Tim and the Tin Titan


The Evil You Know...

U.S. Troop Deaths in Iraq: An Analysis:
If recent short-term trends continue, the number of U.S. troops killed as a result of George Bush’s order to invade Iraq will exceed the number of people killed as a result of Osama bin Laden’s order to attack the United States in February 2007.
I think that says it all. While the author says that this is at best a straw man and intended to be partisan, it makes a point.



Interesting fact: according to the CIA's World Factbook entry on the whole world, there are ten times more Atheists than there are Jews. That is a lot more than I would have thought


New Musical Talent

The reason I know who Jesca Hoop is is because of this comment Tom Waits made:
"Her music is like a four-sided coin. She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch, or a red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.”
I liked the mp3 samples so I ordered her demo cd for all of 5$. I'll let you know how it turns out.

[from the Tom Waits For No Man blog]


It's All In How You Look At It

From the comments in a Metafilter thread discussing the fact that Isaac Hayes has decided to quit South Park after the show made fun of Scientology:
Don't disrespect Scientology | MetaFilter: "Face it. You believe in little green men, you're crazy. You believe in little green men creating the universe, you're religious. There is no line."
For the record, co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

Serial Number For Fruit

A very intersting post from megnut.com about a passage she read in a book:
Read the numbers on your fruit - megnut.com: "[T]he sticker labels on fruit: The numbers tell you how the fruit was grown. Conventionally grown fruit has four digits; organically grown fruit has five and starts with a nine; genetically engineered has five numbers and starts with an eight."
I don't know if this applies in Canada as well. I'll make sure to check next time I'm at the grocery store.


Quote of the day

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys
on a minor planet of a very average star.
But we can understand the Universe.
That makes us something very special.

Stephen Hawking

Bad Bonhomme!

The Carnaval de Quebec are having an auction as a fundraiser:

Look familiar?

They use the same "Up and Down" layout, similar fonts (notice how close the "a" is) and just shifted the tints of the colors a bit. It's almost like XPUB, the marketing company that did the site, wanted to copy the eBay logo but modify it just enough so they don't get sued for trademark infringement. That's called lazy design. Oddly, on their list of realizations, the auction site is not listed, only the online store. Could it be that they are ashamed of such a blatant rip-off?



I finished reading the book this weekend. I had wanted to read it for a while and now I really had to read it before the movie came out. I am really glad I did. While not a masterpiece, it is clearly a well crafted memoir, entertaining and involving. It makes you see the glory, absurdity, ferocity and boredom of war. I am really curious to see how this will be translated to film. The director is the same as American Beauty, a movie I really like for the way it took a different look at the "ordinary" lives of people all around us. This will probably a bit of the same but cast in a military light. And if they stay true to the character of the book, Jake Gyllenhaal (who I first saw in Donnie Darko) will be a great fit for the role. And I really do hope they stay close to the original spirit. It is not an activist's book, not an "agenda" book, it's one person's war, internal and external.

Anthony Swofford is a grunt, a jarhead, who reads the Iliad and The Stranger while his comrades play poker or peruse smut mags. He doubts the validity of his involvement the Marines, defending not countries but oil companies. While he may not be a typical marine, he is one who has the background to tell a story in a compelling manner. He closes with memoirs with an extract from and Ezra Pound Canto:
Some wars are unavoidable and need well be fought but this doesn't erase warfare's waste. Sorry, we must say to the mothers whose sons will die horribly. This will never end. Sorry.

That should give you a feel for the tone of the book. Now please don't screw-up the movie version.

Toot Your Own Horn

I wish the horn on my car had two settings:

First setting, a little toot that says:
"Excuse me kind sir, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that traffic signaling device has changed state. While I have no desire to precipitate your departure, I would like to proceed with my journey as expediently as possible. I thank you for your promt reaction in this matter."

Second setting, a fog horn that screams:

That should cover most situations...


