is our official last weekend as residents of the great Borough of Manhattan. <sigh>

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Suddenly, the world seems like a bigger, more frightening place without my Bubby.

Friday, October 15, 2004


The latest campaign Brouhaha over John Kerry's "Outing" of Lynne Cheney seems ridiculously overblown to me. Of course, in a close election like this one, everything gets ridiculously overblown. Like the notion that either candidate will measurably impact your life right now, for instance. Some truths:

  • You won't get drafted.
  • Your tax bill won't change -drastically.
  • We'll still be in Iraq on November 3rd, 2004 and November 3, 2005 for that matter.
  • Israelis and Palestinians will still hate each other.
  • We'll all still hate strongly dislike the French.
  • Lynne Cheney will still be gay.

I mean, really. What did Kerry do? He did not slander anyone -not even close. We all knew Lynne was gay. If we didn't before the campaign we sure as hell did after the Vice-Presidential debate. Like the issue of who did what during the Vietnam years, this issue is just random campaign noise to me, to be treated and discarded as such and in no way an issue of any import.

The larger "truth" that I'm beginning to realize is that the Democratic claim of Republican dirty tricks is not wholly unfounded -with a caveat. The Republican campaign is only doing what the Democratic rank and file routinely perpetrate : Mercilessly slander and libel/label the opposition. For every Karl (that's with a K, as is Marx) Rove, there's a Dan Rather; for each swift boat vet ad there's a Michael Moore. To insist that either side has a monopoly on the truth is nonsensical. If you have any gray matter at all, you'll just need to figure it all out for yourself. And for G-d's sake, watch more than one news channel and read more than one newspaper on a regular basis. If you don't, you'll elect what you deserve. It's called due diligence, exercise it!

GOOD READ DEPT: Deconstructing Bob Herbert. I never much cared for Mr. Herbert's columns anyways. He's not only a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, he's a glass-is-broken-and-leaking-water-like-a-sieve kind of guy. Mr. Herbert doesn't seem to have ever met a party he couldn't rain on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Wife & I watched Saved! last night on DVD. A funny, dark coming-of-age teen movie with a bunch of wild twists. RECOMMENDED.

Saw this cute magnet poster in my doctor's office yesterday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


I find myself reading David Brooks more and more these days. He seems like a level-headed guy without an axe to grind -a rarity for an op-ed columnist in the New York Times. I like his point blank assesment of the differences in vision of the (two) presidential candidates he makes today.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


It's good to be in D.C. The latest jibjab yuckfest.

SNL is looking weak this season. Looks like Amy is the only cast member not just phoning it in.

Heather, on Scrubs is a nice fit. UPGRADE!

Ooh! Bill Shatner has a new album! yay! Many years ago, my buddy Steve and I settled on the Shat as the leading candidate for Supreme Leader of our hypotherical new age religion/cult/internet business: Religion 2.0. We never got past the beer soaked planning sessions on that one, though..

Topher is short for Christopher? I DID NOT KNOW THAT!

Why did the rat cross Riverside Drive? I guess we'll never know...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


From The Stewardess Monologues::
I just love it when passengers get on the plane and they all look in the cockpit. Wouldn't it be great if the pilots were sitting in there, one reading a book titled "SO YOU WANT TO FLY?", and the other holding a broken switch in his hand with a look of confusion on his face?
another gem:
Frequent Fliers: why can everything be justified by how many miles they have? "Sir, you simply cannot be smacking around a flight attendant like that. You can't. Oh? Super Gold status? Yes, well ... that IS a lot of miles. You certainly can slap a flight attendant, sir. Yes, you can.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Dunno why Grand Central (Train) Station could be considered a good venue for selling cars. Also, a dead ringer for David E. Davis Jr.  was standing around by the cars. I wonder if it was really him?

Via Ned:

Electoral Vote Predictor collates data from polls across the country to predict the outcome of the electoral vote. The maps are clear and informative, showing which states are near-balance, and which are clearly on one side or the other.

