Thursday, December 24, 2009


Mother London does it (greatness) again.

The Honest $10000 SPAM.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Useful Find: an OS X character that sorts to the END of an alphabetical list

It's been bothering me for years that I didn't know the answer to this question, and I finally took a few minutes to suss it out.

It's ⌥0. (That's Option+Zero.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


How To Show Boolean Filter Dropdown Menus in a Finder Window Search Field (i.e. Spotlight) : OS X 10.5 Leopard

Open a Spotlight window by pressing Command+F. Or just type into the Finder Window's Search field. You’ll see a horizontal strip below the Finder toolbar, labeled Search. The Apple Human Interface Guidelines call this a scope bar. Beneath the scope bar should be a filter row with default scope buttons for Kind and Any. If you don’t see this filter row, press the + button on the scope bar.

When you have the filter row visible beneath the scope bar visible, press and HOLD THE OPTION KEY and the + button on the filter row will change to an … (ellipsis). Click the ellipsis button and a new filter row will appear. This new filter will allow you to set multiple Any/All/None filter rules (Boolean) to any of the predefined search attributes provided by Apple. If it’s a search you use often, save it for future use.

I'm an idiot. How could I not know about this??

Figured this might be useful to others as well...

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Family Guy - O.J Simpson throws Stewie to Chris

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


How to fix the dreaded "self-assigned IP address" in OSX.

If you're on OSX, trash these files, empty the trash, and restart:
1) MacintoshHD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/NetworkInterfaces.plist
2) MacintoshHD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/preferences.plist
3) MacintoshHD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
4) MacintoshHD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Another great graduation speech, from an unlikely source: Patton Oswalt

Worth sharing, I think, and I almost never send viral emails. 
(Patton Oswalt is a comedian if you didn't know.)


Here's the actual speech I gave at my old high school on June 18th.   Well, more or less.   There were some extra, last-minute thoughts I threw in there.   I think the core idea of what I was trying to say was unchanged.

What a great group of kids.    What a bunch of smarty-pants, too.    Brainy bunch.   Very intimidating.   Their valedictorian had a 4.35 GPA.   That means she took extra classes in a PARALLEL DIMENSION, and then found a way to have the credits count in this one.

4.35?   She introduced me, and brought me onstage.   And then she shook hands with 2.71.   And then I said this:

First off, I want to thank the teachers and faculty of Broad Run High School for first considering and then inviting me to speak here.   It was flattering, I am touched and humbled, and you have made a grave mistake.

I'm being paid for this, right?   Oh, wait, there's some advice, right off the bat – always get paid.   If you make enough money in this world you can smoke pot all day and have people killed.

I'm sorry, that was irresponsible.

You shouldn't have people killed.

Boom!  Marijuana endorsement eleven seconds into my speech! Too late to cancel me now!  

It's dumb-ass remarks like that which kept me out of the National Honor Society and also made me insanely wealthy.   If I move to Brazil.

I graduated from Broad Run High School 21 years ago.   That means, theoretically, I could be – each and every one of you – your father.    And I'm speaking especially to the black and Asian students.    

So now I'm going to try to give all of you some advice as if I contained fatherly wisdom, which I do not.   I contain mostly caffeine, Cheet-o dust, fear and scotch.

I know most of you worked very hard to get here today but guess what?   The Universe sent you a pasty goblin to welcome you into the world.   Were The Greaseman and Arch Campbell not available?

So, 1987.    That's when I got my diploma.   But I want to tell you something that happened the week before I graduated.   It was life-changing, it was profound, and it was deeper than I realized at the time.

The week before graduation I strangled a hobo.   Oh wait, that's a different story.   That was college.   I'm speaking at my college later this month.  I've got both speeches here.    Let me sum up the college speech – always have a gallon of bleach in your trunk.

High school.   A week before I graduated high school I had dinner, in Leesburg, with a local banker who was giving me a partial scholarship.  I still don't understand why.   Maybe he had me confused with another student, someone who hadn't written his AP English paper on comparisons between Jay Gatsby and Spider-Man.   But, I was getting away with it, and I love money and food, so double win.

And I remember, I'm sitting at this dinner, with a bunch of other kids from the other local high schools.   And I'm trying my pathetic best to look cool and mysterious, because I was 17 and so into the myth of myself.   Remember, this dinner and this scholarship was happening to me.

And I figured this banker guy was a nice guy but hey, I'm the special one at the table.   I had a view of the world, where I was eternally Bill Murray in Stripes.    I'd be the one with the quips and insights at this dinner.   This old man in a suit doesn't have anything to teach me beyond signing that check.   I've got a cool mullet and a skinny leather tie from Chess King.   And check out my crazy suspenders with the piano keys on them.   Have you ever seen Blackadder?   'Cuz I'll recite it.

And then this banker – clean-shaven, grey suit and vest – you'd never look twice at him on the street – he told me about The Five Environments.

He leans forward, near the end of the dinner, and he says to me, "There are Five Environments you can live in on this planet.   There's The City.   The Desert.   The Mountains.   The Plains.   And The Beach.

You can live in combinations of them.   Maybe a city in the desert, or in the mountains by the ocean.  Or you could choose just one.  Out in the plains somewhere, perhaps.

"But you need to get out there and travel, and figure out where you thrive.   

"Some places you'll go to and you'll feel yourself wither.    Your brain will fog up, your body won't respond to your thoughts and desires, and you'll feel sad and angry.

"You need to find out which of the Five Environments are yours.   If you belong by the ocean, then the mountains will ruin you.   If you're suited for the blue solitude of the plains, then the city will be a tight, roaring prison cell that'll eat you alive.  

He was right.   I've traveled and tested his theory and he was absolutely right.   There are Five Environments.   If you find the right combination, or the perfect singularity, your life will click…into…place.   You will click into place.

And I remember, so clearly, driving home from that dinner, how lucky I felt to have met someone who affirmed what I was already planning to do after high school.   I was going to roam and blitz and blaze my way all over the planet.

Anywhere but here.   Anywhere but Northern Virginia.    NoVa.   You know what a "nova" is?   It's when a white dwarf star gobbles up so much hydrogen from a neighboring star it causes a cataclysmic nuclear explosion.   A cosmic event.    

Well, I was a white dwarf and I was definitely doing my share of gobbling up material.    But I didn't feel like any events in my life were cosmic.   The "nova" I lived in was a rural coma sprinkled with chunks of strip mall numbness.    I had two stable, loving parents, a sane and wise little brother and I was living in Sugarland Run, whose motto is, "Ooooh!   A bee!    Shut the door!"

