‘What Philosophy do you follow?’ meme, and a rant at QuizFarm

A brief commentary before this quiz…
I like online quizzes. I think with a little judicious filtering (“What form of dirty plastic spork are you?!?”) you can find ones that have interesting results.

Some sites let you generate your own online quizzes. This one comes from QuizFarm, the latest darling of the LiveJournal crowd.

Most quizzes allow you to ‘cut n paste’ a little block of HTML into your journal or blog, and QuizFarm is no different. However, the HTML they are generating is BUTT UGLY. It uses the worst of the worst in HTML practices and design, resulting in a dense block of nested and obfuscated HTML rendering tags that would make any FrontPage developer squirm with envy.

I took the output from QuizFarm and totally reformatted it, removing 80% of the font, page break, tables, and other noise that is completely unnecessary to present results. I did this in about 5 minutes, and the design can be tweaked much further (using styles to set fonts and not rely on an external graphic for the image) but I was in a hurry.

I’ve poked QuizFarm and offered to help them clean up their results. We’ll see.

And with that, on with the quiz results…

What philosophy do you follow?
You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of yourlife.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
–Jean-Paul Sartre

It is man’s natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.
–Blaise Pascal

More info at Arocoun’s Wikipedia User Page…

Existentialism 70%
Hedonism 65%
Utilitarianism 60%
Justice (Fairness) 55%
Kantianism 50%
Strong Egoism 35%
Nihilism 35%
Apathy 35%
Divine Command 0%

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com

The end. Or is it?

Terry Schiavo dies in hospice

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who spent 15 years connected to a feeding tube in an epic legal and medical battle that went all the way to the White House and Congress, died Thursday, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41.

My initial reaction was “Okay, I’m so glad THAT’s over with.” But, given all the idiocy and ranting going on around this case, I’ll lay odds that sometime in the next 4-6 weeks, either another single PVS case will come to the fore, or legislation or some other ‘big visibility’ process will start, keeping this issue burbling.

Bob Parsons goes off the deep end

Recently I was pointed to a series of postings on Bob Parsons blog regarding some decisions made by the company that administers the .US domain (that being Neustar).
Mr. Parsons, who is the founder of GoDaddy, a very successful domain registrar, goes on to comment that the recent decision by the NTIA made it ‘illegal to have a private registration’ of a domain.
While the decision by the NTIA may be poorly founded, and Neustars interpretation of the decision flawed (nowhere in Mr. Parsons postings, nor on Neustars site, nor on the NTIA’s site did I find a link to the rule change that is being talked about), I feel Mr. Parsons reaction to be overly dramatic and in fact harmful to the clear and informed process that should be followed when things like this arise.
From Mr. Parsons posting on March 29th :
But Mr. Parsons doesn’t stop there. This is not a poor decision by a government beaurocracy. This is an ASSAULT on our RIGHTS to PRIVACY! I will quote here:

It’s ironic that we lost our right to privacy on the one domain name that says we are Americans!
I find it ironic that our rights to .US privacy were stripped away (without due process) by a federal government agency that should be looking out for our individual rights. For them to choose the .US domain name is the ultimate slap in the face. .US is the one domain name that is specifically intended for Americans. Think about this for a moment: These bureaucrats stripped away the privacy, guaranteed by the first amendment and that you’re entitled to as an American, on the only domain name (.US) that says that you are an American. I am outraged by this — you should be also.

Let me be clear here. I think the NTIA’s decision was a poor one, and should be addressed, but I feel that Mr. Parsons has gone off the deep end equating a poor decision by a government agency with an all out assault on our rights as US citizens.
Domain registrations are a process of creating a space in the public forum where you wish to voice or present information that is uniquely associated with yourself. It is not an anonymous forum. “Private Registrations” are a false workaround to publishing Whois information, by registering the domain through a secondary proxy (in GoDaddy’s case, they are using DomainsByProxy, an affiliate website. The legality of this form of registration is already questioned, since the ownership of a domain could already be perceived as being misrepresented.
I wholly support the process of calling the NTIA and/or Neustar to task for this decision, but it should be pursued in a sane, intelligent way, not via rants and handwaving in the style Mr. Parsons seems to prefer.

Sing it, bruthuh!