The Other Mike

On Metafilter, While discussing a tile floor that Michelangelo did that was covered up and just recently rediscovered:
Looks awfully mosque like... Was Michelangelo a Muslim?
posted by Balisong at 11:26 PM PST on October 23

No, he was a turtle that used nunchukas.
posted by chasing at 4:14 AM PST on October 24


The Future Of Music

Two things this week in music news, both diametrically opposed

First, one person sued by the RIAA is finally standing up to them. In this article, they detail how the RIAA operates. What they do is sue "John Does" as a list of IP addresses. They use the court procedure to gather personal information on persons behind the IP addresses. Once the lawyers have the information, they pass it on to the company's representative.

The record companies provide the personal information to Settlement Support Center, which engages in prohibited and deceptive debt collection activities and other illegal conduct to extract money from the people allegedly identified from the secret lawsuits. Most of the people subjected to these secret suits do not learn that they have been sued until demand is made for payment by the record companies' lawyers or Settlement Support Center. Basically they are using the legal system to blackmail and intimidate people to make payments that they do not legally have to make.

This bullying cannot possibly legal. Now there just need to be one district attorney brave enough to bring charges.

Second, the band Harvey Danger just released their new album "Little By Little" for free and without DRM. It's available for download and on BitTorrent. Their reasons for doing this can be read here. And you know what? The album is damn good, not all hits but a solid album.

That may not seem like much, but after you read Courtney Love's "Artist Rights And Record Companies" comment, you understand that if an artists has negotiated a great contract, they may make one dollar for each CD they sell. If they get a bad one, they may only get 25 cents. Imagine a band with 5 members having to split a quarter for every album. Also, most of the time, a band has to borrow money from the record company to be able to record their album traditional way. Once they pay a producer, a recording engineer and a studio for a year, they can be in debt for a quarter to a half million dollars to the record companies. Even if they have a best selling record, they can still be in debt once it's done. They then have to go on tour just to be able to pay off their old debt. If the tour is not completely successful, they then again have to borrow from the record company to be able to record their second album and the cycle continues.

So if I give Harvey Danger 5$ (which I did) for their latest album, not only do they get between 5 and 20 times more money in their pockets but this distribution method costs them almost nothing. They can also now make their albums on home computer mixed on pro-sumer software like PRO Tools. They are cutting out the middle man by doing it themselves. They may not sell as many records because they do not have the huge publicity machine of the record companies behind them but then again, they don
So is this the future of music? The RIAA so pissing off artists and customers that they jump ship en masse and artists completely bypassing the traditionnal system. If the future of music sounds more like Harvey Danger and less like blackmail, I'm all for it.


A Thousand Pictures Is Worth How Many Words?

Ok, so I'm on a music video kick. Here is another original one. It's by Sia (full name: Sia Fuller), a ex-member of Zero7, from Australia.

She once told her friend Daniel Askill that the only visual medium she ever looked good in was Polaroid pictures, so that is what they made the video out of.

Have a look here. Check out the fade in on the opening shot.

I had never heard her music before, this song reminds me favorably of Tori Amos.

An Original Creation

This is the story of how two cartoonists, Raina and Dave, met, fell in love and finally, how they got engaged.

And of course, being cartoonists, the story is a comic.

Very cute.


Feel The Beat

Most music videos don't do much for me. They often times take themselves too seriously or try to me too cool. The hip-hop videos are especially bad at this. Most of the time I need something original or at least artistic to catch my attention. It also doesn't hurt when the song is actually good. Money or a famous director does not make a good video.

This is why it's so refreshing to see that the band OK Go have made what is probably the best video in recent years, A Million Ways. Here is a link to the 16 megs .mov. Smaller size and other codecs can be found on their site.

Apparently it's all amateur: one camera, their own backyard, their own clothes, choreographed by the lead singer's sister, that's all.

All you got to do is feel the beat.


New Expressions

Two new expressions, at least for me:

Sub-porno: Acting so bad that it makes porn actors/actresses look like they are delivering Oscar worthy performances during dialogue scenes. Said of this movie by my friend Francis.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot: A camouflaged way of saying WTF.


I just finished reading Jon Ronson's book, Them. In it he talks with all different kinds of extremists, from Muslim hardliners to the "new" KKK.

One person in the story is David Icke. Icke believes that twelve foot tall, blood drinking, shapeshifting lizards secretly control the world and particularly the WTO. The fact that he seems to gather more supporters against the WTO than those who use "ordinary" arguments to justify their opposition to the WTO is very irritating and alarming for the long time activists.

