Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Death of Romance

I was just looking through Time's top 10 lists, and was shattered by an event I had not heard reported. I suppose to some people it's not news, but Hugh Hefner and Holly Madison broke up.

To be fair, I'd never heard of Holly Madison before - my guess is she must be Dolly Madison's sister? - but you've got to figure if even Hef can't hold onto a girl (or three, apparently the poor icon was also abandoned by Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt) what hope do the rest of us have? not forsake me, oh my darling!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quote of the day

Pessimists, we're told, look at a glass containing 50% air and 50% water and see it as half empty. Optimists, in contrast, see it as half full. Engineers, of course, understand the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
-Bob Lewis

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advice from the Vamp

In the unlikely case that anybody has been reading me for a long time, they might remember my post on Trudie, economics professor Tyler Cowen's take-off on the advice columnist Prudie (here "she" is on dating multiple men).

But Cowen wasn't the first professor doing advice columns, not even the first that I have read. That honor would go to Camille Paglia (just happened to be glancing through her book "Vamps and Tramps" in my basement) of "Sexual Personae". She did an advice column in "Spy" magazine, and published some examples in "Vamps and Tramps".


Dear Camille:
I've been severely disappointed in my lady friends, who come across as intelligent women with common sense but end up making bad choices when it comes to men.
Jolted Joe from Brooklyn

Dear Joe:
You are puzzled by the irrational perversity of sexual attraction. Dionysus is a maelstrom. Love will never be tidy or safe. Jump in the boat and row for your life.

Dear Camille:
I'm a female who has rape fantasies featuring ex-convicts, aliens, postapocolyptic mutant gang leaders, etc. While I invent dialogue for both sexes, I feel more "inside" the male character, even after the female has gained the upper hand, which always happens. Am I bisexual, sadomasochistic, or just strange?
Is This Hell? No, This Is Iowa

Dear Hell-In-Iowa:
Make movies as soon as possible. Surf's up in your sharkish libido. It's the cyberpunk 1990's, so take us for a ride on the wild side.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Quote of the day

"A man has the right to defend himself…even against his own leg."
- — AaronS ( regarding Burress )

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quote of the day

"Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning."
- Rommel

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Quote of the day

"We are missing one of the mice. I'm upset!"
- Jocelyn Fiederer (my wife, at Nutcracker rehearsal)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My favorite fictional body part....

Unfortunately, there are no news about the crockus, that part of the brain that makes females more verbally skilled than males.

Even though it doesn't exist, the name is just so damn funny this item should be kept in the news as much as possible.

Kelo in retrospect....

The Kelo decision thoroughly established the principle that a municipality can force you to sell your home for only the flimsiest of excuses (i.e., that the person they want to transfer it to is likely to stimulate the local economy in some nebulous way).

The principle is somewhat at odds with the facts, though.... in reality, for all the money they spent on legal fees, the town achieved only a huge vacant lot and a lot of outrage.

I don't know where Susette Kelo currently lives.

Quote of the Day

Speed, velocity, simultaneity, acceleration, and other mathematical abstractions having to do with the patterns of eternity were part of Martian mathematics, but not of Martian emotion. Contrariwise, the unceasing rush and turmoil of human existence came not from mathematical necessities of time but from the frantic urgency implicit in human sexual bipolarity.

Heinlein, "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Friday, December 05, 2008

Quote of the day

For what we will spend on the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 we could have avoided the war in Iraq and simply bought a controlling interest in Saddam Hussein's country.


My clean mind

Anybody who reads this and has seen my "study" in my basement will appreciate my inner purity.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quote of the day

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

T.S.Eliot (ending The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quote of the day

I'm sick of the insipid bourgeois neuroticism in current, careerist American poetry. Bring back the psychotics!
--Camille Paglia, via Language Log


That was the text my son sent me just now.

I had to text back to confirm that was for the whole semester.

Wow. It's not easy to impress a dad, but if you can't impress him with perfection, it would be a pretty lost cause!

Life is good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quote of the day

I used to think the brain was my most important organ. But then I thought: Wait a minute, who's telling me that? ~Emo Philips. (via McArdle)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quote of the day

When one linguist says to another "Was that good for you?", at least in a professional context, the phrase usually means "was that sentence consistent with your personal grammatical norms?"

Language Log

What I see when I wake up in the morning before I can leave my bedroom....

And in case you were, since Sam has been coming over I am sure she has never seen me without my pants on.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

That's right....I might not have one every single day, but if I try to keep it to one a week they just keep piling up!

