MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
Visit me at my new blog, MsGeek.Org v3.0

Heard the Word of Blog?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

G. W. Bush just LOOOOOOVES him some Osama bin'Laden....

Who won Campaign 2004? Maybe it was Osama bin'Laden. Dubya has finally 'fessed up about the fact that the bin'Laden tape that was released the Friday before the polling places opened was perhaps a teeny weeny bit advantageous for his being re-elected.

"I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush."

Oh, Osama. Your lips say no, no, but your eyes say yes, yes, yes.

Reverse psychology is the oldest trick in the book, and bin'Laden is a master of it. Perhaps he was only able to swing a few fearful people's votes into the Bush column, but that was enough. If you don't believe me, read the transcript from al'Jazeera. Read between the lines and see that the real take-home message of the speech was "re-elect my friend and partner in crime George W. Bush."

If one wasn't made hopping mad by Dubya and his kissing cousin Osama then, one would be mad now. Thanks a whole hell of a lot, you power mad fucks. How Brokeback of you two.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A pleasant Saturday afternoon and evening in Little Tokyo, a little slice of Kawaii (cute) and Sugoi (cool) in Downtown Los Angeles.

Richie had a gig Saturday night at Club Cocaine (remember kiddies, just say no!) on 2nd St. in Little Tokyo with Universal Congress Of. So I figured it would be a great excuse to drop in on my favorite neighborhood here in the Greater Los Angeles area. (Next to Panorama City, of course...)

I started my journey the way I usually do: I took the Red Line down. The Red Line is simply the easiest way to get to Downtown from the Valley, bar none. This time, however, I got off earlier than usual, because I had one other place to check out before finishing my journey: the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, better known as FIDM. FIDM is doing their annual Academy Award Costume Show, and I wanted to go by there to check out the Star Wars costumes one more time plus see some other costumes up close for the first and last time. Kewl stuff: costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha, Batman Begins, Kingdom Of Heaven and Serenity. Bleah stuff: costumes from Walk The Line, Brokeback Mountain, and King Kong. Seriously...none of those has any sort of attraction for cosplay geeks. That stuff was either too recent, or not futuristic enough. ^_^

The Batman Begins costuming was quite instructive for my Jedi project, actually. Since the Star Wars costumes were the flashier stuff made for Padme Amidala, Bail Organa and Chancellor Palpatine they weren't helpful. Interesting that a Tibetan Ninja Academy would have its students dressing more than a little like Jedi...never mind that I never knew that there were Ninja in Tibet! Also, never mind a Ninja master, in Tibet, with an Arabic name, portrayed by a Japanese actor. Wow, all these cultures crossing up and tangling. Gives me a headache. Maybe if I actually saw Batman Begins I might understand this all better.

While at FIDM, I went to their Scholarship Store and walked away with 7 1/2 yards of fabric: 2 1/2 yards of a denim-like brown cotton twill, 5 yards of khaki cotton Sateen. Yes, more Jedi fabric. I wish that I had that denser fabric for the's more appropriate for it. But there isn't enough of that to redo it, so I'm going to use it for the tabard. The fabric cost the lordly sum of $1/yard! Amazing! I've got to go back when I have the van at my disposal. I wonder how much longer this deal will continue.

Big minus: 7 1/2 yards of fabric is pretty damn heavy. So lugging it around for the rest of my trip was pretty annoying. Especially when I wanted to videotape stuff. I now have an itty bitty camcorder, (Yes, it's a Sony. No, I didn't buy it new!) and I wanted to spend my time videoblogging my surroundings. Huell Howser always takes a cameraperson with him on his travels, but I didn't have the luxury of that. So basically I had my camcorder with me and I would try to improvise a running commentary, pointing out various points of interest, particularly for Otaku. I covered 1st and 2nd Street pretty well, but I need to come back to get some footage at the Mitsuwa Building on 3rd Street. I don't know whether Mitsuwa Market will allow me to shoot there, because Marukai and Jungle Animation weren't too keen on my running tape, and Kinokuniya Books cited copyright concerns about my taping in there.

The best footage I think I got was this guy, Mr. Koga, who had a sound system with him and was singing enka songs, the melancholy "Country Music of Japan" that speaks of love, loss and homesickness. The enka songs that have crossed over into Western pop charts were part of his repertoire, "Sayonara" and "Ue o muite aruko," better known in English as the 1963 hit "Sukiyaki." I got footage of him singing the latter song, which was remade in English twice and Spanish once.

