Thursday, February 27, 2003
The fantastic new video for 'Ain't Nobody', by Richard X vs. Liberty X is only part of the charm of this single. Yes, it's ultra-high concept, featuring a clone factory that churns out pop stars by the dozens (and, apparently shoes, if you're paying attention to the line Michelle works on). Yes, it's clever and self-deprecating in all the right ways. But what's best about the single is that it is another of Max's favourite genre-- the bootleg [the song takes an old Human League song, 'Being Boiled' and overlays the vocal and synth tracks from the Liberty X track] that's been re-worked and tweaked into a polished, deliciously (re)produced 4 minutes.

Frankly, I think Chaka Khan and Rufus must be very pleased... not to mention Phil Oakey.

Friday, February 21, 2003
I'm no Randy Cohen, but I've got no problem calling Channel 4's 'Make My Day' a moral disaster. Case in point-- tonight's show where the unsuspecting main character, who works for an employment agency, is asked to fabricate a CV for a Z-list celeb. The disturbing part is that she earns points if she chooses the unethical option and does it, thus putting her professionalism and job on the line.

But later in the same program, she's presented with another quandary and earns points for rejecting an ill-gotten marriage proposal from another Z-list celeb. It seems then, that the show isn't designed to reward ethical behaviour, nor is it rigged to pay off for the mercenary contestants. It's even worse than situational ethics, because those still tend to be driven by an overriding sense of good and bad.

The moral of the story is: if you suddenly meet a bunch of washed-up famous people who ask you to do them favours, do them, as long as they don't involve actually getting married. Or something like that...

Thursday, February 20, 2003
If this is true-- that new-car smell is composed of such olfactory treats as toluene and benzene, that's not good news. They're both nasty carcinogens. My guess is that it's just a matter of time before car manufacturers are sued over this, and though I'm hardly the litigious type, I think it's probably about time.

Thursday, February 13, 2003
Not So Magic Now

Here's why this works:

If you take any Base 10 composite integer and reduce its digits by adding them up (i.e. pretend you chose 71--> so 7+1--> 8) and then subtract this from the original number (71-8= 63), you are always left with a new composite integer that, when is reduced will always reduce down to 9 (the highest digit in Base 10).

See how 63 --> 6+3 --> 9?

This is always true. So no matter what number you choose, your final answer will always be reducible to 9. Try it, if you don't believe me.

(Single-digit numbers, which aren't composite integers, will all just end up as 0).

If you look in the symbol table to the right of the crystal ball, you will notice that all integers that reduce to 9 (i.e. 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, etc. up to 81) have the same symbol next to them, as does 0. This symbol is the one that will come up in the crystal ball.

**Why don't 90 and 99 always have this same symbol, even though they also reduce to 9? Well, because you can't choose a 2-digit number in the 90s that will give you a final answer of anything higher than 81. (e.g. 94--> 9+4=13--> 94-13= 81)

Debt. It's been the theme of the past week. Credit card debt, college loans, all creating a world where young people start their adult lives working to pay off usurious corporations.

And although it might just sound like liberal anger, it's very real and very frightening when the costs of state-run education rise in parallel with private universities. It boils down to the education-as-business paradigm, in the end.

Is it wrongheaded to think that a country should invest enough money in its own higher education system to ensure that anyone with enough talent can earn a degree? Or is forcing students to sacrifice for their education part of the plan, inspiring deep commitment to make good use of their education? If that's the case, then there's a tipping point where the investment exceeds the returns. Guess what? We're there.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
I'm just asking, but isn't a new version of a software package meant to fix more problems than it creates?

Due to unforseen circumstances, I'm sitting at home, not in Blackboard's Virtual Classroom with 50 undergraduates, as I was supposed to be. No, instead, I'm sending out e-mail to those same students, telling them to meet me in AOL Instant Messenger if they want to ask questions this afternoon.

What the hell?

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
It might not seem like seven years ago, but things have changed on the Internet since 1996. Back then, one of the most entertaining things to do was to use one of the few 'Random Link of the Day' sites that would sort through a pretty exhaustive list of a few hundred thousand websites and randomly select one for your viewing pleasure. As much of a waste of time as this sounds, it was a lot of fun.

I just discovered, a living anachronism, tonight.

And I'm kind of sad to report that it just doesn't succeed anymore, mostly because it appears that websites come and go with much shorter half-lives in 2003 than they did in 1996.

Out of the five random sites I tried to view, only two were valid. One was an 'Inca Trail Specialists' travel agency, and the other was a very interesting deep link into the New York Times archives that brought me to a site dedicated to the 1997 US Open (tennis), where Martina Hingis defeated Venus Williams 6-0, 6-4 in the final. This was fascinating for another reason, apart from Martina 'Chucky' Hingis's latter-day meltdown-- if you have a look at the top 5 women's seeds, only one of them is still in the top 10 (Monica Seles). Among the men, not a single one of the top 5 seeds is in the current top 10. Well, at least it's not just the URLs that fade...

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