He just needs a cool henchman and sexy kept woman with a double-entendre name

An exile from his home country, he's a world traveler. A charismatic fellow with a distinctive look, he has a physical quirk, prematurely greying hair. He wouldn't look out of place dressed in a tux at an exclusive European casino. He has an indeterminately European-sounding name. He speaks somewhat strangely, and has a flair for the theatrical. His mission is to change how the world works, redesigning it according to his own ideals. If he succeeded in his dream, it would massively disrupt the status quo of international relations and global business. He's on Interpol's most wanted list. Governments around the world have denounced him, and are trying to apprehend him. He lives in secrecy, moving from country to country, sometimes altering his appearance. And his operation is housed in a nuclear-bomb-proof mountain bunker.

Tell me Jullian Assange isn't a Bond movie villan? Read More...

The Threat Advisory System Explained

Bruce Schneier notes that DHS is getting rid of the unloved color-coded "terrorism threat level" system.

I don't remember the last time the threat level changed, but at one point the threat index was lowered to "Elevated", which I found a bit confusing. I wrote the following, lost in my unpublished items until now, which I hope explains the system more clearly:

The terror level has been lowered to elevated. It was high, which is more elevated than elevated, but high isn't as high as the highest level. The highest level is severe, which is the level that is more elevated than high, which in turn isn't the highest level, but is more elevated than elevated and guarded, which is less high than high and elevated, but more elevated than low. Less severe than severe, high, and elevated is guarded, which is higher than low but less elevated than elevated. Low is the lowest. Guarded is more severe than low, but less elevated than severe which is higher than high which is elevated more than elevated which is more elevated than guarded.

Got it?

I'm joining Ted's Band

Ted's Band/The Worthless Peons/The Blanks performed in the cafeteria at Broward General Hospital today!

Pasted Graphic

Software Engineering...
Shipping and receiving...
On-site property management including pest control, nighttime security, non-arboreal gardening services, and tenant-related easements and liens...


This made my week.

I'm such a dork...




“I wonder if they’d let me join?

Probably not...”

Floridiots on the Move

I decided to spin off Floridiots into a separate blog, The Floridiot Files. There is too much of it for this blog, and trying to fit it in here was both a distraction to the focus (such as it is!) of this site and an unnecessary restriction on what I though could be an interesting concept in its own right that might have much broader appeal.

So, the Files launched yesterday, with all the classics from this site plus some older items that I skipped. There are several new stories queued up as well, plus a new mug shots feature.

Floridiots Afoot!

I was trying not to do too many of these, but how could I pass up a story like this?

A Florida firefighter who admitted taking a severed foot from an accident scene has resigned.

St. Lucie County Fire Chief Ron Parrish said Cindy Economou, a 14 year veteran and former firefighter of the year for St. Lucie County, resigned after she was presented with the investigation report into the incident.

He said after seeing the report, which found her at fault for removing the foot, she resigned.

Parrish wouldn't say if she was encouraged to resign or if she did so voluntarily.


Economou admitted to investigators that she removed the foot, which had been severed in the crash, so that she could take it home to help train cadaver dogs, a hobby of hers.

OK.... as long as I’m giving in to temptation....

From TCPalm:

PORT ST. LUCIE — A cross-dressing robber snatched a 74-year-old woman's purse in St. Lucie West on Tuesday before a faux breast popped out of his tube top, according to a police report released Thursday.

The alleged female-impersonating robber then hopped into a four-door silver getaway car occupied by possibly two other men in drag and sped off, leaving the victim and the faux breast — a water-filled condom in a white gym sock — at the scene.

"We're processing the condom for latent prints," said Officer Robert Vega, police spokesman.

The victim was pushed to the ground and sustained minor injuries in the incident at the Sears on St. Lucie West Boulevard.

Police also recovered two hairs on the sock that might be chest hairs. Investigators are submitting them for DNA analysis.

The assailant wore a short jean skirt, tube top and white flip-flops, weighs 130 to 140 pounds and is of thin build. He sported shoulder-length hair with maroon hair attachments in a dreadlocks style.

Port St. Lucie has really been contributing more than its fair share of late. Other PSL stories that didn’t make the cut: Man arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a sandwich, and two people arrested for stealing $15,000 worth of breast pumps and selling them on eBay.