UPDATE: Official Virgin Galactic Homepage

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


From What the Bubble Got Right, by Paul Graham:

Indeed, that's practically the definition of a nerd. I found myself talking recently to someone from Hollywood who was planning a show about nerds. I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn't expend any effort on marketing himself.
A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance. So what's the connection between nerds and technology? Roughly that you can't fool mother nature. In technical matters, you have to get the right answers. If your software miscalculates the path of a space probe, you can't finesse your way out of trouble by saying that your code is patriotic, or avant-garde, or any of the other dodges people use in nontechnical fields.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Or, soon you'll be able to get stale peanuts and beer while you orbit the earth. Richard Branson has just announced the first commercial (that I know of) spaceline. Virgin Galactic, of course. If you haven't been following the exciting X-Prize contest -wherein the first person to successfully launch a 3-man vehicle into space and repeat the feat within two weeks with the same vehicle gets $10 million- the first try for the prize is set to lift-off tomorrow. You can read more about the Spaceship One entry here.

GOOD READ: Brooks on the power of the vote (not what you'd expect.)

UPDATE: Kevin has renewed his commitment to blogging. Let's hope he'll continue...

AWW: Hanging with Mr. Squirrel.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Observation I made last night: Dogs are like people. It's always the wee doggie causing all the trouble. I mean, when you see a toy breed of some sort snapping and hollering at a mastiff, you gotta wonder: What's the little dude thinking? I mean, Marmaduke can swallow you whole and burp you out little man! Most of the time, the big dog justs sits there and takes it, or doesn't even acknowledge the little pest. Isn't it the same old story everywhere? We can learn a lot from our four-legged friends.

JUNK SCIENCE: Or, what those dudes behind the counter at fast food joints do to kill time. Hat tip: Bob.

Run Peter, run!

Sunday, September 26, 2004


It's official, wife & I will be suburbanites as of November 1. We've closed a deal on a shweet rental in Passaic, New Joisey (what exit? dunno.) We're also the soon-to-be proud owners of one of these parental unit transportation devices. I feel so grown up! Oh, where are my manners? A belated happy new year to my Jewish friends and a very healthy and happy Sunday morning to the rest of you!


Apologies for the misleading headline, I just read this opinion piece by David Brooks in the 'Times. (hat tip: Chrenkoff.) The diplomatic situation surrounding the Darfur genocide reminds me of what (then) Senator Palpatine railed against in the Grand Galactic Senate: the pithy inaction of the bureaucrats. This stands in marked relief to the "unilateral" action taken in Iraq. Not to belabor the point -which is well taken- but we should be vigilant: Palpatine eventually showed his true evil self as a twisted Sith Lord. Any chance, say, Dick Cheney can shoot lighting out of his fingertips? Hell, if he could, I'd definitely vote for him!

UPDATE: Krazy Karma file: James Taranto of Wall Street's Opinion Journal just made the comparison between John Kerry and C-3PO! Great minds think alike, I suppose. You know, I recall hearing that there was a movement afoot in the late '70's to draft George Lucas as a religious figurehead. If, indeed, so much of modern politics can be divined from his Star Wars saga, perhaps this should be revisited?

FASHION: from Hat tip: Jewlicious.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


I decided the post that I had previously put here with the same title is a little to rant-ish, so I'm removing it. You can still access the original text here if you really want. My whole point for posting "MIDDLE ACT" was that it just we seem to be in the middle act of a three act play regarding the Iraq situation. Then I got a little carried away. To much news, not enough time...

Monday, September 13, 2004


For those of you who turned down a Hummer because its too small. Wife & I are looking into one of these babies for when we get one of these babies. Any suggestions?

ALSO: Very interesting Yahoo! search shortcuts. Hat tip: Danny Sullivan, via Jeremy Zawodny.

ON POLITICS: I've taken it upon myself to actually read the Democratic Party platform for 2004 and the Republican Party platform for 2004 (note: links are for dowloading Adobe PDF files.) If the election is as important as its being hyped to be (what election isn't?) I figure I should at least learn what the candidates actually stand for from the horses' (or, insert favorite quardruped here) mouths rather than the fickle and innacurate big media outlets.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


I've been asked how come I -geek that I am- don't have a digital camera many a time. To which I dutifully replied: "What for?." With my nifty little Konica Revio APS (Advantix) camera I can take sharp pictures, have them developed with Kodak's awesome PerfectTouch processing AND have them available online at PictureCenter. I may have to rethink that in light of some new developments.

