big heads

I often scan through the wire service photos on Yahoo News, and over the years I started noticing a really strange trend. Many of the photos follow the same form: a picture of a person in the foreground, and on the background, a GIANT HEAD. Now, that's a clever picture once or twice, but it was happening so often that it really caught my attention. Was it always the same photographer? No, it turns out, it's not. So my best guess at this point is that one of the photo editors just has a GIANT HEAD fetish of some kind.

For no particularly good reason, I spent a year collecting them. Here, then, are the big heads of 2004.

(  --More--( 2%)  )

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This is an illustration of THE INTERNET.


US Patent 6,751,348.

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"Business and Leisure Hub."

Dubai: Vegas for Fundamentalists:

A policeman saw the couple hugging and kissing in a taxi [...] He took the unidentified man and his Egyptian acquaintance to a police station for questioning. The two "confessed to hugging and kissing inside the taxi," and the man also admitted to being drunk. He was fined $3,270.

The affluent emirate is in the midst of a drive to establish itself as the Gulf's business and leisure hub.

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letting this fish swallow your arm seems contraindicated

Noodlers fight for acceptance:

An underground group of fisherman says it has dealt with discrimination from Missouri lawmakers for years.

Noodling is an ancient fishing method in which the fisherman wiggles his or her hand underwater near a bed of fish in hopes that a catfish will bite or, even better, swallow his hand. The fisherman then pulls the catch, which can weigh up to 250 pounds, out of the water.

"I feel like we can win this battle one noodler at a time," the noodler wrote.

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Current Music: L7 -- Diet Pill ♬

window three

Today, blood rains from the sky:

There is this sickening reddish spooge rolling down the outside of my windows, and sticking to them in big muddy clots.

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wobble

Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble:
"Richard Gross, a geophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, theorized that a shift of mass toward the Earth's center during the quake on Sunday caused the planet to spin 3 microseconds faster and to tilt about an inch on its axis. When one huge tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean was forced below the edge of another 'it had the effect of making the Earth more compact and spinning faster,' Gross said."

Update, 11-Jan-2005: NASA Details Earthquake Effects on the Earth:

The "mean North pole" was shifted by about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in the direction of 145 degrees East Longitude. The earthquake also decreased the length of day by 2.68 microseconds.
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2004 music wrap-up

In 2004, I bought approximately 99 albums (down 10% from last year, which was down 15% from the year before!) Last year, things were looking up: in 2003, I discovered many more albums that I loved than in 2002. This year, things are looking down again. While I came across some great stuff, there was decidedly less of it this year than last.

As in previous years, a few of these were released earlier than 2004, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing a little slack. In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up.

The Dresden Dolls - "The Dresden Dolls" & "A is for Accident"

    Their self-titled release is definitely my favorite album of the year (though technically it came out last year.) I saw them live twice this year, and their live shows are every bit as good as the recorded material. There are two of them (drums and piano+vocals) and they play this aggressive cabaret kind of thing. It's hard to believe that such dense music is coming out of just two people. To get a feel for them, I strongly recommend you check out the videos on their web site for the songs "Girl Anachronism" and "Coin-Operated Boy."

The Epoxies - "The Epoxies"

    The Epoxies put on one of the best live shows I saw this year (which was, happily, at DNA Lounge.) They are a punk/new wave band in the Devo vein, with a female singer. Now, I know there have been a lot of retro/ironic new-wave-oriented bands recently, but these guys seem less like "stylistic nostalgia" and more like "actually traveled through time, direct from 1978." They do it just so well. There are some videos on their web site; "Stop Looking at Me" is especially fine. The album is great, but it doesn't fully capture the manic energy they have in their live show.

Jill Tracy - "Diabolical Streak"

    I've seen Jill Tracy live a few times (she played at DNA in 2001, and will be back opening for Nina Hagen next month) and yet, somehow, I neglected to pick up her album until this year, despite it having come out in 1999. It's fantastic. It's a spooky, 20s-jazz-styled album of happy songs about murder and the apocalypse. "The Proof" reminds me of a musical version of Edward Gorey's Gashleycrumb Tinies.

Killing Joke - "Killing Joke"

    This ferocious album came out last year, but somehow I had overlooked it until, after I posted my 2003 list, I got a lot of email asking why this wasn't on it! Well, that's why. My favorite track is "Asteroid", which is an extinction event told from the rock's point of view.

Storm and The Balls - "Hanging With The Balls"

    Storm and The Balls are a "mash-up" band, but they're so good at it that, if there was any justice in the world, they'd be the nail in the coffin of that genre: the other practitioners would look at them and say, "ok, that's it then, no reason to continue." They played at DNA in February, and blew me away. They do these loungey, bluesy covers, like the lyrics from "Bring The Noise" with the music of "Sweet Home Alabama", and "Take a Chance On Me" to the tune of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". This wasn't some beat-matching remix trick like that Grey Album that got so much press earlier this year; they actually play these songs. You know, a band.

    This is a very good album, but the live show was much, much better.

