Posted by: David | April 4, 2009

Uh Oh

Lazy day today. Getting into vacation mode. Made it outside but only to take a picture of the garlic, which I promised to do a few posts back. Mostly I just sat in the blogging chair, watched some Hulu, and kept thinking I should go outside and do something productive. Or maybe go for a bike ride. But it got real windy and cloudy and the temperature kept going down. That helped. Plus I’d just left a comment on someone else’s blog bragging about how good I am at doing nothing. So I got caught up on Dollhouse and Lie to Me. Today’s productivity result.

Here’s the garlic. Planted last October at 6 inch spacing.

I’m starting to like Dollhouse better. Joss Whedon likes to tackle existential ideas, and Dollhouse does this sometimes, when it’s not being utterly silly. The show’s jargon has taken root and the scenes where Eliza Dushku kicks some gratuitous ass are getting better. I’m a real sucker for ass-kicking hotties on the telly! Alias, Dark Angel, La Femme Nikita, Jerry Springer … My wife likes these shows too. I kid you not. Well, maybe not Jerry Springer.

So I watched an interesting episode of Dollhouse on the Hulu, and by the way, on the Hulu, is it me or are they slipping in a few more limited commercial interruptions? This episode’s theme touched upon the “dolls” themselves and who they might have been before having their brains flash-drained and reprogrammed by nerdboy computer geek who can get an entire soul onto a common 3.5 inch hard drive. Echo is Dushku’s character, the main doll, who’s under-personality is starting to leak out from the edges of her brain that don’t get quite fully drained by the neuropsychoconspiromashupulator thingy. So at the end my brain is spinning around the existential pinwheels and this webmercial comes on for the US HHS’s ARHQ.

US Dept. of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The 30 second webmercial was musical. That’s when I said uh oh.

Oh no they DITn’t! Please tell me they’re not saying that questions are the answer. I mean if questions are the answer, then what are the questions? You see why I’m saying ‘uh oh’?? Plus, I’m not comfortable with health care being made into one word. Care is diminished in that Newspeak term.

Yeah, I get the idea but …
uh oh!

I’m already “asking my doctor about” every frakkin pharmaceutical on TV aren’t I? Despondex, Enditol, Abilify, etc. Now they’re telling us what? We need to start paying attention instead of popping pills? Wait a sec. There’s your solution. Get to work right away on a pill that makes you ask your doctor more questions. That will solve the health care crisis. It will take some time to discover the pill (or caplet) that can do this, so until then, here are some questions to practice asking for next time you have to see the doctor.

  1. Do you take food stamps?
  2. My insurance is Canadian, is that OK?
  3. Can I finance that artificial liver?
  4. How about a lay-away plan?
  5. Where’s the cute doctor?
  6. What do you mean they don’t have artificial livers?
  7. What do you have to drink around here?

I’ll stick with the garlic, because this advertising sends me the message ‘if you get sick you may as well just go ahead and kiss your ass good bye’. And I don’t care if it makes my breath smell like garlic.


  1. This is creepy. Very, very creepy. I would totally fire the person who thought there was even a remote connection between singing, dancing doctors and my health care.

    It’s comical, but extremely un-funny too. Even creepy, yes. Whistling in the dark. That they waste money putting this kind of shit together in the first place is intolerable. I would fire the person who gave this assignment to the person that you’d fire. ๐Ÿ™‚

    There was a letter to the editor in my local newspaper from someone complaining that she and her spouse, both self-employed work at homers, pay $1000/month for absolutely BASIC health insurance, high deductible, doesn’t even cover an annual physical. Catastrophe insurance. In our Land Of Freedom this type of organized crime is simply horrendous. When will it end?

  2. Oh, come on, PiedType! If it’s good enough for cops (Cop Rock) why can’t docs dance (Doc Rock!)! I’ll get right on it!

    “. . .who can get an entire soul onto a common 3.5 inch hard drive. . .”
    Sadly, it was proven to be me. Well, once you took out all the bad blocks. Turns out there was enough space to put the MacWrite 1.0 so that was nice.

    Hell, David, after last week of Cavorting With Wolves and Tossing Trees For Distance And Accuracy I’d hope you’d take a couple of hours off. If just to take some of the pressure off sloths like me.

    Thanks Chris, I took pretty much the whole day, and after bringing my wife to the airport at 3:30 this morning, Sunday is now yawning before me with similar prospects. If I go outside and do at least one little thing it will be easier to fritter away the rest of the day.

    Crap, I’d totally forgotten that there was a show called Cop Rock. Dammit. Thank gods we now live in the Golden Age of TV. Know what the frak I mean?

