I thought you said "Earn more sessions by sleeving."

I was at a sandwich shop the other day, doing the obvious thing. The middle-aged asian woman behind the counter took my order, started making the sandwich, and then halfway through stopped and asked me in a very thick accent, ``Excuse me, do you know who is ______?''

    ``Who?''
    ``________.''
    ``Um...''
    ``________.''
    ``I'm sorry, I don't understand....''
    ``Do you know who is Ghengi Khan?''

Wait. Did she really just say Ghengis Khan? I steal a glance at my t-shirt: am I obliviously wearing a picture of a rapacious Mongol? No, no I'm not. I ask, ``Um.... you mean the Mongolian conqueror?'' Even as I say it, I really can't believe that's right. Or maybe she's talking about a band or something.

``Yes, yes!''

``Yup, I've... heard of him...'' I'm really confused now.

She says, ``those guys didn't know him,'' pointing at a pair of older asian fellows sitting at a table having lunch who seem to be totally ignoring us.

I nod knowingly. I'm dying to know how this came up, but I'd already waited too long to eat, and my world had gone all surreal even before Ghengis came into it, so I just let it go.

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more winnage from CDDB

In case you didn't know, the file format that CDDB (and FreeDB) use is complete garbage. In addition to random idiotic crap like it being impossible to unambiguously represent a song title that has a slash in it, it's rocket science to figure out how long a song is supposed to be. I need this info not only to display it in Gronk, but also for some error-checking that my ripping scripts do, so that I don't end up with truncated files if there was a crash or a full disk or something.

So get this. CDDB files contain junk like this:

    # Track frame offsets:
    #       150
    #       18265
    #       32945
    #       49812
    ...
    # Disc length: 3603 seconds
(You'd think that the fact that it's in a comment would mean something, but no: you have to parse both comments and non-comments, begging the question of what they thought "comment" means.)

Those numbers are the starting sectors of each track on the disc. There are 75 sectors per second. So you convert those to seconds by dividing, and then find the length of each track by subtracting each from the previous. Oh, but wait, they don't give you the sector address of the end of the last track: for that one, it's expressed in seconds, for no sensible reason. Still, the info is there, right?

Uh, almost.

It turns out that if the last track on a CD is a data track (an ISO9660 file system) then there is a gap between the last track (the data track) and the second-to-last track (the last audio track.) This gap is exactly 11400 sectors (152 seconds, 2:32.) On some discs, you can actually see this track, it's a differently-shiny ring. Why's it there? I don't know. Why's it that size? I don't know. What if the data track is not the last track on the CD? (Does that even work?) I don't know.

So what this means is, when computing the length that a track should be, you have to subtract 152 seconds from the length of the second-to-last track, only if the last track is a data track.

How do you tell whether the last track is a data track? By hoping that the CDDB file contains the words "data track" in the title of that track, I guess. Yeah, that's reliable.

And, just to keep things interesting, it turns out that older versions of grip and cdparanoia didn't skip over this gap when ripping: instead, they would append 152 seconds of silence onto the end of the second-to-last track. So now my script that sanity-checks the lengths of the files has to consider two different lengths to be "right", since I now have CDs that were ripped both ways.

Whee. Love love love supporting standards invented by 12-year-olds.

Of course the reason that I use CDDB files at all in Gronk is because of the mind-blowing worthlessness of ID3 tags (32 character limits on titles, etc.) Yay more standards invented by 12-year-olds. (Please don't even mention ID3v2 or Ogg. I laugh at you, you silly person.)

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"There really is nothing like a shorn swimmer. It's breathtaking."

Swim-team ritual ended after outcry

Campbell officials this week quickly put an end to a longtime ritual among city-sponsored swim teams. Teenage boys and girls will no longer hold coed ``shave-downs'' at the Campbell Community Center.

The action followed complaints from parents of girls on a 6- through-8-year-old swim team who walked in on teenagers shaving themselves and their teammates in the girls locker room. The teen boys and girls, 14 through 17 years old, are members of the Campbell Wavemakers Senior Division Swim Team. [...]

Dean said one parent told him that his daughter, who is 8, glimpsed one male teen ``who found the event stimulating.'' [...]

The incident took place Jan. 17. In a letter sent to parents on Wednesday, city recreation officials described the incident as ``swimmers shaved themselves, with some young swimmers receiving assistance from the older ones.'' Recreation officials apologized in the letter ``to any participant and parents who may have been uncomfortable with the shave-down.'' [...]

``And I think it's unfortunate that it's going to end,'' she said of the shaving, ``because it's a wonderful team-building event. That's a shame.''

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Current Music: Luxt -- Death ♬

dnalounge update

DNA update plus photos.
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THIS PHONE IS TAPPED

"Your conversation is being monitored by the U.S. government courtesy of the US Patriot Act of 2001, Sec. 216 of which permits all phone calls to be recorded without a warrant or notification."

100 stickers for $5.50.

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Warden Caligari

Anarchists and the fine art of torture

Beds were placed at a 20 degree angle, making them near-impossible to sleep on, and the floors of the 6ft by 3ft cells was scattered with bricks and other geometric blocks to prevent prisoners from walking backwards and forwards, according to the account of Laurencic's trial.

