Introducing “Hill Units”

A couple days ago, I was in the grocery store shopping for orange juice. There are a lot more types of orange juice than I can even remember: "light" orange juice, calcium enriched, and a range of orange juices with differing amounts of pulp.

It was the pulp that threw me. They describe the amount of pulp in orange juice in purely qualitative terms: PULP, SOME PULP, and NO PULP.

This is totally inadequate.

I propose a quantitative measurement for the pulpiness of orange juice (or any other juices with pulp). I think an appropriate unit is the number of milliliters of pulp within a 1 liter of juice. To simplify things, we can call them "Hill Units."


For all I know, this is old news to Londoners but it struck me as noteworthy.

Olive Oil Party Spokesman

When in London a couple weeks ago, Dafydd Harries, and Dave Miller and I decided to make a trip to the (in)famous speakers’ corner on Sunday morning. We listened to an eloquent socialist, an orderly debate between a Christian and Muslim, some racist "Britain for (my definition of) Britains" loon and a few choice others.

As we were about to head out, I couldn’t help but notice a guy walking around a sign that reading "Olive Oil Party" who was calmly drinking a bottle of olive oil. Every once in a while he would pause to rub some oil onto his body, scalp and face but mostly, he was just chugging it (click to see the full size image).

He stood on the top of the step ladder and delivered what must be the party platform:

Down with Coca Cola!
Down with McDonald’s!
Down with junk food!
Down with Bush!
More trees less Bush!
Long Live Michael Moore!

The went into more detail and I lost a lot of it. I vividly remember his discussion of how foolish it was that the US had gone to war in Iraq; after all the US was going after the wrong oil.

Totally brilliant.

In any case, it wasn’t the most unbelievable thing I saw that day.

Self Portraits

Two related items today:

First: Jordi Mallach has gently helped me to the conclusion that I need a hackergotchi. I took a number of pictures with myself with a digital camera and have narrowed it down to a final four that I think are sufficiently embarassing to represent myself to the world. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Second: It struck me that the guy in Candidate Two in my hackergotchi contest looked a whole lot like a major candidate in another major election going on at the moment.

I showed these to Dafydd Harries who made a visual comparison (below) to illustrate the nearly confusing degree similarity.


In the great tradition of free knowledge and the culture of derivative works, Micah Anderson has already sent me this remix.

What me? Produced?

On the airplane today, I listened to a radio description of Stuck in the Suburbs, a Disney made-for-TV movie where the major conflict involves a bunch of teen fans stumbling across a misplaced Palm Pilot and uncovering a sinister cover-up in which their boy-band style idol is unoriginal and just a product by the music industry.

I can only assume that Disney — owner of at least two record companies — is aware of the fact that in the real world, boy-band style idols are unoriginal and just a product of the music industry.

By my analysis, this is an example of the music industry using fiction to convince its consumers that the fact that music is an industry is fiction.


Every Morning is a Good Morning

I speak Amharic, the major language of Ethiopia. In Amharic, the word for morning is "ጧት" (pronounced twat with the first "t" hard). If you want to say something happens repeatedly, you just say the period of time it occurs in twice. For example: "day" is ቃን (qan) so "every day" would be "ቃን ቃን" (qan qan).

I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation in Amharic about any event occuring ever morning that did not make me smile.

Mundane actions like eating breakfast or brushing ones teeth become more enjoyable when you reflect on the fact that you are doing them "ጧት ጧት."

Putting the “Crazy” in “Crazy Balloon”

I know I’m not the first person to suggest that many classic video games employ extremely annoying and aggravating music to break players’ concentration and make the games more difficult. Other games use music that encourages you to play faster or better.

Crazy Balloon deserves special recognition. The CB designers chose a soundtrack that was sparse, but unusually effective. As far as I can tell, there is only one sound in CB It is triggered when you pop your balloon and it is the closest audio approximation of having a long pin pressed into one’s temple that I’ve ever had the discomfort of witnessing.

I find that having heard this sound several times, I actually play better to avoid hearing it again. Playing a game well makes the experience more enjoyable and repeat playing more likely. This fatal flaw in this logic lies in the fact that the best way not to hear the sound is to not play at all. I suspect this is what most people do.

Crazy Balloon is supported by MAME.

