June 30, 2009

The Legend: An update

We first noted the estimable Tim Lincecum when he came up to the Giants in 2007. Despite concerns about his durability, he has remained a solid contributor for the team, starting 33 games in 2008, and, oh yes, winning the National League Cy Young Award.

A couple of updates on the 160-pound Noisy Cricket:
  • Walks per nine innings: 2007 - 4.0, 2008 - 3.3, 2009 ytd - 2.2
  • Strikeout/walk ratio: 2007 - 2.3, 2008 - 3.2, 2009 ytd - 4.6
  • Quality start % (MLB average is 49%): 2007 - 67%, 2008 - 79%, 2009 ytd - 81%
  • For his career... Batting average (righties) - .228, Batting average (lefties) - .219
Bill James has a tool called the Black Ink Test, which measures how many times a player has led the league in important statistical categories. The average Hall of Famer has 40 points under this metric. Juan Marichal, the greatest Giants pitcher of all time, has 34. Lincecum, midway through his 3rd season, has 16.

I still doubt he'll last. Of the 10 most similar pitchers to him through age 25, none are in the Hall. He reminds some people of Ben Sheets, who's been hurt a lot in his career. The guy he reminds me of the most is Bouton (of Ball Four fame), who threw so hard early in his career that his hat would fall off. Eventually, his arm did, too.

And then there's the EA curse...

Lincecum doesn't look hurt yet. Last night he shut out the Cardinals (6/30 clip...take a look at the fielding play he makes at 0:43) in what Schulman at the Chronicle says "might rank as the best start of his career." He was perfect into the 5th inning. He finished with eight strikeouts against zero walks. We're not talking about the Toledo Mud Hens here - he did that against one of the best lineups in the National League.

It can't last. No one stays at this level. But right now - well, he weighs 160 pounds and I can't say I've ever seen a better pitcher.

"That's 60, bitches."

This just in: Franken won.

June 29, 2009

No home is complete...

...without carnivorous robotic furniture.

June 27, 2009

Ethics in Blogging

I just want to point out that it would be wrong to steal a picture of Paris Hilton reading Sun Tzu's Art of War and use it as a cheap ploy to get hits on a blog.

I am certain it would be wrong under Kant's categorical imperative, because a world in which everyone posted a stolen picture of Paris Hilton reading Sun Tzu's Art of War on their blog would unquestionably be intolerable.

The utilitarian perspective is more problematic. In terms of the general welfare, it can't be wrong to steal an image if doing so promotes the general happiness. But if the image is disturbing...or just stupid...then it probably violates utilitarian ethics as well.

The stoics might disapprove, as they advocated following "where reason leads". Wherever reason leads, it certainly is not here.

I had been hoping to justify this under situational ethics, which I had been given to understand had a lot of loopholes. I am, however, unable to find one that would apply in this situation.

So, I am pretty sure it would be wrong to do that.

Thank you.

Ebert amok

An interesting meditation on the impermanence of electronic text, and possibly also the impermanence of Roger Ebert, from Roger Ebert. Kind of trippy.

But things really liven up in the comments section, as Ebert dashes off little responses and ripostes like:
  • If you can live a happy life, you will have made other people happy. Hitler is a man who made his mark.
  • Commenter: One more thing to remember: you are alive now. Ebert: I'll try to keep that in mind.
  • Ebert: Stephen Crane...

    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir I exist!"
    "However," replied the universe,
    "The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation."
But Ebert is always Ebert - here is the comment that prompted the post:
Commenter: Solomon, as he is about to relinquish the sum total of his immense and vast wisdom, starts the book of Ecclesiastes: "Meaningless. Everything is meaningless."

Ebert: Solomon should have realized that would have worked better as an ending.

Memo to all staff

It has come to management's attention that several interesting posts languish, incomplete. Please finish the following articles as soon as practicable:
  • "Perverting technology" (The President in Exile)
  • "Dear Dr. Kapital" (First Sea Lord)
  • "Brief Note Favoring Extreme Partisanship" (First Sea Lord)
  • "Polyglotitis, or Trying to Lick the World" (Corresponding Secretary General)
I have no unfinished posts, as I went back and published or deleted them all. But don't delete yours - they look interesting!