First of all, I've been most impressed with Picasa, a free photo organizing tool from Google that passes the Aunt Tillie test or, in my case the Max test. (Max is my stepdad.) Picasa, by virtue of its adopted family, also works well with blogger, hence the ability to easily post photos to a weblog using the Picasa's slick Hello sharing tool. Which allows me to do things like this. Jeremy notes, however, that if you use any operating system other than Windows, however, Picasa just isn't for you. Which brings me to flickr, which creates a community of photo sharing people. I'm pleased that flickr gives you granular access to security. Don't want weirdos getting pictures of me or my family for nefarious purposes now, do we? However, flickr seems geared towards sharing lo-res pictures online, and not towards the higher quality photos we've come to expect from developed film. More on that as I continue to investigate...

How did I get to this point? It all really began with my frustrating experience with's online photo center. I've been having my films developed with Kodak processing at CVS for years, and have amassed quite a digital library on their site. As of August 1st, however, CVS stopped offering PictureCenter. I really liked PictureCenter because I could order my prints and pick them up at my nearby CVS for pennies, no shipping changes included. Now I haven't lost access to my PictureCenter archives mind you, I just can't add to the archive with any new rolls of film or -and this is the big bummer- migrate the archive to a bona-fide account. Since the CVS site is obviously a co-branded Kodak site, this last point really ticked me off. As it stands, I'm still using the Kodak PictureCenter, I just have to bring my film in to develop at a local film & camera store instead. My holy grail is to have complete access to all my photo archives in high quality in one location with unlimited bandwidth and storage. So far, I haven't seen any compelling alternative to local storage using Picasa, although I'm told Yahoo Photos is quite good.

HEH: Insanity Test.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Yes, It's Jeff Foxworthy! If you say...You are (not)... Bush did it, Zell did it, Rudy did it. It's definitely a pattern. Who knew Blue Collar Comedy Tour had such an impact on our political spectrum.

SIDEBAR: I just purchased a Jim Breuer DVD on Both comedian and website are highly recommended. I actually had the pleasure of watching my wife completely lose it during his child birthing bit.

GOOD POINT: Well done, New York. Well done, Mr. Mayor. Another solid reason I'm proud to be a New Yorker.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Watching more of the convention last night. The governator was fun. His speech was a big, bombastic rallying cry. Nothing wrong with that now, is there? I thought the twins' speech was miscalculated. Twenty-two year old girls should have more to say to the world than bad, giggly jokes about grandma and TV shows. Also, Laura had the glassy-eyed slightly dated Stepford Wife look. A little creepy, if you ask me. I do like her, though -she just seems a little behind the times for an event that should be tuning in to the "hip" crowd a little better. Overall a good show, but not as compelling as Day 1.

RELATED: What's the deal with Republican Celebrities?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Rudy was spellbinding last night. (The linked transcript doesn't do his speech -laced with ad-libs-justice.) McCain was on message too. I love Rudy for what he did to restore confidence in the Big Apple. But G-d help us all if he ever decides to run for president. He'd make a really lousy diplomat. He just doesn't seem to posses a single subtle gene in his body. He'd make a good Attorney General, though (IMHO.) The Republicans seem to have the singular ability to focus on their campaign message which gives them a powerful edge against the Dems. Granted, the cacophony of voices effect is and always has seemed part of the Democratic (party) experience. I'm just calling it like I see it.

Friday, August 27, 2004


Had an echo cardiogram this morning. I'm fine, so don't bother with the concern about my health. I was lying on the technician's slab thinking how just about any other situation involving me laying on my side with my shirt off while a middle aged man works a wand coated in jelly around my chest area would have been really uncomfortable.

Still thinking about robots. This screed on the movie I, Robot is quite funny. I guess I won't be seeing it any time soon. Sigh, and I was such an Asimov fan when I was a kid too.


