What the World Eats

Check out What the World Eats: a  pictographic essay from Time showing all the food consumed by families from around the world in a week.  Some of the worst stereotypes are confirmed (check out the German’s beer bottles) and the variation in cost is huge (from $5 to $500).  Fascinating stuff.  Sadly, no Australian family though.

Thank you, Mildred Loving

Loving vs Virginia was the seminal 1967 US Supreme Court case that finally recognized that despite a majority of Americans being opposed to it, it was simply wrong to make interracial marriage illegal. And now on the 40th anniversary of that decision, the wonderful Mrs Loving reflects on that time and how it applies to our situation today. You must read and be moved by the entire statement, but I wanted to highlight this part:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others.

Thank you, Mrs Loving, for your bravery then and your wisdom now.

Now I understand Pearl Jam

Anyone who’s ever ridden in my car and been subjected to my mix CDs know’s I love Pearl Jam. But this guy’s take on the lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter is just hilarious:


Pearl Jam is famous for not releasing official lyrics to their songs. Fansites take up the cause, but they’re subject to interpretation of Eddie’s luscious, gravelly voice, which isn’t always crystal clear. I suspect that’s often deliberate, and in fact he’s famous for singing Yellow Ledbetter with differing lyrics at each concert. In fact, I think that’s one of the reasons I like Pearl Jam: with each new listen, I often pick up a new nuance or lyrical turn in the lyrics I’d missed before. I still remember when I figured out the line “All the rusted signs we ignore throughout out lives, choosing the shiny ones instead” which remains one of my favourite PJ lines. Some songs I listen to over and over to the point where I’ve figured out all the lines (I’m looking at you, Love Boat Captain), but at that point the magic seems to diminish.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to Yellow Ledbetter again without thinking of Mr Potato Head.

Make me fries…

If cats could program

… they’d do it in LOLCODE. For example, counting from 1 to 10:


HAI
CAN HAS STDIO?
I HAS A VAR
IM IN YR LOOP
UP VAR!!1
VISIBLE VAR
IZ VAR BIGGER THAN 10? KTHXBYE
IM OUTTA YR LOOP
KTHXBYE

SIFF review: King of Kong

Jay and I went to see King of Kong at the Seattle International Film Festival last night.  I’d heard about the film — a story about a Seattle-area man vying for the world record score on the 80’s arcade classic Donkey Kong — on tech-blog Digg, and immediately wanted to see it.  I have fond memories of playing games like Donkey Kong as a kid at the local deli, and I was briefly involved in the competitive gaming arena in my early 20’s (though for pinball, not arcade games).

As we were waiting in line at the Egyptian for the sold-out show, there was a guy walking the line looking to buy 4 tickets, first for $40 per ticket and later, apparently getting no takers, for $80 a ticket.  It was a tempting offer, but I’m so glad we didn’t sell out, because the film was wonderful.   Of course, I loved the geeky game aspect of the film, but at it’s heart it’s really more of a charming human story.  The film follows good-natured Seattle family man Steve Weibe as he seeks justice from the geek-lords of classic gaming when his record-breaking high-score video submission is unfairly rejected. We follow Steve through his attempts to claim his rightful title from bad-guy title-holder and hot-sauce baron Billy.

Seeing this film in Seattle was a real treat: the crowd was cheering and hollering throughout the film at every one of Steve’s triumphs, and you could feel the room sharing in his disappointments.  Best of all, Steve joined director Seth Green on the stage after the film to answer questions, and he seemed as nice a guy in person as he appeared on-screen.

I’m sure this film is going to do well when it goes into wide release in August, probably eclipsing the success of similarly-themed documentaries like Spellbound or Wordplay. Make sure you go and see it then if you can’t get tickets to today’s showing.  And if Nintendo doesn’t release the arcade version of Donkey Kong for Wii and/or DS in conjunction with the film’s release, they’re missing a great opportunity to support a revival in classic arcade gaming.

How to steal an election with negative votes

The principle of democratic elections is “one person, one vote”. But in the US in 2004, you could also add: “one particular person — Karl Rove — millions of negative votes”.

BBC reporter Greg Palast has 500 emails from Karl Rove (mistakenly sent to email addresses at spoof site georgewbush.org instead of RNC site georgewbush.com) that detail the process of “caging”. The basic idea is that the RNC would take addresses of typical Democratic voters (blacks, hispanics, etc.) and send them letters first-class marked “do not forward”. Each letter returned undeliverable was used as evidence that the registered voter was not entitled to vote. Of course, many of them were returned because they were sent to soldiers away in Iraq or Afghanistan. Overall, more than THREE MILLION votes were challenged. Soldiers sent home absentee ballots only to have them invalidated, and they never suspected a thing. How can democrats compete in elections decided by thousands of votes in the face of dirty tricks like this?

This video of Palast answering questions about his book is required viewing. It details the whole program, and how it’s connected to the US Attorney purge, the Iraq war, and even the high price of oil.

I’m really, truly depressed by the state of this country right now. The government is corrupt. The election system is broken, and Palast doesn’t hold high hopes for the 2008 election either. And the democrats, as judged by their recent capitulation to Bush with the no-strings-attached war funding bill don’t seem to be able to do a thing about it.