I wanted to explode.   I devoured books and movies and music and anything that would kick open windows to other worlds real or imagined.   Sugarland Run, and Sterling and Ashburn and Northern Virginia were, for me, a sprawling batter's box before real experience began.

And I followed that banker's advice.   I had to get college out of the way but once I got my paper I lit out hard.

Oh this world.   Ladies and gentlemen, this world rocks and it never lets up.

I've seen endless daylight and darkness in Alaska.   I've swum in volcanic craters in Hawaii and saw the mystical green flash when the sun sinks behind the Pacific.   I got ripped on absinthe in Prague and watched the sun rise over the synagogue where the Golem is supposedly locked in the attic.   I stood under the creepy shadow of Christchurch Spitafields, in London's East End, and sank a pint next door at The Ten Bells, where two of Jack the Ripper's victims were last seen drinking.   I've fed gulls at the harbor in Galway, Ireland.   I've done impromptu Bloomsday tours of Dublin.

I cried my eyes out on the third floor of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, all those paintings that Vincent and his circle have to each other as gifts because they were all broke some cold Christmas long ago.  I've eaten crocodile in the Laneways of Melbourne Australia and ortolans on the Left Bank of Paris, France.

I've been to Canada.

I've been to every state in this country.   I've been to hidden, subterranean restaurants in New York with the guys from Anthrax and eaten at L.A. taquieras with "Weird" Al Yankovic.   I held the guitar that Hendrix torched at Monterey Pop and watched Woodstock '99 burn to the ground.   I've lingered at the corner of Bush and Stockton in San Francisco where Miles Archer took a bullet in The Maltese Falcon, and brooded over the grave of H.P. Lovecraft in Providence, R.I.    I've hung out with Donny Osmond and Jim Goad, Suge Knight and Aimee Mann, Bill Hicks and Don Rickles.

I've done stand-up comedy in laundromats, soup kitchens and frat houses, and onstage at Lollapalooza and Coachella.   I've toured with bands, been to the Oscars and the Superbowl, and been killed in movies by vampires, forest fires and air-to-air missiles.

And I missed the banker's lesson.   100%, I completely missed it.

In my defense, he didn't even know he was teaching it.

Telling me about the 5 Environments and urging me to travel?   That was advice.    It wasn't a lesson.   Advice is everywhere in this world.   Your friends, family, teachers and strangers are all happy to give it.

A lesson is yours and yours alone.   Some of them take years to recognize and utilize.  

My lesson was this – experience, and reward and glory are meaningless unless you're open and present with the people you share them with in the moment.  

Let me go back to that dinner, 21 years ago.   There I was, shut off from this wise, amazing old man.   Then he zaps me with one of the top 5 pieces of information I've ever received in this life, and all I was thankful for was how it benefited me.

I completely ignored the deeper lesson which is do not judge, and get outside yourself, and realize that everyone and everything has its own story, and something to teach you, and that they're also trying – consciously or unconsciously – to learn and grow from you and everything else around them.   And they're trying with the same passion and hunger and confusion that I was feeling – no matter where they were in their lives, no matter how old or how young.

I'm not saying that you guys shouldn't go out there and see and do everything there is to see and do.   Go.   As fast as you can.    I don't know how much longer this world has got, to be honest.

All of you have been given a harsh gift.  It's the same gift the graduating class of 1917, and 1938, and 1968 and now you guys got – the chance to enter adulthood when the world teeters on the rim of the sphincter of oblivion.    You're jumping into the deep end.   You have no choice but to be exceptional.

But please don't mistake miles traveled, and money earned, and fame accumulated for who you are.    

Because now I understand how the miraculous, horrifying and memorable lurk everywhere.    But they're hidden to the kind of person I was when I graduated high school.   And now – and it's because of my traveling and living and some pretty profound mistakes along the way – they're all laid open to me.   They're mine for the feasting.    In the Sistine Chapel and in a Taco Bell.   In Bach's Goldberg Variations and in the half-heard brain dead chatter of a woman on her cell phone behind me on an airplane. In Baghdad, Berlin and Sterling, Virginia.  

I think now about the amazing thunderstorms in the summer evenings.   And how – late at night, during a blizzard, you can stand outside and hear the collective, thumping murmur of a million snowflakes hitting the earth, like you're inside a sleeping god's thoughts.   

I think of the zombie movies I shot back in the gnarled, grey woods and the sad, suburban punks I waited on at Waxie Maxie's.   I think of the disastrous redneck weddings I deejay'd for when I was working for Sounds Unlimited and the Lego spaceships my friends and I would build after seeing Star Wars.     

I think about my dad, and how he consoled me when I'd first moved to L.A. and called him, saying I was going into therapy for depression, and how ashamed I was.  And he laughed and said, "What the hell's to be ashamed of?"  And I said, "Man, you got your leg machine-gunned in Vietnam.  You never went to therapy.  Humphrey Bogart never went to therapy."  And my dad said, "Yeah, but Bogie smoked three cartons of cigarettes a day."   And how my mom came down to the kitchen when I was studying for my trig final, at 2 o'clock in the morning, and said, "Haven't you already been accepted to college?"  And I said, "Yeah, but this test is really going to be hard."  And she asked, "What's the test for again?"  And I said, "Calculus" and she closed my notebook and said, "You'll never use this.  Ever.  Go to bed or watch a movie."   And how when I got my first ever acting gig, on Seinfeld, my brother sent me a postcard of Minnie Pearl, and he wrote on it, "Never forget, you and her are in the same profession."

I didn't realize how all of these places and people and events were just as crucial in shaping me as anything I roamed to the corners of the Earth to see.   And they've shaped you, and will shape you, whether you realize it now or later.   All of you are richer and wiser than you know.  

So I will leave you with some final advice.   You'll decide later if this was a lesson.   And if you realize there was no lesson in any of this, then that was a lesson.   

But I'd like all of you to enter this world, and your exploration of the Five Environments, better armed then I was.   And without a mullet.   Which I see you're all way ahead of me on.

First off:  Reputation, Posterity and Cool are traps.   They'll drain the life from your life.   Reputation, Posterity and Cool = Fear.   