Late at night & wide awake. Watched a previously unseen (by me) episode of Futurama. The very last episode as it turns out, in fact. "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings." Very clever. Worked in an operetta and the one and only appearance of the heretofore unknown Hedonism-bot. Chime in with your favorite 'bot. I'm partial to Don-bot.

What was it I wanted to say? Oh yeah, How come every Israeli movie I see in Blockbuster deals with sexuality? The latest, Yossi & Jagger, really takes the cake. I mean, how long will people get roped in by the juxtaposition of hebrew names and sex? (Bi/homo/inter -whatever.) We don't care! How about something I'd really like to see, like a noir piece set somewhere in the Middle East. I mean, Casablanca was what? 50 years ago? I sure could enjoy a crime/gumshoe set piece film in the narrow back alleys of, say, Cairo or Damascus. Hell, I'll take Amman. (FYI: I just finished When the Women Come out to Dance, a collection of short stories from The Master. Highly recommended, as usual.)

Instead of the election being about the following issues:

  1. Do you hate George W. Bush
  2. Do you hate Republicans.
  3. Do you really hate George W. Bush.
  4. How did both candidates use their privilege to their advantage 35 some odd years ago when they were barely out of college.
  5. Something about body armor.
  6. Sucking up to the French.
  7. Conspiracy theories (a.k.a X-files syndrome.)
  8. Perpetually cyclical issues such as abortion and gay rights (let's face it, we as a nation will continue to straddle the fence on these for the foreseeable future regardless of who's in office.)

Wouldn't it be nice if it were about:

  1. Accountability for our byzantine security apparatus.
  2. The economy.
  3. The budget.

Just a thought.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Went to see Garden State last night. An amazing directorial and writing debut by Zach Braff. Wife & I love him on Scrubs, he's also perfectly tempered for the lead in this movie. Of course, Natalie is great as well. This movie is to New Jersey what the Big Lebowski is to California. Vietnam, Walter? VIETNAM?!

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Before I left I saw an ad for a (then) upcoming episode of Reno 911 (Comedy Central, Wednesday 10:30p / 9:30c.) Friends have told me that this show is very funny, but I never watched it. This one looked particularly clever, so I Tivo'ed it and we watched it when we came home from our vacation. [sidebar: we really Time Warner Cable DVR'ed it, but Tivo seems to be the popular verb...] Here's a clip from Comedy Central. The setup: Officer Williams has joined the Nation of Islam and is out on a "date" with Officer Jones (who has dressed accordingly in the de rigeur glasses and bow tie.) I started recording more episodes of this show. Who knows? it may end up on our weekly rotation! Stay tuned.

ALSO: This is funny.

Saturday, August 07, 2004


This posting on Sgt. Hook made me laugh.

Friday, August 06, 2004


I've lately been reading the blog My War - Fear and Loathing In Iraq. It's the account of a machine gunner in the infantry assigned to one of the Army's new Stryker Brigades in Iraq. His latest recounting of a firefight in Mosul on the 4th is particular riveting. I'm reminded of the pacing of Black Hawk Down (book and movie,) Today's follow up post illuminates the firefight a little more. I think the Stryker Brigade's exploits, as told by the blogger CBFTW, are ripe for a really good combat flick. I'm interested in finding out what the soldiers think of the new Stryker vehicle. Its been a source of debate in the states as to whether it provides the mobility and protection the troops need in the urban combat environment they are faced with. CBFTW seems to think it came through the firefight he was in quite well, I'd like his further input on that. I'll try contacting him, but I imagine he's quite busy dodging bullets or something, so I won't hold by breathe.

Wife & I are heading for some r&r to the City of Angels and its environs for a week, so posting will be light to nonexistent. I hope to be able to see some neat marine creatures in the wild and captivity.

