OK Big Dick, We'll See Who's Got Game
Is there a statute of limitations on bad optometry?
Confounding the calumniators and apostates
As selected by conservatives. Keynes makes the list! (High fives all around.) John Stuart Mill gets Honorable Mention! (Woo hoo!) Simone de Beauvoir! (You go girl!)
If you don’t know about this program, let me add some richness to your life. “My Word!” is a BBC radio program that is re-run in San Francisco on Friday nights at 8:00 pm on KALW 91.7, followed by a companion program “My Music” at 8:30. Both are absolutely worth tuning into.
In this ongoing debate, I find myself asking myself, "What would Jack Black say?"
After some discussion of 'Girls Got Rhythm' with the Laird, and some Net research, it is becoming apparent that a lot of people simply don't know what rock is. Yes, even here in America, home of the Chrysler 440 cubic inch engine, people who should know better are able to put up best song lists that look like this (I have rated the degree to which each song rocks on a scale of 1-10 in parentheses):
SomethingAwful's worst superhero costumes of all time.
The robot vacuum people have come up with a robot MOP. Impressive.
Amnesty International roughs up the U.S., the Iraq insurgents, and Israel over serious deterioration in human rights worldwide, in particular calling Israeli actions in the occupied territories "war crimes." It singles out the US for "setting the tone" that is undermining human rights by discrediting international law.
Charlotte's Web was "voiced by Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, Agnes Moorehead and Debbie Reynolds. I don't think you can get any queerer than that," she said.
After several dozen listenings, I conclude that "Girls Got Rhythm" surpasses longtime champion "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)".
As scientists are working to create one teeny weeny black hole a second in the lab, the future of the planet earth depends on the correctness of the following sentence (from Carr and Gidding in this month's Scientific American)
There is no such conservation law to stabilize a small black hole. In quantum theory, anything not expressly forbidden is compulsory, so small black holes will rapidly decay, in accord with the second law of thermodynamics.If the plan works, it will be confirmation of the 11 extra dimensions of reality, or so, predicted by string theory.
Voyager 1 is still going strong.
I prefer old-fangled irony - here we indulge Mark Twain in Roughing It, an early book about his time in Carson City in the silver rush (and a excellent loose history of the Old West).
On the western verge of the Desert we halted a moment at Ragtown. It consisted of one log house and is not set down on the map.
This reminds me of a circumstance. Just after we left Julesburg, on the Platte, I was sitting with the driver, and he said:
"I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to listen to it. Horace Greeley went over this road once. When he was leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through quick. Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace. The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago. But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on time'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!"
A day or two after that we picked up a Denver man at the cross roads, and he told us a good deal about the country and the Gregory Diggings. He seemed a very entertaining person and a man well posted in the affairs of Colorado. By and by he remarked:
"I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to listen to it. Horace Greeley went over this road once. When he was leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through quick. Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace. The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago. But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on time!'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!"
At Fort Bridger, some days after this, we took on board a cavalry sergeant, a very proper and soldierly person indeed. From no other man during the whole journey, did we gather such a store of concise and well- arranged military information. It was surprising to find in the desolate wilds of our country a man so thoroughly acquainted with everything useful to know in his line of life, and yet of such inferior rank and unpretentious bearing. For as much as three hours we listened to him with unabated interest. Finally he got upon the subject of trans- continental travel, and presently said:
"I can tell you a very laughable thing indeed, if you would like to listen to it. Horace Greeley went over this road once. When he was leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through quick. Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace. The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago. But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on time!'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!"
When we were eight hours out from Salt Lake City a Mormon preacher got in with us at a way station--a gentle, soft-spoken, kindly man, and one whom any stranger would warm to at first sight. I can never forget the pathos that was in his voice as he told, in simple language, the story of his people's wanderings and unpitied sufferings. No pulpit eloquence was ever so moving and so beautiful as this outcast's picture of the first Mormon pilgrimage across the plains, struggling sorrowfully onward to the land of its banishment and marking its desolate way with graves and watering it with tears. His words so wrought upon us that it was a relief to us all when the conversation drifted into a more cheerful channel and the natural features of the curious country we were in came under treatment. One matter after another was pleasantly discussed, and at length the stranger said:
"I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to listen to it. Horace Greeley went over this road once. When he was leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an engagement to lecture in Placerville, and was very anxious to go through quick. Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace. The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago. But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on time!'--and you bet you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!"