    Storm's previous band, "Storm Inc.", was one of our first live shows at DNA Lounge, back in 2001. They were a very different band back then, but if I had been posting year-end music wrap-ups in 2001, the albums "The Calm Years" and "Storm and Her Dirty Mouth" would definitely have topped that list.

Tricky - "Vulnerable"

    I really like the voice of Tricky's new vocalist, Costanza. This album is really good. I thought "Juxtapose" and "Blowback" were pretty uneven, but this one is cool. ("Maxinquaye" and "Pre-Millennium Tension" are still my favorites overall.)

Curve - "The New Adventures of Curve"

    I've been a fan of Curve since I first heard them in 1992 or so, and their latest album has a lot of good stuff. They've been tending to get both more mellow and more electronic as time has gone by. The first track, "Answers", is especially great: it's almost an ambient trance track.

Veruca Salt - "Officially Dead EP"

    This EP has only 4 new tracks on it, so I wasn't sure I should include it, but I decided to because I liked those four tracks more than at least 80 other albums I bought this year. "Smoke & Mirrors" and the almost unrecognizable remix of "The Same Person" are the big winners here.

Hanzel und Gretyl - "Scheissmessiah"

    Hanzel und Gretyl make me smile. They are goofy and melodramatic and they rock oh so very, very hard. This album is pretty much "Über Alles, part zwei."

The Kills - "Keep on Your Mean Side"

    The Kills are a bluesy rock band who remind me a bit of a more-punk Boss Hog or a less-country X; one track sounds a lot like Mazzy Star. If you like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you'll probably like these guys too.



Dear 2005, please try harder. Thank you.

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She's a Flight Risk

She's a Flight Risk: "On March 2, 2003 at 4:12 pm, I disappeared. My name is isabella v., but it's not. I'm twentysomething and I am an international fugitive."

I heard about this site last year when I read the Wired article about it, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it until yesterday. I got totally sucked in, and read the whole thing in two sittings. It's very entertaining. Short version: heiress runs to escape arranged marriage; launders money, flees private security forces, hangs out with smugglers, blogs.

I started with About the Author then went on to entry #1.

This Esquire article about her gets interesting on page 3 (after he stops cut-and-pasting chat logs and actually arranges an interview.) Warning, the article contains some spoilers, so read the blog first.

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update wherein the word "pigfuckers" is again used.
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sysadmin desperation

You know it's bad when I'm posting random cries for tech help here... So yeah. It's that bad.

The webcast machine at the club loses its mind at least once a week: it appears to run out of memory and crash, but I can't figure out what the culprit is.

The machine is a dual CPU Athlon 2400+ with 1GB RAM and 500MB swap. It's running Fedora Core 3, but I was also experiencing this problem on FC2 and RH9. Memtest86 says the RAM is fine. It's got an Osprey 100 BT848 video capture card and an SB Live EMU10k1 audio card.

I set up a cron job that once a minute captures the output of "top -bn1" and "ps auxwwf" to a file. Here's are a pair of those files as it loses its mind. Note that the load goes from 3.44 to 22.73 in a minute and a half.

I've compared the two files character by character, and I don't see a smoking gun. The differences look quite trivial to me.

So while I was sitting there staring at this, I saw something very intersting happen: "top" was running on the machine's console, and showed 380MB swap available -- and the oom-killer woke up and shot down an xemacs and an httpd.

So, how's that even possible? Does this mean that some process has gone nuts and started leaking wired pages, so that it can't swap at all? Or what?

So, any ideas?


Update, Dec 29: It looks like something is leaking in the kernel; /proc/slabinfo shows the size-256 slab growing to 3,500,000 entries (over 800MB.) Current suspect is the bttv/v4l driver (since one of the things this machine does is run "streamer" to grab a video frame every few seconds.) That would be about 525 leaked allocations per minute, or around 26 leaks per frame.

kernel 2.6.9-1.681_FC3, xawtv-3.81-6.


Update, Jan 12: That was the culprit. This is the fix:

    --- ./drivers/media/video/bttv-driver.c.orig    2005-01-11 14:54:15.477911088 -0800
    +++ ./drivers/media/video/bttv-driver.c 2005-01-08 13:49:44.000000000 -0800
    @@ -2992,6 +2992,9 @@
                    free_btres(btv,fh,RESOURCE_VBI);
            }
     
    +       videobuf_mmap_free(file, &fh->cap);
    +       videobuf_mmap_free(file, &fh->vbi);
    +
     #ifdef VIDIOC_G_PRIORITY
            v4l2_prio_close(&btv->prio,&fh->prio);
     #endif
    
    --- ./drivers/media/video/video-buf.c.orig      2004-10-18 14:54:08.000000000 -0700
    +++ ./drivers/media/video/video-buf.c   2005-01-08 13:50:04.000000000 -0800
    @@ -889,6 +889,7 @@
            int i;
            
            videobuf_queue_cancel(file,q);
    +        videobuf_mmap_free(file, q);
            INIT_LIST_HEAD(&q->stream);
            for (i = 0; i < VIDEO_MAX_FRAME; i++) {
                    if (NULL == q->bufs[i])
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