On the other hand, "Lyric of the Week" is pretty much a dead feature....sure, there are songs I haven't posted yet, but almost all of them are by Leonard Cohen. OK, here goes:

"When Dad agrees to something with a smile on his face, we have learned to reconsider our request."
- some 12year old

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My mother is alive and well....

But this is still the only fat mama joke that ever made me cry.....

My favorite spam....

This is unlikely to be a weekly feature, or even a yearly one. Spam rarely makes me smile. Sometimes, maybe, in a grim when my mother-in-law died and they had me clean out her email (99% spam) in case there was something in there, and one of her spams promised to "increase the distance of ejaculation" as though this were some kind of Olympic event.

Today one got caught by the google mail spam filter, but as I was hitting delete it still caught my eye "we think you deserve more than simple spam".

I'm gathering it must have been rather complicated spam. I didn't read it, but the subject line still made me smirk.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Definition of the week

Maverick: somebody who makes decisions independently of peers.

Said to be an eponym based on a rancher that refused to brand his cattle - since everybody else did brand their cattle, this let him claim any unbranded cattle in the area.

Our two-party system

This article points out some of the difficulty of competing with the major parties. If you've had the feeling that the United States must have some people that would make more inspiring choices for leader than the ones we actually get to vote here, Balko points out:
The system we have now selects for the sorts of people who want to make a career of politics. If, in order to successfully run for high office, you have to spend years culling favors and working your way up through one of the two major parties, the winners in this game are going to be the party loyalists and power-hungry climbers who couldn't hack it in the private sector — frankly, the last personality type we want governing.

Bailing Out Republicans

This item struck me as amusing, in a grim way.

Actually, there is something to be said for it, or going even further. If they could only get enough Republicans into one of the houses so that Obama would have a reason for not being able to get things done, this might stop him from having to do anything harmful.

Hey, it worked for Clinton!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What a lousy job!

I tend to agree with the Onion here, via Reason.

I regret that I am not eligible for the job, but I am glad I don't have to deal with it!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Elections, how to do it right....

Coyote is pretty happy with the way his district runs the polls.

I agree a paper trail is a plus, but I'm not so sure the LED is that meaningful a feedback. Here is my dream setup:

When you vote, by whatever means, you get a paper receipt of your ballot (which might have been printed out for you if you use a machine for input). There is also a paper kept as backup. Your copy has on it an automatically generated random id number, which is electronically stored with your vote. The printed backup does not need this number (to keep votes anonymous).

Later, all the votes are published, with the random id numbers, in a random order. You can type in any id number (but only your own is meaningful to you) and get the votes. They'd better match your receipt, or there has been fraud or error. The total number of votes also better match the number of actual votes (these can be independently tracked).

Why can't they ALL be that dumb?

Probably because of how much I paid for the cellphone that was stolen from me a few weeks ago, this story gave me an unusually strong jolt of epicaricacy (yes, as per the definition of the week about a month ago, that's another word for schadenfreude).

This guy steals a phone from a deaf old woman, and then uses it to take a picture of himself on the phone network. Nice way to get a positive ID!

Quote of the Week

"I am truly saddened for all of you who have allowed sex to be the foundation of your marriages. (And just in case you don’t think that means you, here’s a test: if your spouse having sex with someone else would cause you to end your marriage, sex is the foundation of your relationship.)"
Chris Strom

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The election summarized

MR points to this very nice summary, complete with graphs.

I liked the technique of treating individual states as having two dimensions (Democrat share of vote 2004 vs. Democrat share of vote 2008, or polled vs. actual). It made it clear there wasn't much in the way of surprises, but that things shifted on a fairly wholesale level towards the Democrats.

Return to me......

Of the few readers I have, I estimate that approximately zero are going to understand this post - it's mostly for my own reference, about computer programming style.

At work, our coding standards encourage "at most one return statement from a function", and code review showed my code often has more than one. Finding those places in thousands of lines of code so I can "fix" them might be non-trivial, so I was googling to see if I could find an automatic tool (a good thing to do before deciding to write your own).

Unfortunately, this is a particularly controversial "rule", where probably as many people (including me) think of it as unwise as there are that want to enforce it, so pretty much all I found was just philosophical discussion about one or many exits (same as returns).

One comment I found especially apt (at least in part because he agreed with me that it is better to know when to use a tool then to resolve not to use it:
Your argument that sticking with single exits forces you to factor
your code sounds a little like: "I never use my windshield wipers.
That forces me to stop and clean my car more often, and that is a
good thing." ;)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Definition of the week

Borda count - a voting system that allows voters to indicate their preferences among multiple candidates. This system is actually used in a few obscure places (click on the link for the full Wikipedia article).

