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.


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...


"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.


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.


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

  • It makes people aware of both conditions and treatments
  • It helps engage people with their healthcare
  • 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?


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!


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


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.)



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



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


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


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)


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.


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.



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!



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?


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.


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.

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.


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


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?


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.