Blog: 2004-05

Latest  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
-12  -11  -10  -09  -08  -07  -06  -05  -04  -03  -02  -01

csv.scm 0.1 released.

I think the irony is lost on both sides of that encounter:

About three dozen men calling themselves "Ushers of the Eucharist" confronted members of the Rainbow Sash Alliance. The group dons rainbow-colored sashes and ribbons in support of a right for gay Catholics to receive communion. The men took turns kneeling in front of the altar to block the path of those wearing rainbow sashes and ribbons.

—AP, "Laymen attempt to block gays at Mass," via St. Cloud Times, 31-May-2004

Bumped into a Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike at MIT a few weeks ago, and he gave me a "this is a highly-trained, multimillion-dollar smile" smile. If, a year from now, you see a blockbuster film in which DiCaprio plays a supergenius who dates Christy Turlington and gives blank looks at people who smile pointedly at him, you heard it here first.

Mark Lentczner's Perl Periodic Table of the Operators. Got Line Noise?

Jens Axel Søgaard informs me that the Quack World Tour has reached the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

One old Times hand recently told me there was a period in the not-too-distant past when editors stressed the maxim "Don't get it first, get it right." That soon mutated into "Get it first and get it right." The next devolution was an obvious one.

—Daniel Okrent, "Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or Mass Distraction?," New York Times, 30-May-2004

Appears I'm highly sensitive to second-hand smoke. The CDC has public-information on tobacco.

Internet relative old-timers may remember when posting to a certain Usenet test newsgroup would trigger an email from the Centers for Disease Control. As I recall, the email began, "Don't panic!"

At Fanzillacon in Worcester, they'll be screening "Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation" and several other films worth seeing, June 11th-13th. Advance tickets are $10, which covers all three days. According to the MBTA trip planner, the $6 #P503 commuter rail from South Station in Boston, departing at 6:50AM, will deliver you to 0.78 mile from the venue at 8:01am.

Currently, the photo icons for Cambridge's top three Orkut related communities are by moi. The Harvard Square one is from 17-Oct-2002.

Rescued a LaserJet 5N with JetDirect card from curbside trash late last night, shortly before the rain started. Seems to power up OK. Now to acquire some of what was called "paper" by people of that era. How quaint.

Editors' Note, "The Times and Iraq," New York Times, 26-May-2004

"The Times and Iraq: A Sample of the Coverage"

My Privoxy actions file now also blocks .info sites in addition to .biz ones. Send me any legitimate .info subdomains.

Finally saw Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors: White." It's been years since I saw Blue and Red, and I've since learned a little bit more about film and seen "The Decalogue," but I recall the other two Colors as being more visual and moody. I also wasn't as sympathetic to the protagonist in White. Although I might've been a little more forgiving had the part been played by Binoche. She and Julie Delpy would've made a cute couple.

MBTA transit police confirmed yesterday they will begin stopping passengers for identification checks at various T locations, apparently as part of new national rail security measures following the deadly terrorist train bombings in Spain. Although officials would release few details about the initiative, the identity checks will mark the first time local rail and subway passengers will be asked to produce identification and be questioned about their activities.

—Mac Daniel, "MBTA set to begin passenger ID stops"Boston Globe, 22-May-2004

Debian users, install the miscfiles package to get: /usr/share/state/us-constitution.gz

Finally saw Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine the other night. As usual, while I'm sympathetic to his message, his methods leave something to be desired. For example, someone punched up at least a couple of the soundbites in the English captioning. I think, in a documentary, that crosses the line of blatant editing.

Think I almost ran into Steven Pinker on the sidewalk today. He was walking on the left, with his face in a journal, but I don't think a gruff "Hey! Buddy! Your mind not work?!" joke would've played well.

ccnum.scm 0.1 released.

levenshtein.scm 0.1 released.

HtmlPrag 0.11 released. More API breakage, but the growing pains are all but over. SISC is once again supported. Packages for Bigloo, Gauche, and (untested) Chicken added.

HtmlPrag Guile package added. I've also just made a Chicken htmlprag.egg, a Bigloo module, and a Gauche module, all of which will be released soon.

Last chance to get on the htmlprag-announce list before I break your code. There will be no further warnings.

Subject: htmlprag input requested
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 12:07:26 -0400

Request for input on HtmlPrag, in the spirit of benevolent dictatorship:

  1. Any objection to the "htmlprag:" prefix being dropped from

     The new names would probably be exactly as they are in 0.9, sans
     the prefix.  I might make minor changes to the names that appear in
     the Portability section of the code.

  2. With which Scheme implementations other than PLT do you use (or
     want to use) HtmlPrag?

     This will help me determine whether I can use "syntax-rules" and
     SRFI-0, and how I should prioritize implementation-specific

Please email any responses just to me.


("htmlprag-announce" isn't a real email list; you're actually BCC'd.)

HtmlPrag 0.10 released. htmlprag: prefix has been dropped, and some API has been changed to internal-only.

soundex.scm 0.1 released.

The PostScript bluebook is online in PDF form at:

-rw-------    1 neil    neil    0 Apr  1 04:29 .ICEauthority

Quack 0.24 released.

tabexpand.scm 0.1 released. This is a silly way to say I favor libraries over cut&paste reuse.

