12.30.2005

Rainy days and Mondays...

The Tournament of Roses Parade is being held on Monday, January 2nd this year, instead of New Year's Day, as it normally is. Why would they do such a silly thing, you ask? Well, as luck would have it, The Cincinnati Post (of all things) has that answer, and many more!
The "Never on Sunday" rule was adopted in 1893, when officials feared the noise would spook horses tethered outside churches along the route.
Go figure, huh? Also, the weather folk keep promising we'll be getting a big storm in this weekend, and if it keeps up through Monday as expected, it will be the first time the parade has been rained on in 50 years. That year, the Grand Marshall of the parade was Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. This year's Grand Marshall...Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. (Cue Twilight Zone music...)

12.25.2005

Merry Christmas...

To all, and to all a good night. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and gifts. We hope your Christmases were similarly full of excellence and sparkle-tastic goodness.

12.24.2005

Sunny days, chasin' the elves away...

On my way blah blah blah... it is 79 degrees out, here. Clear skies. Really unfortunate. We've turned on the AC.

12.23.2005

12.21.2005

We caught Arrested Development this week. In it, Scott Baio played a lawyer named "Bob Loblaw." As Susan instructs: say it out loud. It turns out that Bob Loblaw had to go work on his law blog (like the Volokh Conspiracy?). Say that out loud, too: Bob Loblaw works on his law blog.

12.20.2005

Well... this is fantastic:

ATF: 550 pounds of explosives missing in New Mexico

12.17.2005

Greg Giraldo used to be funny, but now he's just a big whore. Sad. Okay, to be fair, he's still funny; now with 100% more whoring.
Some North Carolina town names (courtesy the Wikipedia):

  • Frog Level
  • Tickbite
  • Lizard Lick
  • Frying Pan Landing
  • Soul City
  • Kill Devil Hills
  • Welcome
  • Bat Cave
  • Climax

12.16.2005

Actor John Spencer of West Wing Fame Dead at 58. Weird. Way too weird; life imitating art.
According to a computer-aided analysis of Mona Lisa's smile:
Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.
Kind of an odd mix, no?

12.14.2005

Yesterday morning Tom & I were listening to a very interesting NPR story about narwhals. Did you know their tusks are, unlike regular teeth, soft on the outside and tough in the middle? Today there's an article all about the narwhal tusk in the New York Times. Fascinating stuff.

12.13.2005

Based on childhood experience, I can say with certainty that my family wouldn't hesitate to torture me. I doubt they'd torture anyone else, but just in case, I recommend to them this piece by Michael Kinsley. Just kidding, family. I know you're not savages.

12.12.2005

This morning they're filming ER on campus. I walked by their trailers and equipment trucks and whatnot on my way to the office. When I went to get my usual morning coke, I found my route obscured by shooting! Then I went around to the other entrance and managed to stumble more or less into their scene. I heard Goran Visnjic shouting "Alex!"

When I started dropping quarters into the machine, they had to shut the door. Oops.
Tommy + Helen Keller

So I had forgotten that Tommy was deaf, dumb, and blind because of psychological trauma. It has been a while since I've seen the movie, and the music itself has only some detail. Plus, I'm not old, so don't blame me for not having The Who down pat...

Anyhow, I was trying to think of how he learned to play pinball, while under the misapprehension that he really was D.D.&B and had always been so. It occurred to me that The Miracle Worker -or any of its countless re-productions by junior high school drama clubs- would have really been funny if there was a scene where Annie Sullivan taught Helen to play pinball.

12.07.2005

A good Bond-girl name: Tricky Maneuver

12.05.2005

Via Ezra, comes an interesting link which has inspired in me some questions for those parents reading this ridiculous excuse for an internet weblog:

What is the deal with parents and parenting "styles" or "techniques?" I've read about Ferberizing -it sounds onomatopoetically (yeah, yeah) like when you put your lips against the baby's tummy and blow, making that funny noise, or perhaps a dry-cleaning method, or some kind of upholstery-protecting spray- and about "co-sleeping." So, what do you all think? What did you do to us? How'd that work out for ya? I know I have problems going to sleep even now, so, yeah, thanks a lot.

12.02.2005

This is incredibly stupid. The lesson to take from it is: if you don't like the data, stop collecting it.

11.29.2005

I'd draw your attention to the sidebar, under the "Media" heading.Eric Fischl is fantastic. His subjects are decidedly adult (but it ain't p0rn, or anything).

11.25.2005


Looks good for his age, doesn't he? More Thanksgiving photos here.

11.22.2005

I woke up this morning and I was unable to breathe due to my chronic coughing and stuffed nose, my body ached, and my head hurt so baaad. I am convinced I have the bird flu.
I don't watch "reality shows" anyway, but this is the worst idea I've ever heard. Unbelievably cruel.

11.21.2005

Good Stuff from the Mt. Wilson Towercam Tonight



And here's a daytime picture from yesterday with labels as to where things are.

A knitter reviews Harry Potter.
This is just one of the reasons that unlimited free booze on international flights is a baaaad idea.

11.20.2005

Weird toothbrush art. Very interesting. I've been quiet for a while b/c I'm working like a madman on trying to finish a paper.

11.16.2005

Here's a good argument for leaving my asymmetrical nose just the way it is. Says Scott Adams, of deviated septum correction surgery:
Apparently doctors shove a starving wolverine into one nostril, where it scratches and eats until it hits brain. Then they pull him out by his tail. Nurses stop the bleeding by packing each nostril with a queen size mattress that is carefully wrapped around a wino.

11.14.2005

Via geekpress, interesting article about language development.

11.11.2005

Susan's review of the song "Jumpers,"

It has more of an impact when you know the lyrics.

(emphasis added)

11.10.2005

Partial list of songs that are played on the radio at work every single day and are one day going to make me snap:

  • Horse With No Name
  • Groovin' (on a Sunday afternoon)
  • Play That Funky Music, White Boy
  • Oye Como Vas
  • Brown-Eyed Girl
  • The Empire Carpet jingle
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Candle in the Wind (yes, somebody at the station must have a serious appreciation for Elton)
  • She Loves You
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • A Day in the Life (ditto Beatles, but only about 5% of their total catalog...the same handful of songs)
  • Under the Boardwalk
  • You've Got A Friend
  • Dreams (Thunder Only Happens When It's Raining)
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Really, Each Song's Perfectly Evil & Crap-Tastic)

  • Thank goodness for my iPod. If I weren't able to drown out the other crap at least part of the day, I'd have gone postal long ago.

    11.09.2005

    When the eyes of the ranger are upon you....he'll roundhouse kick you in the face. http://www.4q.cc/chuck/index.php?topthirty

    11.08.2005

    Here's a really cool song. It isn't exactly roses and candy, but it is nevertheless super evocative, and rather clever.

    Jumpers- Sleater-Kinney

    I spend the afternoon in cars
    I sit in traffic jams for hours
    don’t push me,
    I am not OK

    the sky is blue most every day
    the lemons grow like tumors they
    are tiny suns infused with sour

    lonely as a cloud
    in the Golden State
    “The coldest winter that I ever saw
    Was the summer that I spent…”

    the only substance is the fog
    and it hides all that has gone wrong
    can’t see a thing inside the maze

    there is a bridge adored and famed
    the Golden spine of engineering
    whose back is heavy with my weight

    lonely as a cloud
    in the Golden State
    “The coldest winter that I ever saw
    Was the summer that I spent…”

    be still this old heart
    be still this old skin
    drink your last drink
    sin your last sin
    sing your last song
    about the beginning
    sing it out loud
    so the people can hear
    let’s go!

    be still this sad day
    be still this sad year
    hope your last hope
    fear you last fear
    your not the only one (4x)
    let’s go!

    my falling shape will draw a line
    between the blue of sea and sky
    I’m not a bird, I’m not a plane

    I took a taxi to the gate
    I will not go to school again
    four seconds was the longest wait (4x)
    four seconds was the longest

    Awww...squirrel adopted by a dog...
    This is pretty great. The US Government has unveiled a new non-lethal laser gun, appropriately called the Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response rifle. Yes, that's right. PHASR gun. Ha! Looks like something straight out of Farscape, too.

    11.07.2005

    A partial list of the animals I've had the pleasure of feeding on:

    • alligator
    • ant (chocolate)
    • bison
    • chicken
    • clam
    • cow
    • crab
    • crayfish
    • deer
    • duck
    • elk
    • frog
    • game hen
    • goat
    • goose
    • grasshopper
    • jellyfish
    • sheep
    • lamb
    • lobster
    • mussel
    • octopus
    • ostrich
    • oyster
    • pheasant
    • pig
    • pigeon
    • prawn
    • rabbit
    • salmon
    • scallops
    • sea urchin
    • shrimp
    • snail
    • squid
    • trout
    • turkey
    • whitefishes
    "let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth..."