Richie and I met up at about 9pm at Club Cocaine. If I had only known they were serving Sushi there I wouldn't have eaten such a hearty dinner. Next time Don Burr is in town we're going to have to take him to this one place called Oiwake, which serves a hearty lunch and dinner buffet and specializes in Karaoke, both of which he loves. Oiwake is not gourmet Japanese food, but it's certainly inexpensive and tasty. Club Cocaine has a Sushi bar and full bar for adult beverages, neither of which I indulged in that evening. Universal Congress Of played a pretty kick-ass set, and I shot the whole show. Which reminds's as good a time as any to watch my footage back. Sayonara, baby...

UPDATE 7:17pm: The footage is great. Audio from the camcorder is excellent, actually better than some recordings I've made using the stereo mic and the mini-disc recorder. This is one kickass little chibi-cam. Thanks, Tom.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Next to the SEX PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain...

Yeah, the Sex Pistols happened over 25 years ago, but damn if they aren't still relevant. Perhaps even moreso. They were a socio-political experiment, a Dada protest against the recording industry and mass-marketing and a whole lot of other things that still need protesting.

So they won't show up for the snooze-fest/kumbaya-fest that the Hall Of Fame's self-congratulatory dog and pony show has always been. Good. I have even more respect for Lydon and crew now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Shouldn't it be Onna no Otaku, though?

Wired Magazine, once "wired," now far beyond "tired," has only now discovered the
onna otaku, which translates as "girl geek."

Thing is, particularly here in the States, Otaku culture has always had a large amount of female involvement. The anime convention Yaoicon in San Francisco is something like 80% female involvement, and those males who are there are either bored-out-of-their-skull boyfriends and spouses or gay guys. And other Anime conventions tend to have a rough balance between male and female con-goers.

I seem to remember too that in the OAV "Otaku no Video" there were a couple of girls in the "circle." One was cosplay-mad, the other was an artist. And that was supposed to be set in 1982! So maybe this isn't so novel after all, even in Japan.

Moral: if you are looking for "what's new and kewl" in the pages of Wired Magazine, you need to be schooled. Big time. ^_~

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In Distress in America...

Monday, February 20, 2006

An elegant weapon from a more civilized down (at least for now) and one to go.

As you can see, the right-hand sabre is just about finished. I have to do something about the lack of emitter, seeing that when you peer "down the barrel" of the thing it's just vacant on the inside. The machined aluminum pieces from the Anime-LA lightsabre workshop goodie bag are the thing that really elevates it beyond the sum of its parts. If not for those pieces it would look pretty damn lame.

I'm going to document the build of the second one, the left-hand one. I'm not sure if I'm just going to take stills or if I'm going to set up the video camera and roll tape now that I have access to one. But I intend to do the documentation so that people can see how it's done from start to finish.

Yes, that's a Tux enamel pin on the "control box." And the "on" switch is an "Any Key." And yeah, that's a dead SO-DIMM on there. It really could use a second one flanking the switches, but I need the other dead SO-DIMM I have for the other sabre. If anyone has two *certified non-working* SO-DIMMs they want to lay on me, please do. Email me (the address on this site works) and I'll give you a snailmail address to send them. Do *not* send me SO-DIMMs that could possibly be used to upgrade someone's computer. Give those to a computer refurbisher in your neighborhood, like Goodwill or Tech Soup.

Metaphors be with you...

Update 3/4/2006: the build will be documented at Thank you, Blogger/Blogspot for running such a cool service. Google still rocks.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

OK, it had to happen. My only thoughts are: what took 'em so long?

Cheney's Got A Gun.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

[WARNING: Explicit snarkiness ahead, but the emotions are real.]

I think I might take a break from the political blogging for a while. I am just too heartsick. I suspect that what happened to Paul Hackett is in store for Ned Lamont, the man who wants to challenge Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, and I have also learned that Cindy Sheehan has backed off from challenging DiFi too.

