Apparently the currently Westlife song is a beatles cover (near the end).

Well, you know, Beatles, Barry Manilow -- they all sound the same to me.


Some people just have too much time on their hands.


OK, let's try this again with a host that's a little bit more understanding. At the risk of not having read the site's acceptable use policy, here goes attempt 2.

Seems like GeoCities does not like people linking to pictures... stingy gits.
Try this:

The Times [NewsCorp]
The Mirror
The Sun [NewsCorp]

Something new: pictures!

these are the newspapers featured in this week's simpsons I was going on about:

I had a very nice update written on Monday, shortly after the SIGMOD deadline, letting you know everything that's been going on - and, through a combination of Blogger's frankly vile code for IE and IE itself, the update got swallowed, and no amount of frantic hitting of the back button could restore. Anyway, I'm now safely back in the realms of Opera, which tends to be less, er, crap (can anyone seriously use Internet Explorer for anything but the most casual of searching attempts? I suppose that with the google toolbar installed it does become just about bearable, but still...)

At some point I shall try to recover the things I was wittering on about, but in the meantime, I have switched in a new tracker at the bottom of the page, since Servustats went offline, then came back apparently having been taken over by someone else and no longer doing anything useful for free. I'm trying out a new one which claims to give me search results so I can see what crazy search terms people use to get here. Sadly, the old ones seem to be lost forever, although the last time I checked, my biggest search results seemed to be coming from various permutations of "Sex bloggs" (should get some more hits from the illiterate one-handed surfers for that), and from "barbara bush nude". It's a sick world out there, best to stay inside.

Now, let's see if this works -- although this time I'll keep a copy on the clipboard unless something screws up.


Nothing much to say except the song that goes through my head every time Save My Life by Pink is played is of course Mongoloid by Devo. I know, I know, you'll all be kicking yourself too for not realising it earlier.
Many thanks to the Impact-font loving proprieter of feelgood:abd for pointing this out to me.

I should point out for anyone concerned that the two songs sound nothing alike to anyone else. It's mostly in the lyrical similarity and the pacing more than anything else. The relevant sections to compare and contrast are:

so she... she disappeared
and she... she wasn't clear
and she... she didn't say were she was going

and he... wore a hat
and he... had a job
and he... brought home the bacon so that no one knew

Separated at birth.

Also, that Tony Blair has been in the news a lot today. First, he shows up in the Simpsons, playing himself and generally cosying up to Murdoch [*] (it was very well done: I saw it this evening and thought it was a professional impersonator till I found out it was the real thing). Then he demonstrates a charming lack of competency by emailing a hairdresser a copy of his party conference speech.

What I find particularly cute about this whole story (and I use the word cute in its second or third meaning) is the (claimed) initial email reply of the hairdresser: "Thanks Tony, I've had a quick look and it seems fine. Go ahead".

[*] Conspiracy theorists might like to review their downloaded DivXs of the show: there are a few scenes featuring British newspapers. Simpsons being a Fox production after all, albeit a renegade one, they focus on the Times [NewsCorp], the Sun [NewsCorp] and, er, the Mirror [definitely not NewsCorp unless I missed something important]. The attention to detail is nice, tyopgraphy fans -- they even have the more recent black masthead design on the Mirror done right.

Oh, and lastly before I forget, a quick edition of "What we think in our heads vs. what we actually say".

Scene: supermarket checkout queue. Lady in front, eyeing my two frozen pizzas: "Well, we'll all be having pizza at your place tonight!".

In my head, I reply: "No, that would be weird, because I have no idea who you are."
Out loud, I reply: "Ha, yes, um..."

That is all, you may go now.


General congratulations in the direction of RaW - who, according to their website, are the best student radio station in the world, ever! Or at least, some bloke from Radio 1 says so, so it must be true.

Actually, I'm inclined to agree -- I listened to a lot of RaW last year over the interwire. In fact, you should check out the clips on trixie karinski's site: the worrying thing is I remember hearing almost all of the clips featured when they went out live! As I have been heard to mention before, Chris Carter is the future of radio broadcasting (although he will need to change his name if he ever wants to avoid all those X-Files references on the web). He deserves the "best presenter" award solely on the basis of his interview with Tim Westwood from last years awards ceremony.

What's most exciting is that they will get a chance to go live on Radio 1 for winning best station. Normally, Radio 1 is rather embarassed about the winners of the best student radio award, and does its best to lose the winning show in its schedules (the last time RaW won best station, their show went out live to the nation -- at 4am on a Tuesday morning). But this time, apparently they will get a slot on Radio 1 on Christmas Day at midnight, which is pretty decent.