Monday, August 02, 2004


Somehow, Lorraine & I got hooked on Simple Life 2. I must admit a certain fascination with this über fish-out-of-water series. Recently, however, I'm starting to tire of the format:

  1. Paris & Nicole in the pink pick-up trying to find the host family.
  2. Paris & Nicole shock the gracious, simple host family with their foul mouths and designs on the host's children (let's get them laid, etc.)
  3. Paris & Nicole say g'nite (b*tch) & their "I love you's" to each other in the trailer.
  4. Paris & Nicole do their "job," which consists of acting silly and humiliating patrons at whatever establishment they are supposed to be working at.

I saw this billboard on my way to work last week. Is it just me or is this a really bad idea? I mean in addition to this not being a particularly attractive family (I have to couch my words carefully here, I'm genuinely concerned for my safety on this...) What good could possibly come of a reality show about the family of a known crime boss? (deceased, I believe.) Commenting about this show reminds me of this old Jacki Mason routine. (The real story is somewhat more sinister.)

Back to Paris & Nicole, I will say this, though, Nicole is clearly the star of the show. I mean, you pretty much never know what will come out of her mouth next. Oh, and that ferret sure can hold his liquor!

UPDATE: This looks hilarious.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


I just finished Cory Doctorow's futuristic novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Several things about this novel stand out. First of all, I read it in its entirety in electronic form. Doctorow - in keeping with the "Knowledge Yearns to be Free" -like philosophy of the story- has released the book without any rights-management licenses or restrictions for free download. I read my copy on the Palm eReader software for Palm OS on my Sony Clie. Of course, you can always purchase a paper copy if you're so inclined (how quaint.) The book itself takes place in a future where the "reputation economy" has replaced currency as we know it. Aiding this new philosophy is an unnaturally feasible sounding array of cyborg and nano-technology. It all unfolds in a natural way without sounding didactic at all -a good read.

In a more traditional genre, Leonard's LaBrava measures up to all the previous excellent fare that I've read by the master. I think my next Elmore Leonard read will be Mr. Paradise.

Saw Spidey 2 last night with the wife in glorious (and expensive) iMax vision.  Easily the best comic-book adaptation I've seen to date. Better than X-Men 2, better than Superman 2. (Sidebar: what is it about the sequels in comic book films that seem to gather all the glory?) This movie had heart, moxie and -oh yeah- a plot and acting. I recall seeing Michael Chabon discuss his latest novel and his upcoming script writing for Spiderman 2 in the B&N on 82nd a few years ago. I'm also a big fan of his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which neatly encapsulates Jews and the Comics phenomenon, as well as being a ripping good yarn that manages to work in a real Golem in the process (R' Cohen, are you still with me?)

GOOD READ DEPARTMENT: G-d Bless America, by Michael Coren (hat tip: little green footballs.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Or, why I was home yesterday nursing a crushing headache. Yesterday in the Hebrew (Lunar) calendar was the ninth of the month of Av (Tish'a B'Av.) This date is auspicious in Jewish history as it caps a yearly three-week mourning period that commemorates the siege of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (actually, both Temples) some 2,000-odd years ago. In recognition of these events, yesterday was a day of prayer, mourning and fasting for the Jewish people. To get back to the headache part, well, you try not eating or drinking for over 25 hours (that includes coffee) and see how you feel! By virtue of the time of the year that Tish'a B'Av falls out in, it is the longest -and thus most difficult- fast day in the Jewish schedule. The prayers and lamentations recited during Tish'a B'Av recount the horrific details of the destruction of the Holy City and Temple and the disbursement, torture and slaughter of the Jewish people. The silver lining, however, is the affirmation of G-d's love for his people and their eventual redemption. A more thorough explanation of the "three weeks" and Tish'a B'Av can be found here.

Monday, July 26, 2004


This funny looking contraption is my sister's neighbor's vintage 3 wheeled, right-hand drive car. I think it's of Italian origin, but I can't recall exactly. Oddball and old cars fascinate me. Remember Urkel's weird car? That one was actually a tricycle too, a BWM Isetta. It seems that the Europeans took to building innovative wheels after World War II that were cheap to manufacture, cheap on gas and easy to navigate Europe's narrow city streets. They still like micro cars in Europe and Japan, although they don't make them in weird configurations like the aforementioned two vehicles anymore. We're starting to get a taste for them in the US with cars like the Mini and the Scion brand (from Toyota.) The Smart car will be coming here in a few years. Here in America we're mostly into such cars for their Urban Chic (like the iPod craze) -not necessarily out of need. Whatever.

