30 October 2002

Lemony Snicket and the USA PATRIOT Act [Filed under: Uncategorized]

I know I’ve mentioned Lemony Snicket quite a bit recently, and I don’t want to appear obsessed (it’s not important if I am obsessed, I just don’t want anyone to think I am). This is the last time I’ll mention him for awhile, I promise. I just found this article that details how he helped raise $10,000 to benefit the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. The Tattered Cover, perhaps my all-time favorite book store, was involved in a lawsuit stemming from its refusal to turn over purchasing records to the Thornton police department. Mr. Snicket, aka Daniel Handler (who happens to play the accordion for one of my favorite bands, the Magnetic Fields), organized a fundraiser in San Francisco to help the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), which was representing the Tattered Cover in the case.

I also just found out that the Tattered Cover won the case three months after the fundraiser. Thank you, Daniel Handler.

Of course, the Tattered Cover case was not a test of the USA PATRIOT Act, section 215 of which authorizes sequestration (“production”) of any “tangible things” including borrowing and purchasing records in support of investigations against terrorism. The Act allows that a magistrate shall enter an “ex parte” order to produce the goods, meaning that there is no opportunity to challenge the subpoena in court. The Act also includes a gag order prohibiting people who receive solicitations for information under the PATRIOT Act from letting anyone know that such material has been requested. It is unclear whether the gag order prohibits consulting legal counsel. As a side note, the Act prohibits the FBI from using the PATRIOT Act “solely” to frustrate activities otherwise protected by the first amendment. Of course, if that’s an unfortunate bi-product of a frivolous investigation, that’s the price we pay for security. And the best part is that anyone so hampered is prohibited from ever talking about it. How did such an Act ever pass?

Recently, the ABFFE, along with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the ACLU filed an expedited request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for information on how many subpoenas have been issued to booksellers under the PATRIOT Act. Despite further requests from the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department has refused to release the information. Because of the delay, the ABFFE, ACLU, EPIC and the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Foundation (FRTF) filed suit against the Justice Department last Thursday. I wonder if Lemony Snicket will be able to come to the rescue this time? Here’s hoping someone does…

NP: The Gothic Archies with the Baudelaire Memorial Orchestra, Count Olaf/Scream and Run Away

29 October 2002

The next addition to my Amazon wish-list [Filed under: Uncategorized]

[From MetaFilter] I want one of these. Anybody out there want to pitch in with me and build one? You: money, engineering, garage, tools, know-how, brawn. Me: enthusiasm, painting, sound effects during dives. Oh, what fun! [More info at Stanley Submarines]

Also, don’t forget—today is Lemony Snicket Day!

NP: Gene, Wasteland

28 October 2002

Lemony Snicket Alert! [Filed under: Uncategorized]

Don’t forget that the newest volume in the Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the 9th: The Carnivorous Carnival goes on sale tomorrow, the 29th of October. I will, quite naturally, be one of the first to buy it. You will, quite naturally, be stuck wondering in awe at my superiority and coolness.

Also, I got my LSAT score on Saturday. I think I will apply to the following schools:

  1. Hamburger U.
  2. Chick-fil-A University
  3. Starbucks Academy

With my score, I might just have a chance of getting in.

NP: The Autumns, The Garden Ends

24 October 2002

Coolest thing on the web ever. [Filed under: Uncategorized]

Build a face by selecting from a top and bottom portion.” I can’t begin to tell you why I think this is so cool, but I’m quite sure I’m correct in my assessment. You will enjoy it immensely, or your money back.

Unrelated: I just finished (finally!) reading Diogenes Laertius. Quite possibly the best book ever. I realize that I say that far too much (“best ever!! (until tomorrow)”) but this is it. The sine qua non of reading enjoyment. The summum bonum. Diogenes ends his work to “coincide with the beginning of happiness”—with the Sovran Maxims of Epicurus. Absolutely sublime.