For some reason, the only time that Radio 1 is ever worth listening to is over Christmas when their regular presenters are off on holiday, and there is a chance for some vaguely innovative or at least different programming. The best mix set in the world even, the awesome Soulwax 'Hang the DJ' set was broadcast at 8pm on Christmas Day in 2001, only a few weeks after the legendary Mr. Psyche set on the John Peel show. Plus of course there's the festive fifty, and even the chart of the year (when they remember to put one in the schedules -- I think they forgot last year) makes for interesting listening to hear just how undiscerning the singles buying public is.

Talking of Music, I still haven't worked out what the song Save My Life by Pink reminds me of, so please help out if you can. I got the idea that it was some punk song, so I spent a day listening to every punk song that I own, but it wasn't any of them. It could be something that I heard on the radio, which would make this harder (I can listen to every piece of music I own electronically in about a week solid listening if I am serious about it.

I also heard a song that I liked on the radio, which I successfully identified as Milkshake by Kelis (hook lyrics: "My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, And they're like "It's better than yours" Damn right, It's better than yours, I can teach you, but I have to charge"). Problem is, I didn't like the single mix so much, so now I have to figure out what the random radio mix I heard was, assuming even that it's commercially available. It's a hard life living in the modern world.

Anyway, I should probably actually work on my SIGMOD submissions. (current status: one I think I'm done with my part of; one has been abandoned/postponed to VLDB, and the other needs a severe amount of working doing to it asap).


Can spam deprave and corrupt you? I was just browsing the latest offerings on suprnova.org, and my eyes caught "Britney Spears - Half Naked".

In fact, what was actually written was "Britney Spears (Live and More)" on one line, and "Half Baked" on the next line. Oh well.


Thanks Brent! But really, who in Britain says "block" when they mean street?

I've been listening to the new Pink album, available from an illegal download near you now, but I'm really annoyed by one thing in particular: what is the song that "Save My Life" sounds like? You can listen to a 30 second clip here, assuming you can get real player to work. The bit that sounds particularly familiar is the chorus, which begins approximately 26 seconds into the 30 second clip, but if you have any ideas.

The album also features a nice duet with Peaches. Peaches isn't exactly on top form at the moment, but I did quite like the half-hearted ambiguity of "we are all Pink inside". Talking of peaches, a few months ago I accidentally picked up a pre-release version of the second album. I was in the ever rewarding Princeton Record Exchange, when I picked up a copy of Fatherfucker without any inlay or cover for $4 in the cheap section. I assumed that it had been out for a while, and it wasn't for a few weeks that I noticed that it still hadn't been officially released. It must have been a reviewer copy or something.

Anyway, it's a pretty good record, better than most of the reviews would have you believe. I still haven't got around to getting a proper version of The Teaches of Peaches, so I can't really compare it to the first album. But it's got some shout along tracks. I quite like several of the tracks -- Shake Your Dix has a mindless inanity of the call and response genre; I Don't Give A is a loud and shouty bastardisation of Joan Jett; and I U She is very reminiscent of the first album. Anyway, give it a try and if you don't like it, listen to the Teaches of Peaches instead.


I notice that the repellant Section 28 has finally been repealed. Excellent -- but why did no one tell me that this was happening?

Things that annoy me but not enough for me to do anything about them:

1. Conferences that state a date for giving notice of acceptance or rejection and then completely fail to adhere to it, and don't even put up an announcement on the conference web page.

2. Supermarkets which have only one "Next Customer please" marker. You need at least two for this system to be at all usable. If you only have one, then you might just as well not have any at all. I almost lost a bottle of ketchup to this today, despite the fact that there was a clear visual demarcation between my goods and the previous customer's.


Things that you hear other people say as you walk past them that really make you want to eavesdrop further and find out what the heck they are talking about only they are going in the opposite direction, so you can't exactly turn around and follow after them to hear the rest of the story, explained thanks to someone who picked up on the reference, #1

Yes, something of a novelty here. My Ivy League Professor correspondent writes to point out that what I overheard was actually a line of dialogue from The Big Lebowski, that is "She's not my special lady friend, man. I'm just helping her conceive." Which, I suppose, is a somewhat less exicting explanation than any of the others that I had in mind.

Why not start your own Ivy League? Collect different pieces of Ivy and play them off against each other. The winner wins some holly!

Unrelated to any of the above, I keep seeing Amy Sedaris. Well, not even that. I keep finding out that things that I have seen have starred Amy Sedaris. She was in an episode of Monk, playing Sharona's sister. She was in 'Strangers With Candy', a Comedy Central show that I never paid much attention to, as the main character. And she's in this new Will Ferrel movie, Elf, from which title you can pretty much induce the entire concept. The thing is, I still don't really know what she looks like so I would know if I saw her again. In Strangers with Candy, she's under so much makeup that you wouldn't really be able to tell. Still, anyway, watch out for her. As my ad hoc postdoc Cambridge points out, she often features in her brother David's writings, and usually seems more interesting than him. I must get around to buying her co-authored book, Wigfield [Not to be confused with Whigfield. Of course. Or posisbly the other way around].

