brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


Inspiration on Chinese, Through the Tummy

Mei Wah is a page to help you learn Chinese. Well, at least some of the Chinese you need to read a menu in a Chinese restaurant. Cool! What's even cooler is that through this page, I found out that McCawley's legendary ::amazon("0226555925", "Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters):: is back in print! I first heard about this book about ten years ago, but all available copies were mucho-bucks, and I couldn't justify it. Now, it's available for a mere $10 in paperback. Awesome. I think that you can learn an awful lot about a culture through its food, and it's a fun hack to be able to decipher Chinese menus.


More Chinese Calligraphy

A Mediocre Character Meaning DragonWell, today was Chinese Calligraphy class again. This is one of the better attempts at writing the character for "Dragon" 龍 or long2 as writin in pinyin. Not very good, and a crappy scan because our scanner doesn't have a bed big enough to scan large art.

I've acquired some books on Chinese writing to augment my study and appreciation.

::amazon("0804832064", "Reading and Writing Chinese")::
A great and useful reference, contains 2000 characters and 2500 combinations, includes names, meanings, and happily, the proper stroke order for drawing the forms.
::amazon("0071419837", "Beginner's Chinese Script")::
A cool, cheap little book that can help you decipher signs written in Chinese. I like the approach
::amazon("0823005569", "Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy")::
The book that will tell you what you need to know to do Chinese Calligraphy. If you are gonna get just one book, get this one.
::amazon("0823048381", "The Simple Art of Chinese Calligraphy")::
A book which has less to do with calligraphy, but a lot more to do with arts and crafts surrounding Chinese characters. A decent second book.

Eeesh. Do I need practice!


AXS and WordPress Integration Plugin (2.1)

AXS is a pretty nice little program that can gather many of the web usage statistics that are provided by, but without any limits. There is a new AXS and WordPress Integration Plugin that makes it very simple to add to your WordPress setup: basically just put the plugin where they all go, configure three short options, and voila.

Check it out if you are in need of such a thing.


Slashdot | 95% of IT Projects Not Delivered On Time

I'm shocked. Absolutely shocked.

How much of anything you do gets completed on time and to everyone's satisfaction?

Filed under: Stupidity Comments Off

Tale of our times…

New instant messaging phone for your son Free
Ability to have him ignore your calls when you call him Free
Ability for him to call you and remind you that he needs some money Free
What happens when he starts talking to a new girl and spends ten 24 hour days on the phone $560 in overage charges

For when you absolutely need to let your son yap about nothing for $25/hour: T-Mobile.


Cigar Box Guitars

Courtesy of Make magazine blog, here is a whacky DIY site on building your own Cigar Box Guitars. It seems like the kind of thing that my friend Tom would approve of, and he turned me on to Make in the first place.

Filed under: Music Comments Off

Brainwagon Radio: SCOTUS on Grokster, Copyrights and itsyBSD

Where your host records another podcast on his way to work, and encounters a particularly gruesome bit of road kill along the way.

Still, I have time to give you updates on the Supreme Court's review of the Grokster case, the ongoing debate over copyrights on orphaned works, and a brief update on my success with itsyBSD.

Oh, and a Scrappy the Cat update.

I'm also willing to send out Yahoo! 360 invites. Drop me an email if you'd like to see what all the fuss is about. My initial impressions: it's more useful for creating small cliques than wide publication. If that's what you need, it's probably a good thing. And the price is right.


Science & Technology at Scientific Okay, We Give Up

I'll admit it: I love to argue about evolution and creationism. Actually, it's not so much an argument, as no real rational argument in favor of creationism can be made. It's really more of a desire to hitch creationism to the bumper of my car, and drag it through the mud. Call it a personal failing if you like.

This explains why I find Scientific American's April editorial amusing; perhaps more amusing than any of you will find it.

In retrospect, this mag-azine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Heh. Sarcasm. Have to love it.


Boing Boing: Media lawyer’s blog from Grokster hearings

Another major intellectual property issue which is unfolding is the Supreme Court's consideration of the Grokster case. With exchanges like the one below, I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule against the media. I mean really...

Boing Boing: Media lawyer's blog from Grokster hearings


U.S. Copyright Office – Orphan Works Initial Comments

Over 700 comments were received during the inquiry period for comments by the Copyright Office on the topic of "orphaned works": works whose copyright holders are either impossible or very difficult to find.

Currently, orphaned works are held in limbo: their creators (even if determined) cannot be located, so their works are in limbo, perhaps for forever, given the willingness of Congress to extend copyright terms. There seems to be some consensus that this is undesireable, and some push to allow a mechanism which allows such orphaned works to enter the world of the publically exploitable works.

I've surveyed only a couple of these comments. They seem very good. Check 'em out.

U.S. Copyright Office - Orphan Works Initial Comments


What has John Carmack been up to?

Apparently, goofing around with programming his cell phone.

It's cool that someone with such impressive skills chooses to waste his time doing things like I like to do. 🙂


Gutenberg Gem: Micrographia, by Robert Hooke

A Flea, as drawn by HookeRobert Hooke's Micrographia is one of the earliest books about the use of a microscope to view the world of the minescule. Published in 1664, it's really quite astounding, and includes some very nice drawings, such as the flea pictured on the right.

Check it out.


Want to catch a fish? Use the right bait…

Damn! That is one big catfish!

Courtesy of Boing Boing.


SiteLight highlights yours truly!

Steve Ivy over at sent me a few questions by email, and nicely presented my my answers as a Sitelight: his own way of highlighting blogs which he thinks are cool. I kind of liked the questions, and am not sure I've gone over some of this stuff before, so go surf on over to his blog, and find more about what I should have put on my own blog.


First Bootable (Barely) itsyBSD .ISO file

I've got a very simple LiveCD of FreeBSD booting off of CDROM. If you are brave, you can surf over to and download the iso image, burn it to CD and give it a try. It doesn't install anything to any hard disks, so nothing can be hurt by giving it a try, but as usual, no warranties are granted. Try it at your own risk.

It's got a number of problems, but I should iron them out over the next few days.