All of this strong-arming is going to keep good candidates from wanting to run as Democrats. And of course, you can't be good if you want to run as a GOP candidate. [/snark] If you make a run as a third-party candidate, you are a "spoiler" and deserve to be tarred and feathered and run out on a rail like Ralph Nader should have been. [/more snark]

It's beginning to look like people in the Democratic Party are taking money under the table from the GOP to sabotage the 2006 midterms.[/yet more snark] If we ran strong and ran hard with strong candidates we could have both the House and the Senate under Dem control, and Speaker Pelosi could proceed with impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their hell-spawned cabinet. But the more I look at things the more it seems like the Dems are getting ready to take a dive and help the GOP consolidate their one-party rule of the Red States of America.

What's it going to take to end this? What the fuck is it going to take? The secession of the Blue States? Mass emigration from the US? Revolution? It certainly doesn't look good for peaceful electoral change, that's for sure. Between these shenanigans and the continuing drama with Diebold's eminently hackable voting machines, it's looking worse and worse.

Today I'm going to yank "Enough Is Enough 2006" off the air. Because as far as I can tell any effort I make will be in vain so long as corporatist Dems work to sabotage any attempt at change. I'm going to be looking very carefully at my emigration options once I finish my BA. Like the Bowie song says, this is not America.

Monday, February 13, 2006

OK, so I didn't wrap up SCALE yesterday. Sue me. I was too busy recovering from it.

I got to the Red Line station at 7:15 Saturday morning to meet Sharon from Linux Chix LA to go to the event. We got there, everything was pretty much ready to go, and all that was left was to wait until the crowds started showing up.

The exhibits area was bigger this time than even at the space we took up at the LA Convention Center. There were plenty of LUGs there, including three I am personally involved with to one extent or another: SFVLUG of course, Linux Chix LA, and Santa Barbara LUG. The presence of the latter, of course, meant we were blessed by the presence of humble but formidable Linux Jedi Chad Page, and the forever amusing Donald Burr.

I didn't go to hear any of the speakers this time. I was just enjoying the camaraderie of hanging out with a group of fellow Linux-heads.

An amusing tale: after the exhibits closed for the night, the Linux Chix contingent plus Chad and Donald went out looking for dinner. We figured that California Pizza Kitchen would be a good choice. However, the CPK in the area had gone bust, but that little fact was not included in the SCALE brochure. We spent about 45 minutes trying to find the damn CPK. We then decided to go looking for somewhere else to eat at, and settled with t3h 3vi7 that is Denny's. Not so great for this one Linux Chick who is a Vegan, but the rest of us found something. I ate breakfast for dinner, something I did all the time when SFVLUG met at the Denny's near the Van Nuys Airport. I left the two grease bomb sausages they insisted on giving me even though I told them "4 strips of bacon cooked well, no sausage." They didn't get my bacon crisp either. May the spirit of Elvis Presley throttle them in their sleep. :P

In other news, the person who provided the pithy quote I'm running on my blog's headline has backed out of the Ohio Senatorial race...and perhaps out of politics for good. Paul Hackett was basically hounded out of the race by the Dem establishment, which wanted Sherrod Brown, a career politician, to go after Repugnican Senator DeWine. Thanks a hell of a lot, fucking assholes. You bet I'm supporting Cindy Sheehan if she runs a primary challenge to DiFi. Hell, I'm not sure I want to support the Dems anymore after this. Paul Hackett would have mopped the floor with DeWine. A real American hero, willing to go to the mat with the Chickenhawks.

The Democratic Party of the United States of America is the party of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They are the Los Angeles Clippers of US Politics, even as the GOP prove themselves to be the Lakers of politics...with hubris galore going before their eventual fall. The Dems have a golden opportunity this year. Too bad they seem intent to fuck it up. Anyone for a revival of the Women's Party of the USA?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Another orphan joins the orphanage...

My computer karma continues to be very nice. Solomon Chang from LAMP SIG dropped yet another 600 series (600e) ThinkPad on me. It is an ex-Enron lappie, which is oddly enough not an uncommon thing considering the facts of the company's going bust. For example, there is another person here at SCALE 2006 who also has an ex-Enron 600e. I'm hoping to get him and Chad Page together so that his sound problems could be solved.

What I'm going to do with this machine is set it up as a managed Wireless access point. The hard drive in this puppy is questionable, and the screen is definitely not working. However, the CD works, the lappie has a USB port so I can use a USB key for logging and so on, or another option would be using the external 600 series floppy drive to use for that purpose.

The solution I have in mind is PUBLICip. Just drop by their site to see what kind of features the system allows. I will be putting two NICs into the machine, one to allow the connection to the Internet, the other for the connection to the Wireless Access Point.