Meanwhile, to something which is connected only if you live in my head, I was watching an old episode of Press Gang (well, there's no other kind. This was from the final series 5, which is not quite so weak as I remembered it -- perhaps it was series 4 that I was thinking of as being somewhat lame), and I spotted Geoff McGivern in a supporting role. What I didn't realize till the credits rolled was that his wife was being played by Jo Unwin. [Relevant connections: GMcG was, amongst many other roles, the original Ford Prefect in HHGTG; Unwin is probably best know for being married to Chris Morris].

It's not interesting, but it's true.


Things that you hear other people say as you walk past them that really make you want to eavesdrop further and find out what the heck they are talking about only they are going in the opposite direction, so you can't exactly turn around and follow after them to hear the rest of the story, #3

"She's not my ladyfriend - I'm just helping her to conceive"

[This one heard in a pizza place in Greenwich Village, so it's not inconceivable, if you'll pardon the non-pun, that it was said in total genuineness - I mean genuity - um - for real. Unfortunately I didn't catch the rest of the conversation].


Oh, and since everyone seems to be going on about this at the moment (and since I somehow managed to foreshadow it in one of my posts at the weekend, Paris Hilton -- the pictures that you won't see anywhere else! Warning: not safe for work. Not even if you are self-employed.
pillow talk

I'm having trouble with my pillows. At some point, my pillows were just the right depth, but lately they seem too thin for me. Normally, I like a really thin pillow, hence I went to some effort to get pillows that were quite thin. But now one is too thin for me, and when I pile two on top of each other, that just feels stupidly tall, like my neck is at some silly angle. My current solution is to prop one up at an angle of about 75 degrees to the horizontal, against the wall, and then lay a second so that it hits the first about 1/3 of the way up, thus being slightly elevated but not all that much. It still feels wrong. Perhaps it's all psycho somatic anyway.

I should probably have linked to feelgood:abd before. Well, it's not too late -- although it does rather look like the author has abandoned it already. Wonder what that suggests about the thesis?

I missed the third episode of Tru Calling tonight -- I figured that I'll watch it tomorrow if I wake up and the day repeats (I do hope not -- I don't really want to have to do all that C programming over again from scratch). The second episode was quite bad, pretty much a complete re-run of the first: Tru still seems surprised and stupefied when she wakes up to find she is living the previous day over again. Really, she should be getting used to it by now. Then, without giving too much away, she does exactly the same thing as she did in the first episode: completely get the wrong idea about what caused the death she is trying to prevent not once but twice. And this time it is so blatantly flagged who the real arsonist is, you do really want to go up and shout at her.

I'm actually warming to Jake 2.0 a lot more, which shouldn't be too surprising, given its pedigree (a production of David Greenwalt, a Buffy/Angel stalwart) and its concept (nerdy guy suddenly gains super powers through deus ex machina -- except this time, the machines are inside the protagonist, since his power comes from "nanobots", a reasonably convenient McGuffin). Oh, and the subplot is also familiar to Buffy fans: Jake, the geeky yet charming guy is so caught up with his crush on blonde female lead that he doesn't notice that the brunette science geek with glasses (who scrubs up well when necessary) is deeply jonesing for him [compare / contrast to S1 Buffy/Xander/Willow].

I was looking through the TV listings this evening, and misread a title as "Crime Scene Makeover". Which is maybe not such as bad an idea as it sounds. Talking of misreadings, I know that I've been spending too much time in front of the computer when I misread "Xmas" as "X-Emacs". Can't remember the context though.

You may be wonderin' why I'm going on about TV and such. Well, it's been blowing a gale outside today, and I don't feel like going out. The following arrived in the mail yesterday: Undergrads [Which, incidentally, also has the old two-sided unrequited love triangle going on, in the form of Jesse/Nitz/Kimmy - is this a complete cliche or what?], and Yes Prime Minister -- still not available in Region two, and as for any speculation about Bernard/Hacker/Appleby, let's snip that in the bud right there. The world really does not need any "Yes Minister" Slash fiction. (one hit on google and counting).

Talking of google, last night I was chatting to my source on the West Coast who joined recently, although I didn't get any info on how they were doing with their bits. Mostly, I was just scoping out the place for job prospects. I'll probably do the same tomorrow when I hang out in some google haunts in NY to see if they have anything going in their East Coast Branch. Perhaps I can be the one to fix google. I wouldn't hold your breath.