    Genesis 1:26 (KJV)
    Says the woman who used to write erotica and books about vampires:
    "I [want] to write only for Jesus Christ...My hope is to live long enough to finish the life of Christ."
    Funny way God has of repaying this new-found devotion.
    Though some popular preachers claim faith produces good fortune, Rice has faced serious problems since rejoining the church: the death of her husband, a diabetic coma and burst appendix (both life-threatening), gastric bypass surgery to counter a dangerous weight gain and surgery for an intestinal blockage.
    Ouch.
    People want some strange things at Craigslist:
    I need turkey and stuff (Portland)
    Curly Hair model wanted! (NYC)
    I need milk crates...wicked bad (NYC)
    Dreads for Art (Cleveland)
    11/06 West Wing episode (Los Angeles)
    WTF Andrew Earp (L.A.)
    Rusty or not...items (Seattle)
    What's this, the return of the Middle Ages?

    11.06.2005

    An Open Letter to Whatever Dastardly Fiend Put an Empty Pasta Container (Containing a Wadded-up Paper Bag) into our Freezer, and to Our Cats, Whom I suspect of Taking Diuretics Without Our Knowledge;

    I will catch you. And stop peeing so damn much.
    According to this article, the army dumped chemical weapons into the ocean for about 30 years. Not the deep ocean mind you, but, for example, 20 miles off of Atlantic City.

    11.03.2005

    This is insane:
    BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - For 40 exhausting minutes, Wayne Goldsberry battled a buck with his bare hands in his daughter's bedroom. Goldsberry finally subdued the five-point whitetail deer that crashed through a bedroom window at his daughter's home Friday. When it was over, blood splattered the walls and the deer lay dead on the bedroom floor, its neck broken.
    Matt Yglesias has a funny post up:
    After all, 22 percent of Americans say they've personally seen ghosts, so you can probably get 20 percent to agree to anything.
    Boy, how much would this suck?

    10.31.2005

    It's that time of year again. Everybody needs extreme pumpkins. Everybody.

    10.30.2005



    Also spied yesterday (on the way to said 80th birthday party)... the 38th Church of Christ, Scientist. That might be a good band name, too!
    A good band name heard last night at the 80th birthday party of Susan's grandma:

    One Chicken Taco

    10.29.2005

    What I hate about the television show "Friends"

    Ross is supposedly a Ph.D. paleontologist, but is portrayed as a simpering idiot. I know a fair number of grad students who simper, but getting a Ph.D. is hard! Mostly, idiots find it even more difficult to manage than competent people.

    10.27.2005

    From a review by Justice Antonin Scalia of some crazy book, a nifty phrase:
    deus ex hypothesi
    A funny twist on the old favorite literary device, deus ex machina.

    10.24.2005

    Via geekpress, Top 10 Things Likely to be Overheard by Klingon Programmers. My favorite is #7:
    What is this talk of 'release'? Klingons do not make software 'releases'. Our software 'escapes' leaving a bloody trail of designers and quality assurance people in its wake.

    10.23.2005

    Steve Jobs looks to be throwing a gang sign.

    10.21.2005

    Can anybody explain why multi-millionaires even bother playing the lottery?

    10.20.2005



    Further proof that Tom DeLay is creepy. What, did someone tell him to say "cheese"?

    10.17.2005

    My talk went good! I don't think that I put my foot too deeply into my gullet, and people actually showed up for my talk, rather than leaving in disgust when they heard my name. Folks were interested, and asked questions and everything.

    Bonus crazy-town? John L. Hall, one of the winners of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, came in just before my talk- the one before mine- and stayed to listen to me!!!
    Everybody think good thoughts for Tom today around 5:30pm, when he'll be giving his presentation at the Optical Society of America conference. I know he'll be awesome, but additional good vibes never hurt!
    So, um, our prom was at the Merlin Armory my junior year and the Flower Building at the fairgrounds my senior year. This sort of extravagance (not to mention the accompanying debauchery) is insane. And at a Roman Catholic school, no less!

    10.16.2005

    Whoa. This is really crazy and cool. Some guy (apparently one with waaaaaaay too much time on his hands) built a replica of the Sears Tower out of Jenga blocks.

    10.13.2005

    Whoa! Tiny pictures on microchips. Some of these are really crazy. (via geekpress)
    Mrrrrehhgh!

    10.12.2005

    Oh good gravy. If I ever decide that becoming a broodmare sounds like a good idea, somebody promise they will shoot me. Please?
    So I normally don't respond to these weird little survey thingies. However, Susan decided to make me thought I'd have fun with it, so I guess I'd better... Here's the deal: go to Google's image search, and search for the name of the town you grew up in, the town you live in now, your name, your maternal grandmother's name, your favorite food, favorite drink, favorite smell, and favorite song, posting the results.

    Here we go
















    10.11.2005

    So, Middle Earth (or at least the Shire) was really in Indonesia? Well go figure.

    10.08.2005

    Oh my god! A substitute teacher mistook a low-insulin alarm on an insulin pump for a cell phone and tore it out of a student!

    10.07.2005

    Gmail addresses untaken (as of this writing):
    man.from.nantuckett@gmail.com
    williamshakespearester@gmail.com
    young.goodman.brown@gmail.com
    necrophiliac.4.ever@gmail.com
    sex.lube@gmail.com
    down.the.eustacian.tubes@gmail.com
    molester.stache@gmail.com
    numbed.nuts@gmail.com
    loop.of.henle@gmail.com
    nutria.madness@gmail.com
    droll.diatom.mover@gmail.com (an anagram for I am Lord Voldemort)

    10.06.2005

    Ahh... the city:


    Who in their right mind would want to live here? Granted, some of this is smoke from those fires, but still...yech.

    10.05.2005

    Also from over the pond - Welsh Scrabble. 'n fawr cellwair!
    Rolicking good fun at the Last Supper? Those wacky Irish...

    10.04.2005

    Those crazy kids nowadays with their crazy leetspeak. This "language" has become pervasive enough now that I originally thought this billboard was either advertising Alaskan beauty or suggesting Alaska was a bawdy state. But no, not so much...

    10.03.2005

    Joining the ranks of celebs who give their children strange names: Nick Cage

    10.02.2005

    So I got in my first car accident. A mean old SUV(of course) went to change lanes, and whoops! I was there. I had to slam on my brakes and I swerved out of control and hit the curb. I came out of it all with a flat tire, and no licensce plate of the jack ass that wasn't paying attention. It's all right, we needed new tires anyway.
    I was sitting around watching TV for a while today. On the Discovery channel they were playing a program called something like "When Surgical Tools Get Left Behind," and it was HORRIFYING!!! People with 14" x 2" stainless steel retractors left. In. Their. Abdomen. Gah. I have to go wash my eyes.
    Check out the Perry Bible Fellowship. It is freaking hilarious:

    10.01.2005

    A fun article likening NYC to ancient Rome.

    9.30.2005

    Fun with concept cars. Well, one concept car, anyway.

    9.29.2005

    Scholarship opportunity for megan!!! It's for the art institute for fashion design, and what I have to do is design and create a garment; shirt, pants, shoes or handbag, send it in, and it gets judged. If I win nationally, then I get a full tuition scholarship and a trip to NYC fashion week! AWESOME. Chances are slim, but it is still cool, eh?

    9.28.2005

    This is a movie just waiting to be made.

    9.26.2005

    Okay, I like The Sims, and I like The O.C. well enough, but this is just silly.
    Good. Freaking. Gravy. How this puppy survived swallowing a 13" knife I cannot imagine.

    9.25.2005

    Band name (courtesy Max and Demetri): Squawktopus.

    9.24.2005

    Two jokes:

    A penguin walks into a bar and says to the bartender:
    "Have you seen my dad?"
    To which the bartender replies:
    "I don't know- what does he look like?"

    A woman went into a bar and asked for a double entendre. The bartender gave it to her.
    Ever want to disguise yourself as a soda machine? Ninjas can help you out here. Via Linkfilter.

    9.23.2005


    Comics like this one are the reason I love Toothpaste for Dinner.


    Cool gallery of high speed water droplet photos. There are some really neat pictures!

    9.22.2005

    Fun with dead languages

    Here's a tip: don't let Microsoft Word's spell-check feature change a priori to a priory. While the resulting text is amusing, these two phrases are not equivalent.

