October 31, 2012

Self-destructed to avoid capture, no doubt

Approximately 16 of the $100,000+ Fisker Karma extended-range luxury hybrids were parked in Port Newark, New Jersey last night when water from Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge apparently breached the port and submerged the vehicles. As Jalopnik has exclusively learned, the cars then caught fire and burned to the ground. 

 Our source tells us they were “first submerged in a storm surge and then caught fire, exploded.” This wouldn’t be the first time the vehicles, which use a small gasoline engine to charge batteries that provide energy to two electric motors, had an issue with sudden combustion.


Fullscreen, max speakers

Worked for Stalin

This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn’t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.


October 30, 2012

"It's the future...until May, at least..."

Slow news day, so I'll update this

October 28, 2012

I know this is BS because it isn't black or brushed aluminum

The yacht had been mentioned in Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs as a project he had been working on since 2009, but the ship was not completed before his death last year.


October 27, 2012

Hi! (All the Obama and Luthers)

 Martin Luther King Day.

Obama and Luther Eastwood.

Tampa in August

Modest Credit.

Michelle Calls back.

Where's My Mayo?

Comedy Awards.

White House Correspondents. 

Tax Returns.

Makeup Job


Debate One.

Town Hall Debate.

I Sunk Your Battleship.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the Debates


And then Christina Hendricks, Because Christina Hendricks

"47 immaculate seconds"

October 26, 2012

Hope you did not miss Obama and Luther, His Anger Translator

Obama and Luther his anger translator, from the pretty damn hilarious Key and Peele. I should warn that one moment in this "I'm Retired" made me laugh so hard I hurt myself and had to leave the room.

You know, I think this could be the basis for some bipartisan thinking

Brad DeLong limbers up and deals.  Enjoyed every word.

October 25, 2012

Assume you strange, Chuck

They. Are. Idiots.

Krugman annotates Schularick and Taylor ("The Good One") here.

Fuckwitocracy is in full swing in the U.K.  How fucking stupid are these guys?  Thanks for asking.  You know who they think is soft on austerity?  The Germans.  Those crazy, freewheeling, deficit-spending, money-printing Germans.  Gotta reign them in with the veto.

Angela is not amused, nor should she be.

Boswell explains

The book on this series was that Verlander, who won 24 games in ’11 and captured his third strikeout crown this year, would be to the key to the battle.

Maybe he will be. But not in the way that was expected. Verlander has a nemesis...

Verlander has been so spectacular that, at 29, he really is more than halfway to Cooperstown. How can you be so great and yet still face high places that remain so treacherous and hostile? Are these highlight nights, starting an All-Star Game or the first game of a World Series, the places where Verlander wants to shine so brightly that he somehow dims his own star? Or is there just one large Panda who has his number and has changed the whole arc of Verlander’s season and perhaps the Tigers’, too.


A friend who knows a lot about pitching asks "what do you throw to a bad ball hitter?"

October 23, 2012

Waking up

[W]hen I waked,
I cried to dream again.  - Caliban

I am with Caliban on this.  Waking up is generally a rude shock, although there are whole religious traditions  based on it.  I had a friend who spent a lot of time at meditation retreats, and spent many hours dozing off and coming to.  The teacher didn't mind.  Waking up was the point, she said.

I seem to recall that 20 years ago the Laird would wake up by blasting Public Enemy while showering, and would then complete the project by storming off to work on his motorcycle.  It was a bit annoying  if you were trying, as I was, to sleep in his house without paying rent or doing any work.  But it seemed to work for him.

I don't wake up well, with one exception.  The one time in my life when I can wake up decisively is when I have severe jet lag, and having been in Tokyo for about 36 hours, now is clearly one of those times. After a poor and fitful sleep my eyes snap uncompromisingly open at 5 a.m. I try to force myself to think.


That sensation of having no idea where you are.

Oh yeah, Japan.

No further sleep possible. What does a person do at 5 in the morning in Japan?  Going to the bathroom might be a good idea (this turns out to be confusing).  Then, unbidden, lists of random tasks present themselves.  Find a clean shirt somewhere.  Get food.  E-mail an apology for whiffing on a project task.  Get back to that guy in Tilburg.  Do your exercises.

Oh yes, the exercises. I’ve gotten pretty good about my morning exercises. Nothing too elaborate – just the Eight Pieces of Brocade, as taught on the David Dorian Ross DVD, plus little warmup and warmdown routines. I have no idea why this DVD has worked me while others sit on the shelf. I know some are too showy or advanced, some too distracting…but the David Dorian Ross stuff is spot on.  The exercises are simple, effective, and clearly described.  The AM/PM format is invaluable when you are trying to function in the wrong time zone. Nothing signals to your body that it is time to wake up and work like doing your morning exercises with the sun in your face. The ganglia may protest, but they will come around…at least until early afternoon when stronger measures are generally required.