Anyway, chances are I'll be spending a large chunk of the next two weeks in front of my computer screen, as I desperately try to juggle a couple of submissions to SIGMOD. Damn those databse people, I should be finessing my CV and preparing to make a deluge of job applications. Oh well, that's what Thanksgiving is for, I suppose. Pedants might notice that the SIGMOD guidelines specifically instruct authors not to reveal their identies in their submissions, and also to avoid giving it away, by posting copies of their submissions on web pages and so on. Well, note that this non-blog is anonymous, with the exception that most people reading it know who I am, so technically I think I can get away with it.

That reminds me, servustats seems to have died completely and been domain napped by some dodgy set of redirecters. Don't click on the link, kids, and I'll see what I can do about finding a new search query catcher that won't crap out more than 50% of the time.


My million dollar idea - feel free to try it yourself. The idea is that you can make money by selling white earphones. You see, the only people who have white earphones at the moment are iPod owners. You see them all over the place [well, OK, you see them all over the place if you travel a lot in the New York subway], and they all look so smug with their little white earphones, the white wire disappearing discreetly into their pocket. Everyone thinks they are so cool. Well, if you sold white earphones, for about 10 of your local currency units at a time, then lots of people could pretend that they are cool iPod owners. It's probably really cheap to make these earphones, so you could make loads of money. Cool, huh?

You find some weird things if you spend too much time hanging around the US patent office -- like this one [if that doesn't work, then go to USPTO.gov and search for published application number 20030084594 ].


"She's a poet -- and she's unaware of the fact".


Easy crossword clue for the day.
Blair's story: destitute in the Hilton with jack... (4,3,3,2,5,3,6)


Dear Varsity, tell me, what is your opinion? Oh, I see -- you don't have one.
Someone recently asked me to suggest a good date movie. I suggested this. They were not all that impressed.


Asked if he collected any of the pictures in the press of him depicted as a vampire, Mr Howard joked: "Well, not yet." .

All together now: this must be some new definition of the word joke of which I was previously not aware.

Headline spotted in the local campus newspaper: "Election results will determing ruling party". No horsecrap, Holmes!

Mall stores are getting ever more specific: at the weekend I saw one catering for people who keep baby eagles -- it's called "Victoria's Egret".


Theatre group accused of bad taste for "It's Raining Men" sketch. Very bad taste indeed -- they're using the Geri Haliwell version.


Crossword clue, needs some work (mostly because the definition is wrong):

Polish religious figure should not be crossed (7)
More things that make this look too much like a real blog.

Land of the brave, home of the free. The country where it is fine to own guns, but writing fiction is a criminal offense.

I'm reminded of the story (told by James, I think), of the town where a gang of kids started squirting another gang with water pistols. The other gang took against this, so they came back with guns and started shooting the first group. In a considered response to this, the local authorities decided that the solution to the problem was to ban water pistols.

[Put like this, it sounds rather too much like a "hmm, it makes you think" style thought for the day, but I suppose if I had added that the town was in America, then it would have all made sense].


When [TV] Worlds collide.

Having Quentin Tarantino was cool, this seems a bit bizarre.
Wrong information is being given out on the internet:
google search for "search engine with no advertisements"
Sorry for the gap. Stuff to deal with.

anyway, bootlegging is dead. long live bootlegs!.

To the tune of "Oh no, not quail again", please add "Oh no, not a conference in Hong Kong again". But that's next year.

Regular readers will know that I believe that google is the answer to everything. Except that, recently, the question has been "Which high profile search engine that is shortly to have its IPO has been giving much lower quality answers lately?". There are very many clever but arbitrary theories out there as to why those page rankers have had so many rankings off lately (now try getting Jonathan Woss to say that...), but the most appealing (and the least likely) is given by arch hypocrites google watch. [Question: is it ironic that I had to use google to find their web page?].

The theory they have is roughly like this: google has run out of bits. They've been using 32 bits to represent unique page identifiers, and as they proudly announce on their front page, "billions and billions of burgers served". Sorry, I mean "3.4 billion pages indexed". When you add this to 500 million reserved identifiers (presumably actuall 2^29, which is... google calculator? 536 870 912, thank you. Anyway, this all adds up to something dangerously close the magic 4 billion limit of a 32bit identifier (the same reason you can't stuff more than 4Gb of memory in your 386DX, since you were wondering).

So, I have decided to start an appeal to help those poor googlers out. Send google your spare bits! Do you have any spare bits? Perhaps you are using some integers that are always positive, so you don't need a sign bit? Or maybe you are sending email in 7bit ASCII, so 1 bit in every byte is being wasted. Maybe you are running a 2 bit search engine that didn't anticipate how bit the internet would grow in the next five years? If so, you can help. Send your spare bits to bitappeal@google.com. Remember, every bit helps!

[My name is Andrew Orlowski, you've been a wonderful audience, thank you and good night!]