Let me put that another way.   Bob Hope once said, "When I was twenty, I worried what everything thought of me.    When I turned forty, I didn't care what anyone thought of me.   And then I made it to sixty, and I realized no one was ever thinking of me."    And then he pooed his pants, but that didn't make what he said any less profound.

Secondly:   The path is made by walking.    And when you're walking that path, you choose how things affect you.  You always have that freedom, no matter how much your liberty it curtailed.   You…get to choose…how things affect you.

And lastly, and I guarantee this.   It's the one thing I know 'cause I've experienced it:

There Is No Them.    

I'm going to get out of your way now.    Get out there.   Let's see which one of you is up here in twenty years.    If you're lacking confidence, remember – I wouldn't have picked me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


If you want a new idea, shut the eff up inside.

If you want a new idea, you have to silence your inner critic. Your sense of right and wrong, of smart and stupid works by comparing new ideas to what you already know. Your sense of what would be a good fit for you works by comparing new things to who you already are. To learn and grow, you must let go of you, you must be young again, you must accept that you don't understand and seek to understand rather than explaining why it doesn't make any sense.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Steve Jobs on Microsoft

Hell yeah.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Buying a car: How I saved $2400

I bought my 2008 Nissan Rogue SL AWD from Jeff Brunson at Napoli Nissan in Milford CT. This is the exact vehicle I got:

with two things added (e.g. thrown in): a "tow hitch package" and a "rear bumper protector".

And I paid $25,700. That includes all dealer fees, but not tax and registration.

To get that price, I emailed this letter to dealers statewide:

As you can see, I got the going prices from The price I ended up paying was about $700 under invoice — and about $2400 less than the average price nationwide.

Jeff was a great guy. Tell him I sent you. But also promise him that while you'll drive as hard a bargain as I did, you won't be nearly as much of a pain in the butt.


Why Write

One of my favorite quotes: 

(from )
Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Video Animation: "I Guess You'll Do"

I Guess Youll Do - Watch more free videos

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Add keyboard shortcut to a command in a submenu

HUGE hint for the keyboard-jockey:

Surprisingly, you can add a keyboard shortcut to a command that is one level down in a menu by simply pretending that it isn't. In other words, well, see the following example.

In I wanted ⌘K to be my shortcut for adding a link in the body of a message. But the command is usually only available via the submenu Link > Add… under the Edit menu. On a whim, I went to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts, hit the plus sign and in the box for Menu Title entered "Add…" (no quotes, and using option-semicolon for the elipsis). It worked!

Of course, you probably need to restart for this to work. 

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Skiing "SKI BONK" on Google Maps

Friday, August 31, 2007


Great ad? I think so but you be the judge

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Mormon Theology

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Thought you'd find this interesting


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Two reasons you MUST click the link:

1) Watch the whole video clip. Be proud. Then be ashamed. We get the government — and the press — we deserve.
2) Check out the photo on the upper left — yes that's Dan! ( What the hell happened?? ;p  )

Monday, September 18, 2006


Closer w/ Trek

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Colbert's Wikiality (embedded)


Colbert's Wikiality

<< >>

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Déjà Vu, Again and Again - New York Times

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

July 2, 2006

Déjà Vu, Again and Again

Correction Appended

Pat Shapiro is a vibrant woman of 77, with silver hair, animated blue eyes and a certain air of elegance about her. She lives with her husband, Don, in a white two-story Colonial in Dover, Mass., a picturesque town set on the Charles River east of Boston. After 56 years of marriage, Pat and Don have a playful repartee that borders on "Ozzie and Harriet," and her still-sharp mind is on display in their running banter. "Don, we haven't had an 'icebox' in years," she'll say, interrupting one of his winding stories. "It's called a refrigerator."

Her short-term memory isn't quite what it used to be, she says, but it's nothing that impacts her life. "Her long-term memory is meticulous," Don says. "She can remember details from our trips to Europe years ago that I can't."

One day last December, however, an odd thing happened to Pat Shapiro. She was sitting in a car outside of a store with her daughter Susan, while another daughter, Allison, shopped inside. From the front seat Pat noticed a woman who seemed intensely familiar getting into a nearby car with a baby. "I saw her last time I was here," Pat remarked. "That baby did that exact same thing."

Looking up, Susan thought the comment strange; it seemed odd even that her mother had been to this store recently. Then Pat noticed another woman, smoking and chatting on a cellphone. "There's that woman who was smoking a cigarette, with the scarf on," she said.

This time, Susan protested. "Ma, the chances of the other woman, who doesn't know that woman, coming to the parking lot, smoking a cigarette —"

"No, they were there last time," Pat insisted. She couldn't place when exactly she'd been there before, but she felt positive she'd seen the women.

Allison returned, and as they left, Pat noticed two nuns on the sidewalk. They, too, she said, had certainly been there before.

"Mom, are you O.K.?" Susan asked.

"I feel fine," Pat replied.

Worried, Susan called her father later that day and asked if Pat had ever claimed to recognize strange people or places. "Oh, it happens every once in a while," he said. Susan asked if the episodes bothered him. "Only when she is determined to make me think that something has gone on that way," he said.

Later, though, Pat admitted to Susan that she was having such experiences frequently. As often as several times a day, in fact, she was struck with what sounded to Susan like an intense sensation of déjà vu, a familiarity with a place or situation that — logically, at least — she couldn't have encountered before. She would claim to recognize details of restaurants she'd never been to, and occasionally greeted total strangers as if she'd met them before. To Pat, in such moments, the familiarity didn't feel like déjà vu. It just felt like a memory. Like reality.

Take a moment to remember what happened during your day yesterday. Images and sounds begin to flash through your mind: people you spoke to, places you went, meals you ate. One scene cues up another, leading you on vivid tangents as you cycle through the day. Now ask yourself: how do you know that you are remembering those images as they happened, not altering or inventing them? The question sounds inane at first; you were there, after all. But what is it about those images that makes them authentic to you? Try inserting a completely false memory into your day, say that of running into a celebrity. You can picture it, sure, but it doesn't feel real. Why not?

Memory, like most systems we depend on continually, tends to fade into the background when it's working properly. Only when it fails or misleads us do we begin to ponder its mechanisms. The structure of memory has for centuries been one of psychology's most intractable mysteries. To the extent that science claimed to understand it at all, memory was seen as a kind of filing cabinet in which recollections were neatly stored, retrieved on demand and occasionally misplaced.