Friendly staff open the health club early for the jet-lagged gaijin.  There's a nice view of the city.  I position myself and look out to a point on the horizon, somewhere between the still brightly-lit Ginza and the sun - burnt orange through the haze - off to my right. I am stiff as a board. I begin the proceedings like a retired circus bear dimly trying to recall its act. Gradually the creaking ligaments and balky nerves bend to their assigned duties, and for a hushed moment I am…listening to Beastie Boys?

The pretty young woman behind the counter has apparently checked her schedule and determined that it is time, in accordance with longstanding hotel procedure, to begin playing loud, upbeat music in the health club, even though the sole occupant is a quintagenarian tai chi practitioner.  Or perhaps there is a deeper message.

This is how we wake up in Tokyo

Challenge accepted.

Now I just need to ask the concierge where to get a motorcycle....

Zen tweets

Either Blogger, Twitter, or me has weak HTML-fu...some of our embedded tweets disappear after-the fact, lending a zen quality to the blog.

One great loss here is the commentary of Old Hoss Radbourn, who, after Barry Zito's magnificent pitching performance tweeted:
"What shall we read tonight, son?" "Dad, tell me the fairy tale where the guy with garbage pitches shut out the Cardinals for 7.2 innings."

But this is neither the latest nor the greatest of Hoss' accomplishments.  I have found a study of his Collected Works rewarding.  

October 22, 2012

Those Pussies at Mossad Slam Romney

"What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution (in Iran) without war. " --Efraim Halevy, chief of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, under three Israeli prime ministers.

Where all roads begin

Tokyo, a friend tells me, "terrifies people."  It is immense - 36 million people live in the general neighborhood, 13 million in the city proper.  And it seems center-less - the Ginza, the Imperial Palace, the Financial District are all present, but not focal.  From the Mandarin Oriental in Nihonbashi one sees an almost continuous fabric of 8-12 story buildings, interrupted by occasional apartment towers and radio masts, a sea of high-density post-War construction.

And yet there is a center.  Looking closer, one notices that many of the roads seem to head directly toward the hotel.  That is because the Mandarin stands close to Nihonbashi - the Bridge of Japan, and starting point of the Tōkaidō and Kiso Kaidō roads.

Keisai Eisen, Nihonbashi - First of the Sixty-nine Stages of the Kiso Kaidō

In all there were five primary roads in the Edo period, and they all began here, at this spot.  Bashō must have taken his first steps on The Narrow Road to the Deep North here.  And those who came to this city, whether alone or at the head of a column of retainers, crossed this bridge to enter.

But it is the departures that capture my imagination, the first steps away from the busy and self-absorbed metropolis, away from the secure and familiar, and toward the wild, and the unknown.

October 19, 2012

Are there seminars?

Unlock Your Inner Psychopath: Kevin Dutton’s ‘The Wisdom of Psychopaths’

Cool under pressure? Easy social charm? You might just be a psychopath. A new book says that most of the world’s most successful people—presidents, doctors, CEOs—are just that. 


October 18, 2012



October 17, 2012

Make Them Obey

"I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections," said Romney in a recording obtained by In These Times. "Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well."


How the Seahawks Built That Defense


Now I remember

I was reading the article Froomkin links, and had that odd tingle of neurons firing that had last gone off in, perhaps, 1977.

 So you're saying he's an islamic communist...? Well, first of all, not too many of those around, so full marks for originality, but then I remembered a friend had sent me another WND story saying that he was gay. And that, you have to admit, is a pretty high bar, to be a black, gay, islamic communist.

Where have I heard that before?

What would a commie fag junkie *sound* like...? 
(in a low husky voice)
Workerth of the world unite!

Thank you, George Carlin.

October 16, 2012

Not the America I'm familiar with

Election regulators and corporate lawyers say no federal election law specifically prevents employers from telling workers they could lose their jobs if they vote for a certain candidate.


October 15, 2012

Great infographic from NYT

How the states have swung...


Tom Brady Will Indeed be Mocked

Richard Sherman continues to mock Tom Brady. Priceless.

More here

October 14, 2012

Seahawks beat Patriots

Richard Sherman: "Please keep trying me."

From Dave Krieg's Strike Beard:
"Then Tom Brady found out the same thing Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton already learned via bitter experience this season: When the Seattle Seahawks absolutely, positively need to stop you, they don't check your resume first."

Not Special

I suppose somewhere in the coming debates there will be some discussion of the "special relationship" between the U.S. and UK.  I wish it would stop.  The British are idiots.

This is a huge shame because England is so culturally rich, so full of historic import.  It is a magnificent place to visit, and my experiences visiting there have been uniformly positive.

But their leadership must be, at all costs, ignored.  It's a twit-ocracy, and not getting better.