June 26, 2009

Chicken and Egg: My Solution

Thought experiment: if we accept basic evolutionary theory, we can assume a priori that at some point there was a fertile proto-chicken bird, or rather two, but no chickens as such existed. These birds would be at the very edge of something that was close to but did not meet our externally imposed definition of "chickenhood," although they exhibited strong elements of "chickenness."

Normally, the proto-chickens simply bred and created more proto-chickens. But there must have a been, at some point, a small mutation, one where two proto-chickens bred, and whose offspring we would call, just barely, a chicken.

That chicken, the very first chicken, which is after all a mutant proto-chicken, came from that egg. But THAT egg did not come from any chickens. Instead, it's parents were two proto-chickens.

So you can get a just-barely-a-chicken egg from just barely not-chicken parents. In fact, that's what must have happened.

Therefore, the Egg came before the chicken.

The contrary possibility, that the chicken came first, is based only on our observations of chickens as they are, not as they must have come to be. The idea that the chicken came first must presume that chickens never evolved as a species, but simply came into existence, and this is not supported by evidence. The debate has heretofore presumed, incorrectly, a sort of eternal, platonic chickenosity.

I should add that there is an interesting ambiguity about the egg remaining: Is it a chicken egg, or a proto-chicken egg, which produces the first chicken? The best answer is probably both- it is an egg birthed by proto-chickens, and also an egg containing the first chicken.

P.S. In spite of my original research here, my Macarthur grant seems to be held up in the mail again.

The Sum of All Monkey Replies:
What if "chicken-ness" resulted from environmental factors, turning on certain traits the resulted in a proto-chicken growing into a chicken instead? p.s. I'm stealing your grant.

My Response:

As far as I know, there are no examples of a new species emerging after birth from environmentally caused changes TO an individual, IN an individual. You might hang around the uranium mine, but it's your kid that grows into the race of atomic superpeople.

Chickenness- chicken-like characteristics- might emerge in an individual as new behavioral or biological characteristics from enviromental factors, but not I think chickenhood- the state of being a chicken, which I am assuming is a unique genetic condition. No environmental factor will change the biology so that the original proto-chicken becomes a chicken egg producing CHICKEN, although it did produce a chicken egg-producing PROTO CHICKEN.

But Hybridization of two related species happens often. As it turns out, chickens appear to be a hybrid of the Red and Grey Junglefowl: yes, proto-chickens! If the chicken is indeed a hybrid, as top genetic scientists are apparently busy proving, my case is verified empirically.

June 25, 2009

The passing of an entertainment Titan

The Laird once explained to me that the Carnac bit was "all Ed McMahon." Here is what he meant.

Ed discovered some of the greatest talents of modern times.

And he was a decorated Marine pilot.

Rest easy, Ed.

Mr. Scalia, I Apologize

Supreme Court rules that strip search of 13-year-old girl was unconstitutional (Clarence Thomas dissenting).

Six Ways of Looking at Mark Sanford

  • I was having trouble keeping the GOP sex scandals straight - this flowchart is a big help.
  • The Daily Show hit the Mark Sanford story perfectly, then - perhaps realizing the man had actual feelings for his mistress and was genuinely messed up and upset about what had happened - dropped it. Minority of one here, but I say Sanford's behavior appears to make sense in the context of a normal human life (as opposed to what some of these other clowns were up to). Stewart's tagline - "just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis" - seems about right. If we're going to mercilessly mock a disgraced Republican, let's pick someone else.
  • Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury News, once known as a 'news-paper', put the text of Sanford's e-mails to his lover on the front page, so that an inquiring and educated public, exercising their Right to Know, could judge for themselves whether his romantic blandishments distinguished him as a possible presidential contender in 2012. Yes, I know they were repeating the story from South Carolina's The State. And I suppose this is big news in whitey no-sexy land. But so what? All of this occurred as California's government teetered on the brink of insolvency - a development that the Merc placed, if I recall correctly, below the fold.
  • Sanford owes Michael Jackson - big time.
  • Maybe Sanford has enough time to reconcile with his wife, have a religious experience, and come back and contend in 2012. I doubt it - more likely he's the new Gary Hart - but this episode has humanized him and made him a national figure. He has to figure out how to keep his current job though, and that may be a little tricky in chaste-judgmental-moralistic South Carolina.
  • Clinton's intern-diddling can't hold a candle to these guys. And karma's a bitch.

