June 28, 2012

How did I let this get away?

June 26, 2012

There goes Stockton


But don't worry, they're going to work it so the Santa Clara stadium financing deal goes through anyway.

June 25, 2012

On the shelf

Some mystery stories mentioned in the Wodehouse oeuvre, compiled in Richard Usborne's enjoyable Plum Sauce:

  • Blood on the Bannisters
  • Excuse my Gat!
  • Gore by the Gallon
  • Guess Who!
  • The Casterbridge Horror
  • Murder at Mistleigh Manor
  • Murder at Bilbury Manor
  • The Man With the Missing Toe
  • Murder at Murslow Grange
  • The Murglow Manor Mystery
  • The Poisoned Pen
  • Severed Throats
  • Three Dead on Tuesday

June 24, 2012

I'm sure everything will be fine...

Other farmers have tested their Tifton 85 grass, and several in Bastrop County have found their fields are also toxic with cyanide...  Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are dissecting the grass to determine if there might have been some strange, unexpected mutation.


I vote 'yes'


Dictatorships are never as strong as they think they are, and people are never as weak as they think they are.


June 22, 2012

Just maybe the problem is elitism

From Death by Degrees, by the editors of n+1:
Not all the demons identified by the Tea Party have been phantoms. We on our side are right to reject rule by the 1 percent — and so are they right to reject rule by a credentialed elite. Introductory economics courses paint “rent-seekers” as gruesome creatures who amass monopoly privileges; credential-seekers, who sterilize the intellect by pouring time and money into the accumulation of permits, belong in the same circle of hell.

June 21, 2012

They don't make economists like this anymore

Dr Kapital tweets:

Farewell and good rest to Anna Schwartz.  I do not, however, expect the younger generation to rush out to buy A Monetary History of the United States.  Their loss.

Your plutocracy at work

The Supreme Court zooms in on the burning issue of the day, one of the biggest problems in America:  unions.  Their excesses must be reined in!

Breyer gave a rare oral dissent from the bench on Thursday. He noted that the court, without hearing argument, had issued a broad decision that effectively declares existing laws in many states unconstitutional.
"This court does not normally find state laws unconstitutional without, at least, giving those who favor the law an opportunity to argue the matter," he said sardonically.

June 20, 2012

Your Morphy number is probably 7...no, wait, 5!

Tonight I learned of the Morphy number, which is similar to the Erdős number.  I have a (high) Erdős number, and I would guess Sum or the Laird might, too, if their research papers are not still classified (check here for co-authors).

But to get the Morphy number, instead of co-authoring a paper, you must play a game of chess. And you must be able to connect that game of chess back to the first American chess genius, Paul Morphy.  As Taylor Kingston points out, this has great potential for livening up social gatherings:
Imagine the excitement at your next party:  your guests all gathered around the board, you pull a card with, say, the name "Eugene Znosko-Borovsky," and you immediately announce "Three!  Starting with Schiffers at St. Petersburg in 1902, who played Paulsen at Frankfurt in 1887, who played Morphy at New York, 1857."  You receive universal applause and the admiring stares of beautiful women.
I think it must be harder to have a Morphy number - unlike Erdős, who was doing research right up until his death in 1996, the genius Morphy last touched a chess piece in 1861.

And yet, it turns out, I do have one:
  • Morphy played Bird in 1858
  • Bird played Janowski in 1895
  • Janowski played Reshevsky in 1922...this is the tough link - Reshevsky was one of the few who played top-flight players both before and after World War II.  He was a child prodigy, so his first game in the chessgames.com database (a loss against the estimable Rubinstein) was in 1917, his last in 1991.
  • Reshevsky played Fischer many times, the first in 1956
  • Fischer played my friend Larry's dad this one time in the 1950s (Hans Kmoch adjudicated a draw)
  • Larry's dad played me in 1983, annihilating me with his Diemer-Duhm gambit
  • And you have probably played me
So your Morphy number is probably 7...

Wait a minute!  I played Reshevsky!  I forgot that when I was in college you could send Reshevsky fifty bucks and he'd play you a game by mail.  I did, and got slaughtered in about 15 moves (a positional crush out of an Austrian attack in the Pirc as I recall...a total refutation of my preferred variation...not all that pleasant or educational, actually).  And, unfortunately, the scoresheet was lost around the time I broke up with my girlfriend back in '89.  

But still, that means my Morphy number is 4...!  And that means yours is probably 5.  Which makes you pretty special, not that you weren't already.  So, next time you play a game of chess, you can tell your opponent their Morphy number is 6.

You have my word on it.


June 19, 2012

A monster reflects

A Caliban speech from The Tempest:

The isle is full of noises, 
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. 
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments 
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices, 
That, if I then had waked after long sleep, 
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming, 
The clouds methought would open and show riches 
Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked, 
I cried to dream again.

