6.05.2004

Things I learned from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Redux

(Now with screenshots)




People

Kings did not have the need for teleprompters in those days. They also never had to ride around inside arrowproof carriages for safety amongst their people. I believe those two facts are related somehow.

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"What's my line?"


Though entirely seperate species, there is no law governing the union of human and elf.

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"Kiss me my perfectly legal interspecies girlfriend"


If Gandalf were alive today, he would use Linux

Gandalf is like karl rove times a million, except for not being evil.

Gimili may be the last dwarf of the face of the earth, but I bet his poor personal hygene still creates problems when it comes to attracting women.

An immortal evil wizard who has centuries of trickery and magic under his belt can easily be contained by locking him in his castle if the land and buildings outside the castle are destroyed. His power is inexplicably but intimately tied to his extensive landscaping projects.

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"Dude, it's ok, we wrecked his yard"


When a hobbit says "we are sitting on a field of victory" with his mouth full, the "s" in "sitting" sounds a lot like "sh".

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Shitting on the field of victory


Hobbits are allowed to dance on tables although their feet would break health regulations in a heartbeat.

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Somebody call the Health Department


Playing a special role in the socio-political-militaristic adventure will earn you eternal life in the sea with the elves whilst your friends are left to reside in the same old rotton, boring life in which they were born although their sacrifices were no less honorable.

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"Um, bye. We'll just, like, hang out here until we die. Enjoy your immorality. Glad we could help, asshat"


Although the last ship left long ago, there will always be another one for the social elite.

Though elves are the most advanced creatures in the history of the earth and their lives are the very epitome of gracefully refined elagance, elven men still come off a little gay.

When committing suicide to gain the favor of your father while he eats dinner, you can always find a few hundred people willing to die alongside you.

You can easily drive a wedge through even the most ardent of friendships with month old bread.

An all seeing ever powerful eye will not recgonize you in enemy clothing, even if you are three feet shorter than all it's minions.

Horses

Though reliable for transportation, horses tend to attract even more vicious animals which either like to stomp or eat them.

Although Sahdowfax is the king of horses, it appears he never has any more horsepower than any of the other cheaper models.

The loyalty of horses goes in both extremes at different times. They may bravely ride you into a deadly melee during battle but they may also run away at the sight of spooky caves.

The horses of those days were braver than the horses we have today and would charge right over pikes and spears. If Napoleon had those horses at Waterloo, all of Europe would be speaking French today.

Ghost horses have the advantage of being amphibious.

Giant prehistoric elephants that are over 100 feet tall

Giant prehistoric elephants that are over 100 feet tall can still be easily concealed until needed.

Giant prehistoric elephants that are over 100 feet tall and impervious to arrows and spears can be brought down with small cuts on their legs. If this doesn't work, three arrows shot into the densest bone in it's body, the skull, will fell a giant prehistoric elephant that is over 100 feet tall every time.

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"Gymkata!"


Giant prehistoric elephants that are over 100 feet tall probably do not cry when receiving their tattoos.

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"Kee-rist that hurts, I didn't even cry like this when I got my tattoo"


If you are on the back of a giant prehistoric elephant that is over 100 feet tall when it dies, it will gently fall forward while extending it's trunk so that you can surf it straight to the ground where your friend will be standing only a few feet away with a humourous comment at the ready.

Battles

When fleeing the final battle in which your evil overlord is destroyed, it is probably best to strike out on your own rather than stay with the pack. While the pack will probably be persued and slaughtered, a lone orc may slip under the radar and be able to land a job busing tables somewhere.

When something interesting happens during a battle it is always safe to take time to just stand there and look at it. Your enemy is fair and will not attack you while your attention is diverted.

Women and children should be kept near the front lines and only evacuated to the inner sanctum of the castle at the last moment.

A 30 ton chunk of rock that was blown off the castle can be moved onto a trebuchet and fired within seconds.