Ten miles out of Ragtown we found a poor wanderer who had lain down to die. He had walked as long as he could, but his limbs had failed him at last. Hunger and fatigue had conquered him. It would have been inhuman to leave him there. We paid his fare to Carson and lifted him into the coach. It was some little time before he showed any very decided signs of life; but by dint of chafing him and pouring brandy between his lips we finally brought him to a languid consciousness. Then we fed him a little, and by and by he seemed to comprehend the situation and a grateful light softened his eye. We made his mail-sack bed as comfortable as possible, and constructed a pillow for him with our coats. He seemed very thankful. Then he looked up in our faces, and said in a feeble voice that had a tremble of honest emotion in it:
"Gentlemen, I know not who you are, but you have saved my life; and although I can never be able to repay you for it, I feel that I can at least make one hour of your long journey lighter. I take it you are strangers to this great thorough fare, but I am entirely familiar with it. In this connection I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to listen to it. Horace Greeley----"
I said, impressively:
"Suffering stranger, proceed at your peril. You see in me the melancholy wreck of a once stalwart and magnificent manhood. What has brought me to this? That thing which you are about to tell. Gradually but surely, that tiresome old anecdote has sapped my strength, undermined my constitution, withered my life. Pity my helplessness. Spare me only just this once, and tell me about young George Washington and his little hatchet for a change."
We were saved. But not so the invalid. In trying to retain the anecdote in his system he strained himself and died in our arms.
I am aware, now, that I ought not to have asked of the sturdiest citizen of all that region, what I asked of that mere shadow of a man; for, after seven years' residence on the Pacific coast, I know that no passenger or driver on the Overland ever corked that anecdote in, when a stranger was by, and survived. Within a period of six years I crossed and recrossed the Sierras between Nevada and California thirteen times by stage and listened to that deathless incident four hundred and eighty-one or eighty-two times. I have the list somewhere. Drivers always told it, conductors told it, landlords told it, chance passengers told it, the very Chinamen and vagrant Indians recounted it. I have had the same driver tell it to me two or three times in the same afternoon. It has come to me in all the multitude of tongues that Babel bequeathed to earth, and flavored with whiskey, brandy, beer, cologne, sozodont, tobacco, garlic, onions, grasshoppers--everything that has a fragrance to it through all the long list of things that are gorged or guzzled by the sons of men. I never have smelt any anecdote as often as I have smelt that one; never have smelt any anecdote that smelt so variegated as that one. And you never could learn to know it by its smell, because every time you thought you had learned the smell of it, it would turn up with a different smell. Bayard Taylor has written about this hoary anecdote, Richardson has published it; so have Jones, Smith, Johnson, Ross Browne, and every other correspondence-inditing being that ever set his foot upon the great overland road anywhere between Julesburg and San Francisco; and I have heard that it is in the Talmud. I have seen it in print in nine different foreign languages; I have been told that it is employed in the inquisition in Rome; and I now learn with regret that it is going to be set to music. I do not think that such things are right.
Stage-coaching on the Overland is no more, and stage drivers are a race defunct. I wonder if they bequeathed that bald-headed anecdote to their successors, the railroad brakemen and conductors, and if these latter still persecute the helpless passenger with it until he concludes, as did many a tourist of other days, that the real grandeurs of the Pacific coast are not Yo Semite and the Big Trees, but Hank Monk and his adventure with Horace Greeley. [And what makes that worn anecdote the more aggravating, is, that the adventure it celebrates never occurred. If it were a good anecdote, that seeming demerit would be its chiefest virtue, for creative power belongs to greatness; but what ought to be done to a man who would wantonly contrive so flat a one as this? If I were to suggest what ought to be done to him, I should be called extravagant--but what does the sixteenth chapter of Daniel say? Aha!]
Twain was interested that by simply repeating a dull anecdote it eventually became hilarious. In his autobiography he describes using this passage in lectures, repeating the anecdote with a rough faith that the crowd would eventually be reduced to helpless laughter, except for one dull town, where four times in, the deadliest silence reigned. He describes the coldest sweat pouring down his face. It took a record five repeats to break that crowd.
A fine waste of 8 minutes- finding terms with more than 100 million google hits.
Sunscreen might be bad for you.
This is Nanda Devi. One of the most inaccessible mountains in the world, it is surrounded by a curtain wall of impassable ridges. Situated near the India-China border, it was the highest point in the British Empire. In 1934 Tilman and Shipton ("any worthwhile expedition can be planned on the back of an envelope") found a way through the walls as arduous and dangerous as any climb. Two years later Tilman climbed it, along with Noel Odell, the last man to see Mallory and Irvine alive on Everest - it was the tallest peak ever climbed until the French got up Annapurna in 1950.
