Infernal Bridegroom Does It Again

Last night, Mrs Heathen and I took in the preview for IBP’s newest production, “Full Circle,” by Chalres Mee.

You really gotta see this thing. It’s fucking brilliant, almost “Medea”-level great. Certainly better than any other show you might consider seeing in Houston. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first production of Mee’s work in Houston, so you’ll also be ahead of the art curve by coming to see it. Some other fine bits:

  • Actors speaking hilariously awful fake Chinese;
  • A revolving stage (no, really);
  • Marxism (the Karl kind; it takes place during the fall of the Berlin Wall);
  • Marxism (the Groucho kind; the cops are hilarious);
  • Literal translations of Beatles songs;
  • Gratuitous use of Journey songs;


We’re not kidding – and all for FIFTEEN BUCKS. What’s not to love?

FULL CIRCLE by Charles Mee,
presented by Infernal Bridegroom Productions at The Axiom (2425 McKinney)
Opening Night Thursday, November 17 — for only $5.99!
Fridays & Saturdays through 12/17, plus a pay-what-you-want on Monday 12/5.
RESERVATIONS 713 522 8443

Sony Roundup Part II

Also from BoingBoing; this time, even the government’s calling bullshit:

The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team advises that you never install CD DRM: “Do not install software from sources that you do not expect to contain software, such as an audio CD.”

The Sony thing WILL NOT DIE

BoingBoing reports that a clever guy managed to use the DNS system to determine roughly how widespread Sony’s malware is. The answer is perhaps best expressed by “HOLY SHIT!” If he’s right, it means Sony has infected a huge number of networks, many of them government or military in nature.

Holy Crap

Freedom To Tinker has examined the uninstaller Sony has offered for download to “undo” their rootkit shenanigans, and discovered it is very very dangerous; details to follow. Can Sony just not do ANYTHING right?

Things you were pretty sure you’d never see me say on this site.

“Ok, who wants to explain statistics to me?”

No, seriously. I used to be a big math geek (though I was never a Mathlete). I expect to be able to understand these sorts of things; I just never got around to bothering with statistics. One concept that’s come up again and again that I have only just now looked up is standard deviation.

I’ve always understood, on a basic level, that standard deviation is a way of measuring how spread out your data is, on average. There are actually two ways to look at this, it turns out. There’s variance, which is the average of the squares of the distance to the mean of your data (which glosses over the difference between “mean” and “expected value,” which is also something I don’t understand), and standard deviation, which is the square root of the variance.

This is where I get somewhat confused, however, because the articles linked above mention that there are TWO formulae or methods for getting variance and standard deviation: one used when you’ve got the whole population (and these formulae are the basic versions you can derive from what I’ve written above), and one you use when you’ve only got a sample. Why is this?

The differences seem big; using Excel and the set (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), the variance for the whole population is 2, and the St Dev is 1.41.

We get there simply: the average is 3, so we add (3 – 1)^2 + (3 – 2)^2 + (3 – 3)^2 + (4 – 3)^2 + (5 – 3)^2 and get 10, and then divide the lot by the number of values (5) to get 2. The square root of 2 is 1.41.

However, Excel tells me that the sampled variance is 2.5, and the sampled St Dev 1.58. So I ask you, lazy Heathen, if someone might enlighten me. (Does it have something to do with assuming a normal distribution?)

Fred’s Still Slamming Left Behind, and It’s Beautiful

From a recent installment wherein he points out (again) how bizarrely wrong about just about everything LeHaye and Jenkins are, and how poorly their narrative holds together:

This disregard for continuity makes it difficult to read Left Behind as a single, coherent narrative. It forces the reader to regard the text as a collection of disparate, discrete stories — some of which apply to one set of storylines, others of which apply to another set. This is, of course, exactly how dispensationalists read the Bible. (It’s a complex, difficult system, but it allows you to pretend that the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t apply to you.)

Freedom To Tinker Reminds Us That Sony Is Still Unworthy of Trust

While Sony has promised to stop using the rootkit stuff for a while, Alex Halderman over at Freedom to Tinker points out that they’re still lying bastards who want to put spyware on your computer without your consent.

See, many Sony title use something called MediaMax that (a) installs on the sly and (b) lies to the user — ie, the OWNER OF THE COMPUTER AND CD — in the process. Furthermore, Sony provides no way to remove this software.


  • If you have to run windows, disable AUTORUN. If you turn this off, software can’t get automatically installed from a CD without your consent.
  • NEVER install software from a music CD. There’s no reason to do so. If it’s a real music CD, your computer can play it with no extra programs. If it won’t play, take it back.
  • If at all possible, consider moving to a more secure platform. While Sony does try to infect Macs, this can only happen if the user actively runs the Sony spyware. There’s been no real attempt to control Linux machines at all.