The velocity and trajectory of huge chunks of rock flying through the air is easy enough to determine from 600 yards away that you should be able to simply move a couple of feet the instant before it crashes down. Making sure the rock lands six inches from your face should be sufficient as it will have no asymetrical protrusions which may get your feet or snag other parts of your body, nor will any parts break off and smash your toes or anything.

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"I am the master of Euclidean geometry and parabolic motion."


When recruiting a ghost army, practice what you are going to say beforehand so you don't make mistakes during the bargaining of terms. An example would be telling them they will be freed "if they fight with you" when it would be much better to tell them they will be freed "when the war is over". A ghost army is numerous, deadly, and unstoppable because they cannot be killed but they will consider their obligation fulfilled after one small battle and when you could easily win the entire war with them later, they will not be there.

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"Say, boss. I know you have this big war thing going on but technically we agreed only to "fight with you" so what's the chance of cutting out a little early?"



When the ghost army is in battle, it is still good to have the only three mortals off by themselves and surrounded by the enemy so they can share a lot of the dangerous work too.

The Nazgul, a prehistoric dragon type animal, does not necessarily have hide as tough as it looks and though it's neck is five feet in diameter, it's head can be lopped off in two strokes.

When riding out to protect horsemen from flying Nazguls, take the hobbit with you. I can think of no good reason to do so, maybe it has to do with traction or something.

General

Giant eyes supernova when they die.

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Poof!


Evil immortal warriors who, as a rule, "cannot be defeated by any man" are easily defeated through the exploitation of semantics. Namely, they can easily be killed by a woman.

Catfish, though tasty when eaten alive, will turn you into a hideously deformed monster over time.

If your weakness centers around the fact that if your ring is thrown into the lava of Mount Doom and you are aware that your enemy is seeking to exploit this one and only weakness, it may be wise to put a lock on the door that accesses the lava.

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"I'll operate this entrance that leads to my destruction on the honor system"


If doused with oil and lit afire, you will still have time to run two hundred yards to make a more dramatic death.

Do not be concerned about the hot lava you are fallig into. Instead, it is best to think one last happy thought before you drown in fiery death.

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Think happy thoughts

Reagan, dead at 93

To paraphrase Mark Twain, it seems a great pity that they allowed him to die a natural death. That may be a little harsh, and I don't hold anything against the man personally, but his presidency was just one huge PR facade and it's lead to the exploitation of the voters at almost scientific degrees of accuracy that we have today.

I don't remember a whole lot about his presidency except that he had no clear recollection of most of it.

Sadly, he has become the hero of today's conservatives the same way Lincoln became a respected wise man of the nation, through armies or writers changing the story after the fact.

I suppose it only fitting that he died as he lived, and with a facade to signify the occasion.

Snapshot of today's CNN Reagan tribute.
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The same thing back in 2001 when they accidentally posted a lot of template obituaries on their site.
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Tales of Old China

Words and images from China, circa 1840 - 1950


Nigritude Ultramarine

As proof that I have nothing better to do at the moment, I'm linking to
here and showing this:



in the off chance that it may win someone an iPod.

6.03.2004

Gentoo is for ricers

I use Gentoo, and though this this seems to be in defense of either Debian or binary packages (neither of which I use), I still love it's collection of stupid Gentoo quotes.

When I first installed Gentoo I was a little confused by the portage system. I had always downloaded tgz's and compiled from source and with the advent of portage it became something akin to having an assistant who speaks Esperanto help you do the exact same thing you've been doing for a long time on your own. I guess it's nice and all but after a year of using Gentoo I still prefer to do it all myself and never use portage.

I subscribed to a couple of the Gentoo mailing lists but was flooded with other people's problems and figured I'd have more luck figuring it all out on my own, which I did. Gentoo is nice and it really is fast, but only because it gets rid of a lot of bloat. It's a non-rpm based distro and I can't tell any difference between it and, say, Slackware.