June 23, 2009

Set Schadenfreudenators to "Discredit"

The Mark Sanford enigma is my favorite type of political story - in the complete absence of facts, the press is left to simply note, over and over again, the complete absence of facts. The cumulative absence of facts creates a critical mass of fact absence that drives media activity (and insinuation) to a higher the highest possible level.

As I prepare for my late-night talk show, a few questions for the pundits who will be my guests:
  • These latest claims - that the governor was seen at Atlanta airport when he was allegedly hiking the Appalachian trail - what do you make of them?
  • Jenny Sanford, reportedly, is saying she still has not heard from her husband. Where is she in all of this? What is her duty to her husband here?
  • Do you think she might have strongly objected to his plans to hike the Appalachian Trail?
  • Isn't it...odd...for a sitting governor to abandon his security detail like that?
  • His wife said he was writing something - what do you think he was writing?
  • Some say that the Republicans had really put the whole secretly gay thing behind them - given all that's happened, do you think there may be some reassessment of that?
  • Does the Appalachian Trail go through Atlanta? (Have intern check)
  • They say he'll be back in his office tomorrow - given all that's happened, do you think that's really likely?
  • Do you think the media is blowing this out of proportion?
  • Could you list for us the stories you think have been most unfair?

Outsourcing FAIL

The Dreamliner delayed yet again.

It seems to boil down to the this: after receiving huge tax breaks to stay in Washington, Boeing decided to outsource everywhere on the planet it could to build the 787, not so much to save money, it didn't, actually the reverse, but to provide jobs to other countries to spark orders.

In what was a complete surprise, the effin parts didn't fit. Several years later...

June 22, 2009

America for Porcelain.

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." -- John Adams -- 1780

June 21, 2009

Now I'm a Trained, Professional Artist, Well-Paid, Looked-Up To, and With a Real Future! And Look at My Model!

I have been fascinated for years by the refusal of Archie comics to leave every supermarket checkout stand in America, without ever seeing anyone buy one. When there was nothing else to chat with the checker about, I'd ask if they ever sold any personally. Rather than say yes, it was more like "well I mean we must, right?"

In spite of 3 decades of my total indifference, the eternal Riverdale love triangle churned away. The last I'd thought of it was about the time Jughead hats showed up in San Francisco raves in the 90s, and yet notorious "girl-hater" Jughead had ironically removed his hat at the same time. Between this and the Richie Rich, I still mistrust anyone named "Reggie."

Now, Archie finally stops cutting bait, and it's Veronica. Personally I'm with Archie on this- if it's been 70 years and she's still into you, go for the glorious bitch-goddess. If you want a jealous folder of your laundry, Betty's your girl.

And yes, in this great metaphyscial false dichotmoy, I tend to date Veronicas. That's an issue for another post. Or book.

Anyway, this got me thinking about distinct childhood comic things, in particular the ads. I largely eschewed your average superheroes in my comics, preferring war or adventure stories for the most part. Superheroes frankly seemed a little childish or emptily scary. But as far as I was concerned, you couldn't off enough Nazis.

But we all shared the same ads. These stuck with me:

Polaris Submarine!

100 Toy Soldiers. I wanted these something awful, but smelled a rat, and according to reports, they were indeed crap. But the ad- an entire plain of war, in which you are the mighty commander....