Maximum Recursion Depth Exceeded

I think it’s cliche and unnecessary to mention the ridiculousness of the new film, Alien Versus Predator: a movie based on a video game which is turn based on two movies. I do so only to remind people of a less high profile instance of movie/video recursion released nearly a decade ago:

Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game

SFTMTG was, of course, based on the Jean-Claude film Street Fighter based, of course, on the Street Fighter video game series by Capcom. Luckily, the game designers of SFTMTG were careful to block any further recursion by designing SFTMTG to be so unbelievably bad that no-one, no-where, would ever consider basing a movie on it.

See for yourself. The ROM is supported by MAME.

I went ahead and registered both and

The email addresses have been going like hotcakes. I gave my friend Alan Toner My friend J has As for me, I’m a little less fortunately named; I’m just

On the more palindromic side of things:

I’m happy to give these email addresses out so please feel free to suggest the domain to folks; if you think they would enjoy an email address, be sure to keep me in the loop — just CC

Eating Out in London

Eating out in London is expensive. It’s a lot like being very hungry and then getting mugged in a way that leave you no longer hungry.

Scandinavian Blue

At University, I was involved in a volunteer project to redecorate one of the student areas on campus. We wanted to use vibrant colors and wanted to paint one wall purple. The school put its foot down: No Purple.

We managed to find a color called Scandinavian Blue that was, unambiguously, purple. We presented them with purple colored sample chip with Scandinavian blue written on it and they happily.

I like the idea of a paint company that sells many colors under the names of many other colors. A red could be deep sunset violet. A yellow could be sunshine red, a green could be forest orange.

Why the *%?#! did you do that?

I do a lot of things that other people have a hard time understanding the motivation behind. For the record, I think there are three major reasons that motivate me to do things that are otherwise confusing or not apparent to people:

  • I had never done the action in question before.
  • I wanted to be able to be able to (honestly) say that I’d done the action in question.
  • I thought it might get me into a local newspapers’ "I Saw You" classified ads sections.

Vowel Poetry

I like my friend’s Louai’s name a lot. It dawned on me that perhaps this had something to do with the high concentration of vowels in his name. To test the theory, I set out to write poetry with lots of vowels.

Processing an English word list is relatively easy although picking the most appropriate processing strategy proved more challenging.

At first I set out to get words with a high concentration ratio of vowels to consonants. Unfortunately, this tends to privilege shorter words with less letters overall where it is easier to score a high ratio—words like “a” or “are.”. Out of curiosity, I also experimented with words with a high “number of consonants subtracted from number of values” number which gave me a other nice vowel-heavy words—how about a poem set in Ouagadougou?

I don’t claim the words I received were the best words possible but I thought the poetry was quite nice sounding with the high emphasis on vowels (for the sake of simplicity, I included ‘y’ as a vowel).

My first poem was a political poem:

courageously initiate equality: audacious idea
evacuate Europeanization
uneasy euphoria


reinitialize, reevaluate
zealously enjoy your opiate

Because too much seriously is just unhealthy, I wrote a rather raunchy sex poem to balance things out:

eyeful: your beauteous aureole, buoyancy
cautiously auto in your avenue
aerosolize joyous mayonnaise
oily opaque ooze
epilogue: goates inadequate

You can download the perl scripts I used to get the words here:

Use the code as you wish but please send me patches or improvements.

First Post!

Under pressure from a number of people and this crazy “planet” craze that seem so important to my Canonical Non-Nomical employeer and co-workers, I’ve decided to break down and create a web log.

I’ll keep this under wraps for some time to see if it’s something I can stick to. I’ll write about my interests. I suspect that this will center mostly around issues of Free Software, books, art, internationalization, and issues of intellectual property and copyright.

Terrorize Your Friends Drinking Game

Here’s my idea for a drinking game:

Everyone takes a (highly alcoholic) drink of their choice or lines up shots and finds a TV with cable news. Pick a US News Channel (FOX News is particularly good). Now every time one of the talking heads mentions “terror,” “terrorist,” “terrorize” or “terrorism,” everyone takes a drink. Adding a qualifier like “potential” or “suspected” as in “suspected terrorist activity” is a 2x magnifier. Inventing new types of terrorism like “information terrorism” or “commercial terrorism” to terror-ize concepts that have previously never been thought of us “terrorism” is a 3x magnifier.

I’m confident it’s not a unique idea. Suggestions and modifications are welcome.

Originally posted as a diary entry on Kuro5hin. Although Kuro5hin is now defunct, an archived copy of the post includes a series of comments from the Kuro5hin community.