This sums it up well:
"The Gentoo install system taught me more about *NIX in the course of a few days than three years of other distros did. I fell in love instantly. It didn't hurt that I could FINALLY build binaries tuned for my CPU, while other distros were much more 'generic'."
People come from crappy RPM based distros like Mandrake or Red Hat where they never figured out how to simply type "./configure" or "make" and think Gentoo's portage system is superior to compiling it yourself when it's nothing but a more complicated way of doing exactly that.

There are upsides to Gentoo. It supposedly keeps track of all your packages and updates them, finds all the dependancies and everything, but I was beyond those troubles a long time ago, and I am no 'nix guru.

6.02.2004

And He said unto them,

It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.


A glimpse of the Baghdad art scene

Chris Albritton, the ex journalist turned reader funded blogger from Iraq, has a nice look at some of the art appearing in Baghdad. The only bad thing that can be said is that there's not nearly enough.

Click the left image on his site to see all of the photos he has posted.

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How to get Kazaa to work on Linux

Kazaa is probably the most popular P2P application out there today and many Linux users want to use it. Unfortunately Kazaa is for Windows only, so you have to run it under wine, the Windows emulator for Linux. This can be tricky.

I've installed it on three or four systems and it has always taken me a lot of searching on the internet to find just the right combination in the setup to make Kazaa work, but once I get it to work it always seems stupidly easy. It's just a matter of remembering how to do it.

So here is a little how-to for the struggling 'nix users. This works great for me, I hope it does for you too. Once you get it working, make a backup of your wine config file and the kazaa directory. If you ever have to install it again, hopefully you can just copy everything in a couple of seconds and be done.

For the record I'm using Wine version 20030813 on Gentoo 1.4.

Step 1:

Go to the Wine website, download it an install it. Sorry, I'm not going to help you with that part.

Step 2:

Download Kazaa and some Windows dll files. I have them here.

Kazaa - (right click and save the file) This is actually a program called "Kazaa-Lite." It's Kazaa without the spyware. There is a Kazaa-Lite version 2 (and maybe higher) available, but 1.72 works for me so it's all I have

dll files - There are actually some extras here, but it works and I'm afraid to change it! Put these dll files in the directory /home/YOURNAME/.wine/fake_windows/Windows/System

comctl32.dll
comdlg32.dll
commctrl.dll
msvcrt.dll
ole32.dll
oleaut32.dll
rasapi32.dll
rpcrt4.dll
shdoclc.dll
shdocvw.dll
shell.dll
shell32.dll
shlwapi.dll
urlmon.dll
wininet.dll
winspool.drv

Step 3:

Install Kazaa by opening a shell and typing wine kazaa_lite_172_english.exe and follow the instructions

Step 4:

Edit your wine config file. To find this, go to your home directory, the go to the .wine directory. (The dot indcates that it is hidden, just type it in at the top of your file manager) Open the file named "config" and add these lines. If there is already a AppDefaults kazaa.exe section and your kazaa doesn't work, delete that section before you add these lines:

[AppDefaults\\kazaa.exe\\DllOverrides]
"*" = "builtin, native, so"
"commctrl" = "native"
"comctl32" = "builtin"
"comdlg32" = "builtin"
"ole32" = "native"
"oleaut32" = "native"
"rpcrt4" = "native"
"shdoclc" = "native"
"shdocvw" = "native"
"shlwapi" = "native"
"winspool.drv" = "native"
"shell32" = "builtin"
"shell" = "native"
"urlmon" = "native"
"wininet" = "native"
"msvcrt" = "native"
"rasapi32" = "native"

from your home directory cd into '.wine/fake_windows/Program Files/KaZaA Lite' and type wine Kazaa.exe. If it works... good! If it doesn't I can't help ya.