Breaking news: there has now been a second man arrested in PSL for assaulting his girlfriend with a sandwich. We’ll keep you apprised if this turns into a full fledged sandwich assault crime wave...

The High Seas

My Dad teaches at Maine Maritime Academy, a college which offers neat majors like Marine Systems Engineering, Marine Transportation Operations, and Small Craft Design. They have their own fleet of ships of course including and a 500 foot training ship, T.S. State Of Maine. During their first and third years, students in majors leading to USCG third assistant engineer and third mate licenses are required to participate in training cruises on the ship. In the past they have vistied some interesting places these 60-day working trips. But, as you can imagine, a 60 day cruise in a ship that size uses quite a lot of fuel, and current oil prices have been a challenge.

Now of course in the old days, ships were powered for free, by wind. (MMA also has one of those: Arctic explorer Admiral MacMillan's schooner, Bowdoin)

What you may not have realized was the extent to which ships in the olden days were also apparently running on Ethanol -- or at least, their crews were.

I recently stumbled again across this article about the history of the oldest commissioned warship in the world, the USS Constitution. It comes by way of the National Park Service, as printed in "Oceanographic Ships, Fore and Aft", a periodical from the oceanographer of the US Navy.

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston, loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.

On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later, Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 2,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum. By this time, Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here, her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 13,000 gallons on board and headed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, and no whiskey. She did, however, still carry her crew of 475 officers and men and 18,600 gallons of water. The math is quite enlightening: Length of cruise: 181 days. Booze consumption: 1.26 gallons per man per day (this does not include the unknown quantity of rum captured from the 12 English merchant vessels in November).

Naval historians say that the re-enlistment rate from this cruise was 92%.


Return of the Floridiots

I'm trying not to make every post be on this topic, but it's hard when I keep seeing stories like this:

MIAMI (CBS4) ― Imagine trying to strap a light pole, at least 30 feet long, to the roof of an Astro mini-van. Now imagine driving through busy downtown Miami traffic with that pole tied to your vehicle. That's exactly what cops say Elio Valerio and a friend did just before they were pulled over.[...]He managed to drive all the way from 83rd and Biscayne Boulevard to Northwest 7th Avenue and Northwest 21st Street.

Story with video here. Google maps says thats about a 5 mile, 15 minute drive through downtown with the stolen street light pole strapped to his minivan!

Floridiots Strike Back

The last item reminded me of something I wrote before I had a blog. This is from an email I sent my Dad & awesome Stepmom a couple years ago when they were planning a trip down.

Hi guys! Hope you're still planning on coming!

Not to discourage you, but after seeing the following story on last night's news, I thought it would be best to prepare you for a visit to South Florida, where anything and everything happens. If you're familiar with any of our previous work:

  • Assorted Hurricanes
  • New home of OJ Simpson
  • The Elian Gonzales case
  • The 2000 Election
  • Home of several 9/11 hijackers
  • Anthrax attack
[not to mention Creative Duct-tape Users -ed] then I know you'll enjoy this one:

Yesterday in Homestead, near Miami, a man who apparently feared he had overdosed on drugs left his house, sprinted three blocks down the street while naked, and burst into an occupied home. He sat on the couch for a few moments while the startled family stared at him. At that point, he apparently became scared, got up and moved the couch, and cowered behind it for a several minutes.

At that point he got up, ran into the kitchen, took a gallon of milk from their fridge, and left the house. He stopped and boarded a "special needs" schoolbus, and forced the driver to take him to the hospital. When they arrived, he ran into the hospital and, still naked and carrying a gallon of milk, hurdled the counter at the admissions desk and demanded to be treated.

I think we've really outdone ourselves with this one. It's hard to even fit all the wackiness into a single headline! "Recently cowering naked local addict hijacks special ed schoolbus with stolen milk jug, demands treatment".

Anyway, hope that didn't scare you off! See you soon! And be prepared!

Unfortunately I can no longer find a link to this one, but I swear I really did see this story on local TV news.

Floridiots In The News

I've been noticing for a while the a lot of the "stupid criminals" news stories seem originate in this state. A couple recent examples come to mind.

First there is is this one out of Ocala, FL, where a bank robber used his own personal check, with his name on it, as a robbery note.

