Total posts 832
Total comments 352

N.O.’s death rate really not that bad

// May 30th, 2005

Okay, this is via Fark, which is sort of like blogging with your pants around your ankles, but it illustrates a point I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.

Seems that the death count in New Orleans is way, way up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11,453 people have died in the Big Easy so far this year. That’s nearly 15 times the number for the same period last year. But there’s no other evidence of an epidemic or a surge in violent crime, or anything of that sort.

So what’s going on? Turns out the numbers are correct, but the dates they were reported were skewed. The Louisiana State Office of Public Health has had a statewide backlog in processing death certificates for reporting to the CDC. As of the beginning of this year, the Office put their energy into clearing that backlog. In other words, some significant portion of that 11,453 deaths happened earlier–last year or possibly earlier. The backlog condition has existed “for years”. The Office’s commitment to clear the decks by the end of the year will cause similar leaps in death rates in other LA cities in the coming months.

Here’s the point I want to make. This is the kind of thing that happens in the analog, meat-space workplace where procedures are held over from decades past. Proper automation and data integration eliminates all of this. This is a sort of funny, trivia incident, but it’s a great example of the sort of outdated work practices and procedures our governments — and, surprisingly, many of our businesses — are working under.

N.O.’s death rate really not that bad

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Who Would Buy That?

// May 30th, 2005

This is great. A fantastic blog of strange and wonderful Ebay auctions. The rooster above, for instance, was an item that turned up when searching for “ugly”….

Who Would Buy That? (weird eBay auctions)

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BookCrossing

// May 30th, 2005

bookcrossing
n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

(added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in August 2004)

What a cool idea! Read book you like. Then come to this site and register the book, and print out labels with a unique ID. Then “release” the book in a public place. Somebody finds it, takes it, and reports their find on the site.

Load up your old reads, or go on a hunting for freed books in your area!

BookCrossing

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More

// May 29th, 2005

Brilliant, moving and gorgeous animated short. Watch this right now.

movemovie.mov (video/quicktime Object)

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McRorie Rules!

// May 29th, 2005

The bekilted and prodigiously mulletted McRorie is an electronic one-man-band. Guy has trigger pads on his chest and feet, and a pair of keyboards hanging gunslinger-style from his hips.

With this arsenal he does fairly credible covers of hit tunes from… well, from the ’80s, mostly, it looks like.

McRorie One Man Live

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Brain Freeze!

// May 29th, 2005

With Memorial Day upon us, I present this tribute to the Slurpee in honor of all the proud, brave people who will suffer at the hands (at the straw?) of this quiescently frozen confection this summer.

thebrainfreeze.com

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Cardstacker Gallery

// May 27th, 2005

Amazing pics of card-houses. And card-mansions. And card-stadiums. And gard-pagodas….

Cardstacker Gallery

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The Meaning of Liff

// May 25th, 2005

For those who love the more modern (and more American) “Sniglets”, here’s the work that started it all, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff.

In Life*, there are many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist.

On the other hand, the world is littererd with thousands of spare words which spend their time doing nothing but loafing about on signposts pointing at places.

Our job, as wee see it, is to get these words down off the signposts and into the mouths of babes and sucklings and so on, where they can start earning their keep in everyday conversation and make a more positive contribution to society.

Douglas Adams
John Lloyd

*And, indeed, in Liff.

The Meaning of Liff

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swanksigns

// May 25th, 2005

Swanksigns.com features hundreds of goofy signs from public places around the world, along with user-submitted captions.

How would you caption the above pic, for instance? “Warning: Car-eating Cow Ahead”?

swanksigns - dedicated to the art of mocking public works - beta

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Nerdgasm!

// May 24th, 2005

I’d heard about these firmware wackos hacking a certian Linux-based wireless router from Linksys, but little did I realize when I went through my rigamarole in replacing a dead router that I was buying that very model!

Joy! There are few things that make me happier than hacked 3rd party firmware. I’ve got 3rd party firmware running on my Treo 650 (providing improved sound quality, mainly), my iRiver h340 (enabling it to play avi movies), I used to have it on my Archos Studio 20 (enhanced navigation and gapless playback), and soon my Linksys wrt54g (dozens of new features)!

WRT54G dot COM :: Your Source for the WRT54G and the WRT Series

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Half Bakery

// May 23rd, 2005

This is great: people post their ideas, and others comment on them, vote on them, etc. My description is poor, but the site is good.

recent 3

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Meet Ashrita Furman, Mr. Versatility

// May 20th, 2005

Ashrita Furman has set 93 Guiness Records, and holds the most currently standing records (26).

His records include Longest Continuous Distance Somersaulted (12 miles, 390 yards in April 1986), Most Games of Hopscotch Completed in 24 Hours (434 games in January 1998), Fastest Mile on a Pogostick (12 minutes 1 seconds, July 2001), and (pictured above) Fastest Mile Pushing an Orange with his Nose (24 minutes, 36 seconds, August 2001).