BLONDESTAR. Hat tip: Jeremy's linkblog

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Seems like this Flash animation is getting a lot of coverage. It's a sendup of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" featuring George Bush and John Kerry. What most people don't know is that Guthrie's "This Land" is actually a libertarian screed. Woodie hated the fact that the song was turned into a patriotic anthem -us stupid 'murricans never got past the title (catch)phrase and assumed it was a loving homily to the good old U.S. of A. Fast forward a half-century and the same thing happened to Bruce Springsteen's "born in the USA." While it's not a commie pinko ditty, it definitely isn't what the go-go '80's made it into. The people in this country are such damned optimists. We'd probably see the lighter side of a nuclear winter if we had to.

Monday, July 19, 2004


This is ridiculous. So  Schwarzenegger used the term "Girlie Men" to describe some lawmakers. That just means he has a sense of humor, nothing more. I challenge anyone to actually find the people who are claimed to have been offended by the governator's remarks. Why do I care? because when I was fifteen, I was a principle in a summer camp color war comedy skit playing one half of the Hans & Franz duo. The skit bombed big time. The audience was wrong. I still think it was funny.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


I'm posting this blog item using Sauce Reader (1.5Beta from Synop.) its a really slick tool that, aside from being dog slow (which is forgivable in a beta release) is the best RSS/Blog reader I've come across. And I've tried a few (snicker.) You may have also noticed I've added an RSS Atom feed link to my blog on the right. If you know what RSS is, use the link, its a convenient way to keep abreast of any new posts in the blogs or news feeds you regularly monitor, If you don't know what RSS is, read Ned's intro.

Life goes on in Chez Ochs. We're expecting now, so we're probably going to look for a bigger place in 'Joisey. I'll really miss the apple, but I gots to have more space and a car if I'm gonna raise a family. Sigh. The single in the city chapter of my life inexorably draws to a complete and final close...

One of these days, Lorraine and I are gonna get off our collective asses and see the Cloisters. It's been on my to-do list for, oh, about 22 years now. Ever since my seventh grade report on things to do in New York City. Mr. Hollander gave me an A for that in Social Studies. I think I still have it in a box somewhere in my mother's basement.

This July 4th weekend I stopped by the 42nd street pier on my way down the West Side Highway towards Brooklyn. There was a flotilla of visiting British warships. Of particular interest was the British Jump Jet carrier (HMS Invincible, I think.) Jump jet carriers are smaller than supercarriers that the US Navy prefers and are, in fact, closer in size to the World War II class Intrepid, which is now a floating museum that is parked nearby. The British are a clever lot. In addition to pioneering the Jump Jet, which is a jet fighter that can take off and land vertically, they came up with the idea for angled flight decks on aircraft carriers, which greatly increase the safety and sortie rate of modern carriers, along with the steam catapult and many other elements of a modern full-sized carrier. The ship in port has an interesting "ski-jump" flight deck. It turns out that, even though they can take off and land vertically, a short takeoff roll up the ski-jump-like ramp gives the Harrier jet a greatly increased payload and saves a lot of fuel. It's an interesting piece of naval architecture. Here's a link to a pic I snapped on my cameraphone. Those crazy Brits.

BY THE WAY: My latest project blog. (techno-weenies only)

Thursday, July 15, 2004


As you may or may not know, my profession entails keeping up to date on a lot of complicated programming principles. This means reading books with content that is as dry as kindling on a regular basis. My able accomplice in this endeavor is the used book mart. Most of the time, techno-weenies like myself resell their books when they're done. Getting slightly tattered copies of such memorable titles as John Zukowski's (yes that John Zukowski) Definitive Guide to Swing for Java 2 usually saves me over 50% off the cover price. Highly recommended.

