Category Archives: Website

Best Search Requests of July 2006

I almost forgot to do this. All these are from the old site since the new one has yet to obtain a high ranking in the various search engines.

  • evangelicals who think anthropology majors are going to hell
    Don’t evangelicals think pretty much everybody is going to hell?

  • luke and han kill darth vader end episode iv
    Uh, maybe you should watch it again.

  • napoleon dynamite and social darwinism
    Survival of the misfits?

  • jesus licking
    Obviously a Lebowski-related search, but instead made me think “Bible fan fiction”.

  • zombie lobster
    I’m searching for an appropriate pun but nothing is coming to mind.

  • stop being vague.
    Was this directed at the search engine? Vague Google: “Some results were found on the internet.”

  • my keyboard is spazzing
    Somehow I think this particular query won’t turn up any tech support pages.

MetaFilter Half-Life

My post about the liquid nitrogen incident drew a few links from other blogs, with a majority of hits coming from MetaFilter. This was great fodder for my obsession with site statistics, and the MeFi-driven traffic spike was especially interesting: it looks just like an excitation process in physics, with a saturation region that lasted about half an hour and then an exponential decay with about a 90 minute half-life.

There was a long tail that remained after many time constants; I suspect there are a couple different populations of MeFi readers, one that visits the site about once an hour and another that visits much less often, maybe once a day.

Climate Control [Open Thread]

Since I tagged archived posts for the past year, I’ve put the category listing in the sidebar under the monthly archives. I may tweak the formatting some. I’d also like to tag posts further back in the archive—at least as far as the beginning of 2005—but it may not happen immediately.
I guess it’s been a while since I posted an open thread, partly due to not having much to review lately and partly due to pure negligence. I need to listen to some new CDs so that I can get back to my usual schedule of posting reviews. (The new Sunset Rubdown album is good on first listen; I’ll probably review it next week.)
An Inconvenient Truth: I finally got around to seeing Berkeley’s most popular date movie, in which Al Gore delivers a Powerpoint talk on global warming. I’m not someone who needs convincing at this point, but I was curious to see what he had to say. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen too many scientific Powerpoint talks, but I thought it was rather disorganized—it seemed to jump around between different topics without a clear direction. The film is interspersed with vignettes from Gore’s life, to explain why he’s taken up this particular issue; I thought these were mostly just distracting, but for a popular audience maybe it helps humanize the issue. Visually the film is sometimes very compelling (especially the section showing various major cities flooding as the sea level rises—there’s a GMaps app where you can try this yourself) but sometimes a little too twee (the polar bear, the frog). Gore is optimistic that global warming can be solved through what seemed like relatively minor improvements in energy efficiency and emissions reduction. Maybe this kind of ending is necessary to convince people the problem can be solved at all, but I’m much more pessimistic. Rating: 2.5/5
Metroid Prime: Hunters: I’m catching up on all those DS games now that I can play them. Unlike the Gamecube predecessors in the Metroid Prime series, this installment is focused much more on deathmatch than exploration. In the single-player mode the various maps are often clearly just the deathmatch levels stitched together, and the layout is more straightforward than is typical for a Metroid game. Combat is faster and more dynamic than in earlier Prime games as well. There’s a steep learning curve for the stylus/d-pad control scheme, but once I got used to it I was suprised at how well I could move and aim. The game’s biggest flaw is the bosses: a game this combat-oriented should have appropriately interesting boss fights, but instead of coming up with eight different enemies it keeps repeating the same two with slightly different capabilities. Apart from this, the single-player game is pretty solid. Now I just need to round up some opponents for the multiplayer. Rating: 3.5/5

Fixing the internets [Open Thread]

I’m going back through the archives and fixing internal links and images, as well as tagging old posts. This is proving to be a time-consuming process, but the category pages will gradually fill up. I also need to fix the archive templates so that they display the tags on each post, and set up the list of tags on the sidebar. Meanwhile, Google Reader continues to ignore me.
Zero 7: The Garden: I’m willing to defend Zero 7 against charges that they play glorified elevator music. Their previous album, When It Falls, may have been mellow and calming but was filled with interesting emotional undertones. Unfortunately, their new release doesn’t measure up: while I’m not ready to consign them to the elevator yet, these songs really are fairly boring. Generally I warm up to new music over time, but this is one of those CDs that I find myself liking less every time I listen to it. The tracks that aren’t merely forgettable are actually annoying. You can listen to samples at their website or a few full tracks at their MySpace page; “Seeing Things” is better than most, but skip “Pageant of the Bizarre”. Or, just listen to the older tracks: “Somersault” from When It Falls is recommended. Rating: 2/5

Google Reader is not listening

So I added my own feed (the version with comments) to Google Reader to see how it behaves. The answer seems to be “very badly”; it hasn’t shown an update since Wednesday even though the feed was updated several times, and queried by Google’s feedfetcher (according to the server logs). So, I don’t know what’s going on.
I’ve set the comments feed to be generated dynamically now; for those of you reading it directly I’m hoping it will now show an update whenever a new comment is posted. Unfortunately, it will also be a little slower to load. Let me know if this breaks anything in your RSS reader.
Also: as several of you have noticed, comments don’t always show up immediately upon posting. I don’t know what’s causing this but it looks like the page rebuilds are just delayed (maybe due to server load); if your comment doesn’t show up immediately wait a few seconds and check again.
UPDATE: Dynamic updating didn’t work out for comments-feed.xml, so I switched it back to static.