The research of the last three decades, however, has shattered that metaphor. The Canadian cognitive psychologist Endel Tulving struck a significant blow in the 1970's, when he postulated a distinction between episodic memories — our recollections about our own experiences — and semantic ones, involving facts and concepts. Knowing the capital of France is a semantic memory, for example; recalling your trip to Paris, an episodic one. When we access episodic memories, Tulving further observed, we don't just call up raw information. We actually re-experience the events themselves, and that feeling of recollection is part of what tells us that the memory is real. "Remembering," Tulving summarized in 1983, "is mental time travel, a sort of reliving of something that happened in the past."

Tulving and a group of fellow cognitive scientists — aided by advances in neuroimaging technology — began to tease apart the relationships between recollection and consciousness. They showed episodic memories to be a product of a complex network of signals, scattered across the brain and then reassembled, ad hoc, when the moment arises. Some of those signals, centered in an area of the brain's temporal lobes called the hippocampus, are now thought to be vital in creating the recollective experience that Tulving described.

Simultaneously, psychologists began to demonstrate the myriad ways in which memories can and do go wrong — not only when we forget, but also when we incorporate distorted or false information. At the University of California at Irvine, Elizabeth Loftus conducted an important series of studies in the 1990's, in response to a wave of "recovered memory" child-abuse cases, showing that false memories could be induced in research subjects. In 1995, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis demonstrated that people who were read a list of words like bed, rest, awake, dream, wake and slumber, when tested later, would often definitively remember hearing the word sleep. Research into post-traumatic stress disorder found that PTSD sufferers can be tortured by distorted memories of traumatic events. All of this work converges today on an ominous question: How is it we can be fooled by memories that are simply wrong? The answer lies not necessarily in the content of our memories but in the experience of reassembling and recalling them.

One way to try to understand that experience is by examining memory's tricks and illusions. "Memory doesn't just depend on a storehouse of knowledge, like putting cherries in a bowl and pulling out a cherry for each memory," says Morris Moscovitch, a prominent episodic-memory researcher at the University of Toronto. "What these unusual cases do is draw your attention to something that we only get a hint of in real life. This is a philosophical conundrum that has been struggled over for centuries: how is it that we distinguish ongoing experience from memory, and waking experience from dreams?"

Pat's daughter Susan began to scour the Internet, looking for information about her mother's repeated déjà vu episodes. She eventually came across the work of Chris Moulin, a neuropsychologist at Leeds University, in England. Moulin and several colleagues had published two scientific papers describing something they called persistent "déjà vécu" — literally translated, the feeling of having "already lived through" something. The cases seemed to match Pat's condition, and Susan sent Moulin an e-mail message asking for help.

Chris Moulin's office is located on the top floor of the psychology department at Leeds, in an oddly asymmetrical brick building at the center of campus. The room is cramped but spare, with a small collection of books in one corner, a pair of soccer cleats stashed under a chair and a set of framed Tintin cartoons on the wall. Moulin is 32 years old, with red, close-cropped hair, a matching beard and glasses and a penchant for jeans and sneakers. Today he's one of only a handful of scientists studying déjà vu-like illusions, but like most of us, he once thought of déjà vu as just an occasional, odd event in his own life. Translated literally from the French as "already seen," déjà vu can be, for some people, a strange and unsettling experience; for others, thrilling or even spiritual. Occurring at seemingly random times, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes, it often comes with a feeling of approaching premonition. Not only does the situation feel familiar, but a vision of the future also seems just beyond the searchlights of your conscious mind.

The accepted scientific definition of déjà vu, put forth in 1983 by a Seattle-based psychiatrist named Vernon Neppe, is "any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of the present experience with an undefined past." Beyond the definition, however, the scientific understanding of this "inappropriate familiarity" remains murky. Religion and parapsychology have offered their own explanations, citing déjà vu as evidence for everything from clairvoyance to past lives. Because the phenomenon is difficult if not impossible to reproduce in a laboratory, though, researchers like Moulin have traditionally had limited means to dispel the conventional wisdom. At the beginning of his career, he says, "I didn't know anything about déjà vu, and it didn't really interest me."

In December 2000, Moulin was a postdoctoral student in neuroscience at the University of Bristol, working at a memory clinic in a hospital nearby in Bath, when he received a strange referral letter from a local doctor. It described an 80-year-old Polish immigrant whose wife said that he was suffering from "frequent sensations of déjà vu." The doctor had suggested to the man — a former engineer identified by his initials, A.K.P. — that he set up an initial appointment at the memory clinic. A.K.P. responded that he had already gone and didn't see the point of going back. The problem was, as the doctor knew, he hadn't actually ever been there.

Intrigued, Moulin started visiting A.K.P. and his wife at home. "He was very witty and articulate, able to look after himself," Moulin recalls. But A.K.P.'s wife was frustrated by his déjà vu, and he experienced other mental problems, including memory loss and confabulation, the use of subconsciously invented stories to cover memory deficits. His déjà vu episodes seemed to be "practically constant," as Moulin and colleagues outlined in a 2005 paper in the journal Neuropsychologia:

He refused to read the newspaper or watch television because he said he had seen it before. However, A.K.P. remained insightful about his difficulties: when he said he had seen a program before and his wife asked him what happened next, he replied, "How should I know, I have a memory problem!" The sensation. . .was extremely prominent when he went for a walk — A.K.P. complained that it was the same bird in the same tree singing the same song.. . .When shopping, A.K.P. would say that it was unnecessary to purchase certain items, because he had bought the item the day before.

Searching the modern scientific literature, Moulin found one case that echoed A.K.P.'s, that of an 87-year-old woman, who, according to a brief journal article from 2001, "reported that she was continuously reliving the past and felt that a significant part of her daily experiences had happened before." Moulin's mentor, Martin Conway, a pioneer in the understanding of episodic memory, also recalled a paper by the Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter in the mid-1990's. Schacter had described B.G., a man in his 60's, who claimed to recognize people and situations he'd never encountered.

Those cases persuaded Moulin that A.K.P. was more than an anomaly, and the clinic began sending him any patients with conditions that sounded similar. A month later, a referral letter arrived for M.A., a 70-year-old woman with what the doctor described as pervasive déjà vu. M.A. also found newspapers and television overwhelmingly familiar, and had even quit playing tennis, claiming that she knew the outcome of every rally. Moulin quickly discovered that in contrast to ordinary déjà vu experiences, in which the sensation instantly seems misplaced, neither A.K.P. nor M.A. recognized that something odd was happening. To them, the experiences simply felt like memories. "When we have déjà vu, we don't act on it," Moulin says. "But these people refused to watch television, they stopped reading the newspaper." The patients were what cognitive scientists call "anosagnosic" — unaware of their condition. They also found situations to be more than just familiar; they believed that they were really recalling them, so much so that they invented memories to justify that belief. They were, to use Tulving's phrase, time traveling to a reality that had never existed.