Ceaseless Benefits of Advanced Technology for the Dignity of Man

Admiral Horatio Nelson, A Man In the Undignified Primitive Times Before High Technology

Advanced High Technology Man of the Current Now, Using Canon's New Mixed Reality System, or MRS

June 18, 2012

I like this kid

Just one year away from the Utopia level

"He doesn't play every day but returns to what he called a 'hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation' when he has some free time."

June 17, 2012

Not much time left

The Tempest has one more week to run in Orinda.

It's a good production, though there were things I didn't care for (like leaving Gonzalo on the cutting room floor).  But it's the freaking Tempest, no point getting picky.

Erika Chong Shuch as Ariel is so perfect I cannot imagine ever seeing better.  At one point Prospero instructs Ariel to bring forth a wind...Ariel gestures, and the wind starts blowing into Bruns amphitheatre.  Must have been tough to rehearse.

Next year they're doing Pericles Prince of Tyre (link).  Can they pull it off?  This group is very smart and they can act - I'll be there to find out.

Gives me a powerful thirst


- He thinks terrorists are out to get him.

- He's crazy.

- But the court has ruled him competent to stand trial.

- Maybe he's not crazy...maybe terrorists really are out to get him.

- No, there's nothing to fear, anyone who thinks terrorists are out to get him is crazy.

- But competent to stand trial.

- Yup.

- Just out of curiosity, have the court papers been sealed so no one can know what's going on?

- ...


June 16, 2012

Out of the park

Dr Kapital tweets:

That is known as "hitting the bid."

Against all odds

This is pretty good. 

Barack Obama= Insane Soldier
Mitt Romney= Dark Spawn
Sarah Palin= Guilty Gods

Various Eisengeisters...
  • Forsaken Soldier
  • Illegal Tendencies 
  • Forsaken Fury
  • Dark Warriors
  • Forbidden Death
  • Forbidden Kill
  • Black Thorn
  • Forsaken Rage
Tim Young gets the best one:  Witch's Fire

Tell me he wasn't.

June 14, 2012


Hey East Coast media, how do you like them apples?

The Giants must be doing something right.  A World Championship in 2010, now their first perfect game, only the 22nd in Major League history.

But I have to say, as deserving as Cain is, I don't feel much for the Giants.  I greatly admired that 2010 team, but most of them are gone now.  Some were cut loose almost immediately - Cody Ross, the big gun of September, Edgar Renteria, who had that legendary called shot, Juan Uribe, Andres Torres.  Others are sidelined, perhaps permanently - Brian Wilson, Aubrey Huff, Freddie Sanchez.  The ace of that magical team, Lincecum, has lost his fastball and his confidence. 

It doesn't help that management seems determined to bury those  memories.  It's a colder, meaner organization now.  The Giants may or may not have engineered the departure of broadcaster Ralph Barbieri, who had as much as anyone to do with the building of the new park as anyone.  But they made sure the papers knew they didn't mind.  And they may or may not be behind the recent pathetic attempts to bring Barry Bonds - one of the worst human beings to ever play baseball - back into the public eye.  But they played along.

It is hubris gentlemen.  Your championship - your ONE championship - had nothing to do with Barry Bonds.  It had everything to do with a group of determined veterans - men you seem determined to discard and forget as quickly as possible - fighting for every base, every run, every out.  It had everything to do with a bunch of cocky kid pitchers who were out to prove something to the world.

While you were busy toasting Clubhouse Poison and bad-mouthing a broadcaster who loves San Francisco sports as much as anyone alive, one of those cocky kids - not really a kid anymore - threw the first perfect game in the history of your franchise tonight.

His name is Matt Cain.

June 13, 2012

Thomas Jefferson, Advocate of Following, With Our Frequent TIF star, David Brooks

David Brooks, Art Critic.   It is the special genius of wriggling, triangulating NY Times centrists to spot a somewhat interesting topic, here on  monument design, misread everything important about it, equate incomparable things like the Tea Party and Occupy, and come to a ridiculous yet profoundly mealy-mouthed conclusion about obeying your betters.  Particularly, as the Jefferson memorial has very little to do with inspiring  following. 

We could talk productively about the decline of elegant, curvilinear and geometric grace in monument design, trying to do monuments on the cheap, the decline of civic life, or better yet, the organized assault of Financialists on democractic institutions, but here is a great example of why David Brooks is the reason I have had to revive the Revolutionary-era word "Loyalist." Brooks is a Loyalist, so much so, that if he's ever caught with in flagrento Delicto with a knee-high booted Mistress with a whip, I shall be quite unable to affect surprise.

*(trying to coin an expression meaning "an authoritarian belief in the social supremacy of unelected financial stakeholders over both democratic civic institutions and individual autonomy."

June 12, 2012

Does irony count?

Carrying any trait to an extreme, and doing it well, shows genetic fitness.


Genghis Khan unavailable for comment, though some of his descendants might be reachable.

Welcome to my world

Oh, you're afraid those religious schools may indoctrinate kids and make them intolerant?


Ok, you win

Until the water reaches my lower lip, and then I'm going to mention it to somebody!


June 11, 2012

For eating your sprench spries?