Grit newspaper? It was a fascinating possibility- earn your own business as a small boy. Did you ever see an issue? No. And yet, it is still in print, with a 100,000 red state circulation and a website, no less, featuring praise of country churches, and a chicken recipe.

And well this one, obviously. I haven't quite got to the three times the money part.

Veronica, WWII, submarines, Be an Artist. I guess it was true- comics rot your brain.

Nothing Like a Good Sea Chase

A U.S. destroyer tracks a mysterious North Korean ship headed for Myanmar, and nefarious things may be aboard. North Korea threatens to respond to sanctions with "retaliation."

I always find profound international crises better with a good sea chase.

Also on topic: Alaska's missile defense system, which is designed for rogue states, which is North Korea, and which is supported by Sen. Mark Begich, doesn't work , because of straightforward countermeasures and pesky laws of physics. (Note to Mark, look, I understand, man, federal moon juice and all, but in the interests of the country this has to be scrapped). Note this creepy site, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, which also in Polish, because of a Bush era iniative to put these non-working missile defense systems in Russia.

They have a nice shot of the Schaudenfreudenator, though.

June 19, 2009

Despite everything, Wisconsin remains loyal

June 18, 2009

Photos of Painting Process

(Link fixed..)

These photos are being done to document a commission for clients in the Bay Area, from raw lumber to a complete painting, begun this week. The sketches, both early ideas and full knock-up cartoons, were made earlier.

There is a specialty tool for this process, called canvas pliers. These are of course normally used by dilettantes and dandies."

Catching Up on My Book Reviews

I am slowly wending my way through Updike's Due Considerations, and it is a profoundly embittering experience. I despise his neurotic and self-indulgent fiction, but his essays, and especially his book reviews, are really accomplished. Every damned one of them is a carefully-crafted gem. Every...damned...one...of...them.

It wasn't always so - this terrific article explains how Updike's reviewing advanced from precious solipsism to the craftsmanship of his later years. His rules for reviewers are well-judged, and anyone who wishes to seriously review books should make them a touchstone for their own work.

Screw it, I'm in a hurry. Here are some recent books and what I think of them:
Updike, eat your heart out.

The Kindle 2: The Devil's Money-Sucking Time Sink

My wife got it a couple of months ago. I ignored it, told her to send it back.

"Let's do without these damn gadgets." - Dylan Thomas

After a month of arguing about it I tried it out. One day, they will pry it from my cold dead fingers. If you like to read, and especially if you travel a lot, this is the alpha and omega, the best electronic device ever created, your personal deliverance from an idiot-world of info-junk and push-content.

Your $359 gets you this (pencil not included):

Actually, the cover is an extra $30. You can economize and not get the cover, but without a cover you might as well get out a ball-peen hammer and wreck the thing now. Survivability is not its strong suit.

  • The display is easy-to-read, even in bright sunlight. Text size is adjustable.
  • Built-in wi-fi allows you to quickly download a huge selection of books, magazines, and newspapers, no matter where you are (unless you live in some remote place, like, say, Alaska).
  • You can e-mail pdf or word processing docs to yourself and read them on the Kindle.
  • Nice selection of newspapers. Getting on the plane in Albuquerque I realized I didn't have anything to read. $0.75 later I had Financial Times and was good to go. You can't get it for any price at most airports. Could've had the New York Times (also frequently unavailable) or the Times Literary Supplement if I'd preferred.
  • Having dropped around $400 on the device, you save maybe $10 per book. Some newspapers are cheaper. My Kindle 2 has about paid for itself in three months.
  • Battery lasts about a week at a time for me (I usually turn off wi-fi). Recharges pretty fast.
  • Great clipping function lets you flag text and then (using the USB cable) transfer it to your desktop. Most newspapers let you clip entire articles with a mouse click.
  • Ergonomics are outstanding. They say the goal was to have the thing 'disappear' as you read it, and they came pretty close to achieving that.
  • Holds around 1,500 books. You can literally take your library with you.
  • Text is searchable. Works great.
  • Bottom line: you never have to sit around doing nothing again. Bus rides, train rides, airport waiting lines, taxi rides, shuttle buses, airport lounges, corporate waiting rooms, hotel lobbies, are all now just places to read. Read anything you want, when you want, with no fuss or hassle, except for maybe in the shower.