Oddly enough, he also holds the record for Largest Floral Bouquet, which held 101, 791 roses…

Ashrita’s Currently Held Guinness World Records

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Episode III Verdict: Not Bad

// May 19th, 2005

Well, it wasn’t bad! The acting didn’t totally stink. It’s true that the love scenes fell totally flat, and the “Transformation into Sith Lord” was pretty abrupt. There are lots of nits I could pick, actually, but overall it was very enjoyable and watchable. Vastly more so than Ep 1, and significantly more so than Ep 2.

I recommend it. Now… It’s really NOT for kiddies. It earned its PG-13 rating all the way. Very dark. Some nasty stuff happens, and the bad guys definitely don’t win in the end (though, if you’ve been paying attention for the last 26 years, you knew that already).

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The Case for the Empire

// May 18th, 2005

This is great. Jonathan Last of the Daily Standard makes an excellent argument that, once you get rid of all the “dark-side/light-side” rhetoric, the Empire is the real good guy, and the rebels are an unimpressive rabble of warmongering, throw-back monarchists.

The Case for the Empire

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Unfortunate Star Wars Costumes

// May 18th, 2005

Some of these are just brilliant.

capnwacky.com | Unfortunate Star Wars Costumes

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Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars!

// May 18th, 2005

God bless Bill Murray.

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Blogging from Panera Again!

// May 18th, 2005

Well, I’m at my friendly neighborhood free-wifi-offering Panera Bread again while our buyers have our house inspected. This morning we had a termite inspector come and, to our surprise, find termites in our house! Not a big bunch of them–fairly typical for houses our age, it turns out, and they hadn’t really done any damage yet. But it means $500 to $2000 in termite treatment services. Fun.

It’s a funny thing, having your house inspected. In the house we’re buying, our inspector found that there had been a fire in that house once, which had been repaired to some degree. The current owners had no idea; evidently their inspector missed it when they bought the house eight or nine years ago. Since we’re the original owners on our house, there’s not going to be anything like that, but… we didn’t know about the termites! What else is there he’ll find? What do we know he’ll find? What do we hope he won’t find?

On a lighter note, after cooling our heels at Panera for a bit, we’re headed over to our friend Seth’s for a Geekout Evening. His apartment complex (which has a screening room with a big-screen TV in it) is showing Episodes I and II this evening, then we’ll be heading across the street to the Googleplex to see Ep III. Sort of seems like the only thing this one has going for it is low expectations. Ebert gave it 3.5 stars, but said, “Lucas can’t write a love scene to save his life. Greeting cards express more passion.” So it’s that sort of thing again.

“Don’t look at me like that, it makes me uncomfortable.” Damn, kids, your acting makes ME uncomfortable!

Still, it’ll be fun, if only because of the company. My only regret is that I’m not going dressed as a Wookie.

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Hey Crackhead

// May 17th, 2005

*** If you are not the Crackhead that took my sparkplugs, please disregard this posting ***

Hey Crackhead

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Primate Programming

// May 17th, 2005

I’ve just outsourced the programming services my company offers to this fine, highly reputable establishment. Along with decreased overhead, I expect an improvement in maintainability and delivery times.

Those apes are probably better than I am at commenting their code…

Primate Programming(tm) Inc - Talent

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Memorialize your Adventure-Seeking Loved One

// May 16th, 2005

My buddy Matthew Johnson is a rally driver. That means he takes a custom-modified Subaru WRX (that orange one above, in fact) and tears up backroads, racing the clock against competitors from all over the world.

He took second place in his class and fifth overall in the Rim of the World Rally last week. (Streaming in-car video of the entire event here) He regularly places at or near the top of his class, and is often in contention for over-all wins, too. According to the industry buzz, he’s the up-and-coming young racer to watch. The only problem with being the up-and-coming young racer, though, is funding your racing. Matthew has put serious cash into his car, his event travel and entry fees, etc. How to pay for all this has been a major question for him.

Matthew’s father, his biggest fan, passed away about two years ago of brain cancer. He and Matthew always dreamed of going together to compete in the premier Rally event in the US: The Pikes Peak Hillclimb, where Matthew is scheduled to compete next month. But his death left Matthew with another question: how do I take my Dad with me to Pike’s Peak? And is there any way to let other bereved families join us?

Matthew’s answer to both these questions? Auction memorial rides up Pikes Peak for the cremains of adventure-seekers. He’s offering to take a vial of your loved one up the world-famous 14,110-foot mountain at high speed and under real-live race conditions. “Passengers” will ride in a specially built cargo container, and one extremely prestigious position is available as the car’s hood ornament!

Matthew plans to have a chaplain available at the summit to say a few words, if you like. You can come attend the race and meet Matthew and your loved one at the top of the hill, if you want to. He got it cleared by the US Forest Service to scatter ashes at the peak, if that’s your choice, or he’ll mail the remains back to you after the race.

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