Behold the titantium spork.

But by all means vote Republican

The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday.  (link)

And yet America is richer than ever.  GDP is up, corporate profits making new highs.  How can....ohhhhh....median.

Well there's your problem

"Is it still necessary for kids to learn their times table when they can pick up their iPhone and ask Siri what is 20 times 2?" asked Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators.


June 10, 2012

Google challenge

I'm listening to BBC Radio 5's Up All Night right now on iTunes, and they have a really cool segment on, playing excerpts of Ray Bradbury lectures from the 1960s.

No link on their website yet, but it's is very good.  Once they podcast it, it's worth hearing.

June 09, 2012

Go Mariners

The rarely-seen six-man no-no.

June 08, 2012

The Trump Tax

"Of all the awesome taxes out there, the Trump Tax is the classiest one ever."

Struggles with art rent, and my proposal for a graduated tax on idled urban property held in speculation.

June 07, 2012

This map is so right

I remember it well.  I can only compare the Anchorage of my childhood to ancient Athens.  Each day was, even then, a fusillade of cerebral ordnance, an unrelenting cognitive mêlée.  Utopians to the left of me, Spenglerites to the right, every conversation a crawl through barbed wire across a no-man's land of intractable, deeply held, yet dynamic and staggering rigorous intellectual beliefs.  You couldn't even get a bacon cheeseburger at Arctic Roadrunner unless you first proved yourself in phenomenological combat or Marxist dialectics.  Many's the time I saw the logical positivists huddled outside, thin and shivering, staring hungrily through those frost-paned windows.

San Francisco is kind of dumb in comparison, as this map shows, but at least it's not as bad as Boston-Manchester, the vapid heart of American intellectual pretension, the feeble center of the obsolete, obsolescent, and obtuse, the soulless oogonium (in the thallophytian sense) of benighted pedantry.

As for those impostors in Charlotte and Lafayette, I suppose it all depends on whether you want to make a boiler, or get the right answer, doesn't it?

Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?

That's just crazy talk

"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election."


New York is Dead Yet Again

"Should I move to New York?" was once the cliche question for American artists, like Hollywood for actors.  Art as such is still thriving there by most accounts, the sales scene is huge and if you're saying "the Gagosian called: should I show in New York, even if they show terrible, plagiarized paintings by over-rated singers like Bob Dylan?" ...

New York is Dead Yet Again at The Amplitude of Time.

June 06, 2012

Proposed Romney slogan

"America's Too Important to be Governed by the People"

Krugman's view of the future past

Paul Krugman wrote a piece, White Collars Turn Blue, in 1996 "[F]or a special centennial issue of the NYT magazine. The instructions were to write it as if it were in an issue 100 years in the future, looking back at the past century."
Eventually, of course, the eroding payoff to higher education created a crisis in the education industry itself. Why should a student put herself through four years of college and several years of postgraduate work in order to acquire academic credentials with hardly any monetary value? These days jobs that require only six or twelve months of vocational training -- paranursing, carpentry, household maintenance (a profession that has taken over much of the housework that used to be done by unpaid spouses), and so on -- pay nearly as much as one can expect to earn with a master's degree, and more than one can expect to earn with a Ph.D.. And so enrollment in colleges and universities has dropped almost two-thirds since its turn-of-the-century peak. Many institutions of higher education could not survive this harsher environment. The famous universities mostly did manage to cope, but only by changing their character and reverting to an older role. Today a place like Harvard is, as it was in the 19th century, more of a social institution than a scholarly one -- a place for the children of the wealthy to refine their social graces and make friends with others of the same class.

June 05, 2012

Another good article in The Baffler

I'm going to have to subscribe if they keep this up.

Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit by David Graeber. One of many choice bits:
There was a time when academia was society’s refuge for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical. No longer. It is now the domain of professional self-marketers. As a result, in one of the most bizarre fits of social self-destructiveness in history, we seem to have decided we have no place for our eccentric, brilliant, and impractical citizens. Most languish in their mothers’ basements, at best making the occasional, acute intervention on the Internet.



June 04, 2012

Dead Cat Art

Some years ago a Berkley professor was asked about a particularly vile performance art display one of his students arranged "but professor, is this art?"

He thought about it for a moment and replied: "yes, it is art. it's just really bad art"

Full story here

June 03, 2012

Pulp Clarity

Pulp Fiction in chronological order graphic, which is both interesting and good evidence for not having things in chronological order.

June 02, 2012

Pride (grudging)

Bastard even has better handwriting than everyone else.


Thalberg, Hair, Dumont

An excerpt from the best interview with Groucho I've seen.

"If you applaud you only waste time I could use talking to you.  Keep quiet.  Just laugh hideously."

Oops, forgot about...

...Peter Gunn.

But this is the version I'm saving for future use:

Addendum:  James May offers a priceless commentary to The Interceptors here.

June 01, 2012

All of Uncle Fred

The last was published in 1961, when Wodehouse was 80.  It's wonderful.