Of course, it is only useful when more than 2 candidates are viable.

Election - live update

Courtesy of Google

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My Endorsement

Well, I suppose since everybody else has taken a stand, I suppose I should take mine, such as it is.

I'm a registered Republican, although that is mostly to give me a chance to vote in some primary or other. I do believe in capitalism, but since that has already been abandoned by most major parties (Democrats kowtow mostly to the unions, Republicans mostly to entrenched big business interests, neither is willing to just leave people alone). My actual philosophy is libertarian, although I'm not exactly enamored of the party of that name. While I do believe "that government is best which governs least", I disagree with the voices on the anarchist fringe who believe we can do without it altogether. I'd like to abolish the income tax, but not because I don't understand the need for taxes - only because I find it too intrusive.

Painting Obama as a socialist is kind of amusing, because it is so obviously true - but then, it is true of McCain, also. The only question is just how much socialism you want.

I was talking to a friend with similar politics last week, and we were discussing whether it would be better to vote for Bob Barr (who seems to have made a genuine conversion, but has a rather obvious right-wing record behind him) or just write in somebody that really represents our point of view (Penn Jillette is pretty much our dream candidate). I'll hold my nose and vote for Barr.

Minimizing the risks

Would you want the pilot of that 747 take your family to Europe without first having flown a simulator and a smaller plane?

Would you want your surgeon to have your heart surgery be his first time cutting?

Then how can you feel comfortable electing a governor for New York State who hasn't been at least the governor of Mississippi?

(Yes, follow the link, it is cute - unless you are from Mississippi or Alabama!)

Quote of the Week

McCain promises all kinds of crazy stuff too, its just less compelling stuff to voters. He is not losing because he is promising less -- I think he is losing because Obama has a better grasp of what expensive shit people want to be promised than does McCain.
- Coyote

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Glamour, with and without shoes

Two great tastes that go great together - Virginia Postrel's blog of glamour, and the inimitable Manolo. Interview.

In case you are one of the dozen people who have not heard of Manolo, all you really need to understand is that the Manolo, he loves the shoes! And of course you read Postrel.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Definition of the week

Crux (Latin for "cross", "gallow", or "t-shape") is a term applied by palaeographers, textual critics, bibliographers, and literary scholars to a point of significant corruption in a literary text. More serious than a simple slip of the pen or typographical error, a crux (probably deriving from Latin crux interpretum = "crossroad of interpreters") is difficult or impossible to interpret and resolve. Cruxes occur in a wide range of pre-modern (ancient, medieval, and Renaissance) texts, printed and manuscript.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"So how do you get some people not to vote?"

That's the question that really should be asked.

One of the commentators phrases it justly:
Exactly. This whole get out the vote thing annoys me to no end. I want less voting, not more. I assume that the marginal voter is less informed than the average voter, and thus by expanding the voter pool, the average voter becomes less and less informed. This is not a good thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This Straight Dope article actually states my own opinion quite well:
1. Human life begins at conception.

2. Big deal.

Even though I do not object to legalized abortion, it has always irritated me when people arguing against abortion prohibition would not admit that, yes, they thought it should be legal to terminate a human life.

The Catholic church is right about this: if you believe that human life is sacrosanct, you can not tolerate abortion, euthanasia, or capital punishment.

If you favor any of those listed, you are speaking against the absolute sanctity of human life, and saying that different human lives have different values. You are saying that you have to think.

Live with it.

To me, abortion is ending a human life, but it is not murder. If it were done without consent of the mother, it would be a grave crime against her, but the interests of the fetus are not the interests of our society. Certainly people who are infertile and would love to have a baby, other relatives (or perhaps boyfriend or husbands), and people generally opposed to abortion may find this disturbing. That's OK - go ahead and bribe the mom and try to make it worth her while to have the baby, but in the end it is her decision.

To me, euthanasia should be a basic human right. If you do not believe your life is worth the pain that it costs, you should be able to end it. The fact that you might change your mind later is really not the should have that right.

As capital punishment goes, I am sort of against it. A healthy human life must have some value, and ending it against the will of them who would live it seems wrong, a waste. But in the really bad cases, it does not seem much of a loss. I guess I would say that it should be avoided when possible.