    9.21.2005

    9.20.2005

    Wow, this is pretty neat (at least to those of us who don't deal with this sort of stuff for a living...). The Aussies have figured out how to stop light, trap it in a crystal, and then release it again after a second or two. (via geekpress)

    9.16.2005

    Volkswagen's Bugatti Veyron: I'm gonna just go ahead and refer to this as "the Farscape car."
    Upon exiting a church service, a reporter asked Calvin Coolidge the topic of the sermon.

    Coolidge said the sermon was on sin.

    The reporter asked what the preacher had said about sin.

    Coolidge replied: "He said he was against it."

    9.14.2005

    Remember when you were a kid and decided you'd try to dig a hole to China? Well, apparently you can only accomplish that if you start somewhere in South America. Most holes begun in the USA would end up somewhere in the Indian Ocean, as this nifty tool shows. (again, via geekpress)
    Magical pi...you can use this tool to search for any sequence of digits within pi, out to 3.2 billion places beyond the decimal point. (via geekpress)

    9.12.2005

    From Pollkatz, a reminder of public opinion over the GW Bush presidency (this is percent approving minus percent disapproving)
    Geekpress linked to a page depicting some "alternate keyboards." A lot of them are your standard ergonomic split models, but there are some freaky-weird ones, too.
    50/38% would vote for a Democratic/Republican congressional candidate (Newsweek poll).

    9.10.2005

    Anybody see Vic Henley? That guy is freakin' hilarious.

    9.09.2005

    Things Hagrid would say if he served Jesus instead of Harry Potter.
    This is just great. Way to be clever, Brits. (via geekpress)
    Ha. This is pretty interesting. I didn't know whales ate birds. I should think those feathers would be undesirable. (via geekpress)

    9.08.2005

    My new word (I just thought of it) to describe Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, et al: theodactyl.

    Here's hoping for an extinction (metaphorical, peoples: I'm not as big a butthole as those guys).
    Wow: the patent office is no good at its job.

    That would be "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their repective Writings and Discoveries," of course. (cf Article 1, Section 8)

    9.07.2005

    Neat excerpt from an article at GeekPress. Really, you should check it out. Draws a clever parallel between the emergent complexity in markets and biological systems.

    8.31.2005

    Cats in sinks. Some cute cats, some less cute sinks.

    8.30.2005

    Proof by intimidation is a concept that ought to be familiar to anyone whose nose spent much time buried in math-heavy textbooks. A particular sub-class of this argument is the following type of footnote: No confusion should arise from the double of N and n in |N) = |n)|ν)|γ)

    Of course this actually isn't too confusing. What's more confusing is when you've got a load of 's and ~s differentiating quantities.
    Elvis Costello says:

    Even in a perfect world
    where everyone was equal
    I'd still own the film rights
    and be workin' on the sequel...

    I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to hear that Art Garfunkel has been detained on pot charges for the second time in as many years. When will Art learn that entertainers are role models for the childredn? I'm sure that many a wayward youth will be driven only further along the path of drug abuse and "alternative" lifestyles by his implicit endorsement of this most dangerous of gateway drugs.

    8.26.2005

    Gmail hijinks...

    So my current gmail address sucks. I'm not at all happy with the address johnson.thomas.j[somewhere near]gmail.com. Therefore I decided to burn an invite and try to get another, more superior handle. By the by, if anybody wants a gmail address, let me know, as I can get you one (I've got five more to hand out).

    Of course, none of the good options remain (Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. Would it have killed you to throw out a more singular name, like Trout, or Bucky?) and their automated suggestions are... unsatisfactory. To wit: my desired handle is "tjrj," but they seem to want to make me into a SNL sketch character with names like "tjrjster" or "tjrjenator."

    8.25.2005

    What Would Jesus Donate? (A piece in Slate explores the Son of Man's remarks at a Republican fundraising event.)

    If I had known we'd get the House, the Senate, and two consecutive terms in the White House (APPLAUSE)—if I'd known all that, I would have had an easier time that Friday on the Cross, let me tell you. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

    But seriously, folks (LAUGHTER)—no, seriously, that day did pass, and then two more. Then I rose from the dead. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE) Thank you. I rose from the dead and I flew up to Heaven. But first, you'll remember, I made a little side trip to Hell (SCATTERED BOOS) just to get a look at how they do things. And I'm here to tell you, Hell is just like Heaven (AUDIBLE GASPS)—but with taxes. (LAUGHTER, CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

    8.24.2005

    Via Geekpress (via McSweeneys): Klingon fairy tales. Here are some of my favorites...
    "Goldilocks Dies With Honor at the Hands of the Three Bears"

    "Snow White and the Six Dwarves She Killed With Her Bare Hands and the Seventh Dwarf She Let Get Away as a Warning to Others"

    "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe With a Big Spike on It"

    "Hansel and Gretel Offend Vlad the Impaler"

    "The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise, Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates"
    In a similar vein, my officemate Chris points out the following scientific nursery rhymes. See if you can translate them. Example:

    A human female, extremely captious and given to opposed behavior, was questioned as to the dynamic state of her cultivated tract of land used for production of various types of flora. The tract components were enumerated as argentous tone-producing agents, a rare species of oceanic growth and pulchritudinous young females situated in a linear orientation.

    8.23.2005

    Japan's apparently working on a next-generation SST. Looks pretty crazy.
    Hehe. This was a pretty sneaky idea for a sting.

    8.20.2005

    Man, NPR is great. Weekend America does these little weather reports for various random burgs and villages throughout the country. At the end of this one the announcer commented that it was a "perfect weekend to be a nature lover or pollen."

    Oh, jeez. Those peoples at NPR are irritating. Now they're interviewing a movie-house organist. And that's not nearly as dirty as it sounds.

    8.19.2005

    Huh. This is interesting. Saturn's rings not only have their own atmosphere, but the composition of that atmosphere is quite different from that of the planet itself.
    CNN headline: Tiger kills Kansas teen during photo pose.

    Now, I try to be sensitive about other peoples' tragedies... but my first thought here was "I know he did badly at the PGA championship, but what the heck?!" In my defense, I'd like to say what the hell are you doing, posing beside a freaking tiger? It is a giant wild carnivore, and you are made of its food! I mean, come on: look into maybe getting photoshop!

    8.17.2005

    Sorry, lady. We have reason to believe your infant just might be a terrorist mastermind.
    Anybody else hypnotized by the new menus on the sidebar? I'm digging 'em.

    8.15.2005


    Lightning from this morning captured on the Mt. Wilson Solar Towercam.
    Last night, around 2:30am, we had some great big thunderclaps, followed by a sudden lovely rain. I think the rain lasted until about 3, though I fell back into sleep before then. Quite nice.

    8.13.2005

    Paintball!

    One of my lab-mates is getting married tomorrow. In lieu of a bachelor party, he decided to invite his groomsmen and the guys in our research group to go to a paintball park and riddle each other with welts.

    The park is a little bit of a way off. Past Magic Mountain, even, and immediately contiguous (possibly locked in by) to what I think is a prison workfarm. To get in you have to be shuttled by folks with special passes from the prison parking lot up to the paintball park. No stopping allowed on the approximately one mile drive, keep your doors locked.

    Despite some early difficulties locating the shuttle-point (didn't expect to have to go into the prison parking lot), we got there with little trouble. After a bit of a wait getting all the waivers signed and guns handed out and crappy field-clothes put on we had a good ol' time.

    There were thirteen (!) of us and so we divided up into a team of seven and one of six. I was on the short handed team, and we wrapped crazy pink ribbons around our arms to differentiate the folks. We squared off in a variety of venues, including a strange small course with big inflatable geometrical solids, another small course with a variety of barrel-structures, another, larger one on a hillside, with only tires piled into, well, piles, for cover, and a big fake bombed out city (a la Beirut)...

    It was good fun. I didn't get "killed" many times- though I had a number of balls hit me and not burst. Fortunately it seems I didn't welt up too much. More often I went out for technical reasons. E.g., my gas canister came undone one time, and a few more times I ran out of paint.

    However, being out of paint didn't stop me from faking some guys out, making them surrender by charging up to them and yelling: "Surrender! Surrender! Surrender!" I had a few great shots- nailing folks in the head from far, far away, hitting a guy in the butt, etc.

    All in all, it was great fun, but I was intolerably dirty by the end. I came home and showered twice. Not really. Once sufficed- after all, I use soap.

    8.12.2005

    Band name from an actual work document: Thrust Leaders.

    "Did someone say something about a meteor shower? I'm all set to watch, man."
    The Mt. Wilson solar towercam will be pointed upward for the next few evenings to watch for Perseid meteors. Might get some cool shots.
    Saw a preview for a horrifying movie: Grizzly Man. Just... really disturbing. It's a documentary about an unbalanced fellow who lived with bears in Alaska for a number of years...