Volunteered for the Kerry campaign. The Shrub administration needs to be kicked out before they can finish destroying our country.

Harvest Co-op wants $3.49 for a box of Tofutti Cuties, but Trader Joe's has the vanilla ones for $1.99 a box.

Tough time arguing on that:

McDonald's, which refused to grant Spurlock an on-screen interview with CEO Jim Cantalupo (who recently died of a heart attack), [...]

—Joe Yonan, "The frying game," Boston Globe, 2-May-2004

Early this Saturday morning, catching up on legitimate email that's buried by spam in my inbox. Slightly over a month ago, Don Felgar, commenting on my 25-Feb-2004 weblog entry, sent me a link to a 1-Mar-2004 New York Observer article by Rachel Donadio, "Naomi Wolf Makes Much Ado About Nuzzling At Yale." I meant to compose careful followup commentary to post with the link, but I guess I'll just quote the off-the-cuff remarks I sent him when I asked for permission to credit him:

Don, yeah, I wasn't overwhelmed with the validity and credibility of Naomi Wolf's case as reported. However — and why I weblogged it — is that her experience of being shocked by university stonewalling on complaints is very familiar to me. I know half a dozen people in one department alone who've been actively tricked by sketchy administrators into dropping legitimate and serious cases. Once you hear similar stories a few times, you realize there's actually a pattern in practice of suppressing complaints rather than addressing the causes or righting the wrongs.

Sasha (Alexander) Chislenko, who died on 8-May-2000, was one of the smartest and most sincere people I met at MIT, and generally one of the few redeeming elements of that experience. The clearest memory I have of Sasha was from one of many impromptu conversations, when he said wistfully in his distinctive accent, "Oh, Moscow is a beautiful city," but that he left because he couldn't agree with "the politics." While looking for a small eulogy I'd written, I found our last email exchange (below). I'd lost my space at the Lab a bit earlier, so I don't think I saw him in person after that. I was one of the people he'd talk with; perhaps if I'd been around... but that's a mighthavebeen. The main Sasha memorial Web site is, and there's also a more personal one by Julie Masis.

From: "Neil W. Van Dyke" <>
To: Sasha Chislenko <>
Subject: Re: Work
Date: Sat, 15 Apr 2000 15:57:00 -0400 (EDT)

Hi, Sasha.  Congratulations on the new job.

I'm probably going to do a startup, but won't get really started on that
for another few weeks (after I finish apartment hunting).  I've been
talking with a potential co-founder for a few months now, and we've
tossed around some interesting ideas.

Maybe it would be good for the three of us to talk mid-May?


Sasha Chislenko <> writes at 19:31 08-Apr-2000 -0400:
> Hi Neil -
>    I joined a new incubator in Boston - 100x Ventures,
> and would like to take off the ground the most advanced
> and promising projects.  Would you be interested in working
> on Web startups, or suggesting your own ideas for financing 
> and incubating? 
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Sasha Chislenko   <>

The best Tofutti Cutie is probably Mint.

HtmlPrag 0.9 released. Mail me to be added to the htmlprag-announce list, since I need to poll users about a couple major changes I want to make.

We saw Nini Camps at Club Passim last night. Nice concert and food (and nice company). I bought her second CD afterwards, but on first listen, I think she generally sounded better live. I especially liked the version of "Slide" she did live near the end of the concert, but the version on the CD doesn't come close, in my opinion. It's a nice CD anyway. Jon Nolan opened, and was also good.

Among the corrosive lies a nation at war tells itself is that the glory — the lofty goals announced beforehand, the victories, the liberation of the oppressed — belongs to the country as a whole; but the failure — the accidents, the uncounted civilian dead, the crimes and atrocities — is always exceptional. Noble goals flow naturally from a noble people; the occasional act of barbarity is always the work of individuals, unaccountable, confusing and indigestible to the national conscience.

—Philip Kennicott, "A Wretched New Picture Of America," Washington Post, 5-May-2004

Another reason to be skeptical of the argument that (paraphrased) even if US companies ship vast numbers of manufacturing and white-collar jobs overseas, our supposed innate superiority at "innovation" will employ a hundred million US citizens:

Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America's, apparently with little public awareness of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry, national security or the vigor of the nation's intellectual and cultural life.

—William J. Broad, "U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences," New York Times, 3-May-2004

Yes, properly applied information technology is a good thing. But do you trust your medical records anywhere near Gingrich? What is Patrick thinking. This sounds like Gingrich rhetoric:

New information systems would also allow us to reinvent the way providers get paid. Right now, most doctors and hospitals get paid by the procedure, regardless of quality. They get paid even if they make mistakes, and then paid again to fix the mistakes. And under our current perverse payment practices, when providers improve quality and efficiency, it frequently hurts their bottom lines.

—Newt Gingrich, Patrick Kennedy, "Operating in a Vacuum," New York Times, 3-May-2004

Bill Berkowitz, "This national park brought to you by...," WorkingForChange, 30-Apr-2004

Earlier to... 2004-04

© Copyright Neil Van Dyke      Contact