  1. The Letters of E.B. White
  2. Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers
  3. Thomas Boswell's Cracking the Show
  4. John Updike's More Matter: Essays and Criticism
  5. Heinrich Boll's The Clown
  6. Vonnegut's Mother Night
And so it goes. To continue my complaints:
  • Can't read it in the dark unless you buy the $20 clip-on light.
  • Books almost always suffer typos in the conversion process. It's usually not too bad, but expect 10x or 20x the typos of a regular book or newspaper.
  • Graphics processing is dodgy - some graphics come through nicely, others don't. This is fixable, and as the device evolves the problems will probably go away, maybe just through software upgrades. This fellow couldn't wait and has created a Manga hack:

  • The Kindle runs on Java and Linux, so you guys could probably turn it into a satellite control platform if you wanted to.
  • Sixteen shades of gray, but no color - get the Hiroshige anthology in hardcopy.
  • Tables? Bwah hah hah hah! Forget it. If it's not encoded as a graphic, it's total effing mess.
  • While the clippings function is convenient, the clippings file omits paragraph returns or linefeeds or whatever they're called nowadays. This means that if you want to clip and use an article you have to reformat it by hand (or find a conversion protocol that I haven't found yet). That sucks.
  • As I said, survivability is not its strong suit. Don't drop it. Don't spill anything on it. Don't shake it. Don't yell at it. If you take it to the beach, you're on your own.
But the biggest downside of the Kindle 2 is that it's too good. Now that you never have to waste another minute, you need to be a little careful about reading all the time, blowing $10-$20-$30 a day on books, then losing your job and being evicted because you can't make rent. Seriously, if you like to read, it's like meth that doesn't ruin your teeth.

And I mean that in a good way.

June 17, 2009

I knew your father Luke, he fought in the browser wars

Microsoft Australia fires the latest salvo with this interesting ad campaign based around a contest that can only be won if you use Internet Explorer 8

Firefox (or an avid fan) fires back with this web site:


For the full effect, I recommend you zoom in.

Way in.

I was going to suggest

Perhaps long-term preparations should commence for the 7th anniversary of this...whatever this is. I thought perhaps we could collect some of the better material and publish it as a book (if the Beardstown Ladies could get a book, we certainly can).

I was also going to suggest that we pick "best post" in different categories (silly, satirical, political, historical, metaphysical, artistic, bitchy, etc.). But that may perhaps be moot as the post immediately below this one totally pwns every other post and wins the Internet outright.

It takes all kinds!

You're right, this is totally, exactly, the same

Actual tweet from actual page of actual Republican Congressman

Not quite in the same league as Blagovitch comparing himself to Ghandi.

But it's up there.

Labels: , ,

June 15, 2009


- Streets of Tehran Fill With Millions of Jonas Brothers Haters

- Sarah Palin Offended At Gallagher's Anti- Fruit Perversion

- Buffalo Gal Moves for Restraining Order

- Mice: Adorable Kittens Emerging as "Existential Threat"

- Robots: "Our Plan For World Domination Must Now Await Widespread Adoption of Windows 7"

- Obama Brings Cauliflower and Steak to the Table

- Republican Anger Swells at Denny's Menu

FEATURE- Kobe Bryant Makes a Wicked Chai Latte

A TODAY'S URGENT HEADLINES TODAY'S URGENT OPINON, by North Korean Communist Dictator Kim Jong Il:

"Make Your Azaleas Thrive With the Use of Simple Organic Compost from the Leftover Vegetable Waste in Your Own Kitchen."

It was as if millions of Broncos fans suddenly cried out...

Kyle Orton finds a home.

