Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great bumper sticker

My little sister phoned from Des Moines, IA, to tell me about a bumper sticker she saw:
Bush is listening. Use big words.


Democracy vs. Despotism

There's a really good propaganda film, available on YouTube, from Encyclopedia Brittanica made in 1946 on the difference between democracy and despotism. You can find this in a variety of places. (It's a very popular film.)

I don't think you'll see it a lot anywhere else. The message is probably not very popular with the current administration.



I did a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday. Nicky Bleiel, a wonderful person I know from the STC, had me out there to talk about documentation planning and estimating. I could remember bits and pieces of the terrain from when I lived there 40 years ago. The place has certainly improved some since then: the steel mills are shut down, the air's breathable, and there's a lot of technology. But no matter what, it all looks really tired and run down. It's a large Eastern city, so I suppose that's unavoidable, but it was just kinda depressing. It's not a place I'd really like to live, although the business and social and cultural opportunities would be fabulous.

There are some great people in the chapter out there besides Nicky. I had a chance to chat with a lot of the people who'd showed up for the presentation before we got started. And I ended up spending hours talking to Alan Houser about FrameMaker and FrameScript technology, the STC, and the occasional joke. I'm hoping to see more of the both of them at the STC Conference (assuming I have a spare moment--ha!).

One odd and interesting thing, though: as Nicky was driving me to the place where I was speaking, we saw a flock of wild turkeys. I wouldn't have thought that I'd be running into wild turkeys in Pittsburgh, but there you are.


It is truly amazing what you can automate. Check out the CompuBeaver. There are detailed pictures in the Process section. No, no, go check it out for yourself. I'll wait.

The artist who brings you this has also been working on the Psycho Girlfriend project, weird wearable artwork. (I'm sure the artist could get lots of guidance from many people.)


Friday, April 13, 2007

Bunny bao

I grew up eating bao tzu (hum bao for all you lo-fan) when we had guests and Mom was making big food for everyone. I have her bamboo steamer and I make them every so often, myself.

Brian sent me
photos and a recipe for Easter bunny bao tzu. If you have trouble with them, here are some tips for making sure you get them just right.

Bunny bao.... mmmmmmmmmmmm!

Something for Friday

There was a chicken farmer who lived in a village in China. One year his chickens were afflicted with a strange blight that caused them to lose their feathers. The farmer was deeply concerned about this because winter was coming and if the chickens had no feathers, they would freeze to death. So, the farmer decided to consult the two wisest men in the land. First, he visited Mr. Hing, the renowned scholar. Mr. Hing leafed through all his agricultural and medicinal texts and pored over books and scrolls well into the night. Finally, he returned to the farmer and told him that, if he crushed the leaves of a gum tree into powder, made it into tea, and fed it to his chickens, they would be cured.

The farmer then went to Mr. Ming, the great seer. Mr. Ming cast stones, read tea leaves, and poked through entrails until finally he came up with the answer: "As surely as gum causes a shoe to stick to the ground, tea made from gum leaves will cause feathers to stick to chickens."

Now the farmer was ecstatic. The two wisest men in the land had given him exactly the same prescription. So, as soon as he returned home, he took some gum leaves and made tea from them. He mixed this with the chicken feed and fed it to his chickens. But it didn't work. The chickens continued to lose their feathers, and, with the onset of winter, they all froze.

The moral of this story: All of Hing's courses and all of Ming's ken couldn't get gum tea to feather a hen.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kevin Smith Q&A sessions

I happened on an article in Empire Online about Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith's two four-hour Q&A sessions last week at the Prince Charles Cinema in London. Kevin Smith always has lots to say that's very interesting (get hold of the DVDs of his previous Q&A sessions if you don't believe me), and Empire Online had the following quote:
"Last time I was here I got an award at the Empire Awards. In my speech I hit back at a 3AM Girls column that described me as a fat, bearded, hobbit-like director. So I figured, she called me a hobbit; I'll call her an orc. Come to find out she's in the room. She comes up to me later and says, 'You know, some people could find that comment offensive.'
"Apparently it's OK to call someone a hobbit but not an orc. Boy, was my wrist slapped..."


Monday, April 09, 2007

Johnny Hart is dead

Johnny Hart, creator of BC and co-author of The Wizard of Id, died at his drawing board today of a stroke. I used to like BC an awful lot, but not for years. The strip hasn't been very funny ever since Johnny got religion, the really obnoxious kind that says that his and only his version of Christianity is going to Heaven and that they KNOW, and everyone else's version of Christianity is a deluded fool who's been taken in by Satan.

They have meds to treat this kind of psychosis. Electroshock. Deconditioning. All kinds of things. But it's a repulsive disease,
particularly when you've seen it a few hundred times already. And just how am I supposed to believe that this particular fruitcake has been given the One True Word when all the other fruitcakes are saying the same thing? It smacks of hubris to me, it really does.

Well, Johnny's dead now. He can argue about how right he was with Jesus. I had had hopes that the strip would cease, but it's likely to keep going. According to the obits, his family has been doing it for some years now, with him weighing in only occasionally. (You know, that may have been the trouble, which is even worse: we'll have an unending supply of the same drivel with no hope of anything better. Nothing like a long slow literary decline, or however you say that about comic strips.)