    So that soul was yours? Jeez, I don’t think Echo is going to be pleased. Did you see her shoot the neuropsychoconspiromashupulator computer thingy? It looked like an old Dell Dimension or two. How about when geekboy was playing with the brain hologram? Wasn’t that precious? He was, like, building a soul for an active, and then asks his helper to check on lunch. Almond crusted salmon or some shit.

    Please don’t think I overwork, I’m NOT that guy. It’s just that my lifestyle involves a few more “manual” processes than typical urban lifestyles, e.g. the tree chunks.

  3. We’re big Hulu watchers and you’re right, they are sneaking in more commercials. At first I was angry about it, but then I reasoned that the trade-off is I can watch my shows (like Dollhouse!) whenever I want. I also like the queue thing that automatically saves all my shows so I don’t have to go looking for them.

    The actual watching part I totally lucked out on. Last year I found a large widescreen computer monitor on sale and bought it for Buck’s birthday. He hated it, and it sat on my own desk unused for months until I discovered Hulu. Now we have set up in bedroom and it’s Hulu and Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” dedicated. I think it might even be HD because the picture is so much sharper and intense than our TV.

    As for Dollhouse, I’m digging it. I’m a Joss Whedon fan anyway, and I love the fact he gives his female characters kickboxing, asskicking capabilities. The only complaint I have about the last episode was that I wanted Echo to suddenly remember her previous life had been as a vampire slayer. “I suddenly remember now! I’m Faith, and I’m a real bitch of a slayer! Five-by-five, everybody!”

    Your garlic is looking beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! Here’s a quote about garlic that is so true:
    “What garlic is to food, insanity is to art.” – Augustus Saint-Gaudens

    Yeah Hulu rocks! My wife sometimes gets mad at me cause I don’t make it downstairs to watch together the stuff we’ve DVR’d. I fear that the free ride we get from sites like Hulu will have to end soon, though the internet at large seems to have evaded this threat. It’s just the paranoia of the eternal ripoff I guess.

    I wasn’t a Buffy fan, but looking at Dushku I often see Buffy’s face. Think she may have found her way onto the show as a body double for Sarah Michelle? That show was a little too boogedy boogedy for me, but I’m still a big Whedon fan.

    Thanks for that wonderful Saint-Gaudens quote. I ♥ it.

  4. …is that a BOOTABLE drive…?

    More like Buddha Bull! The last episode, entitled “Needs”, dealt with the dolls need for that ever elusive ‘closure’ thing. What if ‘closure’ is just another object of desire, which is the source of all pain. Hmmm?? What IF?

  5. You grow garlic!??! I really want to get in on some of that….oh and also since I’m on Canadian health insurance, I am only really concerned with your question #5 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hi Romi, yes I’ve been growing it for just a few years now, having tried and failed in the past. If you want to come down and help me do some weeding I’ll let you take some garlic back to Toronto. But you’ll probably have to smuggle it.

    I was definitely thinking of you when questions 2 and 5 came to me. Canadian health care — LOL!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Your garlic is looking awesome. We only have a few popping up so far. And I am loving Dollhouse although I was a bit disappointed in the last episode. Didn’t quite go where I wanted it to and the cop character is so boring even if he was on BSG.

    Hi undergroundarchivist and thanks for your comment. I’m sending posivibes to your garlic right now.

    I thought that the “Needs” episode was pretty contrived. But we can’t really expect Echo to go all revolutionary in the first season now, can we? Obviously she has to buck the system, but there will need to be a cliffhanger built on that, right? And yeah, the cop character is such a TOOL. But, he can kick some mean ass, so he and Echo are, like, destiny, right? I think so. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mind if I activate the link to your underground archivist blog? I would be quite honored to have a true archivist blog in my blogroll!

  7. Yes, I thought that the weather was turning sour there since there were more hits for “Bruegel painting the Cold and the Snow”.

    I have been fighting the windmills again. This morning I saw I had to change three pictures in my Napoleon post, since it is a perpetual top post and the pictures had gotten dark. One was that ridiculous David painting of Napoleon putting the crown on Josephine. Since Americans of course go for this kind of romantic pseudo stuff it gets a lot of hits, but both my thumbnail and the original at Wiki had gotten so dark that you could no longer see anything in the background. So I had to download and lighten it up and then the upload did not work.

    I found an Italian blog with good pictures of the Bourbaki panorama published last year, and they too looked a bit dark to me. So I had to download…etc etc see? all the while remembering I wanted to tell you something which then I forgot and now can’t recall.

    Why don’t you try uploading some images in the GIF format and see what happens with those?