I'm sleep deprived and geeking out here, so I'd better cut this short before I get completely incoherent. I'll wrap up SCALE tomorrow in these pages.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Food for thought and action...

Note how the Dubya administration is crowing about how unemployment has gone down recently? Well, the figures they are using are COOKED.

The real unemployment rate includes not only those who are on UI but "marginal" and "underemployed" workers, as well as the "discouraged worker" who has given up looking for employment.

Here are the figures, read 'em and weep. Thanks to BTower on Daily Kos for this excellent graphic.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hoo boy, here we go...

As if the mania for tests and teaching to tests hasn't poisoned primary and secondary education enough, now people are talking about introducing standardized testing to universities. Yes, there are such things as the Graduate Record Exam and the tests given in California to those looking to become K-12 teachers, but aside from that those who enter Higher Education in the United States enter a new kind of learning experience freed from high-stakes standardized tests.

The recent tests given to newly minted college graduates which suggest that many leave college as illiterate as they were after graduating high school has shocked many in academia. And this shock and sturm und drang leaves the companies which administer the big standardized tests like the SAT and the GRE and the companies that prepare students for those big standardized tests licking their chops awaiting a big payday if and when colleges adopt these tests.

I predict disaster if this trend is followed to its logical ends. College students will cease to have control over their academic destinies, and will be herded into one-size-fits-all curricula. Hopefully I will not be subjected to this situation. If such is in store for me in American universities, perhaps it's yet another reason to look abroad for my graduate studies.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

In "Stupid Bowl Avoidance Mode"...

Well, Richie insisted on watching the Rolling Stones during halftime. That I could agree to. I don't know, as I age, it's cool to see how vital those guys still are. Yeah, Mick Jagger sounds perpetually out of breath, but he always has problems with breath control on stage. He did back in the '60s, even. Listen to Got Live If You Want It sometime.

And let us not forget that Charlie Watts had fucking CANCER not too long ago. Throat cancer. And he's old enough for Medicare if he was a USian. If you are as vital and vibrant as those senior citizens on stage tonight when you hit their age, you are doing great.

A Motown revue would have been just grand if they had done that, and hardly a risk of "wardrobe malfunctions." It would have been even cooler if they had gotten Iggy Pop and his current crop of Stooges (Including Mike Watt! Yes!) as the halftime show, but I'm sure he would have been a way bigger risk of scandalous behavior. And as far as more modern Detroiters like Eminem and Fiffy Cent...there is no way in HELL they would allow them to perform at the Super Bowl.

Still and all...lift a pint to the Rolling Stones, mates. They rocked the house.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rock on, Betty and Coretta...

As the body of Coretta Scott King lies in state at the Georgia State House, word has arrived that Betty Friedan, the author of the groundbreaking book "The Feminine Mystique," has died.

In this time where Democrats are quick to surrender women's control over their bodies and lives for a mess of political pottage, all in the name of a "big tent" Democratic Party, these deaths remind us that it wasn't so long ago that women had no control over their lives.

Feminist writers wrote again and again, at the risk of being arrested and imprisoned back in the early part of the 20th Century, of the critical importance of a woman having control over her fertility as the first step to women being able to live their lives as they saw fit, not as male controlled technologies of human reproduction. The right of women to vote and to hold property in their own name was useless without the right to not have to deal with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The Pill, IUDs, and The Shot, along with safe and legal abortion as a second line defense in the rare case of those very reliable methods of birth control failing, has meant that women can in theory attain any goal they want to work towards in their lives.

Now, more women than men attain advanced degrees. Now, women hold some positions of authority in our society: not in numbers commensurate with the 49 to 51 ratio of men to women, of course, but it's getting there. We've never had a woman president, but Pakistan did, a generation ago a woman became Prime Minister of Britain, and a woman is now Chancellor of Germany. Japan is wrestling with the possibility of opening up the culturally significant role of Emperor to a female heir, something not seen for over a thousand years there.

But alas, the forces of reaction have also been afoot, and in many parts of the world including here in the United States so much of the progress that has been made since the publication of Friedan's clarion call for greater status of women is creeping inexorably backward. With four reactionary Supreme Court justices now seated, two of which were appointed by President George W. Bush, there need only be one defection from the "moderate" side of the bench to scuttle Roe v. Wade. If, goddess forbid, another Supreme Court justice dies before Bush is impeached and removed, it is likely the court will tip towards an anti-Choice activist stance. Not only Roe v. Wade, but Comstock, the decision that legalized contraception in the United States, would also fall.