If it works, you can make a simple shell script to automatically launch kazaa at the click of a button. Copy the text below into a text file. Go to a shell and type "chmod 755 the_name_of_the_text_file" to make it executable. Put it on your desktop or wherever you want and just click it to launch kazaa

#! /bin/sh
cd '/home/your_home_directory/.wine/fake_windows/Program Files/KaZaA Lite/' && wine Kazaa.exe

You can also preview the files while they're downloading. From your home directory, go to .wine/fake_windows/Program Files/KaZaA Lite/My Shared Folder to see the files and use your favorite program to view them. They aren't named, but the first file in the directory is the first one you're downloading, the second is the second etc...


I have found my presidential candidate

Twain in 2004

"When there is no question that the nation is in any way in danger, but only some little war away off, then it may be that on the question of politics the nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which."

"Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people's countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for the "universal brotherhood of man" -- with his mouth."

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

"Public servant: Persons chosen by the people to distribute the graft."

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."

"Whose property is my body? Probably mine. I so regard it. If I experiment with it, who must be answerable? I, not the State. If I choose injudiciously, does the State die? Oh no."

Mark Twain 2004

6.01.2004

I want to be a conservative

I believe in smaller government, states rights, less taxes and spending, less waste, less foreign entanglements (not strict isolationism, but less complicated alliances), a strong military (not weakened by errant missions), the right to bear arms, free markets (not government controlled markets), personal responsibility (for people in the government too), less nonsensical laws and regulations, honesty and dignity in the White House.

I want to be left alone.

I want to opt out of programs that I think are foolish, I want to control my own retirement and health insurance. I want to be able to trust the government to do what is right, to do it right, and to do it smartly and without waste.

I consider this "little-c conservatism" which is different from "Big-C conservatism" in that the former is a philosophy, the latter a political agenda which includes certain views that I am not inclined to vote for, generally of the religious nature. I believe in freedom of religion, but the Big-C's believe in government-subsidized forced religion, and that is contradictory to everything I just said.

None of my little-c conservative beliefs relate to any candidate or party that I know of. Certainly not to the one in power that calls itself conservative.

I tried searching for conservative beliefs and issues and almost all the websites deal with the British Conservative Party, there are none espousing the beliefs of American conservatism.

I found a lot of anti-liberal sites that looked a lot like Karl Rove's mailing list with stories like "Kerry unfit to be president" "Leftists attack the patriot act, want to weaken the US" "Liberals want the troops to die". Just the most godawful drivel ever to come from the pen of mankind. None of it honest in any sane sense of the word, but all of it popular in every insane sense of popularity.

The only conslusion is that conservatives don't believe in anything and, perhaps, don't even exist at all. Only republicans are left, and they are not what I am looking for. They are only another flavor of liberals who want to use the government to force you to bow down to their agenda.

Maybe there are no liberals either. Perhaps there is only one belief system in play today, and that is across the board statism where the government is used to tell you how to live, with the only difference in flavor being whichever side fools you into believing their lies.

Government is used like paint by both sides. They pour it all over problems, hiding them for a bit but never solving them, and when the problems start to show through they're even worse than before because they've just gotten more rotten while no one was looking.

I think it should be used like WD-40. Just gently apply a drop to the precise location the gears are grinding and you have a well oiled society again.

For a while I started to believe in libretarianism, and I still do, but have since come to realize that if it ever gains momentum, it will be co-opted from the start and taken into the hellish fold of American 21st century politics, where plundered and raped, it will emerge as another sullen wench of the watered down American political psyche, with nothing but dollars on the mind, lies on the tongue, greed on the heart, and whores behind the wheel.

In other words, it will become a full fledged political party.

So I don't have a party and will not vote for one. I just can't lend my name to any of these crooked whores I see on the political scene today. But at least I'm not bitter, right?

5.31.2004

Troy

I watched Troy over the weekend and nearly fell asleep. It's not a bad movie per se, but it's in no way exciting. The story is more about Achilles than Troy, which is to be expected with Brad Pitt playing Achilles I suppose.

Thus most of the historical aspects of the war are condensed into movie form, which is to say they take a nine year long war and turn it into a two week battle that focuses on Achilles' and never hint at the rest.