    8.11.2005

    Anybody like the renovations?
    Fafnir's got it right. Things are bound to be a lot better once we start really studying Intelligent Design. Just imagine what we will discover!
    I've heard of B-roll, but this is just damn ridiculous. Authorities caught some fugitives and CNN puts up a photo of crap in their hotel room. Inspiring journalism!

    This food was left behind in the room where officials say Jennifer and George Hyatte stayed.

    8.09.2005

    Amusing word from Hugh Brogan's The Penguin History of the USA: squirearchy.
    Ha! McSweeny's strikes again, this time with Lesser-known Movie Prequels.

    8.08.2005

    Come on, Google. Buck up, some.

    8.04.2005

    A picture's worth a thousand...excuses?

    8.03.2005

    Check out the Mt. Wilson solar cam.

    8.02.2005

    Gah! I don't know if the statistics in this post are correct, but if they are...gah!
    22 percent of Americans are certain that Jesus will return to earth sometime in the next fifty years. Another 22 percent believe that he will probably do so...Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan.

    7.29.2005

    Check out these optical illusions having to do with color (or rather, colour). They're pretty crazy. (via geekpress)

    7.27.2005

    If Bigfoot is blurry, do you think his hairs are extra fuzzy, too? (via geekpress)

    7.26.2005

    "Scott McClellan said documents won't be released from Roberts's time as deputy solicitor general because ``you're talking about attorney-client privilege'' that shouldn't be violated. Making such papers available ``would really stifle'' candid talks between government lawyers as they plan arguments on behalf of the U.S. government, he said." (Bloomberg news service)

    Here's a thought: the U.S. government shouldn't necessarily have the privelege of secrecy when it comes to arguing legal cases. It is, after all, us.

    7.25.2005

    From the annals of poor acronyms: ARSAC. It stands for "Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion." They don't want LAX to expand. They way they pronounce it is really unfortunate.
    Wow. Even NBC thinks that watching their bad tv this last year was like getting an enema.
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 24 NBC's plunge last TV season -- from first to fourth place among the young viewers advertisers covet -- was "like a colonic" for the network, NBC's entertainment division chief, Kevin Reilly, said Sunday.
    David Brooks, ordinary guy:
    Anybody who thinks it takes a village to raise a child has never sat near a crying baby in first class. In these circumstances, if it were up to the village, somebody would be stapling the brat's mouth shut and somebody else would be locking mom in the overhead storage compartment.
    (Italics mine)

    7.23.2005

    speaking of ipods, i just got one for my birthday yesterday!!! i love it, but my only complaint is the earbuds are too big for my ears!

    7.22.2005

    Wow: In Between Days, by The Cure, has come on the iPod three times already this morning.

    7.21.2005

    O'Reilly is a punk! He should be fired!
    Hehe. This bar code clock is cool. (Via Geekpress)
    Bald eagle! Moon! Gah!
    This is just lovely:

    In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.

    7.18.2005

    The Base Realignment and Closure Committee "has some reservations about parts of the Pentagon's proposal to restructure domestic military bases, including its plan to disband or move dozens of Air National Guard units."

    But of course they do! How ever will the children of the patriarchy dodge any coming drafts, if they can't get strings pulled for them to join the (Texas?) Air National Guard.?
    Sophocles never wrote about this. But he should have! (there's a video you should play there)
    Colorado republican congressman says we might destroy Mecca if nuclear weapons are used on us.

    I'd say that's fine: if Saudi Arabia attacks us. Otherwise, WTF?

    7.17.2005

    Halloween in July?
    This morning, Tom & I were clicking through the TV channels, and we came upon an episode of Monk in which Monk and a kid were out trick-or-treating. A few channels later, we landed on an episode of Spongebob Squarepants that featured Sponge Bob and his starfish buddy dressed up as steaks for some kind of Halloween-related prank. Then this evening, the rerun of The Simpsons was one of the (you guessed it) Halloween specials! What the devil is going on?
    Not long ago Susan and I went to Target to buy ice cube trays. As our apartment came with a dilapidated old refrigerator sans ice cube trays, and the weather was getting a tid bit warmer, we had decided that our very sweaty limbs needed the cool-me-off...

    So we went to the section of the store where we guessed these thingies would be- near the other kitchen implements. We searched high (me) and low (Susan) to no avail. Finally, while we were in the frozen food section, picking up some delicious, low-fat, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, we spotted an employee.

    We asked the fellow where we might find these ice cube trays, and he was flummoxed. He thought they might be "right up this aisle" and pointed us onward to the glorious culmination of our quest- maybe.

    His directions prov'd correct, though it was more than a little strange that the ice cube trays were located near the tupperware. I guess the organizational scheme made sense if you consider ice cube trays to be a form of storage for water. Like individually-partially-wrapped-bite-sized aliquots of water...

    As we made our way to the registers (and the inevitable hassle of waiting behind people who've never used credit cards or ATM cards before- evidently they always previously payed with sheckels, or virgin daughters, or something) we decided we ought to thank the helpful employee...

    We swung back through the section where we'd last seen him, looking pretty carefully for the fellow or any traces with which to track him. To no avail. The man had disappeared faster than the Roadrunner from Wile E. Coyote's traps.

    I felt like the guy in that old campfire story. You know the one, about the dude who picked up a hitchhiking young lady, only to have her sweater left in his car? Then he tracks down her mother and finds that the sweater did belong to her daugher, but she'd been dead for years?

    It was like that. With ice cubes. Without the sweater. Or hitchhikers.

    I'd like to reiterate, people: there's a bald eagle landing on the moon. And all I get is guff from Susan and silence from the rest of you?! Intolerable, I say!

    7.13.2005

    Okay... this is really weird. Eisenhower has (had) a dollar coin. On the obverse is, well, Ike. On the reverse? An eagle landing on the moon. An eagle landing. On the moon. The same design is on the reverse of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which prompts us to ask: what the hell were they thinking?

    7.11.2005

    Hey Megan- what're you listening to, these days?

    7.10.2005

    7.08.2005

    Bathing Mt. Rushmore. (I wonder if they'll find a secret "Team America" base while they're up there...)
    Interesting article about Southern American English. Y'all might could give it a look-see!

    7.07.2005

    Three posts in a row began with the letter "O." So I guess this post is brought to you by the letter "T," appropriately enough.

    They're fertilizing the campus grass, again. Yesterday, or perhaps the day before that, the grounds staff scattered dried manure everywhere, creating a lovely little brown smog of our own. It hung around for part of the day, and the smell reminded me of late summer at Upper River Road. My friends complained about the smell; I laughed and enjoyed the reminder.

    This morning they watered the lawns, and the smell reminded me of mid-spring, maybe early summer in the same place. This time, however, the reminder was so strong it was like a body blow. Since I've been here in Southern California, each passing year has made the place more home-like, slowly erasing the sense of being in a land foreign to me. Though they do this fertilization every year, this is the first time that I've been so affected...

    And I realized that after all this time, I'm still homesick.

    7.06.2005

    Our "fearless leader" turns another year older today. Interestingly enough, so do:

    The Dalai Lama
    Sylvester Stallone (born the same year as Dubya)
    rapper 50 Cent (fiddy cen')
    Kenny G
    and Nancy Reagan

    Tsar Nicholas I would also have celebrated his birthday today if he weren't, you know, dead.

    7.01.2005

    Once again, Fafblog summarizes the state of political discourse, as typified by the President's recent speech.

    6.30.2005

    Oooohh....Google Earth looks neat! Hope it becomes available for download again soon...
    California: We're just like Canada...only not.
    The domestic partner law, signed in 2003 by then-Gov. Gray Davis, represents the nation's most comprehensive recognition of gay domestic rights, short of the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut. (emphasis added by me)
    ...so, not so much on the whole "nation's most comprehensive" thing. It's like saying, "We're the best! Oh, except for these other three guys, who are better than we are..." I'm glad we're moving in this direction, but let's not make it seem like we're more liberal and accepting than we actually are, okay CNN?

    Lego Bible

    Hehe- check it out: scenes from the bible illustrated with legos. http://www.thebricktestament.com/

    This article from slate talks about the Shakespeare in the park business in New York. Apparently, many feel that the whole enterprise is "middlebrow" and feel this is a mark of derision against the makers (and those of middling-brow). What I think I'd like to point out is that many of Shakespeare's plays were written for a motley and uncouth audience, full of salt and slobs.

    6.29.2005

    Fun with slang

    From the Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict a Riot: Oh, watchin' the people get lairy / it's not very pretty, I tell thee / Walkin' through town is quite scary / and not very sensible either...