Avast, scurvy dogs! [Open Thread]

I guess some comments are being posted anonymously even when the name is filled in? I’ve tweaked the template but I’m not sure if this solved the problem; I’m keeping an eye on it. Meanwhile, this blog now has a LiveJournal feed here.
It seems like it’s been a slow period for new music lately (hence no music review this week), but the new TV on the Radio album is coming out soon. There’s been a ridiculous amount of buzz about this album, but they were awesome enough at Coachella that the hype might be accurate.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: I put on my eyepatch and bandana Friday night and headed out for some good piratey escapism. Unfortunately about the first hour and a half of this movie were insufficiently interesting and I found my mind wandering back to the real world. Doubly unfortunately, as a result of the unfreezing process the guy directly behind me had no inner monologue and was having trouble controlling the volume of his voice, so we were regaled with an endless series of “UH-OH!” and “OH NO!” and laughter at inappropriate moments. What I really wanted to do was turn around and say “Arr, matey, still yer tongue or I’ll cut it out and feed it to th’ sharks” but somehow I restrained myself. Um, anyway, the extended action sequence at the end of the movie acheived an acceptable level of swashbucklery, so I wasn’t entirely dissatisfied. And of course Johnny Depp is awesome. But the first movie was better. Rating: 3/5
Jonathan Lethem: Gun, With Occasional Music: (Thanks to Jolene for recommending this.) After seeing Brick I was ready for more noir in unusual settings, and this book delivered with a detective story in a near-future dystopian Oakland. The fun thing about a book set in the East Bay is that many of the locations are familiar, so when the protagonist visits the El Cerrito hills or 59th and Telegraph I can visualize it exactly. Except with Uplifted “evolved” animals walking around. Also, it is illegal to ask questions without a license, hence P.I. is “private inquisitor”, and the government encourages the use of designer drugs to keep the population docile. The setting is obviously not intended to be a realistic possible future, but rather to instill a sense of confusion and alienation in the reader while fitting in with noir conventions. A very nice touch was that late in the narrative, a twist occurs which puts the detective in the same position as the reader with respect to the oddities of the future society. Any good noir story should have the narrator employ colorful and witty language, and Lethem is very good at this; I kept turning the pages looking for the next clever line as much as for the next plot twist. Rating: 4/5

Best Search Requests of June 2006

I need to leave the old server up just so I have more of these next month.

  • how to make a real shuriken
    I assume this person is trying to acquire real ultimate power.

  • games with jesus
    Don’t play him in Battleship, that omniscient bastard totally cheats.

  • physics phd for strangers
    Physics is strange, when you’re a stranger…

  • alvin and the chipmunks porno
    All together now: EWWWW.

  • physics of a burger
    It’s a superlattice… of FLAVOR!

  • planes for gazebos
    I just wish this one had been “Gazebos on a Plane”.

  • every female hotmail addresses
    I’ve heard of the shotgun approach to online dating, but that seems a bit excessive.

My favorite is the last one, for its sheer ambition.

New quote needed

The time has come to change the quote at the top of the blog. I still like the Milton quote, but it hasn’t seemed as relevant lately. I’m on the lookout for something worthy to replace it. Suggestions are welcome for quotes that capture the spirit of this blog and look good at the top of the page. (This is probably also a good opportunity for subtle mockery.)
In the meantime, I will continue looking through classic literature and song lyrics.

Welcome to the new Arcane Gazebo!

It may look like the old Arcane Gazebo, but it’s running on a new host with an upgraded version of MovableType. And there are a few changes, some of which were noted in the style/layout thread:

  • URL: The URL is now http://arcanegazebo.net. http://www.arcanegazebo.net takes you to the same place. However, http://inverse.physics.berkeley.edu will not redirect, so be sure to update your bookmarks.

  • RSS feeds: The RSS feeds now contain the full posts rather than the first 40 words, and there is also an RSS feed with the comments as well as the posts. For the posts only, use http://arcanegazebo.net/index.xml and to get the comments, use http://arcanegazebo.net/comments-feed.xml.
  • No more pop-ups: Clicking on the comments links will open the page in the current window rather than in a pop-up.
  • No “Recent Entries” list in the sidebar: This listed the last ten or so entries, but they were usually on the main page anyway and I found people would go to the latest monthly archive for older ones. This is to make room for the categories listing which I plan to start using.
  • No mp3 downloads: This is so as not to annoy my new hosts. For future music reviews I’ll try to link to band pages with freely available mp3s, or failing that, to MySpace pages or YouTube videos where one can listen to the music.

Some things are still broken:

  • Internal links in the archives: Internal links to old posts will now point to the wrong place. I may go back and fix this but it will take some time. This includes any images I’ve posted (except the ones on Flickr).

  • Possibly some templates: I haven’t checked everything yet; it had to be upgraded by hand to the MT 3.2 template tags and this wasn’t always a smooth process. Let me know if you find a problem somewhere.
  • Category Index: Once I start using categories I’ll put an index on the sidebar, but I haven’t put the index up yet since I haven’t tagged any posts (besides this one).
  • LiveJournal feed: Rather than posting directly to my main LiveJournal account I’m going to try to get it set up as an LJ syndicated feed.

I think that’s it. Comments on the new site are welcome! Don’t forget to update your bookmarks and blogrolls.