Second, and the best I've seen in quite some time, is this story (be sure to watch the video), from Deland, FL where a guy tries to use a dried up palm frond as a weapon to rob a convenience store. Besides the hilarious dialogue, weird gestures (I like the way he shakes his hand "Hey!" when the clerk touches him), putting his shirt over his head like the Bazooka Joe character, and the fact that he is shooed out with a stool, the funniest thing is of course his choice of weapon. Someone pointed out to me that even doing the old "my hand in my jacket pocket is a gun" routine would have worked better, which is a good point. I think it says something about your skills as a robber when you choose to intimidate using a real "weapon" that is less effective than an imaginary one.

Update: if you enjoyed this, Floridiots now has its own website: The Floridiot Files. Come check it out!

Note to Amazon

From the Amazon page for a DeLorme "Atlas & Gazetteer":

Excerpt - page 25: "... i 1 IM M\II`IAI I ~ A`` I , (, DeLorme - o à 0 0 1 '" = 2.3 miles Continue ..."

Nice thought, but trying to OCR a book of maps doesn't work so swell!


Talk about an Axis of Evil...

CNN Reports that:

Yahoo rejects joint proposal from Microsoft, Iran

In a joint press release, Ballmer and Ahmadinejad also vowed to "wipe Google from the map"...

(ok, actually it was Carl Icahn but I misread it...)

Shock and Awe and Childlike Wonder

MacRumors is usually kind of interesting, but I guess it's a slow news day. This piece informs us of the shocking fact that Mac OS 10.5 will probably be followed by a version called 10.6, based on a reference to "10.6" found in the iPhone SDK. (In hot political news, sources close to the 2008 election process have indicated that it will happen again in 2012)

On the other hand we have a previous item that the pundits didn't pick up on, but which I think is really interesting. About Apple's acquisition of PA Semiconductor:

"PA Semi's staff has started notifying a limited set of customers that the company's existing dual-core processor will enjoy long-term support. Apple will employ a number of old PA Semi staffers just for this task, which is good news for folks making missiles, mine-sweeping gear and storage boxes."

(The Register, via MacRumors. Emphasis added.)

Now that's interesting: Apple-powered missiles. Now only if they'd loan out Jon Ive to help design them. Imagine missiles with a seamless brushed aluminum or glossy white surface that emit a soft, pulsing glow from hidden LEDs when armed. Maybe some kind of iTunes integration, downloading and playing "Ride of the Valkyries" or other suitable music over any BlueTooth headsets in the target area. Missile nose cameras would stream back QuickTime videos of the impact, automatically saved and organized in iPhoto. Google Maps integration for targeting. Use your imagination.

That's right. Missiles that deliver not only Shock and Awe, but Childlike Wonder.


Explode different.™™™


<cardboard><styrafoam>your items</styrafoam></cardboard>

Browsing at an online store today, I noticed that one of the shipping options was "United Parcel Service (XML)". I suppose that's meant to be an indicator to the store admin that this option automatically transmits shipping data to UPS vs a manual process, or some such, but it seems like an odd thing to show to the end user. Certainly conjures up interesting mental images, reminiscent of the HTML Cake...

The politics of failure have failed

ABC News quotes John Edwards from tonight's debate: "The status quo is yesterday. And change is tomorrow. And tomorrow begins today. We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

OK, he didn't really say the latter part of that... must have been cut off before he had a chance.

All Hail President Kang!

Talentlessness Quincunx

A Googlewhack is a two word query that produces exactly one hit in a Google search. Both words must be "dictionary" words (according to a somewhat arbitrary definition). Quotes in the search phrase are not allowed of course, as this would make it far too easy. The hit must not be just a list of words. There are a remarkable number of such lists out there!

It turns out to be rather challenging to find one. Sometimes the most absurd combinations of words turn up hundreds or thousands of hits. I thought Kabuki Quincunx was a winner, but I had typoed "quinqunx" instead. When I corrected the spelling, 748 hits! About the same number as for electroplated mayonnaise.

Other more obvious-seeming combinations will have zero hits. Sometimes you'll get just a few, and on some occasions you'll get two hits. It's especially frustrating when you have a single good hit, ruined with a second wordlist hit. Finally there are the word pairs that produce a single hit on a legitimate page, but one of the words is disqualified. Alas, no superquadratic weevil for me (there are nearly four thousand regular quadratic weevils).

But at last, I have achieved whackness!

Of course, now that I've mentioned it, it's only a matter of time before it's compromised... So enjoy the solitary hit for an arrangement of five talentlessnesses in a square (four at the corners and one in the center) while it lasts.