The history of déjà vu is as much a literary tale as it is a scientific one. Writers and poets have long proved more astute observers of it than scientists, and mentions of déjà vu-like sensations date to St. Augustine, who wrote of "falsae memoriae" in A.D. 400. Sir Walter Scott described it as "a sense of pre-existence," and Dickens, Tolstoy and Proust each explored it in prose.

Among scientists, déjà vu has traveled under a variety of names, including "paramnesia" and "phantasms of memory." The first flurry of research on the topic occurred in France in the 1890's, when prominent psychologists debated fine distinctions between various paramnesias. At a scientific meeting in 1896, the neurologist F. L. Arnaud proposed that scientists unify their descriptions under a single term, "déjà vu." He also recounted the unusual case of Louis, a 34-year-old who had recovered from cerebral malaria. Louis, as the Cambridge psychiatrist German Berrios wrote in a summary of Arnaud's work, "showed 'the first symptoms characteristic of déjà vu' when he started claiming that he could recognize certain newspaper articles that he said he had read previously." Louis felt that he "recognized" nearly every experience, a sensation he described as "I am living in two parallel years." Arnaud even took Louis to a funeral (Louis Pasteur's, as it happened) to see if he would claim to have remembered it. He did.

With the rise of behaviorism in the 20th century, déjà vu research largely faded into obscurity. Freud postulated that the sensation was caused by the similarity of a present situation to a suppressed fantasy but declared the phenomenon too confusing to investigate. What studies have been done rely on questionnaires about past déjà vu experiences. Such surveys show that between 30 and 90 percent of people experience déjà vu at some point in their lifetime. Alan Brown, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University and the author of "The Déjà Vu Experience," the most comprehensive book on the topic, pegs the proportion at about two-thirds of the population.

Researchers suggest that déjà vu isn't experienced until the age of 8 or 9 at the earliest, indicating that the phenomenon may require a certain level of brain development to either experience or describe. But once déjà vu begins, it becomes more frequent through our teens and 20's, and is more likely to happen when we are tired or stressed. Surveys show that the episodes then decline with age, although scientists are uncertain why — and the experience of Moulin's patients demonstrates that sometimes the condition actually increases in old age.

In his book, Brown identifies as many as 30 plausible scientific explanations for the phenomenon, divided into "dual processing," "neurological," "memory" and "double perception" theories. Dual-processing explanations assert, essentially, that two normally separate brain processes are activated at wrong times. Imagine two heads of a tape player, one recording memory and the other playing it back. If the brain begins playing back while it's recording, the present might feel like a memory. Neurological explanations involve small electrical signals gone awry. If two signals carry information from the senses to the brain, the theory goes, a delay in the second signal might cause it to feel like a memory.

So-called memory explanations involve the brain's misunderstanding a similarity between the present situation and an actual, true memory. Encountering a chair that resembles one from your grandmother's living room, for example, could trigger a feeling that a new place is somehow familiar. Under "double perception" explanations, finally, the brain is momentarily distracted after it has already taken in part of a scene. When its attention returns to the scene fractions of a second later, it suddenly feels like a memory.

There's no guarantee that all déjà vu episodes have a single cause, and several of Brown's categories overlap. He says that, as with a condition like a stomachache, he "could easily be comfortable with four or five mechanisms." The essential feature in any déjà vu theory, though, is explaining the sensation. After all, déjà vu is much more than just familiarity. "You probably came into my office and thought, I've seen a desk lamp a bit like that," Moulin told me. "But it doesn't give you anything like déjà vu. You just think, Ah, yes, that's familiar. There's no startling sensation."

It was precisely that startling sensation that A.K.P. and M.A. seemed to lack during their déjà vu-like experiences. Moulin and Conway concluded that the patients must not be experiencing ordinary sensations of déjà vu, but what the researchers termed persistent déjà vécu. Their hypothesis rested on the understanding, established in the wake of Tulving's research, that episodic memories consist of two aspects: the information content, or "memory trace," and an accompanying experience of recollection. It's that experience, a little bit of consciousness attached to a memory, that lets us know that we are calling up something from the past. If someone experienced that feeling constantly, without any memory trace attached, they would feel — as Conway describes it — as if they were "remembering the present." In other words, déjà vécu.

Moulin set up a series of experiments to test the theory. In one, A.K.P., M.A. and 19 control subjects were shown a series of photos, some of random people and others of well-known celebrities. Later they were shown another series, containing a mixture of the old photos and new ones, and asked if each photo pictured either a famous person or someone they had been shown before. In another, subjects were read a series of words, followed by a mixture of those same words and new ones, and then asked which they had heard previously. The results were what Moulin had expected: compared with the control subjects, M.A. and A.K.P.'s false-positive rates were off the charts. They nearly always claimed to recognize faces and words they hadn't seen or heard. More important, they claimed not only to find the pictures and words familiar but also to actually remember seeing them. Often they even confabulated stories to justify those recollections. A.K.P. claimed that one random face was that of a local painter. "I know," he said, "because his tie is lower than it should be."

Brain scans of A.K.P. and M.A. revealed abnormal levels of atrophy, or cell death, in their temporal lobes. Moulin knew that epileptics whose seizures are centered in their temporal lobes often experience a minutes-long "dreamy state" similar to déjà vu prior to their seizures. Moulin and Conway concluded that their patients' déjà vécu was similarly located in the temporal lobes, in a "recollective experience circuit" that regulates the process of remembering. If the circuit was "continuously active," it would keep feeding the brain that feeling of recollection, without any real memory attached.

Could ordinary déjà vu be a minor version of the same thing, a brief misfire in a temporal-lobe circuit that sets off the feeling of remembering? "Somebody like A.K.P. shows that there is this sensation that is separate from memory," Moulin told me. "If his can go chronically wrong, ours can go momentarily wrong."

