Monthly Archives: June 2005


I want to do grocery shopping on weekends whereas my wife wants to go during the week. We had a small discussion about this this morning:

HER: Make a list. I’ll go get the groceries by myself.

ME: Yeah, and I won’t get what I really want.

HER: That won’t happen: your stuff is easy.

[At that point, I realize she has the upper hand so I have to think quick and come up with this:]

ME: Oh yeah? I want a cyclotron tokamak inverter and it has to fit in the basement. What do you say now?

HER: Don’t be a jackass.

So she won on this point but we’ll see who’s the boss once I get my cyclotron.

Lack of journalistic integrity

I had started writing a longish entry about my reasons to mistrust news media in general but I never finished it. Maybe I’ll post bits and pieces over time instead.

Anyway, here’s a good example of what I find problematic in the traditional news media. Robert Kennedy Jr. produced an article on thimerosal for Salon and Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, the article contains so much misinformation and crass misrepresentation of facts, probably in the interest of generating an emotional response from the readers, that it is quite useless. I learned of this case through Overlawyered. Skeptico has two good posts about it: “Thimerosal update” and “Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s completely dishonest thimerosal article”. Orac also has a post that I find terminologically accurate in qualifying the article: “ flushes its credibility down the toilet”.

[Warning: people who are not equipped with a thick asbestos skin should not visit the following web site. Something Awful is not known to be cuddly, fuzzy, or even civil.]

Meanwhile, this Photoshop Phirday at Something Awful couldn’t be more apropos regarding the general problem of media credibility.

How Oracle lost to PostgreSQL

I recently got a call from someone at Oracle asking me about my use of Oracle. I looked at Oracle but after deciding that the cost of an Oracle solution was just to high, I decided to use PostgreSQL. The conversation went somewhat like this:

HER: Are you using Oracle 10 Enterprise Edition?

ME: No, I found that it requires too much resource for our project. I went with PostgreSQL instead since it does what we need and doesn’t require so much resources.

HER: Have you tried Oracle Lite [Personal, Home Edition, or whatever they actually call it]?

ME: No. Actually, that doesn’t change the fact that with Oracle we would have to pay for licenses. And hosting services charge too much for supporting Oracle. With PostgreSQL there is no licensing issue and support costs much less.

HER: …

ME: Any other questions?

HER: No.

ME: Alright. Bye. [Click!]

This is all from memory but that’s the gist of how the conversation went. One surprising thing (which does not appear in the summary above) is that she didn’t really seem to know what PostgreSQL is. Anyway, I guess there wasn’t much she could say to make me think Oracle give us something more than PostgreSQL.

Monsters in the attic

I’ve been hearing some strange tapping in the attic lately. This morning I’ve decided I should go up and look. My wife asked me what I thought it was. For all I knew it could have been a squirrel, a racoon, or even Jay Leno. I told her it was probably a lost buffalo. She said I was brave to go up there face possible danger. I just said “bah!” and smiled the smug smile of a man afraid of nothing. Now that I think of it, I should have milked that moment for all it was worth. Surely, battling unknown beasts agrees more with the feminine notion of what makes a man heroic than figuring out a difficult Sanskrit passage does.

Anyway, I went up there and shone my torch around. I didn’t see anything move or any trace of anything living up there. No buffalo. I thought maybe I had scared away whatever was tapping up there. If I stayed still, in the dark, maybe it would show up. So I turned off my torch (and my headlight) and waited in the dark. While I was up there, I thought of a few practical jokes; the most horrible of them having me scream “Aaaah! It’s got my face!” I should point out that few people know that I like practical jokes because a) I don’t perform them in formal/semi-formal settings b) I censor myself because I tend to think up practical jokes that would be pretty scary to whomever would be at the receiving end. So I didn’t play any joke on my wife. When afterwards she admonished me because I had told her the joke I had in mind, I had to press the point that I didn’t execute it. Anyhow, waiting in the dark didn’t help. I didn’t see anything and didn’t find any trace of any creature so I don’t know what I heard up there.

While reflecting on the experience, as I was packing up my gear, I realized I had been a bit careless in going up there. I have a good sturdy crowbar I could have brought with me but I didn’t. What if I had found headcrabs up there? What then?

Saint-Jean Baptiste

Aujourd’hui c’est la Saint-Jean Baptiste: la fête nationale des Québécois. Pour la huitième année consécutive, je vais passer la Saint-Jean loin du Québec et des festivités. La distance, mon vieux!

Joyeuse Saint-Jean Baptiste à tous les Québécois.

The Da Vinci Code

I recently had the occasion of reading the Da Vinci Code. I must admit that I had the preconceived notion that the book would prove to be a collection of ill-conceived and dubious notions. After I read it I realized that my preconceived notion was correct. It has the thinnest of plots inflated in length by the jarring interspersion of pseudo-didactic material. What is most aggravating is that people take for real (including the author himself, unfortunately) the multiple distortions of facts presented in the book as actual history. Everything is held together by a notion that there is some sort of conspiracy in the Catholic Church to suppress the divine feminine. Hence, the book suffers from what I call the “conspiracy theory syndrome”: all data that prove the theory are taken at face value and all data that disprove it are interpreted as originating with the conspiracy and therefore cannot be accepted.

Someone who wants to read a magnificent piece of literature that involves mystery in a religious setting should read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose or see the movie adaptation. I read the book (in French, years ago) and saw the movie and thought the movie was a good enough rendition of the book.