Whoa. This is something I'd like to see.
"Here is one [stunt] you won't see at the Olympics: a rider plants a leg on each back of a cantering pair [of horses] as they circle the stage and jump a five-foot-high hurdle while the rider executes a somersault and manages to land, upright, in the original position."

Wholly random recruitment, Batman!

So 50% of our research group was eating lunch toghether, today. We were sitting outside, in the crisp noon. All of a sudden, two people showed up and asked if any of us were interested in being on a new TV show, where people win by completing intellectual challenges.

Naturally, we were suspicious that these were cult members, or worse, representatives of a dating show.

They assured us that such was not the case, and agreed with Kartik that the show was to be sort of like a "Dork Survivor" project. Apparently, the gist is as follows: live in an L.A. mansion for 3 weeks in February, competing against other smarties from such august institutions as Harvard, MIT, UPenn, etc.

When we asked for a card to pass along to any interested parties, they failed the test of preparation, and gave us a handwritten set of numbers and the instruction to "Ask for Megan."

So that was weird.

Soon...soon it will be safe to listen to NPR in the evenings, to listen without fear of one particular annoying voice. Now if they would only do something about the weekend programming...


Happy birthday to you, (Happy birthday!)
Happy birthday to you, (Happy birthday!)
Happy birthday, dear To-om...
Happy birthday to you!


The Incredibles was really well done. Very fun, quite funny. Chef recommends!


I almost cried when I read this article.

Way to watch out for your pocketbooks, Oregonians.

May you be blessed, now, with such sprawling ugliness as we see here in Southern California. May you enjoy the steady erosion of public services that will only be accelerated by the rampant spreading of sub- and exurbs. May you find happiness in the new cars and Sub Zero appliances you'll get to buy with your quick profits. May you complete the Californication of your birthright.

Now, please don't move to escape the sprawl. After all, you'll only be getting what you want.


What does everyone think about kids calling parents by their given names, rather than Mommy and Daddy? On the one hand, it reinforces the fact that Mom and Dad are real people, too. After all, do you want your kids' respect and consideration because you're the parent or because you're a person? On the other hand, I feel it kind of de-ephasizes the rather central role a parent plays in the life of his or her child; it almost adds an impression of distance. Anyway, we were just curious to hear other thoughts/opinions on this.


Movie review: Mean Girls

Mean Girls is like Heathers, only without the multiple deaths and with more "jokes."

Pretty funny stuff, and I was gladdened to find that the main character's redemption came at the hands of math. Groovy.

I recommend it to all.

Are you freaking kidding me? Somehow, a handwritten note inserted itself into the big omnibus spending bill last week?


This book is wild. Apparently The End Was Near in the 90s. At least prognosticators in Southern California thought so.

My friend Kartik went to a party last weekend with his girlfriend. It was somewhere in Orange county and thrown by the parents of one of the gf's medical-school classmates. Apparently there's at least one current Young Republican and futre doctor who doesn't believe in evolution.



Oh! I forgot to write: we got absolutely pounded by rain last night! It was coming down at a 45 degree angle, more than an inch an hour! We had thunder and lightning and crashing cars and everything. Pretty swell.
Stay mad, people.
Nice ponchos.


Jeez. Don't throttle the damn thing; it's supposed to be receiving clemency!
Damn that Kant, infecting the debate about a British national ID card! Why won't he just butt out?


I can still hear the haunting music: Doogie's Theme...
Hunting via the net? (shudder) I don't like this idea at all.


Here's a riddle: "What is the smallest whole number that requires, in order to be specified, more words than there are in this sentence."


Care to know the temperature ~100m from my office? Well here you go!
Holy creepy dragon eyes, Batman! This optical illusion is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. My office-mate pointed it out to me, this morning. I watched the video and I was completely dumbfounded.


So we've all heard of vicious circles, or downward spirals, but what about virtuous circles? It's an elegant phrase, despite the prosaic, if pleasant, meaning.

While I'm at it, I read sometime ago a word I'd never really thought of, though I've used synonyms many a time: ambiguate. The meaning is obvious, but I like how it recalls to mind the idea of "triangulate" (at least to me) and then negates it.

That is all.

Says Bush of Palistinian leaders after Arafat's death:
"We'll hold their feet to the fire to make sure that democracy prevails."
Yep, freedom is on the march all right. Only now you can hear it coming from farther away ("Ooh! Aah! Ow! Ooh! Ow! Aah!").


How to play dead...on CSI.
KPCC, our local NPR affiliate, is doing its fall membership drive. And, apparently, Kitty Felde thinks that a subscription to Newsweek is "the best gift you can give a teenager."
An open letter to the preznit. It's been making its way about the internets...