One "regular" anti-WTO activist, Michael, says:
"He can discredit the whole movement," said Michael. "I can see the WTO saying, 'If you oppose us you're just scared of some lizard conspiracy' and that's the most scary thing to me"

The author goes on to say:
I think that in David Icke, Michael was seeing an omen of the blackest kind. He was seeing the future of thought itself: a time when irrational thought would sweep the land, much as racism had done the previous century when Washington, D.C. was a blaze of white, the white of a million Ku Klux Klansmen marching past a Klan-friendly White House and a Klan-friendly Capitol Hill.

While this is not something that will happen tomorrow, I think it is something to be aware of and to guard against. I guess the point here is that the reasoning and the methods should count as much as the results.


Disposable Tax

I get a bit pissed off at all these new breeds of disposables replacing non-disposable options. There have been disposable razors for a long while but we are now treated to disposable cutting board, disposable toilet brushes and disposable bathtub scrubbers.

I just think it's wrong to introduce yet another item to fill up our landfills while another option exists. I understand that for the companies, it makes financial sense: If the sell you a cutting board, they make 7.99$ once every 5 years. If they sell you a pack of 20 disposable cutting boards, they make 4.99$ every month.

I suggest a "Disposable Tax". If you want to introduce an item on the market that is a disposable alternative to a permanent item and does not offer an advantage other than "you can toss it instead of cleaning it", you should have to pay a "Disposable Tax" or "Landfill Tax".

So if 3M of Johnson&Johnson want to make a disposable toilet seat or whatever, they can. But 10% of their sales have to go to recycling programs or other similar causes. It would make them think twice about it and maybe make the venture not financially viable.

But that is why I could never be in charge, I would piss off too many corporations.

Signs Your Pants May Be Too Low

I concede that MODERATELY low waist pants can be attractive but here is how to tell when they are too low:

When you are sitting on a stool and your pants are so low that I can not only see more than two inches of your ass crack but I can almost completely see the birth control patch you stick on your butt, then they are way too low.

Just a friendly tip.


Taking a walk in a provincial park, we see some signs for areas that are closed for "Restoration". We then spot one area that is close for "Extreme Restoration".

I just had an image of a park warden trying to do his job ridding a flaming skateboard and juggling chainsaws.


Not So Random

I recently loaded my complete mp3 collection in one WinAmp playlist, all 5000+ songs, and set it on random.

Sometimes, I think the random engine has a mind of it's own. For example: after it plays Nirvana's Lithium, the next track is Hole's Celebrity Skin. Or it plays a Fifty Cent song twice in 15 minutes (it's on two mix cds, so twice in the playlist).

I'd like to think there is a little sprite named Gary that is responsible for picking songs for me and that he has his own preferences and biases.

Or, you know, it could just be coincidence.


To Wish Ill Onto Others

I have been having a problem for a couple of weeks. I am getting tons of email bounces because some asshat has decided to use my email address as the forged "From:" of his spam operation. After some investigation, I found that the spams originate from China, advertise a site hosted in Taiwan and are mainly directed at Russian users. No contact info for the hosting, no response to abuse emails. Try to get anyone to do anything about this jurisdiction mess.

When I heard that a Russian kingpin of spam was savagely beaten to death earlier this week, I wondered if it was my guy. Sadly no, the bounces keep on coming. Gives new meaning to "Spam Assassin".

Lance... A Lot

I am a great fan of Lance Armstrong's, but I was a bit worried when the rumors that he was contemplating politics began to appear. I was wondering what kind of a politician he would be, coming from conservative Texas and knowing the Bush family (To be fair, he also know John Kerry and Kerry was in Paris for the win on Sunday).

But look like my fear are unfounded: Not only is Armstrong against the Iraq war, he is an atheist [as pointed out, technically he would be an agnostic since he does not explicitly say he does not believe in god. I have ordered the book, final judgement to come...]

He can be president any day as far as I'm concerned. He certainly can't do a worse job that those in power now and if Arnold can be a governor, he can surely pull it off.

He actually laughs away the suggestions that he would run for governor (but does not deny them), saying he now wants to concentrate on his foundation to help find cures for cancer.