A little Dukakis-y for my taste

Lloyd Bentsen had a fine debate, too.



October 13, 2012

SCCA Aesthetics

They were gleaming white with green trim, and everything about them was as clean as a brand-new enameled stove.  - Peter Egan

F*** yeah!


Another good one:

October 12, 2012

Biden Translator

Jim Lehrer: Badass Moderator

Digging the Popova channel

She thinks like us!

Gonna throw out an "estimable" for Maria, who is interesting every day, sometimes on multiple occasions.

Star Wars RPG?

Some good ideas here.

Candidates mentioned in the thread:

October 11, 2012

Math is hard

Mitt Romney’s tax plan has three key planks. He cuts personal income tax rates by 20 percent across the board; he eliminates deductions, exclusions and credits so that the deficit does not grow; and he doesn’t make the tax code any less progressive. Unfortunately, as the Tax Policy Center has shown, only two of these planks can co-exist.


Knowing this would totally change how I approach life

The Measurement That Would Reveal The Universe As A Computer Simulation 

If the cosmos is a numerical simulation, there ought to be clues in the spectrum of high energy cosmic rays, say theorists


October 10, 2012

Oh come on

October 09, 2012

I approve of this message

October 08, 2012

October 07, 2012

Art for art's sake


Watch out for that shark

October 06, 2012

Thanks for bringing it up, Jack

As it happens, there is a historical example of improper political pressure on the BLS by a U.S. president: Republican Richard M. Nixon.

As first recounted by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their 1976 book “Final Days,” the frequently paranoid president — who had a history of anti-Semitic outbursts — became obsessed with the idea that a “Jewish cabal” at BLS was undermining him by issuing negative labor numbers. Nixon ordered his subordinates to tally up the number of Democrats and Jews in the agency.

“There’s a Jewish cabal, you know, running through this,” Nixon fumed in July 1971 to his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, according to White House tapes. “…And they all — they all only talk to Jews. Now, but there it is. But there’s the BLS staff. Now how the hell do you ever expect us to get anything from that staff, the raw data, let alone what the poor guys have to say [inaudible] that isn’t gonna be loaded against us? You understand?”


October 05, 2012

What number is halfway between 1 and 9?

“There’s a whole bunch of different animal species,” says Adam Reeves, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, “and a whole bunch of different sensory mechanisms, like hearing and vision, and different aspects of all of them, and then taste, and smell, and so on, all of which follow exactly the same law” — a logarithmic relationship between stimulus intensity and perceived intensity. “Biology is very variable, right? So how come all these organisms come up with the same law? And how come the law is so precise? It’s a major philosophical problem, actually.”


The true value of Twitter

I must say, I am enjoying Twitter far more than I expected, despite the fact that it has been a disappointment in almost every way.  It seems to me to be a tool of limitless possibilities, all deliberately unexplored by a corporation hellbent on aggregating our individual media consumption preferences into marketable meta-constructs for the advertising industry.  It's a little like hearing about a great new resort, booking a room, and discovering that they haven't put the pool in yet.

For example, it's impossible to calibrate - some sources Tweet a lot, others hardly at all.  The high signal-to-noise people lose this game, and there's no corrective filter offered ("hold some of my calls" - Rodney Dangerfield).

And another thing:  I've noticed some things that are tweeted are not very important.  I had to give up on TPM because they issue about one tweet per minute, most of which are something like this:
Ryan asked about lack of specifics at town hall
An urgency indicator (or threat level code) would be helpful here, but maybe humans are not evolved enough yet to use this type of tool efficiently.

The entertainment industry is mostly a bust, too, with a million variations on the "I'm eating a cheese sandwich" tweet.  Or, they simply turn their password over to the PR department.  I'm looking at you, Adam Savage,  Leonard Nimoy, Stephen Fry...I am pleased to hear that you are going to be in a show, or that someone is putting on a show you wrote.  But it is just too little.  I cannot care.

Tweeting is hard, it turns out.  Many try, and most fail.  But not all:  at its highest level, tweeting can be comedy at a haiku level of structure, the ultimate test of virtuosity in comic composition.  Great tweets are retweeted, favorited, and immortalized, and for this reason only, Twitter astonishes and delights me.

Here are three practitioners of this high art:

Professional Division:  Tim Siedell

I think I found Siedell off an Ebert re-tweet.  I am a bit late to the party, given that he has 615,000 followers, but better late than never.  Siedell is cheating, of course - he is a professional, the author of a funny (and I am taking other peoples' word for this) book of one-liners.

When he goes past one line, he becomes positively dangerous:

Siedell is also an avid collector of tweets, and reading through his list of favorites is a genuinely heartening experience, a rediscovery of a world one might have thought was lost, after sobering up.

His website is here.