    As is fairly clear from the context of the song, the Brits use "lairy" to mean someone who is being somewhat noisy and a bit abusive...this almost always means someone who has been drinking.

    However, the word appears to have older roots in Australia: "Lairy is widely used in Australia to mean either 'flashily dressed, showy' or 'socially unacceptable'. Lairy is thought to have come into Australian English around the end of the nineteenth century from the British slang term leery, meaning 'wide awake, knowing, sharp, streetwise'."

    Anyway, just a random fact of the day.
    (some of) The science behind post-hypnotic suggestion. You are feeling very sleepy...

    6.28.2005

    KAISER CHIEFS LYRICS
    "Saturday Night"
    Pneumothorax is a word that is long/
    They're just trying to put the punk back into punctured lung

    (from Pollkatz via Washington Monthly)

    What's striking to me, here, is that post-9/11, and after every big "positive" event thereafter, there's approximately the same trend: the downward slope is roughly reproduced after 9/11, the beginning of Gulf War II, the capture of Saddam Hussein, and the 2004 presidential election.

    That weirds me out- as does the fact that the trend is approximately linear. What the heck? That's not natural in any way. What mechanism is responsible for a linear trend in public opinion? These things should be roughly exponential (like a lot of epidemiological phenomena)...

    I won't complain about the results, though.

    6.27.2005

    All right...take a few minutes and read about Toothpaste for Dinner. And then go check out Toothpaste for Dinner.

    "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."
    Whoa- the voice of Piglet died this weekend. So did the voice of Tigger. Within a day of each other. That's creepy.
    David Brooks, jackass extraordinaire, in his new column:
    Sachs is also a materialist. He dismisses or downplays those who believe that human factors like corruption, greed, institutions, governance, conflict and traditions have contributed importantly to Africa's suffering. Instead, he emphasizes material causes: lack of natural resources, lack of technology, bad geography and poverty itself as a self-perpetuating trap.
    David, "corruption, greed, institutions, governance, conflict and traditions" and "poverty" are barely distinguishable. In fact, the idea of poverty as a self-perpetuating trap requires a mechanism- and poor governance, corruption, greed, and [these are] traditions form that mechanism.

    6.26.2005

    On NPR today there was a segment on the effects of advertising new drugs. The essential arguments for and against were as follows:

    For
    • It makes people aware of both conditions and treatments
    • It helps engage people with their healthcare
    Against
    • People tend to both hypochondria and unfounded optimism about the next big thing
    • Doctors are frequently undereducated about new drugs
    • Overmedication leads to higher healthcare costs
    Now, I'm not sure about the veracity of any of these claims, but they mostly seem reasonable. What I'm wondering, is: doctors have an ethical duty to give their patients good care. Do they have a similar duty to society and its needs? For example, if overmedication (or "lifestyle" medications, like Cialis or Propecia) really does raise the cost of healthcare to everyone, are doctors obliged to resist?

    6.25.2005

    Girls State was so much freaking fun!! Although they did looove to embarrass us, I still had fun. They made us chant these stupd songs about girls state while we were at meetings or walking around the campus! One of them was: "Girls State is long and fine just like these legs of mine and when we cross the street boys state goes 'beep, beep, beep-woop woop," HA! Other than that, it was awesome. I was in the house of representatives and debated for like 7 hours each day. It was cool. Also, all the girls were split up into countys, and that was who you lived with and voted for and what not. My county was great, and I think I will go back next year to be a councelor!

    6.23.2005

    Megan- how was Girls State? Write about it!
    Funny thing heard on American Chopper:
    "Looks like the tranny's cocked." - Vinnie
    Heh heh...

    6.21.2005

    I'm Batman. No, really, I swear! See, here's my utility belt (got it at Hammacher Schlemmer, and here's my Bat-z-boy (from the Sharper Image) ...
    I knew it. I just knew it. Apparently, the tendency to be an early or late riser has genetic components. So there! I wasn't lazy after all.
    Whoa. This is a pretty crazy story. (And a good reason not to move to Ethiopia...not that I needed a reason.)

    6.17.2005

    Yikes.

    Citing Flaws, Maker Recalls Heart Devices
    Ouch.
    Now here's an effective use of state gov't resources. Way to waste some money there, Jebby.

    6.16.2005

    Earthquake

    Wow- we just had an earthquake! Sweet! It really shook for a couple of seconds. Hopefully nothing bad happened.

    6.15.2005

    There's an interesting article about Spielberg and Lucas in Slate.

    6.13.2005

    This is why "because that's the way it's always been" or "why mess with tradition" are poor reasons not to seek and correct injustice. (found via GeekPress)

    6.12.2005

    Concert time
    Susan and I went to a concert in Hollywood last night. We went to the show to see OK Go and the Kaiser Chiefs. OK Go was the first opener, though we wanted most to see them, I think. We were happy to also see Kaiser Chiefs... sadly, they had a second opener- a band called Jason Faulkner or Jason Wagner or something- and they sucked... it was like 1989 come home to roost. They wouldn't have been out of place with makeup and long hair.

    OK Go played a really short set. It was very good, but much too brief. At the end of their set, they did a funny little music video-boy band-dance routine to one of their new songs! It was freaking hilarious- I was all light headed by the end of it.

    Kaiser Chiefs were great fun- super energetic. The lead singer dove into the crowd (I think twice), pulled up a girl onto the stage and danced with her, and generally bounced around like a Tigger. Their songs were fun and the crowd (which was pretty well packed in) was really into it...

    Aside from the second opener, it was a great, fun show.

    6.10.2005

    Physicists are really dorky
    Physicists Do It....
    with the least action (Devlin Gualtieri)
    discretely (Steven Watanabe, Bryan Dorland, Caroline Ritz-Gold)
    with a Big Bang (Damian Handzy)
    in Super-Positions (Todd Pittman)
    with gravity (Roald Wangsness)
    with increasing entropy (John Hornstein)
    with chaotic motion (John Hornstein)
    quantum coherently (John Hornstein)
    with minimal coupling (Lewis Orphanos)
    with momentum (James McGee)
    relatively well
    with uncertainty
    
    Sex is the physics urge sublimated (Daniel Grupp)
    Old physicists never die; they just accelerate to light speed! (Bill Martin)
    This car brakes for Schroedinger's Cat (Devlin Gualtieri)
    Maintain chirality: Pass on the left only (Devlin Gualtieri)
    Conserve energy: Don't be a joule thief (Joel Liebman)
    Conserve energy: Commute with a Hamiltonian (Enid Sichel)
    Ys Matters! (Chris Paul)
    Gravity Gets Me Down (Seyffie Maleki)
    Excuse me while I collapse my wave function (Leonard Anderson)
    Know a Good Quantum Mechanic? (Loren Booda)
    Honk if you love phonons (Loren Booda)
    Oh- this is really neat...

    Every year, in addition to granting honorary degrees, Williams also honors four high school teachers. But not just any high school teachers. Williams asks the 500 or so members of its senior class to nominate the high school teachers who had a profound impact on their lives. Then each year a committee goes through the roughly 50 student nominations, does its own research with the high schools involved and chooses the four most inspiring teachers.

    Each of the four teachers is given $2,000, plus a $1,000 donation to his or her high school. The winners and their families are then flown to Williams, located in the lush Berkshires, and honored as part of the graduation weekend.

    On the day before last Sunday's graduation, all four of the high school teachers, and the students who nominated them, sat on stage at a campuswide event, and the dean of the college talked about how and why each high school teacher had influenced the Williams student, reading from the students' nominating letters. Later, the four teachers were introduced at a dinner along with the honorary degree recipients.

    "Every time we do this, one of the [high school] teachers says to me, 'This is one of the great weekends of my life,' " said Williams's president, Morton Owen Schapiro. "But it is great for us, too. ...

    A very fine idea.

    6.09.2005

    Goodness

    My conference submission has been accepted and I will be giving a 15 minute presentation at the Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science Optical Society of America annual meeting!

    Yay!

    6.08.2005

    Homeland security? What's that? (Warning, the guy in this article is really creepy-looking.)

    Apparently, according to a U.S. customs official, "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and [the creepy guy in the article] did not violate any regulations." And yet, how much does anyone want to bet that if this guy had been wearing a turban when he tried to get across the border, he'd have been immediately detained?
    Hehe. Ph.D. satirizes Revenge of the Sith.
    Can you imagine what the people sitting next to this woman on the plane from Singapore to Australia must have thought?

    6.06.2005

    Apparently, some female dolphins are figuring out that certain areas of the sea floor are sponge-worthy.
    Here's an insane thing from Hitachi- they've developed a HD technology using magnetic domains oriented vertically (out of the plane of the hard disk platter). They're trying to promote it with creepy anthropomorphization. Bad idea.