The untold story is more interesting, in my opinion. There's a lot of Greek history, battles and many heros who are far superior to Achilles but are only used as weak supporting characters in the movie.

What the movie got wrong

In the movie, Patroclus was Achilles' cousin and he used Achilles' armor without his knowing, but in Greek history Patroclus was his friend (some say his lover) and was told by Achilles to use his armor.

When Achilles is angered over Patroclus' death and kills Hector he drags his body back to the camp behind a chariot. In greek history, he dragged the body for nine days.

In the movie the Greeks set out in a great naval armada for Troy, land on the beach and the war is on and only lasts a couple of weeks. But actually, the Greeks first attacked the Teuthranians. After a costly win against them, the Greeks returned home until they found out that Helen was in Troy. After they finally reached Troy, they fought a nine year long war against the Trojans and their allied cities nearby. Achilles fought bravely in many of these battles, capturing 23 Trojan towns, killing several famous warriors, and winning many victories.

The woman Achilles saves and eventually falls in love with is some sort of sworn virgin in the temple of the sun god, but in Greek history it was Briseis, wife of Mynes, the King of Lyrnessus, a Trojan city that Achilles helped the Greeks defeat.

Though the prophet Helenus stated that Achilles would be needed to win the Trojan war, contrary to the movie, Achilles was not a famous warrior before going to Troy. When he was younger he was a "juvenile deliquent" and his mother knew that it was his destiny to go to Troy and die, so when he was 9 years old, she thought it would be best to dress him as a girl and sent him to King Lycomedes of Scyros. The disguise was discovered by Odysseus and Achilles agreed to go to Troy with him. He was only 15 at the time and left behind Deidamia, his pregnant newlywed wife.

In the movie, Ajax, another famous Greek warrior, is killed by Hector and mourned by Achilles but Ajax actually outlived Achilles and after Achilles death competed with Odysseus to win Achilles armor. When Odysseus won the armor, Ajax went mad and tried to kill everyone but Athena intervened and made him think a bunch of cattle were the Greeks so he killed them instead. When he realized what he was doing, he committed suicide.

I will have to let the reader find the history on their own, but this movie is not about Troy, it is about Brad Pitt trying to make Achilles look good. Hey Braddie, Achilles doesn't really need your help.

For the attention span deprived: Troy in 15 minutes

The war will pay for itself

Before the war the hawks kept saying we'd just sell Iraq's oil to pay for it all. Of course, the hawks had to fool themselves into believing it was our oil to sell in the first place, but once accomplished, no amount of facts and figures could persuade them that 2 plus 2 didn't equal five.

And now, it seems we've made a whopping $10 billion off the oil that belonged to the Iraqi people while the cost of the war is $150 billion and rising. Somebody better tell those Iraqis to get off their asses and pump more oil for us to steal.

5.30.2004

WW II Monument

The WW II Monument has all the feel and allure of an amusement park. You'd expect to see one of those big "you are here" maps with an arrow pointing to Memorial Plaza. Another map of Memorial Plaza would show all the attractions, Field of Stars, Freedom Wall, Atlantic Arch, Atlantic Pavilion, Baldacchino sculpture, Pacific Arch. You expect to see River Rampage, restrooms, gift shops and live shows in there somewhere too.

There are pillars for all the states. Hawaii was the only "state" to suffer a real attack during the war, but they weren't a state at the time, and neither was Alaska. Are they honored with a pillar? How do you decide on something like that?

During the war my grandfather was a Seabee, an engineer in the Navy, and took part in building airstrips and taking care of entrenched Japanese in the island hopping campaigns of the Pacific. I suppose the Pacific Arch is his memorial, but what of the thousands who had odd jobs that don't fit under any of the specific sections?

It would have been better to have one big beautiful statue to honor all the veterans instead of different sections that take all day to see. By subdividing it into all these little sections one gets the feeling that some are worth memoralizing more than others.

The Effects of a Global Thermonuclear War

Quite an interesting paper

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