My friend Michael got a wonderful editorial published in the Boston Globe railing at evangelical christians…

THE PORTRAIT of the Wilkersons (”For family, religion shapes politics,” Page A1, March 29) is an appalling study in the hypocrisy that has subsumed modern Evangelical Christianity. Michael Wilkerson is quite happy to wave First Corinthians 6:9-11 around to justify his bias against gays. For the Wilkersons, who rake in $120,000 a year and own a BMW, I have the words of Jesus, as written in Mark, 10:25. ”It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Definately take a few moments to entire commentary.


… the urge to just pack up all this weird technical junk and run off to a mountain top, find some old hermit willing to teach the deep dark secrets of fiddle playing, and disappear for 20 years… is mighty hard to resist.
(this “wanna run away” moment brought to you by the wonderful wailing fiddle of Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek. She’s 23, (was probably 21 when this particular track – ‘Smoothie Song’ – was recorded), and is an absolute master of the instrument.

Scientific American gives in.

Scientific American will be publishing their new policy of “Fair and Balanced Science” in the April edition. They do detail some of the reasoning for this change…

In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

I have to give great marks to Scientific American for their outstanding use of the written form to set things right.

And just to make sure all is NOT spit and vitriol

The first bike ride of the season is always special. Zach and I went riding yesterday for the first time this year (well, anything over just noodling around in the driveway or the like). We took a loop I’ve ridden many times that goes around the south side of Bolton. Total distance is about 6 1/2 miles.
Unfortunately I was riding the Giant trail bike, as opposed to my recumbent (which hasn’t been season-prepped yet), and it reminded me why I dislike upright bikes so much. Very hard on the tailbone (even with a sculpted seat), as well as hard on my overly-sensitive hands (too much weight on the handlebars).
Anyway, Zach did great and we paced at 8-9mph the entire way (mostly flat), which is just fine for a kid on a bike with 20″ wheels 🙂
Need to fix my rear derailler (which, being a click-shift, has drifted to ‘between gear’ state, which also means I can shift right down into Gear 0. Troubling 🙂
On the plus side, the Assabet River Rail Trail group met last week, and I volunteered to help out with some projects on the trail (new kiosks, some clearing, etc). The trail should have about 5 miles of paved road this summer (last year only a mile and a half or so was done). Zach and I took a look at the new tunnel and some of the new trail last week, and things look great. It’s going to be a beautiful ride.
Yay spring!

How far can they go?

More bad news from the runaway policies of the Bush administration.
A report by the TSA itself has said they were “not entirely accurate” when they were asked point blank about security issues. They’re not saying they lied, but every indication in the report says they did, in fact, lie through their teeth repeatedly.
Every time I find myself going “Okay, this is normally wavy stuff in politics, it’ll all correct itself, and things will balance out”, things go further and further off kilter.
Did you know it’s virtually impossible to find a currently-available sex-ed school book that is not “abstinence only”?
Did you know that piece by piece the US government is curtailing the first amendment?
Seriously, how much further to the right can this country go without a popular uprising?

Review: Rocket Mania

Game: Rocket Mania
Language: Java
Category: Puzzle / Action
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 5 out of 5
Offered by: Popcap Games (link)

Sometimes there are games you just can’t get enough of. Ones that you’ll play for hours until every muscle cramps into place, and you find yourself staggering, quasimodo like, to bed at 2am, your hand and body permanently stuck in that crouched mouse-clutching state

With that sort of intro, how can you not be intrigued?

Rocket Mania, from Popcap games, assaulted my sense of relaxation time about a year ago. I had downloaded and actually paid for a version on my PC (under Windows, alas), and since then have moved on to a total Linux desktop experience. While going through some more games to review, I remembered this particular game, and decided to run it up again

The Java version isn’t as immersive as the Windows version. Some of the voice tracks are missing, and some animation is changed, but the gameplay and just plain Funness is still there.

The goal of the game is to connect up matches to rockets. The premise is you’re a fireworks expert in ancient China, putting on a show for the crowd. The more rockets you launch at a time, the happier the crowd is (Oo! ah!), and they throw you money. The money can be used (if you pick it up) to upgrade your rockets. Better rockets mean more points, and more spectacular shows.

To accomplish this, you use the mouse to select small squares to rotate. The squares are bits of fuse in various patterns. Make a route connecting a match to a rocket, and fwoosh! Off it goes! If you make a path that connects up more than one rocket to a match, they all launch at once, and the crowd gives you kudos (more oohing and ahhing, more money).