    6.05.2005

    Salsa Cruda:
    (for 4 servings)
    This is a very quick and easy sauce to make, and it's great for those times when you want a change from jarred sauce but don't have the time or inclination to make marinara from scratch. You can go from ingredients to finished product in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

    Ingredients
    4-5 small or medium tomatoes (the riper and tastier, the better), chopped
    1/4 onion, finely diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    ~2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt, pepper, parmasean cheese, to taste

    Chop/dice/mince the various vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Use a potato masher to smash the tomatoes, thus liberating all their tomatoey goodness. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and parmasean, and stir. Spoon over al dente pasta and enjoy!
    Susan, post the recipe for the salsa cruda. It's too good.

    6.03.2005

    Over the course of our country's history, at least 6 times amendments to the constitution changing the preamble to say that our rights derive from God and that Jesus is the divine governor of all nations. In 1863, 1874, 1894, 1910, and 1954 (and one other time that I can't remember)- and that's not to mention the hullabaloo over ratification! Each time it was defeated. Every time. The constitution, sans God, was ratified, my lambs.

    Is this a Christian nation? Founded and framed by religious men to be a religious country?

    I'm going to check out this book, The Godless Constitution, by Isaac Kramnik. On This American Life this week, the author talked about the current upwelling of religious sentiment and the crazy religious correctness prevalent, nowadays. Sounds pretty good.
    In the 1830s, Abolitionists and Women's rights activists often occupied the same stage. When the activists were women, this drew quite a bit of criticism from both religious nutjobs (i.e., a goodly portion of the country), and men (who felt their proper place threatened, not a little bit because a great many men were the aforementioned religious nutjobs). In 1837, the Massachusetts Association of Congregational Ministers, prompted by the popular lectures by two such women (the Grimke sisters), produced a Pastoral Letter comdemning the public speaking-out done by women, to be read from each pulpit. William Lloyd Garrison was a supporter of both abolition and women's rights, and called it "Pastoral Bull," analogizing it to both the Catholic Papal Bull, and, of course, crap. The women also responded:
    "They've taken a notion to speak for themselves,
    And are wielding the tongue and the pen;
    They've mounted the rostrum; the termagant elves,
    And—oh horrid!—are talking to men!"
    --Maria Weston Chapman

    6.02.2005



    Wow. She's sooo scary! (As seen on a banner at The American Spectator).
    Wow. Just when you thought TV programming couldn't get any worse...and these are supposed to tide us over until shows like The West Wing and CSI return in the Fall?

    6.01.2005

    At TAPPED, Matt Yglesias posted a good reading list. After all, if Phyllis Schlafly thinks something is bad, there's a good chance you should admire it.
    My grandparents were shopping here when this all went down, yesterday. Fortunately, they're okay.

    5.31.2005

    Things that make you go..."Buh???":
    "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here."
    -At the President's Economic Forum

    "We discussed the way forward in Iraq, discussed the importance of a democracy in the greater Middle East in order to leave behind a peaceful tomorrow."
    -At Tbilisi, Georgia, earlier this month
    Brought to you courtesy of our very own Fearless Leader.
    Listening to Jeremy Hotz... funny guy.
    I see a psychiatrist now, too. She hates my guts. She says that I suffer from delusions of sexual superiority. She just wants to [date] me. Get in line, lady!
    Lets get out of here: lets just go. Three hundred of us, that'd be great. Let's go bowling right now. Oh, Christ that'd be hysterical. We show up at the same bowling alley at the same time, just freak the guy behind the counter out.

    We're here!

    Holy [crap]! I don't have shoes for these people!

    5.30.2005

    Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

    So we went to see Revenge of the Sith last night. It was okay. Like most every review says, the dialogue is crap. The movie is visually good, except some few dumb things. The most memorable dumb thing was the insistence that cutting up close to a light-saber fight will somehow work out well- completely useless shot.

    Mace Windu just doesn't sound like he believes the stuff he's saying. Samuel Jackson really seems like he's acting, which is too bad. Yoda's syntax is so stilted that it is a speech impediment, though he has the best line of the whole movie (all the other speaking is down hill from there):

    Good relations with the Wookiees, I have.

    Sadly, though, Yoda also breaks character when saying goodbye to Chewbacca. I mean- Jedi masters aren't supposed to be sentimental, and there Yoda goes, telling that big ol' overgrown Lhasa Apso that Yoda will miss him? Huh?

    The incident which confines Vader to his armor is quite gruesome, though I suppose I expected something a little worse when I saw where it was going to go down... and there are some really dark moments during Anakin's turning. Though I suspect it was more for reasons of ratings that it wasn't more explicit, the implicit menace of Vader's actions in the Council room during the sacking of the Jedi temple was more than sufficient.

    Over all, I am with most people in thinking that this one was better than episodes I and II, but inferior to episodes IV and V... I won't comment on episode VI, as I'm having trouble remembering much from it. However, Lucas should be dragged out and shot. And then never allowed back into the director's chair, or be permitted to type, write, or dictate any dialogue. For the good of all mankind.

    5.27.2005

    You'll go blind!
    If this isn't a ringing endorsement for an ability-based education system, I don't know what is.
    In the six charter middle schools in [New York City], 49.8 percent of eighth graders met the state standard on the English Language Arts exam [...] In contrast, only 32.8 percent of eighth graders in the public schools were reading and writing at grade level.
    So, just over half of the charter school 8th graders in NYC are NOT reading at the 8th grade level, and this is an improvement over performance in public schools?! I would ask what in the hell is wrong with this country, but I think I've already got my answer.
    As always, Giblets says it best:
    It's hot today - TOO hot - and Giblets bans the sun. It is outlawed in all decent Gibfearing lands! Never again shall the brow of Giblets be sullied with its base photonic energy. Three huzzahs and a tally-ho!
    Tom DeLay can't distinguish reality and fiction.

    5.26.2005

    Ahh, the sweet forbidden fruit of the Fruit Pie. What's it like, Fafnir?
    And you're off! Runnin over the tops a cars to make the winnin touchdown an punchin out Hitler's brain before it lays a tentacle on your lady friend an the ninja coach gives you the all-star trophy an it's all on accounta pie! An you hold it up in the air an the camera spins all around you an you toss it back to Spiderman or Mr. Rogers or trusted newsman Walter Cronkite who's givin you a thumb's up an the hot pie fillin hits him in the face killing him instantly. The jury is merciless; you receive twenty years to life.
    Diet Coke with Splenda vs. Diet Coke with Aspartame:

    Note first the ingredient lists:

    Diet Coke: Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid, caffeine

    Splenda-y: Carbonated water, caramel color, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, sucralose (splenda), acesulfame potassium, caffeine, citric acid

    The Diet Coke with Splenda has a more definite vanilla scent, and is generally sweeter- I couldn't really taste the sour note that I like. I didn't get a filmy feel that Coke with high fructose corn syrup leaves. There is much less of a chemical taste to the sweetness than in regular Diet Coke. Strangely, I've come to enjoy that strange little frisson of "What is that? Why, you strange, Ridley Scott-style sweetener!?"

    5.25.2005

    Heh. Rock & Roll - Thesaurusized, a la McSweeny's.

    "Talkin' bout my generation" --> "Discussing on the subject of my age group"

    Here's a neat thing from Slate, about missing women throughout the world. There's a buried story in there, referring to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, a servicable, if a bit half-baked, book.

    The thing about Gladwell is, he's good at writing. His books are entertaining, ultimately unsatisfying to me. His books, which, I will grant, are for popular consumption, seem to only graze the surface of the ideas he presents. The lack of depth frustrates me.

    5.24.2005

    I'm beginning to get a little freaked out by NPR. The little musical interludes between segments this afternoon have all come from my iPod.

    5.23.2005

    Winning vs. losing?

    During a joint appearance with Hamid Karzai, President Bush fielded some questions...
    [Q:] ...and if I may ask you, Mr. President, as you know, the casualties of Iraq is again high today -- 50 more people dying. Do you think that insurgence is getting harder now to defeat militarily? Thank you.
    PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I don't think so. I think they're being defeated. And that's why they continue to fight...
    So... we're continuing to fight, too, right? Does that mean we're losing, also?
    Tom introduced me to more songs by The Proclaimers this weekend (where by "more songs" I mean anything other than the one - "I'm Gonna Be" - that I already knew). I can agree with him that they're a highly underrated band. And they're just so...Scottish! Here's an excerpt from "Sunshine on the Leith":
    Your beauty and kindness
    Made tears clear my blindness.
    While I'm worth my room on this earth
    I will be with you.
    While the Chief, puts Sunshine On Leith
    I'll thank him for his work
    And your birth and my birth.
    Good stuff.
    I really shouldna read this so long before lunch...
    The brisket we ordered was moist and incredibly smoky. His ribs were even better, crusty on the outside, with meat that pulled right away from the bone, as a perfect rib should.