Amateur Division:  Ally Maynard

If Siedell is the efficient hit man of Twitter one-liners, Ally Maynard is the gifted padawan that is having trouble choosing a side.  She tweets a lot, and much of it is just routine effort, better than what I have ever done owing to her natural talent, but not observably better than, say, a Conan O'Brien monologue:

But, like our own Corresponding Secretary General, the mask slips sometimes, and you realize you are dealing with a non-routine force:

Unlike the measured and mature CSG, however, we do observe that, occasionally, the mask falls off completely and you realize you are facing a fully operational bonecrusher:

And then there are a few that are beyond category:

Master's Division:  Steve Martin

If Ally perhaps, possibly, overshares just a little, we naturally look to the Master's Division for restraint and correct judgment, and when I think of restraint and correct judgment, the name "Steve Martin" never comes up.

But it's true you know.  Someone may have mentioned this at some point, but Steve Martin is funny.  Still funny.  He's on Twitter with good stuff - he doesn't tweet quite as much as our other contestants, and he never seems to try too hard ("because," I hear him say in my head, "that's death").

He still likes the dumb shot:

And the absurdist quip, which he patented:

Martin is different now from the way I remember him.  Less crazy and screamy, mellower.  He is funny now because he is funny, not because he needs to be funny.  He once said "be so good they can't ignore you"... but now he screws up his own act, tweeting obituaries and plugging obscure mandolin players.  He's reached that improbable point of mastery and familiarity where he can be himself, and that will probably be fine.  If not, deal with it:

But even when he misses, we still love him, and he loves us back, holding us in the palm of his hand:

October 04, 2012



I don't think that word means what you think it means.

October 03, 2012

Cornelius McGillicuddy would approve

Oakland is the first team to come back from five or more games behind with fewer than 10 games to play - outfielder Brandon Moss called the odds of winning the division "astronomical."

The A's held first place alone for exactly one day: Wednesday.


One has to admire the way they did it, like Inigo Montoya coming after Count Rugen.  The mighty Tolbert proposed a different cinematic analogy after yesterday's victory:

This determination - the sudden directionality and unshakeable resolve of the team - are utterly out of character for the Oakland side.  Once a majestic franchise, the A's have been the Flying Dutchman of the American League.  For decades they have drifted, going nowhere slowly and erratically, letting their glorious past recede into the mists of time.  The GM, celebrated in books and film, has delivered nothing - the last World Series was won 23 years ago.  When the team is bad, he finds young players and makes them stars.  When the team is good, he trades them away, an approach the A's have taken since the time of  Connie Mack.

The team's current owners are not in any way noteworthy, except for their obvious wish that the team were somewhere else, perhaps anywhere else.  They look wistfully toward San Jose or Santa Clara and dream of bleachers crowded with upscale yet ethnically diverse suburban consumers, cheering vigorously for advertisements played on the scoreboard.

But it is hard to blame.  Even the spiritual feel lost at the Oakland Coliseum.  Gertrude Stein knew what she was talking about.  Sparse crowds and the infamous tarp, only heighten the vertiginous effect.

I may have mentioned before Giamatti's line that baseball breaks your heart.  Here it is, a little more detail:
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.
And today, October 3rd, 2012, the Oakland A's play on.

Giamatti's grim prophecy will be true, eventually.  The A's, if we're honest, have been very fortunate to get as far as they have, and there is room for only one contestant to stand atop the podium at the end of the World Series.  And even if they surmount the obstacles and achieve the summit, winter will still come, and fans will be left with nothing but memories, and the brisk wind that comes off the Bay in January.  And, ultimately, the A's themselves will be gone, transferred by their corporate masters to a demographically more appealing market.

It will all come to pass, it is certain.  But the 2012 Oakland A's have built their season on two simple words, perhaps a motto, or even a mantra:

Not yet.

Let's lie our asses off on national tv, and see if anyone notices

Mitt Romney repeated a number of erroneous claims during Wednesday’s debate about President Obama’s healthcare law, including that it relies on a board that will decide "what kind of treatment” patients can get.

This is a myth advanced repeatedly by critics of the Affordable Care Act and debunked consistently by independent fact-checkers.


October 02, 2012

Holy Sith Snacks!

Maybe you guys have already seen this?


It's not a game

I wonder how many die if Iran gets a nuclear weapon and decides to use it...

October 01, 2012

U-S-A! U-S-A!

This study incontrovertibly proves America is well-governed.  This simple little test of integrity and efficiency, the holy grails of good government, finds that of the large nations ONLY the U.S. met the highest standard.

And yet Mitt Romney blathers on about how America is deficient in this way, underperforming his expectations in that way, sadly stumbling along barely a step ahead of Russia.

Well listen up Mr. Romney, and listen good;  At the debates you can say whatever you want about the Democrats, Obama, whatever.  But we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.