NP: R.E.M., Finest Worksong

17 October 2002

Memes alive! [Filed under: Uncategorized]

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time, mostly for myself (who am I kidding—everything I post here is mostly for myself), so I don’t forget. You’ll need Shockwave to watch the wonderful dyseducational road movie that provides a modern Yes/No guide to driving and living in the automobile age. Fun fun.

NP: Alkaline Trio, Madam Me

11 October 2002

Stop-motion at its best [Filed under: Uncategorized]

One of the funniest websites I’ve seen in a long while, Skeletor and Gang is a wonderful display of home creativity and ingenuity. It’s a collection of short stop-motion animations using He-Man™ action figures. I found them to be alarmingly entertaining. Watch for the pro-wrestling-style moves in some of the “battles,” including a Figure Four, the People’s Elbow in The Kidnap, and He-Man tapping out of a submission hold in the last clip, Educational Television. The music choices and sound editing show glimpses of genius, and some of the dance sequences are hilarious. Good stuff. [If you don’t have a high-speed internet connection, you might try saving some of the files locally; they’re large (1-8MB) and don’t stream well over slow connections.]

10 October 2002

Congratulations! [Filed under: Uncategorized]

The 2002 winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics are Daniel Kahneman of Princeton and Vernon Smith of George Mason.

(Read more…)

8 October 2002

Miscellany [Filed under: Uncategorized]

I rented V: The Final Battle the other day and have enjoyed revisiting what was easily one of my all-time favorite shows growing up. I bought the original miniseries a few months ago and am heartened to find they have released the follow-up. I will be supremely happy when they release the actual TV series… The acting is bad, and the effects are laughable at best (it’s hard to remember that such things could have been believable back then, but I was a fan of Buck Rogers, too), but I highly recommend the series to anyone who wants to relive a bit of the mid-eighties kitsch in the comfort of their own home theatre. Good stuff.

On another note entirely: I have moved. Actually, I’m mid-move. In medias res. But the new address is on my contact page, if you’re interested.

NP: Alizée, Moi…Lolita

5 October 2002

Ohwha Tador Kiam [Filed under: Uncategorized]

LSAT: done. Please don’t ask me how I did. I don’t get the score for weeks, and right now I’d like to focus on killing my brain cells with beer. I will admit, though, that I closed my writing sample with: Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam. I am an überdork.

My friend from work gets married tonight within stumbling distance of my apartment. Guess who’s going to enjoy himself at the reception tonight?

Me, in case that wasn’t clear.

NP: The Autumns, Rose Catcher

2 October 2002

Operation: Enduring Freedom is in the house! [Filed under: Uncategorized]

So about a month ago my computer died while I was attempting to replace some dead CPU fans. In a panic, I ordered a new motherboard and CPU. Craziness ensued, and it took two weeks for my package to arrive. Last Friday, I installed the new mobo/CPU, but they didn’t seem to work. It was the same old problem: no video signal, and no sensible beep code from the motherboard. Yesterday, as I was contemplating returning the new motherboard and CPU, I decided to reinstall the old combo (because it was the most convenient way to store it) and on a whim I powered it up.

Naturally, it worked just fine.

So I’ve either got an extra motherboard/CPU to tool around with, or I will have thrown $30+ away in useless shipping costs. On the plus side, my computer seems to be working again… for now…

Get Your War On: I don’t know, I’m not really laughing at these, it’s more of a hearty sob tempered by a wry, cynical smile, but I think these cartoons are the greatest thing since Tom Tomorrow, and maybe even better. If you were a child of the eighties, make sure to read page eight. Operation: Enduring Freedom is in the house!

The Lost ’80s: the site is far from complete, but it sure looks promising. Some of the “toys” pages are great, and the “arcade” page has some great Java games to liven up the work day. Enjoy!


“I have done that,” says my memory. “I cannot have done that,” says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually—memory yields.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Walter Kaufmann

NP: Sing Sing, I Can See You on KEXP