FROM THE "I THINK IT'S ODD" DEPARTMENT: How Democrats (full disclosure: I am a registered Democrat) claim that the Republican (read: Bush) campaign machine slings a lot of mud, when all I can see everywhere I go is the relentless negativity of the Democratic campaign. Here in New York City, I see apple-cheeked kids everywhere pounding the pavement in a "Would you like to help defeat George Bush" campaign. I mean, I'm not going to go into a whole political discourse right now, but doesn't the actual candidate have any appeal for voters?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

PAC MANHATTAN: Now this is a cool game!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE: I couldn't contain myself. It seems Futurama may be making a comeback!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

GOOD READ DEPT.: Fareed Zakaria on terrorism.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

LESS IS ELMORE: Here's a great read on why I love Elmore Leonard. (He's my favorite writer.) I know this is a cop-out for actually posting something interesting to this space, but I'm in the process of rethinking my blog and my commitment to it. Sorry folks, but after a year, I may be burning out on this. I'll keep y'all posted.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

STATION IDENTIFICATION: This blog is brought to you by Jake, who really truly loves Lorraine. (Awww...) Peace out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

BYLINE: Heh, C&F have a political cartoon using my blog's byline! (Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.)

Monday, February 09, 2004

IT'S DONE: So I've wrestled with the phone companies today and actually came out ahead! Sprint zeroed out all of the erroneous charges and I'm left with a small monthly bill to pay that less than 1/4 of what they claimed I owe them. Ditto AT&T who finally agreed that my wife did indeed cancel her account and return her phone (tip: faxing them the receipt seemed to grease the wheels; tip two: AT&T Wireless is practically two companies, the old "digital" company and the new "GSM" company, with separate billing and accounting services.) That left good old Verizon, whom I promptly cut the cord to. I bit the bullet and signed up with IDT for their $40 all you can eat plan. Yay me!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

DO I HAVE A SIGN ON MY BACK? It seems that January is the month all the telephone service providers I use decided to fleece me. First there's Verizon, whom I have a special loathing for, who decided that my $40 basic phone service and long distance plan really means $80. Then there's AT&T Wireless, who, like a senile old woman, decided that my wife really didn't cancel her service with them and return her phone, so we owe them for January. Then there's Sprint. Ah Sprint. How do you explain to the minimum wage slave that will undoubtedly answer my irate customer service call that instead of putting my wife and I on a shared plan with 2,000 minutes, free nights and weekends and unlimited internet for $110 they've put us on the Halliburton "let's rape our customer" $600 plan (I wasn't even aware of such a deal, had I only known beforehand..) Looks like I'll be spending next week sparring with wonderful telco service reps to sort this out so I can use my money for more important endeavors, like food and rent. Cheers.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

HERE WE GO ROUND: Once again, Salam reminds us all how eminently interesting and readable he is. I leave you with that as I embark on my honeymoon. Sing it! "Go-ing to A-ru-ba!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

IN CASE YOU HAD ANY LINGERING DOUBTS: That Al Jazeera is a racist, hateful publication, here's their cartoon page. ALSO: Churchill's parrot is alive and well, will be writing a tell-all memoir.

Monday, January 19, 2004

CRIBS, TRAILER PARK EDITION: What a great idea for a new MTV reality show. Celebrity crib trailers. We could see our white trash celebrities with their dream trailer homes. Let's see, Britney, Eminem, Kid Rock, Billy Bob. Or we could make it a monster house trailer park edition show. I think there's a lot to mine here. Chime in.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS: To me the perfect metaphor for the difference between men and women is the chocolate covered pretzel. No man I know will even try the thing. The basic logic being: "What's the deal? I either want something sweet (chocolate) or something salty (pretzel.) Not both." To which all the women I've spoken to regarding the issue retort: "That's the beauty of the device, you get something sweet and something salty." Men stay focused and know what they're after. Women basically want it all, convention be damned. I was raised on the belief that you can't have your cake and eat it too, but my wife (bless her) feels that you can please all of the senses, all of the time. Sigh, I'm envisioning late night trips for pickles and ice cream in my future.