    Today’s weather is cold, windy and overcast.

  8. @c: perhaps you need a new monitor…or a little paper towel with some ammonia on it!

    I’ve suggested such things before, but have since found out that there might really be something going on with the jpeg’s notoriously “lossy” compression algorithms. Google “jpeg deterioration” and see what I mean. Cantueso is the number 1 victim of this phenomenon.

  9. jpeg deterioration: repeated saving invokes the compression algorithm on already-compressed data so deterioration is inevitable. what could cause repeated saving of images once they are placed on a server? load balancing?

    Now THAT is a great question. What I kept trying to explain to cantueso is that a jpeg file (or any other file for that matter) is a fixed archive of bits written to some medium. Essentially a long string of zeros and ones. If files are copied or moved from one place to another on the storage medium, they are copied exactly, bit for bit, no information is lost. This underlying aspect of accuracy is what gave digital recording the advantage it has over analog methods. But files sitting on a web server cannot spontaneously change. Unless you want to consider the effects of cosmic rays …

    If files get moved or copied to enhance some efficiency or other, it would again be this plain copy process, no need to open or save the file. Only when a jpeg file is actually opened do the jpeg compression algorithms come into play. Upon closing the file, without saving, it should still be unmodified. Only SAVING could cause a change. Advanced photo editing software, e.g. Photoshop, asks when saving a jpeg how much compression is desired. It’s likely that less sophisticated photo editing programs assume some compression setting without asking the user. This would be an opportunity for data loss.

    There, I’ve overexplained it for the 1000th time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I think I got it. Imagine. After all that time. At least three years. And just now the Vermonter also says it. Looking at it and saving it!!!!

    You are all of you photographers. I don’t even know how to handle that camera. So none of you could think of the most obvious thing: that I look at the only copy I have, and since I have relatively few photos, because I don’t take any but get them from other people or from the net, I also look at them frequently!!!! I had imagined that photos are meant to be looked at !

    Jeez. So yesterday I told myself to do 20 minutes a day of googling on that subject until I see how they talk about it. And so, now, I found this:

    “Second, let’s discuss the issue of re-compressing JPEGs. You don’t hurt them by reading them from disk. However, if you use an image editing program that re-writes the file, or you deliberately save the file, you are normally creating additional problems for yourself with each ‘generation”…”

    However, this does not explain why countless photos on Wikipedia are dark.


    I never use ammonia. What is it for? Do you mean cleaning? Do you clean your monitor with ammonia ?

    And do they balance loads in a server ?

    Now we’re getting somewhere. I wonder what are these countless photos on Wikipedia that look dark to you? If this phenomenon has a reality and is not an artifact of your perception, then we would expect that others observe it too. Are there others who agree with you on this? I have not noticed this, but maybe I’m not looking at the same Wikipedia images as you.

    Remember that Wikipedia is community maintained. So it’s possible that people uploading and working with jpegs on the site are saving and recompressing the images.

    Ammonia is commonly used to clean glass here in the USA. Vermonter was suggesting, as I had done a while ago, that your computer’s monitor needed cleaning. But don’t use ammonia for that, unless you have an old glass CRT type of display. Damp paper towel is usually adequate. AND, have you ever fiddled with the brightness controls on your computer display?

    What does 100swallows have any comments on this phenomenon?

  11. David:
    Re: google for JPEG deterioration

    I am there now, and it is most interesting. However, since it takes a long time for any post to get to the top, the things you see at first are three, four, and more years old.

    That’s OK. The jpeg compression method is much older than that. This phenomenon is not new.

  12. I also did not know there was such a difference between “closing” and “saving”, and I think I routinely save before closing almost anything.

    I am getting this so clearly that I may have to write a post on it since most of my better posts are about “things I learnt today”.

    This comment makes me happy! The difference between saving and closing is great. Analogy: Imagine that when you finished reading a book, you had to write the whole book out again before putting it back on your bookshelf, or else it would disappear.

    I tell users that I support about the importance of saving every day, and it’s one concept that most users understand as critical. But saving jpegs presents a counter-example, since data is lost through the compression method. Not all compression methods lose data.

  13. Yes. And so now I have also a tentative explanation for pictures getting dark on WordPress or Wikipedia. What if on a post I have a few small pictures that are not linked to any file and I update the post, as I often do, saving it ten times or more. Those pictures are part of the post file that gets saved and re-saved ten times. Wouldn’t that affect them?

    However, just knowing that the saving causes most or maybe even all of the damage is wonderful. But, no, Vermonter, I have not seen this explanation before.

    The 100swallows was the first to see the problem. Long ago. 4 years ago or so. e has a collection of photos of drawings and entire folders of these got dark.