Simple, eh? Well, it gets more complicated. Each round you need to launch more and more rockets before daybreak (I suppose the crowd gets jaded, and demands better shows). I’ve played this game for almost 2 hours straight, getting into the range of needing to launch 35+ rockets per round, and that’s quite a challenge. In addition to the time limit, the game starts throwing in ‘dead ends’ – bits of fuse that are just caps and just end the line. They also include bombs that can wreck your fuse arrangement when you launch. On the plus side, you also start getting little clocks that ‘freeze’ the time so you can catch up if you fall behind.

This is one of the top notch games available, particularly in Java / Flash form. Try it at least once, and if you like it, keep going, but give it a shot. I’d also recommend having the sound on, just to hear the FWOOSH of the rockets as they go off, and the happy hoots and whistles of the crowd when you get off a flight of 5, 6, 8 rockets a shot.

The long game time, even challenge, and simple approach make this one a lot of fun to play for a long time at a stretch. Check the clock often, and don’t start it up on days where you have deadlines looming.

Java Geek Trick du Jour

I’m trying to compile some sample classes to learn how to use Apache Axis the Java webservices system. Part of Java is that it needs to know where to load class libraries from. This is normally set by the CLASSPATH environment variable.
Java stores class libaries in ‘jar’ files, (java archive). Unfortunately, some apps need dozens of jar files to compile / run, and the CLASSPATH variable can only point to individual JAR files, not say “This directory full of jar files”.
So a fellow on #java suggested this:

export CLASSPATH=`echo mydir/*.jar | tr " " ":"`

Cute. Loads up the CLASSPATH variable with all the jars in a directory.

Review: Bookworm

Game: Bookworm
Language: Java
Category: Puzzle / Wordgame
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 4 out of 5
Offered by: Popcap Games (link)

It’s been a while since I did some reviews, so lets do some catching up. Lately I’ve been angling toward wordgames, and I had remembered playing Bookworm before, so I ran it up again

Boy was that a mistake. This game is twice as addicting as I remember it, and I remember it being quite a hook. The double-whammy is it is also available for Palm devices, so using it on my Kyocera palm phone really cemented the addiction. Again.

The basic premise is simply ‘finding words in the blocks’. The wrapping story is you’re a little bookworm eating up letters before the library burns down. The longer the words, the more points you get. Letters are also scored scrabble-like, so a word like ‘xylophone’ will score more than a word like ‘banana’.

You link up letters by either dragging the mouse across the letters, or by clicking them in sequence. The columns are staggered a half-square, so each letter is touching 6 others. Additionally, by making longer words, you get ‘bonus tiles’ that can double or quadruple your scores on a word. I’ve gotten as high as 4800 points on a single word.

The gameplay is methodical and quiet. No blasting away at aliens with this one. The interface is, as expected with Popcap, clean, easy to work with, and does its job well. The Palm version is an exact duplicate of the web version, so you can play on the road.

The long game time, even challenge, and simple approach make this one a lot of fun to play for a long time at a stretch. Check the clock often, and don’t start it up on days where you have deadlines looming.

More nausea from the Hill, Onion style…

As usual, The Onion hits the nail right on the head. Bush managed to get approval for oil exploration in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

The Onion did one of their wonderful What Do You Think mock surveys on what people think of drilling in Alaska. One of the best responses:

“They’re drilling in the Alaskan wilderness? That’s too bad. Someone really ought to look into passing laws to put such places under federal protection so this doesn’t happen again.”

I used to think that there was only so far stupidity could push politics, but it just goes further and further and further. IF oil were found in Alaska, and IF it were ramped up to full production:

  • a 1 percent increase in the amount of oil available to the US.
  • 12 years until that oil is actually available in the US.

Bush’s response to this?

“Developing a small section of ANWR would not only create thousands of new jobs, but it would eventually reduce our dependence on foreign oil by up to a million barrels of oil a day.”

Well galldang. Ain’t he the man. *spit*

NYYC to host 100yr Rolex Transatlantic Challenge

With its entry list now final, the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005, hosted by the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) with the cooperation of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS), is holding true to its promise of being one of the greatest sailing races of the 21st Century. On May 21, 20 entrants—ranging in size from 70 to 252 feet (21.3m to 77m) and averaging 112 feet (34.1m)–will set out on a course from New York to The Lizard in England, recreating the Great Ocean Race of 1905. In that historic race, the schooner Atlantic, skippered by the legendary Charlie Barr, set a record that has not been broken by a monohull in a race for 100 years.

For those who like sailing pictures, there’s a fantastic gallery of high resolution pictures of all the entrants available at the NYYC site. Full story at nyyc.org