    5.22.2005

    To anyone in the vicinity of a Trader Joe's (even if said vicinity is large): Get your hands on some lemon Citrons Givres "Lemon sorbet in naturel shells" (i.e. lemon husks)...80 calories each and de-freaking-licious!

    5.21.2005

    I should say about the below recipe: really good avocado helps a lot. Use really good tomato with good avocado and the stuff is transcendent. Some people add a little hot pepper- and that's good, too, if you go in for that.

    5.19.2005

    Recipe: Guacamole (this one's for Mom)
    Materials

    • Salt
    • Black pepper
    • Two sections of garlic
    • 1/4 large tomato
    • 1/4" thick section of medium red onion
    • Two large avocados, slightly softer than you'd really think
    Preparation
    • Remove avocado pits, reserving them for later, scoop flesh into bowl
    • Dice onion and tomato
    • Mince garlic
    • Put garlic, onion, and tomato, into the avocado bowl, mash well
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste
    Note that the onion and tomato quantities are approzimate, and you'll learn to adjust to your tastes. If you want the guacamole to keep, make sure to refrigerate. The avocado flesh will turn a Yoda-like color, but this can be slowed by putting the pits back into the finished dip, or putting in a tablespoon of lime juice.
    Try it- you'll like it (and it's really no fattier than the avocado!)!
    Whoo-hoo! Arrested Development ain't dead after all.

    5.18.2005

    Ooh...the USGS has put a real-time earthquake probability map online for California. Be interesting to see how accurate the thing turns out to be. Shake, rattle & roll, baby.

    Today on Fresh Air, one guest is D.James Kennedy, founder of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

    Here's a bit about the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ

    the CENTER focuses on five key fronts of the modern-day culture war: (1) Religious Liberties, (2) the Sanctity of Life, (3) the Homosexual Agenda, (4) Pornography, and (5) Promoting Creationism.

    ...and amazingly, the interviewer is able to listen without vomiting.

    Ick, I got some Homosexual Agenda on me.

    5.17.2005

    26 Songs About Scientists: Vol. I - Anning to Malthus...definitely looks entertaining.
    Hey, bebe. How you doin'?

    Whooo, me?

    Yeah...

    5.16.2005

    Great...just what NPR needs - less news and more crappy jazz (oh, and more censorship).
    This one's for Dad: Freakonomics author Steve Levitt addresses some criticisms of his hypothesis that the legalization of abortion in 1973 was responsible in large degree for the large drop in crime the U.S. experienced in the '90s. In so doing, he summarizes the evidence supporting his theory. The book presents the case a little more fully, and his technical work more so.
    Possible differences in Richard III if the title Richard was a humpback rather than a hunchback:
    • They'd need a much bigger stage than most theaters have
    • Probably Richmond could not have killed Richard without more specialized equipment than a sword
    • The squeaks and whalesong would not be ideally suited to sweet-talking widows
    • Update: A whale would look funny in a crown.

    5.11.2005

    Recipe: Tamale-type Corn Cake Thingies (like at Hamburger Hamlet)
    Materials
    • 1/4 cup cornmeal
    • 1/4 cup pancake-mix
    • 1/2 tbsp sugar
    • 1/2 tbsp salt
    • about 1/2 cup room temperature water
    • sbout 1/2 cup corn kernals (freshly scraped or thawed frozen)
    Preparing the batter
    • Stir together cornmeal, pancake-mix, sugar and salt in a big ol' bowl.
    • Stir in water until the batter is smooth. The texture should be quite viscous.
    • Stir in corn kernals until evenly distributed
    Cooking
    • Add about 1/4 of an inch of neutral oil to the bottom of a saucepan. Heat until small water drops flung into the oil (from a respectful distance, mind you) kick up oil vigorously but not violently. I'll get a thermometer and determine the actual temperature later.
    • Make drops of batter approximately 3 inches in diameter in the hot oil. When a golden-brown color begins to show about 1/3 of the way up the side of the cake, turn and cook until done (total about 2 minutes).
    • Remove cakes from oil and drain excess oil.
    • Serve with delicious sauces and garnishes that I will figure out another day.

    5.10.2005

    Reminder:

    Anyone is welcome to comment!

    All you have to do is click the "comments" link at the end of the post you wish to comment on. A window will come up where you can put a name in the name box if you like (the email and URL boxes don't have to be filled out unless you want to) and write what you have to say in the comments box.

    Seriously, is there anybody out there? Just nod if you can hear me.

    5.09.2005

    Mathematical terms that sound like spy novels:
    • The Fredholm Alternative
    • Absolute Convergence
    • Exponents of Singularity
    • The Frobenius Method
    • Impulse Response
    • The Parseval Equation
    • Asymptotic Expansion
    • The Fixed Point
    • Separatrix
    • The Tautochrone
    • The Outer Product
    • The Vector Product
    Good quiz. Via Pharyngula.
    I see a lot of things going on lately that suggest when the bathwater gets too cool, or too soapy, or too wet, one should not hesitate to chuck it right out, baby or not...
    John Adams Hurson, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates who is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said: "I am a Democrat, a liberal Democrat, but we can't sustain the current Medicaid program. It's fiscal madness. It doesn't guarantee good care, and it's a budget buster. We need to instill a greater sense of personal responsibility so people understand that this care is not free."
    So the problem with providing healthcare for the very poor is that we have too many poor and their health needs are too great. Well, restricting their access to healthcare is definitely one way of reducing the number of poor people.

    5.07.2005

    Today the Oregon Supreme Court was hearing cases in the PAC at my school. Any student could watch, but then when they broke for lunch they came into my class to eat, and the class had to go to the computer lab to work on stuff, or they could stay and talk to the Justices. My friends Kelly, Maddie, Thea and myself were the only ones to stay and talk to the justices. I met Jusctice Robert Durham, and he told me to call him Skip because he likes that name. So that was pretty neat-o.

    5.06.2005

    In another town shill hall-style event about Social Security removal reform, Vice President Dick Cheney and various communicants congregants citizens referred to the Democratic Party as people of "the other faith."

    This should make people uncomfortable- the continual establishment of an out-group by may be sound as politics-by-division, but the final result of that tactic leaves us farther from comity than ever. In fact, it sets us on the slippery-slope of contracting the moral circle... and that is a scary proposition (outside the moral circle is a scary preposition).

    It reminds me of (of all things) a Tom Clancy novel, where the protagonist says something about politicans from one state promising to stick it to people from another state and wondering rhetorically if residents of that "other" state are not Americans, too.

    How republican are you?

    4.20.2005

    4.14.2005

    Yay for Megan! I was selected to be a delegate for Girls State, a political camp in Willamatte(?) just for girls to go and ...learn about government! Yay! What we do is we make our own government, lobby for bills, etc. It's a nationwide thing, and each state selects two girls to be senators, and then those girls all go to D.C. and introduce new bills. I want to be a senator. And hopefully, I will be elected director of the CIA. The only problem is that the organization is really republican, so I'm afraid I may be ostrasized. Well I got it, and that's the first step, eh?

    4.13.2005

    Hmm...it occurs to me that I should probably make it clear I'm not trying to hint at anything with these last two posts. Just thought the Slate article was interesting, and Tom told me about the Name Wizard thing the other day, which I found to be way too nifty not to share. So no speculating, all ye speculators!
    The Baby Name Wizard - NameVoyager is pretty neat. I killed a good half an hour last night just typing in random names and seeing how popular they've been over the past hundred years.

    4.12.2005

    Interesting Slate article about baby names, how they become popular/unpopular, various historical trends, etc. Jack and Jill, meet Aldo and Annika.

    4.11.2005

    Fair Verona this ain't.

    4.06.2005

    Passed. Still not totally official, as one of the four profs didn't show- I'll have to present to him later. However, it says "Passed" on the examination result line. Go me.

    4.05.2005

    Wow. Google now offers satellite mapping through their regular map engine. For free.

    4.02.2005

    Tick... tock... tick... tock... (reminds me of something I think Dennis Miller said about Morley Safer gettin' old: "How do you think he likes the sound of that clock ticking?!" Mind you, this was in the 90s (I mean the date, not Safer- though that's not an unreasonable estimate))

    4.01.2005

    April fools from Google. Funny folks, those Google peoples.