    I will look for a good example of a dark blotch proudly displayed as a photo of an artwork. Right now I only remember a photo of the Meninas by Velazquez, but also the May Shootings by Goya. I’ll see. Can’t now because I am making bread and have to look after it in the oven. Otherwise you know what always happens when I make bread while blogging.

    I’m so glad we’re getting to the bottom of this jpeg problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So what kind of bread do you make cantueso?

  14. Anyway, today is one of the great days of my life. By sheer chance I found out that the British teachers voted UNANIMOUSLY to boycott SAT for little children, and some of them called the procedures used to prepare the kids for those test child abuse.

    !!!! Jesus. Holy Mary. I thought I was all alone in the world to see that clearly. But they were a thousand one hundred who voted, and the vote was unanimous and announced TO A STANDING OVATION.

    Something like that would never happen in Spain. Never.

    In the USA we have many such standardized tests that follow children through their public schooling. I see it as a lengthy training regimen to prepare for the working world of their adult lives. When “teaching to the test” as we call it here, education can suffer dramatically. As practiced here, compulsory public education is already deeply flawed in scope and design. The outgoing administration’s attempts to restore “accountability” with No Child Left Behind was generally acknowledged to be the culmination of this teaching to the test approach.

    There is a test given to high school students called the SAT (scholastic aptitude test) that is meant to assess students’ potential as college students. I’m happy to report that my daughter’s college was one of the early schools to reject those test scores and not require them in their application process.

  15. A black photo:

    Spaniards getting executed by the French near Madrid’s central square :

    If you lighten the picture up you will see the Plaza del Sol buildings in the background, the uniforms of the French clearly figured out.

    If you click on that thumbnail you’ll see the larger version just as black.

    This Velazquez painting is famous for its perspective. They say that in this painting he captured even the air, the depth of the room. If you lighten it up you will see the pictures on the back wall of the room and the lamps hanging from the ceiling. Some think that it is the Western world’s greatest painting because of its atmosphere. I do not understand this kind of thing at all. I do not believe that you can make either sense or money (or both) of this world without conflict, and so I love Goya.

    The news about the boycott:

    So you believe that all is a struggle? You don’t understand what? I would agree that the painting is as uninteresting as a snapshot of a current day wealthy family lounging in their rooms before or after some outing. He captured the air all right. The air of privileged dullness. But what’s not to understand? I guess you prefer the drama of the firing squad?

  16. consider also: gamma.

    Here’s a link to Wikipedia article on gamma correction.

  17. @c: i am not a photographer. i don’t even play one on the interweb.

    You’re more of a photographer than cantueso, who claims to have never even used a camera. Hard to imagine. She must be very “old school”.

  18. If it had been the monitor or its screen, all photos, even those I see right now on your blog, and even text would have been affected …..ยฟsabes?

    Furthermore, since my blog is not about recent events, and as I also re-write and re-publish old posts, I keep looking up photos that have been at Wiki or in my folders for years. It is not my impression that most people do that, too.

    I also noted that my sidebar pictures never changed. I think the whole mess was because I did not understand that “saving” was not the same as “closing”.

    Yes, I thought it could have been a dirty screen or something, but you’re right, that would have been easily noticed and remedied.

  19. QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWER? I guess these kind of marketing gems are the result of the whole world running out of money.

    Yes. I would like to see Madison Avenue and Wall Street both rolled up like worn out rugs and thrown into the dustbin of history. Did I just write “dustbin of history”? Well strike me pink! All our money is just going where it wants to go, like rivers to the ocean, into the pockets of the super-rich conspirators of the trilateral commission. Whatever TF that is. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I make bread now with raisins, in winter with raisins and figs and dates and dried fruit.

    No, I don’t believe that “all is a struggle”, but unless you understand the way the wind blows you can’t make enough money to buy free time, for instance.

    I would like to be down-wind of your kitchen when you’re baking that bread. Free time is very important.

  21. Did you do your tax declaration? I saw on the net that there it was due April 15.

    Mine is not due until June, but I’ll start soon.

    Yes I did after quite a few missteps … It might surprise you to know that this year was the first time I tried tax prep software. I think I’m a convert.

  22. Did you say that the Goya painting of the Madrid shootings is about violence? I really don’t know! For 8 long years I kept reading that it is called nation building, democratization and helping the people to govern themselves, and so I thought that this was the meaning of these elaborately uniformed gentlemen facing the peasants.

    I may have said that, it is a pretty gory image after all. Wrenching irony in this comment. WE COMMAND YOU TO BE FREE!

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