In a crowded market, it's important to differentiate your product from others. As anyone with an email account knows, everyone is selling enlargement pills these days (you know what I'm talking about). Sooner or later all these marketers were going to need to distinguish themselves.

Still, I don't quite get this one. Yesterday I received an offer by email, but this one was different. It promised to "enlarge my aggregate size". Aggregate!? Is this a new approach, rather than increasing the size, add more of them?

Never mind, I don't want to know.

Real Estate: A return to asking for the Moon?

The real estate market is pretty gloomy right now, particularly here in Florida after some crazy growth. But is there hope? According to this Reuters story, real estate prices on the Moon correlate well with Earth-bound housing prices:

"Our calculations suggest lunar land prices appear to be a reasonable lead indicator of U.S. house prices by around 12 months. This suggests a trough in U.S. house prices may occur around the beginning of 2008," the bank said.

Although most traditional indicators are quite pessimistic, lunar land prices have risen 40 percent since the start of 2007, so it seems at least when it comes to the Moon, things are... er... looking up.

Replicants vs The Third Magisterium

I realized the other day that my old Blogger.com account, where this blog originated, was still active, and while poking around there I was reminded of a strange feature of Blogger, the "Random Profile Question".

Some things Blogger asked me:

Which is easier to make a model airplane out of and why: a banana peel or a wet sock?

You have a red jar of cedar chips. Why do moths miss the forest?

You can punch a hole in an apple using a straw. How do you think that makes your milkshake feel?

Does this sound a little similar?

You look down and see a tortoise [...] The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't. [...] But you're not helping. [...] Why is that, Leon?

Yes, that's a question from a Voight-Kampff test, designed to detect Replicants by their emotional response to odd questions.

Now Blogger asks:

Never mind the turtle. Don't you think you're sure to win?


Blogger is, of course, a Google company. Is it possible that somewhere, deep in the Googleplex an AI project has gone awry and is now roaming the internet? Perhaps this is a trap to catch it!

Either that, or Google, not content with indexing all of the internet's knowledge, has decided to start cataloguing the Third Magisterium, using bloggers as unpaid labor.

I'm pretty sure it's one or the other though.

Nasruddin The Blogger

It came to pass that Nasruddin decided to start a blog. His first post was short and simple. "People, do you know what I want to tell you?", he wrote. And the people answered in the comment forum, "No, how can we know?". "Then we don't have a common ground for discussion", Nasruddin replied, and closed his browser.

The next week Nasruddin again posted to his blog, asking the same question. In the comments, the people wrote "Yes, Nasruddin, we know what you want to tell." Nasruddin replied, "Then there is no need for me to blog," and closed his browser.

On the third week, again Naasruddin posted the same question. The people replied, "Some of us know, and some do not." Said Nasruddin, "Well, let those who know tell those who don't" and closed his browser.

Futurama: By Geeks For Geeks

Via Daring Fireball I found this story at WIRED which may give some insight into why Futurama is one of my favorite TV shows:

As showrunner on Futurama, Cohen assembled a team of writers with equally wonky backgrounds. Ken Keeler, who scripted the pilot as well as the new DVD, has a PhD in applied math. Stewart Burns, who wrote the Emmy-winning episode "Roswell That Ends Well," has a master's in math. There are also PhDs in chemistry, philosophy, and computer science. "It was the nerdiest writers' room I'd ever been in, and that's saying something," says Eric Horsted, whose previous experience on sitcoms like Home Improvement and Coach didn't prepare him for the intense discussions about string theory and quantum mechanics.


I Support Your Regime

Apartheid can be defined as "an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups with the intention of maintaining that regime." I would like to talk briefly about one such regime.

Imagine that there is a place where members of one genetic background outnumber another by a factor of 20 to 1, yet are dominated by the smaller group. The regime identifies itself as being for the benefit of this minority, and rarely even publicly acknowledges the existence of the majority as residents. The majority residents do vital work for the benefit of the whole, but get no respect. Most of them live in a ghetto where raw sewage runs through the main throughway. Sometimes, in the name of putting down insurrections by invaders or rebels, chemical warfare is used, with collateral damage of slaughtering countless numbers of the subjugated majority. The ruling minority rationalizes that this is fine, the majority multiplies like mad anyway, soon their numbers will be restored anyway.