The past year so I've been driving a lot and running a little again. In both activities I play music. And no matter how nobly I start (Brubeck, Mozart, Kitaro), I always end up playing rock. Loud.
Having spent the bulk of the last two weeks soldering a complex full size wire armature of a nude together, I was gratified by the reaction of one of the studio dogs - I must stress this is an actual dog. Phoebe (the dog in question) looked up, smelled the wire legs, backed up, came forward and wagged her tail, left, and came back with a ball which she dropped in front of the sculpture, looking up expectantly. The sculpture was decidedly non-plussed.
When they are handcuffing innocent taxi drivers to the ceiling until they die.
Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."Abuse, tortue, homicide in Afganistan, by the same officers that brought you Abu Grahib.
"...video games, played in moderation, can actually help young people develop mental skills that will serve them well in adult life."
...I meant tragic!
Apparently bombing abortion clinics and shooting doctors doesn't get you the #1 slot anymore.
USGS has a nifty new earthquake forecast map, predicting the probability of a 6.0 earthquake anywhere in California within the next 24 hours.
...by Ron English, here.
Calling Bush Darth Vader has always been a fairly weak joke (particularly since Cheney is obviously the real Darth Vader), except that it turns out that Darth Vader more or less is Bush as far as the Star Wars creators concerned. I am amazed to write that the buzz suggests that not only is the new Star Wars pretty good, it's a anti-Bush, anti-fascist metaphor, enough that the wee weeny whiny weasels on the right are already calling for a boycott. Kid Darth himself confirms it. The joke has been upgraded to metaphor.
Pew poll survey has Bush at a record 50% disapproval, 43% approval.
Well he got a reprimand, anyway.
This story on Microsoft on the BBC elicited this comment from my self:
If the script is any indication.
Boasting of bombing and killing Cuban tourist spots in the 1990s, likely responsible for a plane bombing that killed 76 people, a cuban exile and former CIA informant in hiding around will probably seek asylum in the US. Because, you know, of his long years of service to our country, helping Oliver North murder Nicaraguans with the Contras.
BBC/NPR: The CIA specifically ordered agents to literally bring back the head of Bin Laden, packed in dry ice.
The December 2004 New Yorker piece on Eric Idle ramping up "Spamalot" plus a short general history of the Pythons, is strangely encouraging, a light read that confirms the quality of something I already think is excellent, and shows how it is being used in a new and successful way.
China on Tuesday ruled out applying economic or political sanctions to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, appearing to undercut a crucial element of the Bush administration's evolving North Korea strategy. The announcement comes just as American intelligence agencies are trying to determine whether North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.
The Swiss pioneer an amazing combination of climatic pathos and hubris by wrapping a glacier in order to protect it from global warming.
BBC NEWS: China's Gang of Four member dies
A short family history internet search led to this little tidbit about a Cora Finch, who is almost certainly (from the time and place) my great-grandmother:
Winfield Courier (
) Kansas November 21, 1878
The following are the names of the scholars in the Second Intermediate Department of the Public Schools in this city who have been perfect, both in their lessons and deportment: Pearl Van Doren, Cora Finch, Ella Trezise, Emma Rodgers, Mary Kingsbury, Noah Davis, George Heisinger, Eddie Kelley, Paris Hittle, Jerome Vandeventer, and Jay Bryan.
EMMA SAINT, Teacher.
Never doubt Miss Saint.
Russia's VE Day is a day later than ours. This website is a good place to spend a few minutes thinking over the 60th anniversary of the end of the Real War, the Eastern Front. Some choice excerpts:
22 MAY, SUNDAY
There's a book dying to be written, if one of you has some spare time. In the past thirty years or so, jock culture has come to dominate every aspect of America life.
A for-profit charter school is making tons of money for Heritage Foundation cronies who are threatening to sue members of their parent/teacher organization (PTO) for posting critical comments on a web discussion board. Fortunately, Slashdot is on the story. This particular charter school, in my opinion and I hope I get sued, really only exists to create a school for white kids and to keep out that flood of kids in Florida who don't speak English.
But quite Republican, apparently.
