Archive for December, 2006

Word of the Day: Pica

In the past we have taken a look at two amusing curiosities of the English language: Foley and Pharlapsicus. Today we will look at a similarly vexatious, but diverting vocable: Pica. The word pica has two very common and proper but very divergent meanings. In this brief lesson we will look at both, but the most important lesson for today is that you must not mix up the two meanings of pica. The first meaning of pica is a unit of measurement used most often in the design and print industries. Each pica is equal to exactly 12 points, no more, no less, although the size of a pica in inches may be 0.177638, 0.166044, or 0.166666 (repeating) depending on the context. Most often it is the latter figure. If you have not worked as a printer, typesetter, or graphic designer you may not be very familiar with picas, but if you have typed a document in a 12-point font you have in fact made use of the pica/points measuring system. Of course, if you are a devotee of the history of typewriters, most of the above will seem comical! Pica is also the name of a disorder where the sufferer has a persistent urge to eat non-food items. A patient with pica finds themselves craving and attempting to consume objects that are completely inappropriate. Examples of things that might look like the most delicious sweetmeats to a person with pica include carpeting, soil, or mouthwatering anthracite coal. In some cases pica indicates a mineral deficiency and may clear up with the deficiency is addressed, while in other cases it is associated with a developmental disorder. Do not underestimate the repercussions of crossing or conflating the the two definitions of pica. If you work regularly with developmentally disabled adolescents, and you see "pica" listed in a client's records, do not assume that the client will be a fraction of an inch tall. If you do so, the accommodations you prepare for them will be gravely inadequate, they cannot use such a tiny chair for sitting! If you are working in a major metropolitan newspaper, and overhear an editor saying "There should be 2 pica in this gutter," do not look about for two people ensconced in an arroyo, happily shoveling handfuls of soil into their earthen-stained mouths. You will not find them. Few, if any newsrooms contain ditches, let alone ditches of sufficient size for two human beings. Your eyes have begun to wander. Perhaps I have not made myself clear. Stop this quixotic search, do not call out or wave to them, they are not there. They will not smile to you through loam-sullied lips.

Ask a Stupid Question: Feet

It's tume once again for ask a stupid question, where I post a stupid question on Yahoo! Answers and see how many idiots I can get to actually answer it. This weeks question was, If you could taste with your feet, what would you want the floors of your house to be made of? Below are the top five dumbest answers along with my insightful commentary. feet1.jpg I guess you could make floors out of cheese, well not swiss with all the holes it wouldn't have enough structural integrity, but beer? Last time I checked beer was a liquid, so unless you are the second coming of Jesus then I don't think so. feet2.jpg Wow a girl picking chocolate what a suprise... Mashed potatoes with gravy, that shit would be too hot and would burn your feet, no way that would work. Green beans? Those taste like crap what are you stupid? And how would you clean the floors? What are you going to do swiffer the mashed potatoes? feet3.jpg No I'm not high, but you must be considering you wrote a novella about this dumb question. Why would you allow poeple to walk around your house with their shoes on? Wouldn't you be a little more careful with your strawberry Twizzler floors, I mean my floors are just made of wood and I make people take off their shoes when they walk on them. feet5.jpg Wow what an annoyingly trendy answer. Why don't you move to New York, or as it should be known Nazi Germany with all your fellow fascist liberals. Just because somethings bad for people you think it should be banned. What's next banning sunshine, I bet you bastards could if you would. feet6.jpg Why are you wearing socks you idiot! The whole point is walking around barefoot tasting whatever you floor is made of. If you wearing socks, all you will be tasting is sock, which kind of defeats the purpose. Way to have no imagination I hate you.

Playstation 3 vs. Wii

Hmmm... It's a hard choice on how to spend your after Christmas/Hanukkah money. I hope these informational videos will help. [youtube]MFoyp71xw3w[/youtube] This is a commercial for the Wii. Nobody wants to play with the fat chick. But she is wearing layers[youtube]WPfMUD0_PHA[/youtube] And for the Playstation 3. Why does the font for the Playstaion 3 make me feel like I am going to be subjected to watching really bad films like Blade 3? This one is just creepy. The choice is yours, bored internet fans.