Quote of the Week

"That said, a bike is much cheaper to run than a car. In fact, it takes only half a litre of fuel to get from your house to the scene of your first fatal accident."
- Jeremy Clarkson, in his humorous ode to the Vespa

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cool idea for an adult theme park [title updated]

No, not that kind of adult.

An underwater museum.

What will they call it, Egyptland?

Theology and Linguistics

Here is an entry in Language Log that would interest those with interest in the Latter Day Saints.

For those who aren't going to follow the link (sigh), the author compares the divinely translated English with the English of the Book of Mormon, and concludes:
Such evidence presents us with two choices. One is that the omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe did not control the grammar of Early Modern English. The other is that the Book of Mormon was written by a semi-literate farm boy acquainted with the King James Bible, whose grammar and style he unsuccessfully attempted to emulate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Then she was tied to the feet of wild horses and torn apart limb from limb."

Here is a bit of biograpy, the story of Brunhilda. No, not the witch from the comic strip, but the historical Merovingian who might have inspired the female rivalry in the Nibelungen saga.

Women could not rule the country under Salic law, but she controlled it (the area now in the center of Germany) in the names of her sons. When her husband was still alive, his brother married her sister (both sisters came from what is now Spain, at the time controlled by the Visigoths). The sister Galswintha, however, was not much fun and tried to spoil everybody's fun by throwing out the prostitutes and mistresses. Fredegund, one of the mistresses, managed to get her killed and became the new queen - the beginning of a not-so-beautiful relationship with Brunhilda, who apparently resented the death of her sister. The brothers warred.

After Fredegund had Brunhilda's husband assassinated, Brunhilda managed to snag her Fredegund's stepson instead. The stepson didn't make it. However, Brunhilda managed to rule in the name of her son (by her first husband)until the son turned 13.

After her son died, she ruled again in the names of her grandsons. When the oldest was old enough to rule, she managed to get a lover of hers in high position (by getting somebody else killed), and to get her younger son in conflict with the older. Her younger son probably killed the older, and became the ruler until his death - at which time Brunhilda took over again in the name of her great-grandson - until this youngest king was killed.

Then the army of the Franks and Burgundians joined into one, all shouted together that death would be most fitting for the very wicked Brunhilda. Then King Clotaire ordered that she be lifted on to a camel and led through the entire army. Then she was tied to the feet of wild horses and torn apart limb from limb. Finally she died. Her final grave was the fire. Her bones were burnt.

Technology Tips

Here are a few for the novice.

My favorite (didn't actually know this):
Whatever technology you buy today will be obsolete soon, but you can avoid heartache by learning the cycles. New iPods come out every September. New digital cameras come out in February and October.

The most important (everybody knows this, but who actually acts on it?):
Come up with an automated backup system for your computer. There’s no misery quite like the sick feeling of having lost chunks of your life because you didn’t have a safety copy.

Hat tip: The Dynamistress

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lyric of the week

Life during wartime - Talking Heads

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
a place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstore, lived in the ghetto,
I've lived all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas,
you don't even know my real name
High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,
everything's ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime,
I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.,
I ain't got time for that now
Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peant butter,
to last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers, ain't got no
headphones, ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard,
I can't write nothing at all
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
I'd like to kiss you, I'd love you hold you
I ain't got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
we blended with the crowd
We got computer, we're tapping pohne lines,
I know that ain't allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,
I don't know what I look like!
You make me shiver, I feel so tender,
we make a pretty good team
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving,
you ought to get some sleep
Get you instructions, follow directions,
then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,
whatever you think is best
Burned all my notebooks, what good are
notebooks? They won't help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,
the burning keeps me alive
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness,
don't want to catch no disease
Try to be careful, don't take no chances,
you better watch what you say

Definition of the week


adj : arousing or provoking laughter;[syn: amusing, comic, comical,funny, laughable, mirthful]

This one is often used in arguments when mocking somebody else's point of view

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Signs McCain is Hurting....

After seeing some blatantly racist attacks on Obama such as the Obama Food Stamp and the lynched Obama ghost, it was a bit odd to have Professor Drezner point out that even racists are voting for Obama.
So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”

Quote of the Week

The Bush administration, having entered office as social conservatives, leaves office as conservative socialists, proprietors of the most sudden large expansion of the state's role in the US economy since mobilisation for the second world war.
Brad De Long, via MR

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shades of Heisenberg!

A story about an attempt to manipulate prediction markets led me somehow to this other story where statistics and real life collided in a strange way.