    3.31.2005

    Requiescat in pace, Mitch Hedberg... He made me laugh until I cried.
    Now here's a cool thing - a watch that monitors your sleep pattern and wakes you up at the most optimal time. Definitely a neat gadget.

    3.30.2005

    Penny Construction Project: Creations built entirely out of pennies. No glue, no additional support of any kind. Really neat. (And a good band name.)

    3.29.2005

    Cool new MRI application.
    Good ol' McSweeney's: Lyrics to the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire" if they were written by a muskrat instead of by Billy Joel.
    Funny CNN headline: Laura Bush Making Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan
    Um...so much for unannounced, there, CNN.

    3.28.2005

    Gee, this is great. There's a law on the books to prevent collection agencies from defaulting active-duty military personnel (or their spouses) on loans, mortgages, etc. while said personnel are deployed. The problem is, there are a fair number of judges who don't know the law exists, so they've been phenomenally screwing people who are supposed to be protected. Good job, folks.
    NCAA+NCLB = Harrison Bergeron? (you'll have to read to the end of the list)

    1. All teams must advance to the Sweet 16, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

    2. All kids will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in basketball, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY BASKETBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL.

    3.26.2005

    This morning while walking to the convenience store at Caltech, I saw an really old fat white guy walking a tiny little dog. He was wearing a FUBU sweater.

    3.25.2005

    A completely fascinating piece on This American Life, tonight. In the mid 80's, Jello Biafra was prosecuted in Los Angeles for obscenity by ADA Michael Guarino. The prosecution failed, and eventually, the Guarino dude left the DA's office and has come to like Jello. They spoke, in this piece. It was pretty cool.

    3.24.2005

    I like dried cranberries, but craisins are disgusting. The concept is great, but the consistency is all wrong, and I accidentally got the cherry flavored kind... ugh.
    More animal blogging...this is totally wacky. There's a small species of octopus that can do this funky two-limbed tiptoe thing. Definitely check out the video clips (requires QuickTime).
    Apparently, elephants have now been added to the list of animals that can vocally mimic. Pretty funny.
    Here's an interesting NYT article about a problem with urban development that I hadn't really considered:
    "Portland is a great city that attracts a lot of educated people. But the real estate is becoming outrageously expensive. And then you get wealthy singles and wealthy retirees. What's missing are kids."
    School enrollment in Portland has apparently decreased by 10,000 kids in the last decade, and there are currently more dogs than children in San Francisco.

    3.23.2005

    Target tops wedding registries. Interesting- bed linens and bath towels are the most common items registered for both first-time wedders and repeat offenders.The average wedding gift rings up at about $130, while the average shower gift is roughly $60. Crazy.

    3.18.2005

    Ahh, Susan's kind mother:
    CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon State football had a stolen sheep in the bed of his pickup when he was pulled over for speeding last week, Benton County authorities said.
    That's some alma mater. Ba-dum dum!
    The members of the King of Kings Skateboard Ministries team "do not skate for adulation or even for the thrill of catching big air. They skate for Jesus."

    3.16.2005

    Oh man. I would have killed to have been able to do this when I was a kid.

    3.14.2005

    Sick cat

    Loki, the evil cat that lives with us, developed a stricture in his urethra a week we took him to his vet. After a week, his vet for some reason did not get back to us about his urinalysis (we took him in last week because he was spending a lot of time at the litterbox to little effect). So yesterday we took him to the emergency animal clinic and they had to catheterize the poor bastard to allow him to eliminate liquid waste.
    Damn our regular vet (with whom Loki will be staying for the next few days).

    3.10.2005

    Okay, this is just ridiculously amusing.

    3.09.2005

    Your Honor, the prosecution rests, doggone it.
    Some Stanford research profs are working on producing mice that have brains made up of 100% human cells. Fascinating work, but some of the potential ramifications are a wee bit creepy.
    There is growing unease over whether human stem cells could migrate to other parts of the animals, creating human sperm or eggs in their reproductive systems. Should two such "chimera mice" mate, it could lead to the nightmarish scenario of a human embryo trapped in a mouse's womb.

    3.08.2005

    Useful Latin phrases for everyday life. (via Geekpress) Magister mundi sum!
    Soon, they'll change the name from "Afghanistan" to "Arrakis," and from "heroin" to "spice." (Referring to Frank Herbert's Dune, wherein a planet called Arrakis is the source of a potent drug (spice) used throughout the universe, supplying great power to whomever controls Arrakis. Like Afghanistan, only with no competitors. And magic. And interstellar space travel. And giant sand worms.)

    3.07.2005



    "Excuse me, Mr. Bolton, but we're not taking your picture for the new Got Milk? ad until after the press conference..."

    3.03.2005

    Hehe. Dinosaurs have problems, too.
    Trying to schedule my candidacy exam. I have 75% of my committee members on board... getting so close. Currently it looks like April 4-10. Wish me luck in herding four cats.

    Update: Zero hour: April 6th, 3:30pm.
    Hey...how'd my cat get to New York?

    2.28.2005

    People who play games like these must not have actual employment.

    2.25.2005

    Things you might say about the Bush administration if it were a sitcom or other weekly tv show.
    Hamster music. Actually sounds pretty interesting. Begins to resemble an Elizabethan folk song, or something, towards the end.
    Stupid hurts.
    Holy floating berg, Batman! (via Geekpress)
    #1 public enemy: the Canada goose. #1 public defender: the falconer.
    Burninating the cocktail sauce!

    2.24.2005

    Google just keeps getting cooler. Now you can get movie showtimes by entering the movie title and zip code.
    Vivienne the virtual girlfriend, huh? With this system, men pay real money to woo a virtual girl via their cellphones. Sure, the language translation feature might be handy, but the rest of it is just a little too creepy for me.
    Got God?

    2.23.2005

    Andrew Sullivan is a dumb jerk. But he can write fairly well. I agree about 30% with his thesis, but enjoyed the piece.

    2.22.2005

    Who knew there was so much history behind the song on that annoying Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper commercial?
    Remembering Lenny, with tidbits about the new L&O spinoff.
    Gone for good
    The Shins
    Untie me, I've said no vows
    The train is getting way too loud
    I gotta leave here my girl
    Get on with my lonely life

    Just leave the ring on the rail
    For the wheels to nullify

    Until this turn in my head
    I let you stay and you paid no rent
    I spent twelve long months on the lam

    That's enough sitting on the fence
    For the fear of breaking dams

    I find a fatal flaw
    In the logic of love
    And go out of my head

    You love a sinking stone
    That'll never elope
    So get used to the lonesome
    Girl, you must atone some
    Don't leave me no phone number there

    It took me all of a year
    To put the poison pill to your ear
    But now I stand on honest ground, on honest ground

    You want to fight for this love
    But honey you cannot wrestle a dove
    So baby it's clear

    You want to jump and dance
    But you sat on your hands
    And lost your only chance

    Go back to your hometown
    Get your feet on the ground
    And stop floating around

    I find a fatal flaw
    In the logic of love
    And go out of my head

    You love a sinking stone
    That'll never elope
    So get used to used to the lonesome
    Girl, you must atone some
    Don't leave me no phone number there
    It's sort of erudite isn't it, what with the whole poison in the ear reference?
    NYT article from a few days ago, about the anti-Christo. I'm amused. I'll have to check out this guy's website when I don't have evil work firewalls blocking me.
    More RFID. This story is more interesting than I initially thought. I'll write more, later.
    A most heartstrings-tugging short piece from the New Yorker. Abstemiously, anyone? Watch out for the last two lines; it gets sad at the end.

    2.21.2005

    There is something decidedly Gattaca-esque about screening all newborns for genetic disorders. I think if the medical community wants to go ahead with this, they'd better be sure the tests are accurate and the proposed treatments are effective; sounds like neither is the case at the moment, though.
    Whoa. This is messed up.

    2.20.2005

    Soooo sore. And tired. That was tough. We got a swank couch at the Salvation Army, though. Pictures of the place are located here. Further pictures to follow.

    2.18.2005

    Moving, tomorrow. See our destination? Lets hope it doesn't rain too much.
    For those who can't get enough Homestar Runner, it's the HSR Wiki! Hey, at least now I finally know the parts of the HSR theme song that sounded like gibberish to me. ;)
    Dang it, neil5280, how many times do I have to tell you to keep your shoes on when you go listen to politicians debate?

    2.17.2005

    Nice! Postal Service has a new track out.
    Religious boosterism is, inch by inch, getting wrapped around the throats of school-children. The result?
    One mother, who herself teaches Sunday school but nevertheless opted out of the program, explains it better than I ever could: "I asked them whether Jesus was a Christian and they said 'yes.' When I said, 'Jesus was a Jew,' one girl said, 'But Jesus was a good person.' "