Friday, January 16, 2004

YES, VIRGINIA: These people do have too much time on their hands. ALSO: The day I met my wife.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A SPARK: I just read a John Phillips (of Car and Driver) article on Jesse James of Discovery Channel's Monster Garage and an idea popped into my head. James is such a badass, why doesn't Discovery pay to have him and some friends ride their wild creations through Iraq, a badass place. I think the locals would be too startled by a bunch of muscle bound, tattooed freaks with odd facial hair and bizarre wheeled creations to even contemplate shooting at them. I strongly suspect the natives would actually like Hell's Angels and their ilk. FYI, I am not being sarcastic, I actually think it would make for some enjoyable TV. What the hell, if the wife makes me sit through another episode of The Bachelorette, I could at least make her watch this!

Monday, January 12, 2004

LATEST AQUATIC TRAVAILS: I'm lazy, so instead of blogging I'm going to link to my latest crisis in marine day care.
AT LAST: A Frenchman (woman, actually) who has something worthwhile to say. And she's cute, to boot!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

CATASTROPHIC DECOMPRESSION: I've been reading about the brouhaha surrounding the new US requirement that foreign (airline) carriers be ready to supply armed air marshals for US-bound or US overflying aircraft. Classically, the big stink about allowing firearms on board an aircraft is the fear that a bullet will pierce the skin of the craft, causing catastrophic decompression. For a short lesson on catastrophic decompression, try sticking a needle into an inflated balloon. If the balloon is fully inflated, it will probably burst. This is a classic metaphor for what can happen on board a commercial jetliner flying at altitude. You may not realize it, but airplanes are pressurized at altiitude, as the air is quite thin up there. Think of the plane as a ballon and a bullet as the pin and you start to get the idea. Now, there are ways to minimize the chance of an explosive decompression. If for example, you tape the area of the ballon you are about to pierce with the pin with, say, duct tape, and then prick the balloon, it should hold together and slowly deflate instead of shatterring with a loud pop. Similarly, I wonder if modern airframes were designed with this capability in mind. Keep in mind that in commmercial air travel, weight is the enemy, so any additional strengthening of the fuselage will add up to a higher fuel bill, which will raise the price of a ticket. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of a layer of kevlar sheeting between the interior wall and the load bearing cylinder....
BLOGAVERSARY: Yesteday was my first blog anniversary (blogaversary.) It kinda snuck up on me and I missed it. Thanks to <pause for dramatic effect>the wife</pause for dramatic effect> for reminding me.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

OFFSHORE: Chris Kenton has an interesting article in BusinessWeek on the perils of offshore (programming) development. I can relate to everything he says. Essentially, you need to be very strong managerially to reap the benefits of using offshore development. Here in the US, we can use our social proximity and cultural similarity to paper over weak managerial practices that are magnified with an offshore job. A good read.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

THE NEXT BIG THING: Lorraine & I are thinking of launching an Iambic Pentameter radio channel. All Iambic, all the time. "You give us twenty-two verses, we'll give you the world."
NO TREO: I cancelled the Treo, which is backorded for awhile & went with a standard Sprint phone -the Sanyo SCP8100. It's a camera phone & fully Sprint Vision compatible. Vision, which is Sprint's full network offering, is quite interesting. Alas, Sprint has no simple SMS interface, so, to send a simple message, I have to log onto Vision on the phone and click through several links before I can send a message. What a pain, Hopefully Sprint will fix this soon. Suprisingly, the service so far, has been notably superior to T-Mobile in the NY/NJ areas that I've been to. The infamous dead spot between West End and Riverside on the UWS has excellent Sprint coverage, which is why I switched plans in the first place. PAINFULLY: My local pet store still has no new Goldfish babies. They won't part with any of their adorable Panda Telescopes, which their keeping for their own enjoyment. So Zippy still has no new playmates. Hopefully they'll have some nice new babies in on Tuesday. I've travelled all over Manhattan looking for quality babies and haven't had any luck. I did see some enormous specimens in Chinatown. If you ever want to see some amazing aquariums, go to Mott street and walk around. I got Zippy bloodworms and a cone feeder last week, so he's more than happy slurping up the worms like spaghetti. I swear, he attacks the cone full of worms like Jaws in a beach full of vacationing children. I'm such a proud Papa!