Cool microscope photography!  Via Make.


Descrambling Cable Pricing

I've been poring over Time Warner Cable's Manhattan pricing plan.  I find the “Triple Play” packages particularly perplexing.  They have a package that includes broadband internet, digital phone service, and cable tv with one premium channel for $147.90.  Without the phone (which I'm not interested in), it's $107.95.  But if you add up the packages separately, you'll find that it's $50.40 for cable tv (no premiums, but including the $8/mo cable box rental fee), $44.95 for internet, and $12.95 for one premium channel.  Which adds up to a grand total of… $108.30!  Yes, folks, that's a genuine 35 cents you'll be saving!  Well, to be fair, there's the Remote Control rental fee for $0.27/month, and the FCC Regularatory Fee for $0.06/month.  And there's probably all sorts of complicated stuff I'm missing, like DTV vs. Digital Navigator, which may account for up to $10 per month.  But that's still less than 10% off.  Some “package”…



AP Headline today: Israelis, Palestinians to Cease Fighting.  Whew!  I bet we're all glad that's over…


p.s. Hal'vai is Yiddish for “I wish!”

Hypnotic Superbrat

Joystiq links to a Google Video of a 9 year old superbrat who screams at his mother for (at least) three and a half minutes.  This was posted on June 29th, but I just saw it now.

Let me say this: it's hypnotic.  First of all, since this episode happened while said brat was playing Xbox Live, the screaming is a soundtrack to an in-game video (the other player recorded his end of the game, which shows him watching the brat's avatar try to scream and shoot at the same time).  Second, since Xbox Live apparently has some sort of lip-sync function, the brat's avatar is mouthing what he's screaming.  So you're basically watching an animated marine with a 9 year old's voice demanding “some mother****ing chocolate milk” from his mother.

I can imagine the other player, who was horrified and/or amused enough to record all this and post it on the web, wanted to teleport over the 'net and slap this punk silly.


p.s. Choice quote: “You said you would get me a drink and you lied!”  SLAP.

Jane Jacobs, National Treasure

I just picked up a copy of Jane Jacobs's “Dark Age Ahead“,
a riveting critique of trends in today's society, and how she believes
they are leading to a new Dark Ages.  Here's the blurb:

Visionary thinker Jane Jacobs uses her authoritative work on urban life
and economies to show us how we can protect and strengthen our culture
and communities.

In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies five pillars of our culture
that we depend on but which are in serious decline: community and
family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation
and government; and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of
these pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental
crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor; their
continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark Age, a period of
cultural collapse in which all that keeps a society alive and vibrant
is forgotten.

But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws on her
vast frame of reference — from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding
to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario — and in highly readable,
invigorating prose offers proposals that could arrest the cycles of
decay and turn them into beneficent ones. Wise, worldly, full of
real-life examples and accessible concepts, this book is an essential
read for perilous times.

I only just started, but I'm already hooked.  She makes great
points, like the fact that basic agricultural knowledge was lost after
the fall of the Roman Empire, leading to constant famine during the
European Dark Ages.  Even though crop rotation was well known
during Roman times, somehow, hundreds of years later, this technology
was lost.  It was like a massive cultural downgrade. 
Apparently she believes that something like this is what may be in
store for us.  Yikes…

What the coolest thing is about Jacobs, by the way, is that she's 89
years old, and still going strong.  Not only is she still writing,
but she's still as timely and sharp as ever.  We should all hope
to be as on top of things at that age as she is.


Depressing Model Railroad

Yes, model railroads can be depressing. Especially when you model the layout on slums and other scenes of urban decay. Check it out, especially the hand-drawn miniature graffiti! Via Make.


I Can't Believe I Missed This!

Via Joystiq:

Some call it 8-bit punk. Some call it blip-pop. Enough with the name games! How about listening to it? Here’s a little taste of the type of music you’ll hear at tonight’s 8-bit music concert to be held in NYC.

Musicians including David Sugar (UK), Receptors (US), Hey Kid Nice Robot (US), M-.-N (BE), Glomag (US), Bubblyfish (US), Omac (US), Nullsleep (US) and Bit Shifter (US) will be performing a high-volume concert performed on Gameboys, NES, Atari 2600 and other 8-bit video game systems.

We attended a mini concert given by Nullsleep and Bit Shifter several years ago in NYC. The two managed to coaxe a mind-expanding amalgamation of danceable electronica out of hacked Game Boy hardware. It was impressive, and the blips, bleeps and bloops pluck at those deeply buried emotional strings deep in the heart of any gamer that played the NES as a kid.

October 22 @ 7pm

I only read this at 9PM… D'oh!


Thank You, Samsung!

From a firmware upgrade manual on the Samsung website:
“Introduction: When you encounter the problem which is not related in Drive Firmware necessity.”

I couldn't have said it better myself…


Nice Sukkot Dvar Torah

Sitting in the sukkah, we learn that life is essentially simple and joyous. We learn that we do not need the external structures that we build in our lives to protect us from the experience of our vulnerability . They only separate us from our true selves, from other people and from God.
Sitting in the sukkah is full body experience. You eat, drink, sleep, sit in the sukkah.  People can talk about God's loving protection, but when we are actually in the sukkah we feel it almost magically. It teaches us that we are children of God and the world is God's house.  In the sukkah, I can be real, I can be totally myself and I can allow others to be fully themselves as well.

From the Beit Miriam Yahoo Group.


World of Warcraft is a Feeling

Oh, yes it is.  And here's a music video to prove it.

And the source site, Pure Pwnage, is a riot.  From the front page:

i pwn noobs liek hard rite n my roomate has dis camera rite so hes all liek 'we can make a show lol' n im liek dats teh pwnage n stuf n hes liek i no lol so im liek ok film me noob n hes liek ok so we did lololol

thne we lukd at it rite n were liek 'omfg stfu dats pure pwnage lol' so we made dis site n stuf rite n now were gonna b famose!!!!

Oh, man.