Dear President Bush:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? (I'm pretty sure she's a virgin).

3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

4. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it? How can I help you here?

5. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Aren't there 'degrees' of abomination?

6. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

7. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

8. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. It must be really great to be on such close terms with God and his son, ... even better than you and your own Dad, eh?


"No concerns about the world getting warmer...now we can swim any day in November." -The Postal Service, Sleeping In

All is well in the land down under my sock. The procedure has largely assuaged my pains, and even walking isn't too bad. Yay!

This is somewhat reassuring.


So I went to the health center on campus the other day. My self-toe-surgeries had finally gone wrong, and I'd gotten an infection in the toe and couldn't get a chunk of nail out of one of the farther reaches. They referred me to a podiatrist, and today I had the appointment.

I explained to him what had happened and he did not show the expected consternation. In fact, once he got in there and started looking at the toe, he said I'd done most of the procedure correctly.

What had I done wrong, you ask?

Clearly, my tools were not sterile, and hence the infection. Worse? There's a procedure that he could have done, had I not been so thorough at removing the excess flesh, that would have killed the section of root responsible for my troubles! Had I been but a little more temperate, he could have finished off the in-growing portion of the nail for good. As it was, I'd yanked out a bit of flesh bewteen cuticle and nail, overexposing the root. Had he done the procedure, it'd have killed a huge portion of the toenail.

So I had to settle for him clipping it back all the way to the root (the offensive section), and made an appointment for the permanent business next tuesday.

The moral of the story: (at least some) podiatrists aren't as arrogant as you might expect (well they do work with feet all day), and my foot hurts.



That silly Jesus...practically a communist!
I'm so confused! I got this CD by a band called Postal Service and I was thinking that it was gonna give me stamps and deliver my mail... help me, USPS, help me!


So true, Giblets. So true.


I'm not sure what makes me most discouraged - the fact that Shrub won, why/how he won, or the whole gay marriage ban thing. I guess the last two are somewhat related gripes. I'm disgruntled by the fact that exit polling seems to indicate that a large chunk of voters made their choices based on "morality."

Well, he thinks gays are sinners and abortion is evil, just like I do, so I'm goin' with him in spite of the fact that I have no job and my kids are getting shot at in Iraq. Praise Jesus and bring down the terrorists...and those sinning homosexuals!

(grimace) That's great; how can we be so supposedly advanced a society and have no concept that a leader's capacity for effective foreign policy just might be a bit more important than his church attendance record?

I'm doubly disgruntled (hey, that'd be a pretty good punk band name) by the fact that all 11 states with a "marriage definition" measure on the ballot passed it easily. I thought Oregon had a chance at least, but noooooooooo. So the religious majority gets to decide how other people get to live and who they can live with in marriage? So much for a free country. Yeah, I know there's the slippery slope argument that "if we allow gay marriage, then polygamy's next!" For that matter, I'm not sure I really give a damn, so long as it's consensual. Hey, it's not for me, but it's also not for me to decide that it's not for you either.

So yeah, I guess in writing about it I've found that I am in fact more peeved by the hows and whys of yesterday's outcome than I am about the outcome itself. I guess I just had hoped better of the people in this country.
Fafblog says it feels my pain. Thank you, Fafblog.

How conservative is America? Here's a homework assignment for anyone who cares to take it up: Go to the General Sociological Survey and determine what the hell is wrong with you people. Whereby "you," I mean "people who disagree with me."

Seriously, "you" are killing me.

So much for the country, eh?

On the web edition of the Times front page, there's a picture of most of the immediate Bush clan at the White House residence. Bush I and Ma Bush are sitting there, grinning. I'm thinking Bush I must be conflicted.

Here's Bush I, a fighter pilot who actually did more than defend the Gulf of Mexico from birds, a verifiably smart dude who never pretended that was a bad thing, a moderately successful public servant and businessman, a single term president, watching the American public make his drunk, powder-addled, anti-intellectual, war-loving (but not for himself), success-less in business, coattail-riding progeny the most important Bush.

Sure, there's gotta be some pride in there. Who wouldn't be happy for their kid on the eve of such a personal triumph? But you just know that Bush-Daddy must be thinking: Kid, why the big grin? You were born on third base, you know. You definitely didn't hit that triple.


Good ol' Slate has some early exit polling numbers up already. Go, JFK, go!
Nobel Prize-winners I have met:
  • Eric A. Cornell (Physics); discussed research
  • Carl E. Wieman (Physics); discussed research
  • Rudolph A. Marcus (Chemistry); took two courses from him
  • David Baltimore (Physiology and Medicine); hobnobbing only
Keeping the Sabbath... tasty?


This thing might potentially be helpful for someone as forgetful as I. Too bad it's so fugly.