In this one, a particular Harvard publication ("Who's got the Monkey") was used as a test case. People who didn't know that all the activity with this particular publication was all faked, well....
When HBSP’s marketing department analyzed the sales trends, they noticed a rather interesting trend. Oncken’s 1974 Who's Got the Monkey? was a run-away best seller! And like any marketing department would, they took the story and ran. HBSP created pamphlets and other distillations of the paper. They even repackaged those little plastic cocktail monkeys as official “Who’s Got the Monkey monkeys”. And finally, sometime in 2002, the updated version of Who’s Got the Monkey? was posted to HBSP, which was then picked up by the searching system, which, in turn, caused the “Single Result Search” test case to fail.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Say it ain't so, Joe!

Apparently, "Joe the Plumber" has been practicing without a license.

Also, besides not being a licensed plumber, he isn't a licensed Joe. His legal name is Samuel.

My guess is he is wishing he had stayed in the background right now. Or hoping to do something useful with this sudden fame.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Science Prizes

Now that the Nobel prizes have been announced, it might be a good time to think back on the more prestigious Ig Nobel Prizes.'

Please, despite the findings about the effectivity of Coca Cola (TM) as a contraceptive, please spend the extra pennies on the real stuff.

For Putin fans only

There is now an instructional video out that teaches you to exercise like Putin.

Hey, it worked for Jane Fonda.

Warning: the link leads to very manly pictures of Putin that might make any female readers give up their existing relationships and move to Russia...just in hope.

HT Volokh Conspiracy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lyric of the week

Nobody's Side - from the musical "Chess"

What's going on around me
Is barely making sense
I need some explainations fast
I see my present partner
In the imperfect tense
And I don't see how we can last
I feel I need a change of cast
Nobody's on nobody's side

And when he gives me reasons
To justify each move
They're getting harder to believe
I know this can't continue
I've still a lot to prove
There must be more I could acheive
But I don't have the nerve to leave

Everybody's playing the game
But nobody's rules are the same
Nobody's on nobody's side
Better learn to go it alone
Recognize you're out on your own
Nobody's on nobody's side

The one I should not think of
Keeps rolling through my mind
And I don't want to let that go
No lovers ever faithfull
No contract truly signed
There's nothing certain left to know
And how the cracks begin to show

Never make a promise or plan
Take a little love where you can
Nobody's on nobody's side
Never stay too long in your bed
Never lose your heart, use your head
Nobody's on nobody's side

Never take a stranger's advice
Never let a friend fool you twice
Nobody's on nobody's side
Never be the first to believe
Never be the last to deceive
Nobody's on nobody's side
And never leave a moment too soon
Never waste a hot afternoon
Nobody's on nobody's side
Never stay a minute too long
Don't forget the best will go wrong
Nobody's on nobody's side

Better learn to go it alone
Recognize you're out on your own
Nobody's on nobody's side

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Definition of the week

Epicaricacy: Yes, this is just another word for schadenfreude, the joy at the discomfort of another.

Kind of unusual for the German word to be better known in English!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lyric of the week

"Silent All These Years" - Tori Amos

Excuse me but can I be you for a while
My dog won't bite if you sit real still
I got the anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin' at me again
Yeah I can hear that
Been saved again by the garbage truck
I got something to say you know
But nothing comes
Yes I know what you think of me
You never shut-up
Yeah I can hear that

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice
And it's been here
Silent All These Years

So you found a girl
Who thinks really deep thougts
What's so amazing about really deep thoughts
Boy you best praya that I bleed real soon
How's that thought for you
My scream got lost in a paper cup
You think there's a heaven
Where some screams have gone
I got 25 bucks and a cracker
Do you think it's enough
To get us there

Cause what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice
And it's been here
Silent All These...

Years go by
Will I still be waiting
For somebody else to understand
Years go by
If I'm stripped of my beauty
And the orange clouds
Raining in head
Years go by
Will I choke on my tears
Till finally there is nothing left
One more casualty
You know we're too easy Easy Easy

Well I love the way we communicate
Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape
Let's hear what you think of me now
But baby don't look up
The sky is falling
Your mother shows up in a nasty dress
It's your turn now to stand where I stand
Everybody lookin' at you here
Take hold of my hand
Yeah I can hear them

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice [x3]

And it's been here
Silent All These Years
I've been here
Silent All These Years

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs. We have a protractor."

- Fraa Erasmas from Neal Stephenson's Anathem


Yesterday we took our exchange student Nils to see the glass museum in Corning.