June 14, 2009

More history than I meant to learn

I was lounging recently at the estimable Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois, and happened to pick up a lounge-worn copy of Fletcher Pratt's The Navy, a History; the Story of a Service in Action. As every schoolboy knows, Fletcher Pratt was an American original, a prolific author who, after writing a series comprehensive histories of the American military, went on to a career as one of the pioneer American science fiction writers.

His history of the Navy, written in the late 30's, of course predates some of the greatest achievements in American naval arms. But not all - thanks to Patrick O'Brian we now have have some awareness to the whipping U.S. frigates gave the Royal Navy during the War of 1812. Less well-remembered is the decisive engagement on Lake Erie, which every schoolboy really did use to know about. Oliver Hazard Perry's first dispatch after the engagement:

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

It gives you a sense of how Americans thought of themselves before World War II - self reliant, industrious, proudest of having passed those early tests of nationhood.

Pratt's book is one of those efforts in which it becomes obvious the author knows too much to commit to paper (he invented and often played an insanely elaborate naval war game). But he makes a particular point of emphasizing the skillful gunnery of U.S. warships of this period. He reports (unsourced) an overheard conversation between two British MPs, during a crisis in the years after 1812. We don't want to go back there in force, one says, for whenever we do "we are roughly handled."

According to Pratt, the senior men of this force had mostly served under one man - a fellow named Edward Preble. He was commander of U.S. forces in the First Barbary War, and masterminded the burning of the Philadelphia (by the estimable Decatur) off Tripoli Harbor.
Over the course of his career, Preble helped establish many of the modern Navy's rules and regulations. Described as a stern taskmaster, he kept high discipline upon the ships under his command. He also dictated that his ships be kept in a state of readiness for any action while under sail, something many US naval officers at the time did not insist upon. The men listed in the previous paragraph took his procedures to heart at a time when the US Navy was highly unregulated. Many of Preble’s procedures became doctrine after the establishment of an official US Navy. The officers serving under him during his career also went on to become most influential in the Navy Department after his death, and together they proudly wore the unofficial title of "Preble's Boys."
So, I felt a little more American than usual, sitting there in Illinois, reading Pratt about Preble.

Then I learned a little more about that magical Pre-WWII era. Pratt dedicated one of his books to a fellow named Bernard DeVoto, "who taught me to write." DeVoto looks like another great guy - an excellent writer, a champion of national parks and the preservation of open spaces, a loyal and decent American.

A loyal and decent American who got an education of sorts from J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI in those days would drop by from time to time and ask questions about friends and acquaintances. He tried to be cooperative - after all, if the the country's being infiltrated by communists who wouldn't want to help root them out? But after a while, he got fed up:

How many are having their reading, their recreation, their personal associations secretly investigated?... I say it has gone too far. We are dividing into the hunted and the hunters.

Representatives of the FBI ... have questioned me, in the past, about a number of people and I have answered their questions. That's over. From now on any representative of the government, properly identified, can count on a drink and perhaps informed talk about the Red (but non-Communist) Sox at my house. But if he wants information from me about anyone whatsoever, no soap.

I like a country where it's nobody's damn business what magazines anyone reads, what he thinks, whom he has cocktails with. I like a country where we do not have to stuff the chimney against listening ears and where what we say does not go into the FBI files along with a note from S-17 that I may have another wife in California.
Hoover responded by investigating the enemy more closely, as described in this article. Astonishingly, "even today [1994], much remains untold. The FBI, in releasing 197 pages on DeVoto, has also censored portions of many documents - by blacking them out with a marking pen. One page is so sensitive the agency won't release it at all."

So I suppose Fletcher Pratt taught me more than I intended to learn. He reminded me of the things that made America different and great. But he also reminded me how close we have come, in our naivete, to becoming what we fear most.

"The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it."
- Adolf Hitler

Happy Flag Day.

June 13, 2009

Ronnie Lott was a sissy

If I'm the Commissioner I take the Stanley Cup away from the Penguins and give it to the Red Wings because of this. Nutstrong, indeed.