After hearing Pat Shapiro's story from Susan, I visited the Shapiros at their home in Dover. Pat warmly ushered me inside, and we sat in the couple's formal living room. She told me that her déjà vécu-like experiences started in the last two years, coming and going with no apparent pattern. Once, a nurse had come to the house to conduct a physical for insurance purposes. "The first thing I said," Pat told me, "was: 'So nice to see you! I haven't seen you in a long time!' " She laughed — as she did following a half-dozen other such tales — recalling that only later did she realize she'd never met the woman before. Generally, she said, such episodes didn't bother her.

I heard markedly similar accounts from a college counselor in Glasgow, Scotland, named Pam. Two years ago, Pam's 82-year-old mother began saying that the BBC was repeating television programs. She even called a repairman to examine her set. Soon she was complaining about the newspaper and eventually all kinds of situations. The week before I met with Pam at her office in Glasgow, she and her mother had been sitting in a cafe when a child began crying. "Mum said, 'She's always here, and always crying,' " Pam said. "I let it go, because I know it's not the case, and we go to the same place every week."

Like Pat, Pam's mother is in otherwise good health. "It's sad and frustrating, because I can't do anything for her," Pam said. "The only thing that I can do is research it and tell her that she is not the only one." Like Pat's daughter Susan, Pam found Moulin's papers and corresponded with him. Both women said that talking to their mothers about the research seemed to reduce both mother's and daughter's anxiety.

Moulin regularly receives e-mail messages from people experiencing something like déjà vécu, or from their relatives. The stories themselves begin to take on a familiar ring: the woman who turned in her library card because she felt she'd read everything on the shelves, the man on his first trip to Paris who felt he'd been to every part of the city. Moulin says there may be many other persistent déjà vécu sufferers, afraid to tell their doctors for fear of sounding crazy. The Bath clinic alone has found six new patients for a continuing study.

When it comes to linking those patients to run-of-the-mill déjà vu, however, Moulin's work is not without objections from the small community of researchers with an enduring interest in the subject. The psychiatrist Vernon Neppe, founder of the Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, says that he believes that Moulin's patients are not actually experiencing déjà vécu, claiming that they don't conform with the definition of déjà vu, of which déjà vécu is a subset. "The Moulin research is difficult because there is so much confabulation," he told me. "It's a different type of inappropriate familiarity."

Moulin says that he now regrets initially using the term déjà vu to describe the patients, as opposed to déjà vécu, the "ongoing" and "chronic" sensation. Still, he says, "That's what people come to their doctor and say: their husband or wife has got permanent déjà vu." Firmly establishing the experience of recollection that his patients exhibit, he says, will provide the theoretical underpinning for explanations of déjà vu — regardless of whether it is a real fragment of memory or a purely neurological glitch that sets it off.

Another objection comes from Art Funkhouser, a psychologist based in Switzerland who conducts déjà vu research and from whom Moulin and Conway borrowed the term déjà vécu. Funkhouser, who is currently analyzing data from a thousand respondents to an online déjà vu questionnaire, has complained to Moulin that using the word "chronic" will stigmatize déjà vu as a disease rather than a quirk of the human mind. "The people he is dealing with are being affected by various forms of dementia," he says. "I just wish that he would be a bit careful in how he talks about it, so that he doesn't give the impression that anybody who has this must be sick."

Moulin and Conway say that the sensation of memory that déjà vécu so aptly illustrates is just one of many "cognitive feelings," sensations that help us prioritize and act on our own thoughts. When those feelings go awry, they produce strange sensations. His latest experiments are designed to induce jamais vu — translated literally as "never seen" — the feeling that something familiar seems alien. Or take the aha! moment, a feeling you get upon solving a complicated problem. Aha! moments, which a team of researchers recently traced to activity in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, help us recognize a flash of insight. When we get the same feeling of insight without actually solving anything, we experience what's called presque vu, or "almost seen" — a misplaced sensation that everything makes sense. "I remember having it for cleaning my teeth," Moulin recalls, "thinking, Ah, yes, at the end of every day I clean my teeth! That just seems to have import. Like all life is cleaning teeth."

Trivial as they may sound, such cognitive feelings often guide our behavior, and glitches in them can have profound consequences. In his 2001 book, "The Seven Sins of Memory," the Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter explores the phenomenon of "misattributed memory," in which you remember some aspect of an event correctly but mistakenly recall the origin of the memory. Misattributions, says Schacter, "have been involved in a number of cases of wrongful conviction of individuals based on eyewitness testimony." The same subjective feeling of memory that led A.K.P. to believe his déjà vécu was real can trick eyewitnesses into believing flawed identifications, or fool research subjects into believing induced memories.

Conway also studies PTSD, in which patients are tortured by traumatic memories that may be laced with distortions that can serve to compound feelings of guilt and helplessness. Accident victims might distinctly remember a moment in which they could have turned the car just to the left and avoided a collision, even if such a moment never occurred. "The recollective experience is the glue that sticks this all together," Moulin says. "People don't think they are making up these images. They think they are remembering them." Cognitive therapists, by understanding the recollective experience evidenced by déjà vécu, may be able to help persuade such patients that many of their negative images aren't real. The same is true for obsessive-compulsive disorder. "In order to cure those people, you have to train them about their memory," Moulin says. "They keep going back and checking the door, for instance, because they don't remember well enough having locked it. You have to say: 'Well, your memory isn't like that. It's just not that good.' " In other words, there's a limit to what you can expect from your memory.

All of which naturally raises the question: Why are humans cursed with such imperfect memories? "Human cognition is incredibly, incredibly complicated," Conway says, "and you are bound to get glitches along the way. The question really is, How costly are those glitches? In terms of survival, having experiences of déjà vu now and again probably isn't such a big deal. But if you have a déjà vu all the time, then, like A.K.P., you can't operate effectively in the world."

Such small glitches might even have proved evolutionarily valuable, giving us insight into our own minds. "One of the things about déjà vu in your daily life," Conway says, "is it does leave you wondering for about three weeks afterward what happened." Ordinary déjà vu is so striking precisely because our intellect is fighting against the feeling of recollection. "It's an immutable feeling," Moulin says, "but it's not immune to reason."

Salman Rushdie once observed that memory has its "own special kind" of truth. "It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies and vilifies also," he wrote in "Midnight's Children," "but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own." To what extent persistent déjà vécu itself constitutes a challenge to a person's sanity, or even counts as a disorder, seems to vary. A.K.P. and M.A. eventually withdrew from the world, stopped watching television or even leaving their homes. But they also suffered from other age-related cognitive disorders. Moulin is still seeking an effective treatment for such patients, as both anti-Alzheimer's and antipsychotic drugs have shown no effect. But he suspects that the condition could be helped by therapeutic techniques. Preparing déjà vécu patients for novel situations they are about to encounter, he says, could actually help reduce the feeling that they've already experienced them.