This may well clinch it

John Gruber thinks I should get a new Powerbook this year, which has been my tentative plan — this one’s 3 years old and nearly out of Applecare, and having the expense against 2005 taxes would be good. The counterpoint is the possibility of faster Intel-based machines in 2006, but my gut — and Gruber’s — is that I’d rather have the last iteration of PowerPC hardware than the first iteration of Intel hardware.

Remember Hurra Torpedo?

Yeah, they of the appliance-smashing cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart? There’s a Rockumentary. From the filmmaker’s project writeup:

I’m going to follow Hurra Torpedo as they tour across the United States, and capture every smashed fridge on film. I will be there for the music, the magic, and also for the quiet times when the boys are just being themselves. I will capture the faintest noise, the loudest silence, and the unspoken internal lives of these three visionary young men. I’ll be there for the groupies, the fights, the parties, the jam sessions, and the make out sessions. I will be with them the whole time, like that woman in that movie about those gorillas in that mist. Only instead of gorillas, I’ve got Norwegians: Aslag, Egil and Kristopher. And no mist.

The site is a video blog of sorts (the clips are in Flash). Do not miss the frat party, the trip to the American appliance store, and (in the Behind The Scenes area), the clip about the groupie.

In which we remind you of the brilliance that is Fafblog

When Muslims Attack! Excerpt:

Know your muslims! Some muslims can be relatively harmless, like the reclusive blue-crested muslim which only attacks when provoked, or the northern spotted muslim which just imitates the colorful patterns of its more aggressive venomous cousin. But watch out! There are thirty-eight species of man-eating muslim and they are all hungry for freedom, including the saber-toothed pipesian, the hinderical alzabo with its terrible fire-breath, and the fearsome malkinite chimera, which has the head of a lion, the wings of a winged lion, and the body of a much bigger lion eating the first two lions. The only way to defeat it is to trick it into saying its name backwards, which will cause it to vanish in a puff of liberty.


This is the 2,900th post on Heathen. And boy are my fingers tired.

(Yeah, we know the header says 2,897; that’s the overnight count.)

What Is And What Always Was

It’s been pointed out to me again that I don’t have an RSS link on this page. This isn’t, however, because I don’t have a feed; I do. It’s just because that, heretofore, I was too lazy to put a link up about it.

Well, look over to the right. It’s got a link and everything now. Happy?

(If this doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry about it.)

Dear 74 percent of Texas:

Fuck you.

If you voted for this monstrosity, you’re no friend of mine. I’ve said for years the climate would run me out of Houston, but it looks more like the wingnut right will do it first.

Update: My friend Lisa points out that what I really mean is “Dear 74% of 15% (who voted) of 84% (who are registered) of Texas…” Which, I think, is actually more damning.

Two Things About the UPS Guy

  1. If I’m working upstairs, the cat will be on her window perch surveying the neighborhood. (Once I move downstairs to the office, she’ll be perched on the desk surveying the insides of her eyelids.) As she dislikes visitors in general and door-knocking in particular, she has learned that “big brown truck == potential knock at door,” so she runs to hide when the truck stops outside. Ergo, Bob is my UPS alarm.
  2. Today, the UPS guy asked “So, you’re working at home now?” which is a wholly unsurprising question (I am; he’s brought me many RFID tags in the last week). His second question was a bit more interesting: “So, y’all just got married, too, didn’t you?” Of course he’d notice; he delivered a metric ton of gifts from our far-flung families and our net-shopping friends. It makes me wonder what else you could know about a household just by being the UPS guy, though.


If you’re an audiophile and have far more money than sense, perhaps you’d like to buy some of these products:

OPUS MM Speaker Cables
Apparently, “OPUS MM unleashes thrilling levels of performance…”. That may well be so, but OPUS MM also unleashes thrilling amounts of cash from your obviously overfull audiophile wallet. Your shiny new speaker cable will set you back a truly outstanding thirty thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars, and no cents. I’ll say that again: $30,750.00

Preach on, brother

Five email tics I’d love you to lose, by Merlin Mann:

  1. The liberal use of the “VERY HIGH PRIORITY!!!” flag
  2. The 18-line sig about all the Bad Things that will happen to me if I ever reveal the contents of your privileged, confidential (and unencrypted) message
  3. The unrequested press release (and the serial ignoring of the “Unsubscribe” I sent you for the previous seven press releases)
  4. The graphical background, font and table tags, and remaining 14k of HTML cruft associated with every. single. message. you’ve ever sent
  5. The including of my — plus 98 other strangers’ — personal email addresses in the “To:” line of your friendly reminder about Tyler’s birthday party

Of course, had someone not committed sin number 5 in my direction back in ’01, I’d probably not be married, so there you go.