2007

The Lost Monty Python Cartoon
originally posted: 2007-03-18 07:58:57

Last summer I was showing my oldest nephew some Monty Python. Specifically, I showed him episode 24: How Not To Be Seen. It's a corker of an episode, full of great sketches—a playwright who is fascinated by train timetables (and his commenter), Conquistador Coffee, a movie director with gigantic teeth, a survey of ludicrous religions, and of course the eponymous sketch.

At the very end of the episode, just after the end credits, an announcer (played by Eric Idle)...

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A Site Upgrade For 2007
originally posted: 2007-03-04 15:18:50

It seems I actually have readers now! And readers demand features! I hear, and I obey.

To achieve these features, yesterday I threw out my old blog software and wrote a new one from scratch. I call new blog generator "PySa", which is supposedly short for "Python Essay". Pysa is tailor-made to generate my blog how I want it.

With PySa firmly in place, my blog has the following new features:


About Momentary Fascinations
originally posted: 2007-03-04 13:38:12

Welcome!

Welcome to Momentary Fascinations! This is a blog... sort of. Really, it's an outlet for essay writing, a way for me to work off my occasional topical obsessions.

Every so often, I'll go on a real information bender. I'll go deep into some subject, doing a bunch of research and filling my head with knowledge, until—inevitably—I burn out and move on. This was usually a complete waste of time; I wouldn't use the information for much of...

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Vista: The World's First User-Hostile Operating System
originally posted: 2007-02-23 15:11:59

Engineers have been joking for years that a particular software package, far from being "user-friendly", is actively "user-hostile". But Vista is the first operating system that is deliberately user-hostile, and it is entirely by design. I don't ever, ever want to buy Vista or own a computer with Vista on it—and I've been a "Windows" guy for more than 15 years. (In fact, this is the straw that broke this camel's back—but that's a topic for another day.)

You...

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Tales Of The Self-Indulgent: Manfac by Martin Caidin
originally posted: 2007-01-20 12:45:19

Martin Caidin was a prolific author of science-fiction novels and serious military history. He is probably most famous for his 1972 novel Cyborg, which was adapted into a TV movie and series: The Six-Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors. Cyborg was the story of an ex-astronaut test pilot named Steve Austin. Austin was taking off in a new experimental aircraft when it suffered catestrophic equipment failure—an accident that leaves him alive but mutilated. ...

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Tales Of The Self-Indulgent: Earthweb by Marc Stiegler
originally posted: 2007-01-20 12:14:41

Make no mistake: I'm a big fan of Marc Stiegler's writing. He's a real-life technologist, having worked as a manager at Autodesk (on Project Xanadu no less); these days he works as a researcher at HP, on subjects like capability-based computer security. As such, the technology featured in his stories has a decidedly realistic feel. He's published two sci-fic novels and a short story collection, and I own and enjoy all three.

Stiegler's first book, 1988's David's Sling, is one of...

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How To Use Mercurial For Local Source Code Management With A Public Subversion Server
originally posted: 2007-01-05 17:25:30

I'm working on contributing some patches to Python. According to the Python patch submission guidelines:

  • We like unified diffs. We grudgingly accept contextual diffs. Straight ("ed-style") diffs are right out!
  • If you send diffs for multiple files, concatenate all the diffs in a single text file.
  • We appreciate it if you send patches relative to the current svn tree.
If you're like most people, you don't have Subversion checkin privileges for Python. That means you're...

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Wealth In One Lesson
originally posted: 2007-01-05 00:06:09

I'm a big fan of the classic 1946 Henry Hazlitt book Economics In One Lesson. It demonstrates time and again how nearly all departures from laissez-faire economics (aka "government intrusion and regulation of the marketplace") results in the impoverishment of the citizenry. The "one lesson" it teaches from, the "broken window fallacy", is an apt metaphor for most forms of government economic policy.

But in terms of being the "one lesson" that you should use to understand capitalism, I...

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