Ordinary déjà vu, of course, isn't a disease, and even déjà vécu-like conditions seem to vary in severity. "I think the persistent or continuous déjà vu that Moulin is looking at is found in people with normal function who are not disturbed or out of mainstream," Alan Brown says.

Pat Shapiro, to all appearances, is such a person. She lives a rich life, her mind intact, and she claims to be mostly unbothered by her condition. Her daughter Susan worries that the episodes tire her mother out, as she tries to puzzle out when she has been somewhere or met someone in the past. Mostly, the family tries to laugh about the incidents. "We're lucky that she can have a sense of humor about it," Susan says.

One afternoon in Dover, in the midst of relating her déjà vu experiences, Pat Shapiro paused and took off her glasses, looking at me intently. "I have to say, you look so much like my grandson," she said. "He has a little bit longer hair, but you look so similar. When I saw you get out of the car I just thought, Oh!"

"But wait," I asked, "couldn't that have just been a déjà vu?"

"No, it was just that you looked so much like him," she said. My face must have betrayed a hint of skepticism, and she quickly moved on.

Don came in a few minutes later, and soon he, too, paused. "I have to tell you one other thing," he said. "You look so much like our grandson, it's amazing." I looked at Pat, who smiled knowingly. Later, at Susan's house, she showed me a photo of the grandson in question. It was like seeing an image of myself, from a time that never happened.

Evan Ratliff is a writer in San Francisco and the co-author of "Safe: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a Newly Dangerous World." This is his first article for the magazine.

Correction: July 16, 2006

An article on July 2 about déjà vécu, a syndrome that causes a feeling similar to déjà vu, misstated the location of the city where one woman who suffers from it lives. Dover, Mass., is southwest of Boston, not east.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Friday, August 11, 2006



Wednesday, August 09, 2006


10.4: Fix PowerPC apps that fail to launch on Intel Macs- NOTE TO SELF

10.4: Fix PowerPC apps that fail to launch on Intel Macs
Mon, Jun 12 '06 at 7:30AM PDT • Submitted by gdbjr

I recently picked up a new MacBook, and while most of the applications I use have gone Universal, some have not. Most notable among the "not yet" entries is Microsoft Office. Most of the time it runs fine, but occasionally, the Office applications will refuse to start. I get a few bounces in the dock, and the then the application quits. 

I had been rebooting my MacBook to solve get around this problem, but that is a huge pain. I have found that if my PowerPC application won't run, I simply force quit the translated process from the Activity Monitor, and then launch the offending application again. The application will start up, and the translated process restarts automatically. 

Killing this process seems to have no effect on any currently-running PowerPC applications -- so it seems the translated process is not needed to use a PowerPC app that is already running. 

[robg adds: I haven't had any "won't start" issues, but I did try killing the translated process with Word running, and didn't notice any ill effects.]

Monday, August 07, 2006


Check out this article from Wired, that came out just after the Apple/NeXT merger was announced.

Advice for Apple from 1997

Fun, huh?


Penn & Teller Call Bullshit on Creationism

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Life After Earth: Imagining Survival Beyond This Terra Firma - from NYT

When the dust settles after World War III, or World War IX, humanity will still want to grow pineapples, rice, coffee and other crops. That is why in June on the island of Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic, all five Scandinavian prime ministers met to break ground on a $4.8-million “doomsday vault” that will stockpile crop seeds in case of global catastrophe.

While it boasts the extra safety of Arctic temperatures, the seed bank is just the latest life-preservation plan to reach reality, joining genetic banks like the Frozen Ark, a British program that is storing DNA samples from endangered species like the scimitar-horned oryx, the Seychelles Frégate beetle and the British field cricket.

To a certain group preoccupied with doomsday, these projects are laudable but share a deep flaw: they are Earth-bound. A global catastrophe — like a collision with an asteroid or a nuclear winter — would have to be rather tame in order not to rattle the test tubes in the various ark-style labs around the world. What kind of feeble doomsday would leave London safe and sound?

Cue the Alliance to Rescue Civilization, a group that advocates a backup for humanity by way of a station on the Moon replete with DNA samples of all life on Earth, as well as a compendium of all human knowledge — the ultimate detached garage for a race of packrats. It would be run by people who, through fertility treatments and frozen human eggs and sperm, could serve as a new Adam and Eve in addition to their role as a new Noah.

Far from the lunatic fringe, the leaders of the alliance have serious careers: Robert Shapiro, the group’s founder, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist in biochemistry at New York University; Ray Erikson runs an aerospace development firm in Boston and has been a NASA committee chair; Steven M. Wolfe, as a Congressional aide, drafted and helped pass the Space Settlement Act of 1988, which mandated that NASA plan a shift from space exploration to space colonization, and was executive director of the Congressional Space Caucus; William E. Burrows, an author of several books on space, is the director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at N.Y.U.

President Bush has already proposed a Moon base. “He just needs to be told what it’s good for,” Dr. Shapiro said. Dr. Shapiro has written a number of books on the origins of life on Earth, as well as “Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth,” where he unveiled the civilization rescue project.

In 1999, the same year the book came out, Dr. Shapiro wrote an essay with Mr. Burrows for Ad Astra, an astronomy journal. There, they formally laid out their plan for the rescue alliance, beginning by warning that “the most enduring pictures to come back from the Apollo missions were not of astronauts cavorting on the Sea of Tranquillity, nor even of the lunar landscape itself.”

“They were the haunting views of Earth, seen for the first time not as a boundless and resilient colossus of land and water,” they continued, “but as a startlingly vulnerable lifeboat precariously plying a vast and dangerous sea: a ‘blue marble’ in a black void.” A conversation shortly after the essay was published, Dr. Shapiro recalled, resounded with the earnest imagination of science fiction drama:

Dr. Shapiro: “We’ve got to use space to protect humanity!”

Mr. Burrows: “By God! Yes!”

The concept is not new, but there is some fresh momentum. Mr. Burrows’s new book, “The Survival Imperative: Using Space to Protect Earth,” is due out this month. And the physicist Stephen W. Hawking, who is not part of the group, began arguing this summer that human survival depends on leaving Earth.