Top 10 Ways to Download Free MP3s without Breaking the Law

So, you finally got that shiny new iPod for Christmas.  How will you fill it up? After ripping your CD collection (I recommend CDex), you'll want some new music.  Don't have any cash left but want some new tunes?  Don't worry - there are plenty of good ways to download MP3s for free without getting a nasty letter from the RIAA. Below are ten of my favorite ways to get free MP3s legally on the web: 1)'s Audiofile. It helps to be a Salon member, but you can usually get a day pass by watching a commercial.  Audiofile is a music blog that writes a little about each tune and usually includes a direct download or a link to where you can download a track.  The music selection is pretty eclectic, and I find that even if I don't recognize any of the bands being covered I can usually catch a reference or comparison to something I have heard before.  If you have to time, go through the archives and just download everything and toss what you don't like later. 2)'s Free Downloads section is chock full of MP3s. For a long time, this was the best-kept secret on the web in terms of free music downloads, with hits by Yo La Tengo, the Hives, Sleater-Kinney, among many others.  It's a little hard to find, and to tell you the truth I'm sort of surprised they haven't removed it. ...maybe I spoke too soon.  It looks like their download landing page has been trimmed down to almost nothing.  I guess they are opening up an MP3 store soon.  Luckily their free MP3 search still works, and there are some good listmania lists to peruse. 3)  Music blogs like Hobby Box on The Larry Page.  There are a lot of passionate listeners out there writing about what they're hearing, and The Larry Page is a good example.  Some cover specific genres, while others just follow the writer's wandering tastes.  Many of them provide links back to band home pages and record label home pages with free promotional downloads. 4)  The Creative Commons CD was included in the November 2004 issue of Wired Magazine, but it is still available for download. You'll find pretty decent tracks from the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Danger Mouse (of Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley fame), Le Tigre and others. 5)  The Weekly Free Downloads page. (formerly Audioscrobbler) is a great site that tracks what people are actually listening to.  Install their plugin into iTunes, WinAmp, Windows Media Player, or another player and the site will keep track of your favorite songs and musicians and make recommendations based on what others are listening to. The free downloads page is a relatively new feature, but there's already a huge list with some surprisingly well-known bands. 6)  The cover song sections at Soundclick.  I don't mean to imply that the only music worth listening to is something you can find on the radio, but it can be very hard to sift through  the thousands of unknown artists on sites like Soundclick.  One of my favorite techniques is to look for a cover of a song I know and then grab the rest of that band's stuff if it sounds interesting.  For example, here's the Super Mario theme in acoustic guitar. 7)  If you are feeling adventurous, there are many, many more places to check out that have independent music, garage bands, and other homebrew stuff. CNET has thousands of tracks but the quality can be uneven at best. 8) There's a ton of stuff from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.  You can even download all 700 MP3s in one giant bittorrent. 9)  Netlabels at the Internet Archive.  There is a lot here, and it can be hard to find something you'll really like, but I have heard some worthwhile stuff here in the past.  Take a look at the staff picks, the items with high ratings, and the songs with high "batting averages." 10)  Legaltorrents lists a ton of legal-to-download, public domain files including MP3s and other music.  You never know what you will find here, but it's worth checking out. I like to find stuff that is interesting and new, but I can never seem to get deep enough into a particular genre to listen to bands "no one has heard of," and the list above reflects that.  You can always look for more free music on blogs that cover your favorite genre, band home pages, and MySpace. Do you know a site I left out?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

Pope Benedict or Emperor Palpatine?

The new Pope Benedict XVI seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies, in fact some suggest he might even be Emperor Palpatine, and this is just his latest scheme for galactic domination. I have decided to examine the subject more closely and have complied the following reasons why the new pope might actually be a Sith lord.
  • Both of the wear long ornamental robes totally out of fashion with the rest of the culture. True the pope is more colorful than the emperor, but the emperor wears a purple thong under his robes.
  • Both were in evil groups intent on world domination. The emperor was a Sith lord and the pope was in the Hitler youth. But I don’t think Sith lords wore those gay Lederhosen, at least not over their Sith robes.
  • Both have really creepy wrinkly faces and scary smiles. This one seems pretty definite.
  • Both are the leader’s of vast empires who assert total control and rightful domination over everybody. That’s right you rebel heathen scum, get baptized or it’s the Death Star for you.
Well I think that conclusively proves it the pope and Emperor Palpatine are the same person. But I doubt that it will stop Catholics from obeying him, I mean if the covering up of priests raping boys didn’t, nothing will. Edit:  I had to add this picture: pope benedict and children