Will the Women's Movement go down in history as having made permanent change in the status of women in the United States? Or will this revolution be as fleeting as the Prague Spring or the Chinese "Goddess of Democracy" revolt? Is the sad fate of women in the radicalizing Islamic world also going to be our fate here in the good ole US of A?

We have gone so far in the time since "The Feminine Mystique" was published. But what the death of Betty Friedan drives home to me is how fragile women's equality really is. Quisling Democrats who would sell women out should have no place in the Democratic Party. They should be directed to the GOP, which is their natural home. Fuck the big tent! It should be a matter of principle in the Democratic Party as irrevocable as any iron plank in the GOP theocratic platform that women should have access to safe and legal abortion and safe, effective contraception, now and forever, amen. Do we stand with the 51 percent of Americans who are born female and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or do we stand with the minority of the 49 percent of men, the blackguards who wish to turn them back into baby factories and household appliances?

The deaths of Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King should galvanize us to take a strong stand. No more diddling with anti-Choice, pro-Death pseudo-Progressives. If the Democratic Party will not take such a stance, it's time to revive a Feminist third party. Punto. End of story.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Random cool stuff...

First, FIDM is opening up Yet Another Cool Costuming Exhibit this weekend. It's a display of costumes from movies eligible to be nominated for costuming Academy Awards this year, and of the costumes from the Best Costuming awardees from last year. The subset of actual nominees is definitely represented:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) - Gabriella Pescucci
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) - Colleen Atwood
Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) - Sandy Powell
Pride & Prejudice (2005) - Jacqueline Durran
Walk the Line (2005) - Arianne Phillips

but also some notables which did not get nominated will also be represented, including some "curtain calls" from the Dressing A Galaxy Star Wars exhibit, and costumes from The Chronicles of Narnia, Serenity, The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, The New World, Batman Begins, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After going to Anime Los Angeles, which is a very cosplay-oriented Anime con, I'm all fired up to do some sewing.

Second, someone in the Mac-loving land of Kawaii and Sugoi did what has got to be the penultimate Mac casemod. He took an Mac SE/30, a classic in itself, gutted it except for the CRT and the Analog Board, and installed a Mac mini in its place. Now the reason why I call it a penultimate Mac casemod is that the ultimate Mac casemod would be to do the same thing with a Color Classic. However, the Color Classic is rare now, and gutting one would be sacrilege. Gutting an SE/30 is sort of a sacrilege anyway. But the they say in Akihabara...kakkou-ii!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This is a real, live, honest to goodness cold. And I'm really, honest to goodness sick. Yesterday instead of going to school I went to see the doctor. My main reason for going was to get a note for the benefit of my profs, since I know that a doctor can't really do much for someone with a cold except to tell them to drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of sleep and all that.

This is definitely a body aches, no gastro-intestinal complaints, nothing but snot and coughing. That's why I mistook it for allergies for so long.

I'm not sure if my guinea pigs saw their shadow today or not, but actually I'd not feel bad if we had a slight return of Winter. A little rain, a little moisture, a little respite from getting zapped by static electricity all the time. They announced today that we are officially in the middle of a La Nina year, where cooling Pacific waters sends the Jet Stream north and sends the rains away to the Pacific Northwest.

I need to get better. I need to get back to my studies, get into the groove of the semester. It sucks to be sick, dammit.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Return of the King: "If you don't draw for a living, then you really don't belong in this building."

Wow, John Lasseter is kicking ass and taking names now that he's in charge of Feature Animation and Theme Parks at Disney. Those were reportedly his first words upon entering the Animation building at Disney in Burbank. He's now taken up residence inside the big wizard's hat, and is reportedly going to send a whole layer of suits packing. Not bad for a true-blue Cartoon Geek.

The thing that apparently has some people concerned is that Lasseter is such a theme park geek he might be so distracted rebuilding Disney Imagineering as to neglect things at Feature Animation. But I don't think we should be worried. Lasseter's first love is cartoons.

His pronouncements ring so Kricfalusian that I wonder if maybe John K. might find a new home at Disney. THAT would be weird. But suddenly nothing seems impossible at the House of Mouse.