The mission of the Alliance to Rescue Civilization has also attracted the support of Col. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, who now devotes much of his time to the idea of Martian colonization.

“It takes a big reason to go to the Moon, because, frankly, it’s a lousy place to be,” Colonel Aldrin said in a telephone interview. “But this is exactly the kind of planning as a human race we need to secure our future.

“But the A.R.C. idea isn’t ahead of its time because it’s needed right now. It’s a reasonable thing to do with our space technology, sending valuable stuff to a reliable off-site location. NASA is certainly not bending backwards to do it. It’s the private people like A.R.C.”

Born and raised within walking distance of the Bronx Zoo — and he walked that distance often — Dr. Shapiro developed an early interest in biodiversity. He frets over the frailty of civilization and the planet, but he is not a pessimist. He compares the Moon-base idea to a safe-deposit box.

“It makes sense to protect the things you value,” he said. “But we, as a civilization, we don’t have anything like that.” The trouble with doomsday, Dr. Shapiro argues, is that it is almost always rendered in popular culture as grandiose, though in reality, many minor incidents present substantial everyday threats.

In 1918, an influenza strain killed some 30 million people; a possible new bird flu strain spurs contemporary panic. In January 2003, a computer virus shut down airlines, banks and governments. That same year, a tree fell on power lines outside Cleveland, resulting in a blackout for much of the Northeast. Doomsday can be understated.

“But I’m not here to predict doomsday; I’m here for sanity,” Dr. Shapiro said. “When we’ve gained what we’ve gained, we should fight to keep it.

“And, worst-case scenario, if it’s all for nothing, we’ll have a nice museum.”

Thursday, July 06, 2006


High school valedictorian's speech condemns U.S. education system

SPEECH of the Student
Published: Thursday, June 22, 2006
Updated: Thursday, June 22, 2006

Four years ago, we gathered here for an education. Today marks a milestone in that pursuit, a culmination of four years of learning, growth and shared memories. At such times, it is appropriate to reflect on years past, to examine what we have done and what we have learned. Today I am charged with that difficult task, and I would like to thank the school for the opportunity to stand before my peers and reflect on our time together.

Education can be defined a number of different ways. For me, it is the product of human curiosity. Intellectual thought, as far as I can tell, is nothing but the asking and answering of questions. In my reflection, however, and I have reflected on this a great deal, I found that many of life’s most important questions are ignored here. What is the right way to live? What is the ideal society? What principles should guide my behavior? What is success, what is failure? Is there a creator, and if so, should we look to it for guidance? These are often dismissed as questions of religion, but religion is not something opposed to rationality, it simply seeks to answer such questions through faith. The separation of church and state is, of course, important, but it should never be a reason for intellectual submission or suppression of any kind. Ethics — it is what defines us — as individuals, as a society — and yet it is never discussed, never explained, never justified. Rousseau, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Aquinas, nearly every major writer I’ve encountered devotes time to the subject. And it’s not as if these questions are without practical concern, that they are less immediately relevant than science for instance. Our laws, our institutions and all our actions are a reflection of our ethics. Our own society owes itself to the writers of the enlightenment, but we never probe their work — we fail to espouse the movement’s central principle, doubt — doubt everything. We study what is, never why, never what should be. For that reason, the education we have received here is not only incomplete, it is entirely hollow.

What’s more, this same lack of focus can be found in many of the subjects we do study. We approach history as though it were a story, endlessly cataloging every major character or event. But the details of that story are insignificant — what is significant is the progression of ideas. A study of history should get some sense of how the society he sees around him developed from those built thousands of years ago, what ideas changed and what changed them. When humanist scholars looked into ancient Rome during the Renaissance, they searched for moral examples, for ideas. They didn’t mull on every single daily event. They were inspired, and they transformed society. History is not an end in itself; it should act as a tool for greater thought.

But it’s not only history. I’ve taken a literature class nearly every year of my life, but never has a question so basic as “What is good writing?” come up. Literary technique, what should be the focus of the class, is never discussed. How does an author develop plot? How can an author control mood or tone in his writing? What is the advantage of one author’s methods over another’s? Such matters are never discussed. We read for the sake of reading, to talk about our interpretations in class as though we were in a book club. But no attention is paid to why we read the books we do, what makes them so special. And this pattern, grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work, can be found everywhere.

Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of intellectual thought is lost. I speak today not to rant, complain or cause trouble, and certainly not to draw attention to myself. I have accomplished nothing and I am nothing. I know that. Rather, I was moved by the countless hours wasted in those halls. Today, you should focus on your child or loved one. This is meant to be a day of celebration, and if I’ve taken away from that, I’m sorry. But I know how highly this community values learning, and I urge you all to re-evaluate what it means to be educated. I care deeply about everyone here, and it is only our fulfillment I desire. I will leave now so that the ceremony can go on. Again, my deepest apologies, God help me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


My first skydive! (6/11/06)

The view over the jump site @ 14,000 ft.

And when the chute opened @ 6000 ft.

This is the northward view. I could see Mt. Washington in nothern New Hampshire!

Finally, the southward view was even more exicting. Yes, I could see the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of Long Island.

All told:
altitude = 14,000 feet = over 2.5 miles
±65 seconds in freefall
~125 mph avg
±160 mph max in the Superman dive
plus over five more minutes under the canopy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


13 things that do not make sense

Thursday, December 29, 2005


How to rip DVD's

The Mac process is rather painless if you don't mind spending $40 for
Roxio Popcorn (or Toast, for $60). An alternative way which is free
involves converting your VIDEO_TS folder into a disk image which can
be burned from the Finder. The conversion is handled by an
applescript available from here:
They have very clear and simple instructions on how to use their
method and the steps to take to burn a DVD movie. You do need to use
MacTheRipper (see below) to create the VIDEO_TS folder before using
this method.

Back to the easiest way (Popcorn).
1. Download MacTheRipper (Google for it or go to
it's a freebie.)
2. Insert your original DVD, and using MTR, choose "Main Feature
Extraction". Click Start. Wait until done.
3. Run Popcorn, choose VIDEO_TS Folder under Formats, and drag the
VIDEO_TS folder created by MTR into Popcorn's main window.
4. Insert a blank DVD and click Start button in Popcorn. Wait. If the
VIDEO_TS folder is too large to fit on one DVD, Popcorn will re-
encode it to fit.
5. Go play your movie.

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