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Archive for the 'Culture' Category

The Half-Bakery

July 20th, 2006 Comments Off

The [Half-Bakery](http://www.halfbakery.com/) came up on [reddit](http://reddit.com/info/adpi/comments) recently, and I was strongly reminded of [The Phantom Tollbooth](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0394820371/)’s *Royal Banquet*.

> “The half bakery?” questioned Milo.
>”Of course, the half bakery,” snapped the king. “Where do you think half-baked ideas come from? Now, please don’t interrupt. By royal command, the pastry chefs have worked all night to—”
>”What’s a half-baked idea?” asked Milo again.
>”Will you be quiet?” growled Azaz angrily; but, before he could begin again, three large serving carts were wheeled into the hall and everyone jumped up to help himself.
>”They’re very tasty,” explained the Humbug, “but they don’t always agree with you. Here’s one that’s very good.” He handed it to Milo and, through the icing and nuts, Milo saw that it said, “THE EARTH IS FLAT.”
>”People swallowed that one for years,” commented the Spelling Bee, “but it’s not very popular these days—d-a-y-s.” He picked up a long on that stated “THE MOON IS MADE OF GREEN CHEESE” and hungrily bit off the part that said “CHEESE.” “Now *there’s* a half-baked idea,” he said, smiling.
>Milo looked at the great assortment of cakes, which were being eaten almost as quickly as anyone could read them. The count was munching contentedly on “IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS” and the kind was busy slicing one that stated “NIGHT AIR IS BAD AIR.”
>”I wouldn’t eat too many of those if I were you,” advised Tock. “They may look good, but you can get terribly sick of them.”
>”Don’t worry,” Milo replied; “I’ll just wrap one up for later,” and he folded his napkin around “EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST.”


June 14th, 2006 2

So I went and saw _Cars_. And as with *The Incredibles*, it was with some degree of apprehension that I entered the theatre. Would Pixar put my doubts to shame and be astounding, yet again? Or would the combination of Owen Wilson, an obviously rather pat storyline, and anthropomorphic automobiles finally be enough sillyness to sink Pixar’s latest creation?

Indeed, this time around the response _is_ much more mixed than ever before. There was very little doubt that *The Incredibles* was spectacular–enumerating its various assets serves little purpose. But what is it in *Cars* that gives pause? Read on…

Trailer Science

February 23rd, 2006 2

Originally, I had [dismissed *Firewall*](http://uwmike.com/articles/2006/02/11/engineering-sexy). My analysis was based on its [miserable trailer](http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/firewall/) and a mountain of other people’s [negative opinions](http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/firewall/).

And so, it was with a certain level of despair that I was dragged by [Jeff](http://jeffaho.com/) and [others](http://tron09.com/) out to Galaxy for that late-night first-weekend screening. As it turned out, Firewall was a good deal *less bad* than I’d anticipated—indeed, an entertaining way to spend 2 hours and $7.50.

What was the difference between the trailer and the picture? Read on…

Alias Tyler Adam

February 16th, 2006 4

A blank luggage slip, a 1973 dollar, a sketch of a woman, and two carefully clipped news items.

What do they have in common? All discovered between pages of the [Book of Bread](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060913592/sr=8-1/qid=1140144078/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-6209229-7498534?%5Fencoding=UTF8), purchased for $9 at [Old Goat Books](http://www.oldgoatbooks.com/).

Five Clues

Read on…

Sexy Engineering

February 11th, 2006 3

The [*Firewall* trailer](http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/firewall/) opens with chilling voiceovers from Harrison Ford. “*Someone’s been trying to hack in and compromise my identity… You think somebody got my information off the internal network?*”

Do members of the lay public grok *Firewall*’s vision of computer security? I buy into the Vegas of [*Ocean's Eleven*](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240772/) and the medicine of [*Grey's Anatomy*](http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy/), but it’s because I’m hopelessly unfamiliar with gambling and biology.

So does non-geekhood allow one to suspend their disbelief enough to enjoy this flick? To believe that the process of [identity theft](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_theft) is simply “hacking in” to some single master database maintained by who-knows-who? That a victim would be aware of *attempts* to perform this feat when it hasn’t yet seen success? Read on…

Low Fat from Tim’s

February 1st, 2006 9

I don’t normally use this space to express negative opinions, but I’m making an exception for the Low Fat Yogurt commercial from Tim Hortons.

The advertisement in question is not simply annoying, it is *offensive*.

A trim, red-haired woman is featured, enjoying a fruit and yogurt cup on a couch. A small crowd gathers outside the window, presumably to observe her consuming the treat.

On seeing these people, she assumes the look of a trapped animal. “It’s low fat,” she pleads, eyes wide, “It’s *low fat*!” Read on…

Wisdom of Crowds on Reddit & Jobmine

January 17th, 2006 4

I’ve [unsubscribed from Slashdot](http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/006081.html), in favour of [Reddit](http://reddit.com).

To the casual reader, Reddit is a page of interesting links. To hardcore Redditors (the “mob”), it’s a steady stream of [fresh content](http://reddit.com/new), each piece to be evaluated as a candidate for the +1 vote of confidence, or the -1 vote of dismissal. Accumulate enough points—quickly enough—and it’ll appear on the front page of the site.

Perfect system, right? Read on…


January 11th, 2006 6

Ever since Dave Shea [linked to them](http://www.mezzoblue.com/archives/2005/11/10/pizza_and_pa/), I’ve been fascinated by [John Langdon's Ambigrams](http://www.johnlangdon.net/ambigrams.html).

I got his book Wordplay for Christmas, which is a fascinating series of new ambigrams, interspersed with philosophical musings and other treats.

Waterloo Ambigram

Browncoats Ambigram

Veronica Mars Ambigram


Chick Flick Shame

January 4th, 2006 6

Looking at my DVD library, I’ve pretty much come to terms with my tastes: drama, intrigue, and witty relationship comedy. Action just doesn’t do it for me. And horror *definitely* doesn’t do it for me.

Case: [Minority Report](http://imdb.com/title/tt0181689/). For an “action” movie, we’ve only three major action sequences, and all of them border on the ridiculous. A runaway jetpack that grills hamburgers? A factory that builds a car with Tom Cruise alive and kicking inside it? A “flush the tank” lever that no one knew about until the moment a hero needed a quick getaway?

self ticket | milan airport transfers

Read on…

The Potency of Flash + Javascript

December 18th, 2005 4

Web developers, repeat after me: *Flash is bad*.

Flash navigation removes right-click functionality. It breaks bots and search engines. It fills up the advertiser’s arsenal with entirely new ways to obscure content and frustrate users. Sites built entirely in Flash break the basic metaphor of the Internet—the page. You can’t link or bookmark anything, and if you mistakenly hit the back-button, you’re back to square one.

And yet, there’s been some really neat stuff happening with Flash. Especially when combined with Javascript to provide unobtrusive enhancements to pages. I have here two examples… I also have a really neat idea, but I’m not talking about that until it works; I hate vapourware too. Read on…

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