June 11, 2009

Vick to Seahawks?

Mora hints, then denies it...for now.

Schadenfreude overload!

More here.


Fun fact: Apple's Snow Leopard OS has built-in Exchange support. Windows 7 does not. "Freaky but true" says Gizmodo.

June 10, 2009

Night Music, pt. 4

Stan Getz and Kenny Barron play 'People Time'.

The album - Getz's last and one of the best jazz albums of the past twenty years - is here.

Getz was known as "The Sound", and he developed that tone by imitating his idol, Lester Young.

Hodgman Solves California's Problems

"It's like they want to be Europe over there, but with no taxes and nice teeth. It can't be done."

June 08, 2009

A Sad Passing

My Mom died 2 weeks ago after a very short but bloody struggle with ALS. She was a fucking awesome mom and a top-notch technical editor. Obituary Below.


Incidentally, my father also died of ALS. They were both diagnosed when they were 83. I guess I'd better get that "Trip to Europe" done before I hit 80. It is extremely rare for this disease to hit a husband-and-wife couple.

I intend to write a more lengthily Bio about my Mom but right now I'm still a bit rattled.

Love to you all,


Hi-Tech Fascism

China: sell a computer here, it now requires built-in censorship.

Technology does not free us, not in the slightest, nor does capitalism, not without the culture of freedom. Destroy this, like when computer manufacturers and software firms- American ones- roll over and lick China's boots a few weeks from now, grumbling but doing everything they want, and it's party on, dictators.

June 07, 2009

From '95 'til now

The Chronicle tracks a Bayview kindergarten class from 1995 to the present in this feature. In some places, their teacher, Kanikah LeMon, would be recognized as the hero she is.

It's really a shame that there isn't more money available to get more great outcomes like this. But our society is terribly poor and the funds for better education just aren't there. In other news,
  • The San Francisco 49ers plan to build a $1 bn stadium in Santa Clara (this has angered SF mayor Gavin Newsom, who might use city funds to sue the team)
  • Allergan predicts that recession will drive down Botox sales below $1.3 bn this year.
  • A movie about a hangover grossed $44 mm this weekend
(Meanwhile, the Palo Alto Board of Education has approved the use of Everyday Math, a textbook that has students stand up and move their arms around in angles so they can understand math. A less-gimmicky Singaporean textbook, used by a local private school, was rejected. Palo Alto, is also seeking federal infrastructure funds because it is "underserved" for Internet access.)

Being stupid is one thing. Choosing to be stupid is just...what's the word I'm looking for?

June 06, 2009

What I learned from Shih Kien

Shih Kien has passed away. Although he played the villain in many Hong Kong martial arts movies, he is best remembered for his role in Enter the Dragon:

I actually learned something from this movie, mainly not to fuck with old guys who are really good at being evil. He debates The Black Guy, and takes the position that ruthless exploitation of the enemy's weaknesses trumps aesthetics. The Black Guy ("bull-SHIT Mister Hand-Man") takes the view that he's going to look good, and that's going to see him through. He argues that Shih Kien's views are not grounded in reality.

In this case, ugly wins, and The Black Guy discovers that it is difficult to maintain an orderly aesthetic when one is having one's ass kicked through a brothel.

It is up to Bruce Lee to restore the Keatsian logical equality (equational form) of truth and beauty.

Bruce says: "You have offended my fa-mi-ly...and you have offended a Shao-Lin temple."
Shih Kien says nothing, just holds up the claw... Talk to the claw, Bruce.
Which he proceeds to do.

I was wondering whatever happened to Jim Kelly, who got that schooling from Shih Kien. Well, he talks about Bruce here, and made Black Belt Jones and other interesting movies I never saw. He's fine, apparently, and makes a key appearance in this homage.

He learned well from Shih Kien. This world lays many snares for the unwary.

Faked moon video so you won't worry about aliens


Stop resisting arrest...Grandma!

