December 2003 Archives

A Holiday Wish

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As a non-christian, I am able to see more clearly than others what the Christmas season truly represents. It is a time of selfishness, of greed and avarice, it is a time for families to gather together and inflict old and savage hatreds upon each other, it is a time of rudeness, stress, and general unpleasantness to everyone. I have never seen anyone express the hypocrisy of Christmas better than a performance I saw live on TV in 1991.

A Holiday Wish, by Steve Martin

If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children of the world join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.

If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free, in a Swiss bank account.

You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe.

And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought about slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can't think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she's behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it. Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y'know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They're not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it's worth! So -- we reorganize! Here we go.

First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish. And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas.

We Got Him!

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George W. Hussein

BlogTV: The Japanese Tooth Fairy

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BlogTV is back on the air with another fascinating tale of ancient Japanese customs adapted to the modern era. Our video (5min30sec, Japanese only) from FujiTV may not be suitable for all viewers. Warning: you may not want to watch this video if you are squeamish about seeing adults stick their appendages into their tiny childrens' orifices, causing them to howl in pain.
Tech note: this video requires QuickTime 6, it is my first experiment in mp4 encoding, so if you have any problems watching the video, please contact me via Email.

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When a Japanese child loses a tooth, they are taught an ancient custom, "ue no ha wa en no shita e, shita no ha wa yabe no ue e nageru." Literally translated, this means "throw your upper teeth under the floor, your lower teeth over the roof." The idea is that the upper teeth will grow downwards towards the tooth on the ground, and the lower teeth will grow up towards the roof, and all the teeth will grow strong. This saying has some interesting linguistic and cultural aspects, the character en is the same character used for the word "karma." En no shita also appears in other idioms that indicate something inconspicuous or unnoticed.
But of course, modern Japanese families live in different conditions than the ancient times when this custom started, which is the inspiration for today's video. A desperate mother writes to FujiTV, she lives in a modern highrise apartment and has no way to deposit these lost teeth in the customary places. What should she do?
That annoying woman from Mesamashi Terebi is here to interview typcial modern mothers with the same predicament. How do they handle their childrens' lost teeth? One mother brings out a small wooden box lined with cotton containing the lost teeth, plus one unidentifiable lump that presumably was removed from her child's body. I don't even want to speculate where this lump came from. She opens the box and proudly displays the small trophies, laid out in a line. Another mother shows her arrangements, she keeps these small parts in the glove compartment right next to the Owner's Manual. Another mother shows how she keeps the lost teeth up on top of the refrigerator, next to her kitchen altar. We see her child bow her head in prayer for strong teeth.
Obviously these improvised disposal methods leave much to be desired, and modern times call for modern customs. Two women display wood boxes designed just for storing teeth. One box is in the shape of a tooth with a little blue cap. Another box is labeled "first teeth box,' which contains a tooth chart with one hole to deposit each tooth, next to a spot where you must carefully write the date each tooth was lost.
It would appear that all these small rituals are more for the benefit of the mothers than the children. So let us digress and look at the problem from the child's perspective. We watch as one family sits at the dinner table, the little girl's front tooth is gura gura, it's loose and can wiggle around. Dad reaches over to prod her tooth, and she howls in pain, ya da yo! It is almost time to pull the tooth, and indeed, we watch as Mom pulls the the tooth right out of the socket. The little girl proudly displays her tooth to the camera, with a big gap-toothed grin.
But this family is determined to observe the proper traditions. We set forth in a car, headed for Grandma's house way out in the country. Grandma gushes about what a great thing it is to have lost her first tooth, she is growing up so fast. All the assembled relatives pull the child's mouth open to inspect the empty socket, and determine that this tooth must go en no shita. And of course, Grandma's house has a little opening in the cinder block foundation where she can toss the tooth. Everyone gathers around as she declaims, "yoi ha ni narimasu you da!" and tosses it through the gap. Everyone claps their hands in joyous celebration, another precious Japanese custom has escaped extinction and has been passed down to the next generation.

Server Upgrade Completed

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I have completed the server migration to MacOS X 10.3 and Darwin Streaming Server 5. I apologize for the delays but I have a lot of projects happening all at once. All server features seem to be operating properly at this time. Comments are still disabled until I can implement a system to prevent comment spam and abuse. If you have any problems accessing any content on the site, or if you have any general comments, please feel free to contact me via Email.

Transition In Progress

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I've made the transition to QWest, but there is still much work to do. The video server isn't responding at the multihomed IP, SSH keys have to be reinstalled, remote monitoring tools have to be reconfigured for the new addresses, etc. Since multihoming is hosed, I think I'll take this opportunity to do a complete backup and clean install of MacOS X 10.3, so it might be a while before full services are restored. We Apologize For The Inconvenience.
Update: I installed Panther, Movable Type seems to run OK in the new MacOS X 10.3/Perl environment. Videos are still broken, I'll get that running shortly.

Internet Navigator Meltdown

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Apparently my ISP, Internet Navigator, declared bankruptcy, closed the doors, and walked away. This wasn't a problem until my connection failed, and there was nobody to reset their routers. I managed to locate a former INAV consultant, he successfully restored my service only 15 hours after the initial failure, but I've already placed an order to switch. So things may be a bit unstable over the next few days, as I transition to the new ISP.
I was INAV's first customer, and I've stuck with them through all sorts of reorganizations and restructuring. If I'd known they would come to such an ignominious end, I would have switched ISPs a long time ago.
My email address should remain valid since they sold these accounts to But I will soon be discontinuing that address as well. I am rather irritated to lose an email address I've had for more than 10 years, but on a more positive note, that old address is well known to spammers after all that time, so maybe I'll cut down on incoming spam at the new address. I don't know what my new email address will be, but I will make a prominent announcement on this blog when I get the details.

Photography for the Blind

When I was just a young art student, I looked through a catalog of photography seminars and found something astonishing, a class called "Photography for the Blind." I never heard anything so outrageous, how could blind people do photography? So I read about the class, and it described an idea so radical that I've never forgotten it.
Of course someone who is totally blind cannot see or take photos. But there are far more people who are partially blind rather than completely sightless. Nowadays we call this "low vision" or "vision impairment," but this covers a wide variety of vision defects. Many people with low vision cannot see objects more distant than a few inches, or only see objects obliquely with their peripheral vision, but these people can see photographs if they view them under the right conditions.
I was particularly struck by the story of one student. She had could not see distant objects, but she could read books if she held them about an inch from her eyes. The school gave her a point-and-shoot Instamatic camera, and taught her how to aim the camera without using the viewfinder. The school processed the film and made extremely enlarged prints. She produced a lot of crooked, badly cropped photos, but overall, they weren't too bad for someone who couldn't see what she was doing. But the whole point of the class wasn't to make fine art for the general public, it was intended to make personal artworks just for the student's own personal enjoyment. And this woman described her feelings when she saw photographs of her friends' faces, allowing her for the first time to see what they looked like. Special photographic techniques are often used to capture images of things no human eyes could see, but I never imagined photography could allow the blind to clearly see the world around them for the first time.


I noticed that all content has vanished from my front page, which means I haven't posted anything in 30 days. So I figured I better write something, just to let people know I'm not dead, I just haven't had anything interesting to say lately. So please visit the archives for my older writings, and bear with me while I work intensively behind the scenes.
I've been busy upgrading my systems to MacOS X 10.3, and preparing for updating the server to a new version of Perl (I hate Perl). So just hang on and I'll get everything working better than ever.