The only option left to prisoners was staring at the walls, which were curved and covered with mind-altering patterns of cubes, squares, straight lines and spirals which utilised tricks of colour, perspective and scale to cause mental confusion and distress. Lighting effects gave the impression that the dizzying patterns on the wall were moving.

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--(15%) ">

Anarchists and the fine art of torture
Spanish art historian says they put enemies in disorienting cells

Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Monday January 27, 2003

A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture, with the discovery that mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country's bloody civil war.

Bauhaus artists such as Kandinsky, Klee and Itten, as well as the surrealist film-maker Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells and torture centres built in Barcelona and elsewhere, yesterday's El Pais newspaper reported.

Most were the work of an enthusiastic French anarchist, Alphonse Laurencic, who invented a form of "psychotechnic" torture, according to the research of the historian Jose Milicua.

Mr Milicua's information came from a written account of Laurencic's trial before a Francoist military tribunal. That 1939 account was written by a man called R L Chacon who, like anybody allowed to publish by the newly installed dictatorship, could not have been expected to feel any sympathy for what Nazi Germany had already denounced as "degenerative art".

Laurencic, who claimed to be a painter and conductor in civilian life, created his so-called "coloured cells" as a contribution to the fight against General Franco's rightwing rebel forces.

They may also have been used to house members of other leftwing factions battling for power with the anarchist National Confederation of Workers, to which Laurencic belonged.

Hidden

The cells, built in 1938 and reportedly hidden from foreign journalists who visited the makeshift jails on Vallmajor and Saragossa streets, were as inspired by ideas of geometric abstraction and surrealism as they were by avant garde art theories on the psychological properties of colours.

Beds were placed at a 20 degree angle, making them near-impossible to sleep on, and the floors of the 6ft by 3ft cells was scattered with bricks and other geometric blocks to prevent prisoners from walking backwards and forwards, according to the account of Laurencic's trial.

The only option left to prisoners was staring at the walls, which were curved and covered with mind-altering patterns of cubes, squares, straight lines and spirals which utilised tricks of colour, perspective and scale to cause mental confusion and distress.

Lighting effects gave the impression that the dizzying patterns on the wall were moving.

A stone bench was similarly designed to send a prisoner sliding to the floor when he or she sat down, Mr Milicua said. Some cells were painted with tar so that they would warm up in the sun and produce asphyxiating heat.

Laurencic told the military court that he had been commissioned to build the cells by an anarchist leader who had heard of similar ones used elsewhere in the republican zone during the civil war, possibly in Valencia.

Mr Milicua has claimed that Laurencic preferred to use the colour green because, according to his theory of the psychological effects of various colours, it produced melancholy and sadness in prisoners.

But it appears that Barcelona was not the only place where avant garde art was used to torture Franco's supporters.

According to the prosecutors who put Laurencic on trial in 1939, a jail in Murcia in south-east Spain forced prisoners to view the infamously disturbing scene from Dali and Bunuel's film Un Chien Andalou, in which an eyeball is sliced open.

El Pais commented: "The avant garde forms of the moment - surrealism and geometric abstraction - were thus used for the aim of committing psychological torture.

"The creators of such revolutionary and liberating [artistic] languages could never have imagined that they would be so intrinsically linked to repression."

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switch

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fear the forward march of nature

Girl finds two-headed toad in Hopkinton

The two amphibians are conjoined, un-identical twins. [...] The two toads are stacked on top of each other. The one on the bottom is larger and darker. The larger toad appears to be normal, except for the second toad attached to its back. The toad on top is smaller and a lighter color. Its front legs have grown into the back of the larger frog, and it appears the bottom jaw may be connected to the larger toad's head.

"I don't know how it eats," Amy Dicken, Casey's mother said.

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Monowheel!

"Monowheels and other vehicles with insufficient wheels."


MPEG Video!

More at Kerry McLean's Monocycles.

Scene missing! A video that used to be embedded in this post has disappeared. If you know of a copy of this video that is still accessible, please mail me so that I can update the link.
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what kid wouldn't like a Dangerously Strong Magnet?

I'm not sure if this guy really meant this is a two inch magnet that can lift 200 pounds, or if he pulled a Stonehenge and it's really two feet. Either way, damn, that's some magnet!

Here and here.

These powerful 2" diameter X 1/2" thick NdFeB disks are brand new, Licensed NdFeB, Grade 35 material. They come Nickel plated to help prevent chipping and corrosion. Actual field density measured at the surface of one of these magnets is around 3500 Gauss. Br Max (the maximum field density which can be generated by this material) is 12,100 Gauss (this is considered to be the "Gauss Rating"). One of these magnets, under ideal circumstances can lift around 200 pounds of Iron! [...]

These magnets are serious tools and somewhat dangerous if mishandled! Due to their size and dimensions, these magnets are larger than necessary for most applications. These are popular for underwater salvage, and some lifting applications - however, it should be noted, that a heavy, unbalanced load when lifted with magnets can easily break loose! Never use magnets for lifting unless you don't care that the load might unexpectadly break loose!

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Current Music: Curve -- Frozen ♬