Texas cop tasers 72 year-old woman because she wouldn't sign a ticket. I'm sure he shouted "ma'am" after every sentence, so it's all good.

June 05, 2009

Night Music, pt. 3

I am not too clear on all aspects of modern philosophy, but I am pretty sure that the world is all that is the case, and also that whereof we cannot speak we must pass over in silence. Satie's Gnosiennes fall into the latter category. Anyway

Gnosienne No. 1
Gnosienne No. 2
Gnosienne No. 3


Hall of Fame analysis from Baseball-Reference.com:

Black InkPitching - 96 (7), Average HOFer ≈ 40
Gray InkPitching - 282 (13), Average HOFer ≈ 185
Hall of Fame MonitorPitching - 330 (3), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
Hall of Fame StandardsPitching - 65 (12), Average HOFer ≈ 50

Yes, that should be adequate.

Microhelmet! Microhelmet! Microhelmet!

I know it'd made me a bad parent, but I need to get one of these for the kids.

Well, first a time machine so we could shop for it, but I digress

June 04, 2009

Somewhere, Scalia is rubbing his hands in anticipation

Taser for DNA sample? No problem.

B-17 Boy Scouts

A WWII Pilot with 30 combat missions (L, obscured by the light ) shows Seattle boy scouts the inside of the last Boeing B-17F, being restored at Plant #2, where over 5000 of the aircraft were built. May, 2009

Tiananmen and The Power of Painting

NYT- A former solider at Tiannamen Square, later turned performance artist, goes back and paints what he saw, death, destruction, murder of the unarmed, and in particular, a roughly hacked off ponytail.

When people stop panicking themselves into a censorous froth about painting, I'll know painting is dead. But this keeps happening, and because of the personal nature of it, always will. The Venice Biennial's entry from Iceland gets to the same problem in the turgid contemporary art world- a meta-piece supposedly about painting, that secretly, is actually painting. Unfortunately, the painting isn't very good. Surprise!

I note that even in the New York Times, there was oddly no link to the direct images, in either story. The even, seamless, machine glaze of photography that equates all images keeps you nice and safe.

In the meantime, please enjoy and be horrified by the paintings of Zhi Lin, one of my grad school profs at UW, who has some experience of those years, and turned the curiously French academic style of Maoist era art instruction against the Chinese government murder of its own citizens protesting peacefully for democracy; people who were killed by the thousands, probably, without, I might add, any real help or more than formal protest from Bush 41. They had put up a STATUE of liberty, for god's sake-this moment was also a nadir in American history.

Update: I can't find the paintings on Google, or Bing, for that matter. This has me worried. Is Google pleasuring China's dictators yet again?

I think what I will do from now on: whenever China's leadership makes noises about reasonableness and capitalism and the earth's climate and Tibet, I will take a fresh look at Zhi's paintings, such as this fine work, "Capital Executions in China: Decapitation."

Note too, his newer work on early Chinese immigration in the U.S.


This repost yesterday of the NY Times story on Chen Guang included the thought the they hadn't actually published the paintings in any detail- I also wrote the reporter and received an interesting reply. But today, I cannot find any images in Google- or Bing for that matter -of Chen Guang's paintings of the Tianamen massacre, only references to the story and that single, very limited photo of the artist smoking- like you do.

I'm not ready to call conspiracy yet, however...

I have no Chinese language skills- if you can find his paintings in detail please send me the link.

June 03, 2009

Look, I'm a Busy Man

Tonight's post is a John Hodgman rerun. Enjoy.

June 02, 2009

Krugman Smackdown on the Original Dumbass

In the least surprising information since the invention of information, Krugman points out that our problems today started with Ronald Reagan, and a titanic misalignment of wealth that fed bad policy after bad policy.

I knew this was going to be trouble the very first day in undergraduate Macro, in 1982, when the professor attempted to prove that all economic behavior was rational by pointing to efficient "decisions" by bacteria. I went..."wait a minute..."

If you assume that, you start making an idol of Mammon. Or Reagan.

Also, I barely got through calculus.