Of course we wandered about and saw the exhibits and the gift shops, and Jocelyn got me a snifter I am planning to leave at the Bug Jar, where they don't have snifters and always serve my Grand Marnier in an on-the-rocks glass.

Among the exhibits, some of those I remember:

A bit of Chihuly, looking (as usual) like a living anemone. We are very familiar with his style, having seen an exhibition in Chicago where his pieces were exhibited interspersed with plants in their botanical gardens (conservatory).

A number of works by Tagliapietra. I had never heard of him before, but he is an impressive artist from the island of Murano (near Venice), where I first saw glass blowing practiced as a little boy. I don't have links to large images of the ones WE saw (the most memorable was a collection of curved glass shells hanging like birds in flight), but here is one from his web site:

(OK, the Corning site DOES have a small image of the one I meant:)

There were also works by Czech artists, some involving interesting pieces done by cutting.

There was a transparent torso of a woman, suggesting something malignant inside.

There was an opaque black cube...the plan exhibited showed that the walls were bulging a bit, as though a sphere inside were straining to escape. Good concept, but I doubt I would have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out.

We also saw four presentations, Magic of Glass (properties of glass, stretching, bending, electrical conductivity), Breaking Glass (types of glass and how it breaks), Flame Working (using glass rods in flames to create ornaments - a fish in our case), and Hot Glass (blowing a glass pumpkin).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Too Late....

Unfortunately, I did not get my Sarah Palin Bingo card until the debate was well under way. I was able to check off six items, but they were unfortunately not in a row.

Why couldn't McArdle have warned me earlier?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

East Frisia is no joke

Although many jokes are told about it. It is to Germany what Poland is to an American, except that most of the people in Poland have probably never heard an American Polish joke. In East Frisia, they have a sense of humor and almose seem proud of their "reputation". (It probably helps that most other Germans don't seriously believe there is anything wrong with the area, either. When they joke:
"Why do East Frisian women wear scarves?"
"So you can tell them apart from the cows!"
it is only because they have incredibly beautiful cows in East Frisia. My youngest sister was born there, so you had better agree!

Anyway, we have an exchange student here from that area for two weeks. Erich was over there in July (see blog). He arrived yesterday, bearing fabulous gifts: chocolate, a calendar with pictures of this lovely area, and tea.

Most Germans are coffee drinkers, but in East Frisia there is a tea culture. This is how East Frisians traditionally enjoy their tea:

Small usually don't drink just one.
In the bottom: Kuntjes (basically rock candy) as sweetener. This is expected to last you for several cups.
Then the black tea.
Top that off with heavy cream.
Don't stir. The idea is that the sensation changes from a "mostly cream" to a "normal tea" to "very sweet" as you go from top to bottom.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hurting Horses

While I'm on the topic of quotes, this one made "Quotable Quotes" on Marginal Revolution:
It is really, really difficult to harm a horse with massage, especially if all you're using is your hands.
The lady mentioned is trained to massage both humans and horses, charges the same for either, but was ordered to desist because.....
Well, the article linked said
I asked James Vallone of the Maryland Board of Chiropractic Examiners what the deal was. "The state law says that neither chiropractors nor massage therapists working under the scope of their licenses may work on anybody or anything but the human anatomy," he said. "You can't work on animals, period."
Apparently, you are still allowed to massage your own horse, so I suppose this could be done legally with a transfer of ownership. Or, since Maryland does not offer any license for horse massage, it could be argued that you can massage the horse, it is just not to be considered massage therapy.

Quotation of the week

"Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking."
-- Dave Barry

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Civil Rights for Stupid People

Scrappleface has an impassioned plea for action. Pretending to quote Bush:
“If these giant companies fail, then America will be left with nothing but thousands of small to mid-sized financial firms that made prudent investment decisions during the past 15 years.”

Giggle. If it only weren't so sad.
Hat Tip Coyote


Greenwald has a post about deploying American troops within our own borders. I rather agree with his conclusion: the immediate move of a single brigade is probably not dangerous in and of itself, but the precedence is bad.

I don't think this is like Julius Caesar's move in taking his own legions from Gaul to Rome, which brought the Republic to an end, because American soldiers would probably not be willing to pressure Senators and Representatives to vote "the right way", unless they were chosen very carefully. I don't think they can be chosen that carefully, yet. But I really don't like the direction we are heading.

I wonder how long it takes an economist to notice...

Any post with an xkcd cartoon is automatically worthwhile.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One of my all time heroines, Virginia Postrel, not only noticed my comment but QUOTED it!

It doesn't get any better than this.