The war in Europe ended. Lennard Grahn has a thoughtful piece on it all, and, he says, his last Panzer pic post. World War II is kind of fun for some people, because it has everything - good vs. evil, the chance for one tiny band to make a big difference, the future of civilization hanging in the balance. But up close it wasn't heroic, it was just awful...even the winners were severely traumatized by the whole thing.
It might be worth a little drive around your state to take mental note of the trees and remember what the forest was like. Bush changes the rules, opening up a third of America's undeveloped federal forests to road-building, logging, and eventual development. Don't worry, these are only the ancient, pristine, untouched ones, so the spindly, limbless, one species stump jumpers growing next to the scarred logging road won't be harmed. This is being done to "control wildfires," because as we all know the presence of forests is a prime cause of forest fires.
The problem with stories like the two US soldiers in Columbia caught selling ammunition to 'right wing paramilitaries', is that whether or not our government was actually involved, the story will read exactly the same way.
"There is absolutely no US policy and US support or US inclination or US military operations involved in arming paramilitaries," state department spokesman Richard Boucher said.The United States. Inclination Free.
The Scotsman is making some of it's very old archives available, including this report from Dr. Rae of the Franklin expedition not going terribly well in any sense.
Notes for MIT students observing Saturday's Time Traveller Convention.
During World War II the 15-year-old Hackworth lied about his age to fight in Italy. During Vietnam he designed and implemented unconventional warfare tactics -- and wrote the Vietnam Primer, considered by many to be the leading book on guerrilla warfare tactics inVietnam. Wounded eight times (until his death he carried a bullet from the Vietnam War in his leg), he racked up enough medals, he said, to declare himself the "Army's Most Decorated Soldier" -- though he admitted the U.S. Army has no such title.
In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I demand that medical authorities resort to extraordinary and expensive means to prolong my hellish, quasi-existence. Thirty years sounds about right.
With every smirking insinuation of treason against ordinary Americans who dared to question our invasion of Iraq, the right wing has a huge amount of explaining to do - the arrest of Franklin, one of Wolfowitz's minions suggests that the out-of-control security and lobbying apparatus of the far right is much more interested in perpetrating it's agenda than in the safety and freedom of the American people. The last sentence in the story is:
FBI counterintelligence investigators last year questioned current and former U.S. officials about whether other Iran specialists at the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office might have been involved in passing classified information to Chalabi or to AIPAC, sources have said.If you've ever read a Le Carre novel, you get the idea that the primary motivation of a security apparatus, like all bureaucracy, is to perpetuate itself. The motivation for passing these documents would presumably be to prop up Chalabi, and at the least to use AIPAC to pressure Congress on foreign policy.
This must be the breaking point. Even Texas feels the cold, clammy, groping hands of dictatorship.
It can only be called brilliant stupidity - an MIT student is testing the theory of possible time travel by publicizing a convention of time travellers; the potential attendees are of course, have been invited from from the future by making announcements like this one in the records of today.
The invitations ask visitors to turn up on the MIT campus at 8pm on Saturday and include precise latitude and longitude coordinates. "Time travel is a hard problem and may not be invented until long after MIT has faded into oblivion," they note.Visitors from the future are advised to bring proof of advanced technology, such as a cure for cancer or a working nuclear fusion reactor.
Another minion takes a fall.
This Onion piece is dead-on. After a long dry spell they've found some serious writers, though obviously no one who can challenge the dominance of Today's Tomorrow's Headlines. I had a conversation with a reporter the other day who was looking for an expert for a story, and rejected several qualified people I suggested - because they probably weren't going to be entertaining enough. A public radio reporter, I might add.
Nice to see religious nuts taking over our armed services. Given their preference for sex harassment, I guess they're the same religion as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.
A Canadian study suggests that the parents don't care as much about the ugly kids, letting them wandering off, not buckling them up, paying less attention.
This fellow's blog has three interwoven elements: Panzers, retro-babes, and his bleak but often beautiful art.
The currently plan to build the ITER, the experimental eletrical production fusion reactor, is on it's way. Basically, it is expected to prove existing technology can power commerically viable fusion energy. I suspect, and dearly hope, it will finally work.
In this set of incidents reported by a US soldier who became an honorably discharged objector in Iraq, the neo-con xenophobic disease is infecting our soldiers, hurting Iraqi citizens and extending the war. (NYT's Bob Herberty) Some of our soliders are descending into the petty cruelty that characterized the Vietnam era. I don't blame them exactly, but it's real and it's happening, and makes the difference between libertators and occupiers.
How to fly your autogyro, here: http://www.mygyroplane.com/aboutgyros.html