Where is this regime? Closer than you might think. This regime is: YOU!

You probably think of yourself as a single being, but of course in grade school you also learned you are made up of cells. As a adult, you have about 100 trillion cells, each with your DNA. So, we can also think of ourselves as a nation, population 100 trillion, of these cells. But it turns out they're in the minority. Your actual population is closer to 1 to 2 quadrillion -- you have 10 to 20 times as many bacteria as you do your own cells! By a census count, most of you isn't even you! The majority of these bacteria live in your large intestine (and can you imagine a worse ghetto?).

So of the regime that is you, only 5% is composed of... well, you. The privileged few with the "right" genetic makeup to be in the upper class, for whose benefit the regime is run. For that matter, the part of nation-you that I am communicating with is the brain cells. The elite of the elite. Of the 5% ruling minority, about 1% of those are brain cells. Of those 90% are glial cells -- sort of supporting functionaries. Only 10% are neurons, the upper .005% of your population. Of course, of those many are doing other things -- breathing, listening to the dog snore in the corner, remembering what you need to do tomorrow, whatever. The you that is receiving this is the true ruling class, a fraction of that one hundredth of a percent. If you were America, they'd be equivalent by percentage to perhaps a few hundred people. The part of you that is reading this is like the couple hundred most powerful people in the country.

So congratulations! You are the ruler of your own apartheid state. Untold quadrillions toil in your service. You are The Man!

You'd just better hope you can keep the masses down. I mean, if those low-class bacteria in your large intestine decided to revolt, the results would be... well, revolting.

So, camera solos are MacOS?

I put up some photo albums, including some fun with Apple's Photobooth application/toy.

Also, I decided to turn some of my odd camera phone photos into a game of Worst Ever. You don't know how to play Worst Ever? Here's how!

(Yes, I know they are blurry. Yes, I know I'm not playing the game exactly right because the photos are already interesting.)

Overheard On The Net

(names changed)

<A> I'm WFH today
<B> wtf wfh
<A> Working From Home
<B> so, google tells me it's World Federation of Hemophilia
<C> sounds like an especially bloody wrestling league.

Another thing duct tape is not good for

People from NASA engineers to photographers to campers know the power of Duct Tape. It's a miracle product. It helped save the lives of the Apollo 13 astronauts. People have used it for all kinds of crazy things... even clothing and wart removal (Really! A medical study found it was more effective than conventional treatments!). There are whole web sites devoted to enumerating the uses for the stuff. Read More...


No... not Haiti. I mean Hiatuses, but I like my spelling better.

I stopped writing for a while, because most of my thoughts were about some "life changes", and some of them, like changing jobs, I couldn't really talk about at the time. But, that's over, I start a new job in two weeks, and maybe it's time to start writing again. More about all of that later.

In the mean time, perhaps an end to another long hiatus:

From a CNN.com article:

TV rumors: 'ER' moving, 'Futurama' returning

[...]There also was speculation that Fox was looking to resurrect the animated series "Futurama," from "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, on its Sunday lineup the same way that "Family Guy" was brought back last year. The network has an option for new episodes, which currently are being produced for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim late-night block.[...]

You can hardly imagine my joy of the though of new episodes of Futurama!

"I'm never gonna get used to the 31st century. Caffineated bacon? Baconated grapefruit? Admiral Crunch?" - Fry

Thought for today

If there was a drug that made your monitor larger, would it be called Diagra?

And so it begins...

So, the Web is coming up on 15 years old this August. I've been on "the net" since before that meant the Internet, back in the days of UUCP. I once had a BITNET address. But I still had no web presence. I was, er, virtually nonexistant.

But PJE and others have inspired me, and now I have a blog.

It doesn't have a name. It doesn't have a graphic theme I like. It doesn't have a coherent vision of what its topic might be. But now it has a post. And you are reading it, so now it has an audience.


So, having created an audience out of thin air for a blog with no name, no topic, and only one post... well, that's a lot for one day. Time to knock off.

I will leave you with this thought:

If the aliens are reading our email to learn more about humans, they must have come to the conclusion by now that earthlings are obsessed with the pursuit of pleasure. Further, they have learned about our three most popular forms of pleasure:
  • Sex
  • Drugs
  • Mortgages

PMI-me-harder-ly yours,

(Tomorrow: A Python Quine)