November 30, 2012

Wish I'd taken that class

Via the Estimable Popova, a Vonnegut term paper assignment, 1965.


Farhad is feeling it

[O]ne morning the crew hears a strange clanging from iTunes’ starboard side. Scouts report that an ancient piston—something added for compatibility with the U2 iPod and then refashioned dozens of times—has been damaged while craftsmen removed the last remnants of a feature named Ping whose purpose has been lost to history. The old engineer dons his grease-covered overalls and heads down to check it out. Many anxious minutes pass. Then the crew is shaken by a huge blast. A minute later, they hear a lone, muffled wail. They send a medic, but it’s too late. The engineer has been battered by shrapnel from the iOS app management system, which is always on the fritz. His last words haunt the team forever:  She can’t take much more of this. Too. Many. Features.


Need to work on their timing

In other news, no one is exactly sure why GDP was so strong last quarter. One theory is that the military is spending out its budget as fast as possible in front of the cuts that are coming. Live it up guys, it was a long party, and it'll be a long time gone.

Probe it!

Mercury has water, organic compounds.  Need rovers, stat.


November 29, 2012

Fleecing your constituency is a full-time job

Must read article by Rick Perlstein in the current issue of The Baffler, The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism. In it, Perlstein tries to answer a question not asked often enough:

Political theorist James MacGregor Burns’s classic book Leadership explains that “leadership over human beings is exercised when persons with certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others, institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers . . . in order to realize goals mutually held by both leaders and followers.” Watching charismatic people try to seize their attention and win their allegiance becomes the intellectual whetstone. As political psychologist Harold Lasswell once put it, a successful aspirant to leadership is one whose “private motives are displaced onto public objects and rationalized in terms of public interest.” Watching those private motives at work, the public they seek to convince comes into focus. 
All righty, then: both the rank-and-file voters and the governing elites of a major American political party chose as their standardbearer a pathological liar. What does that reveal about them?

They really thought they were going to win

That's the only explanation I can think of for the Republicans putting themselves in this position:

GOP:  Ok, here's what we want... 
President:  Forget it, here's the deal. 
GOP:  And if we don't comply? 
President:  Massive military cuts, increased taxes, and a recession that wrecks your portfolio, as well as the portfolios of your largest campaign contributors.
GOP:  Oh. 
President:  Good luck in your re-election campaign in two years.

The Republican response:  save the rich men!  Their new strategy:  screw the orthodontists.

Alright, More Rejected Bond Titles

Yo, Dawg, I Heard You Like Gold
The Man With The Constitutional Right To Own This Gun
Dr. Not in Your HMO
Diamonds are Forever II: Diamonds are Foreverer
In Soviet Union, Russia Loves You
On Her Majesty's Secret G-Spot
Quantum of Audience
Where's Nuclear Missile?
Ever Say Ever Again Ever?
Matanuska Thunderfuck
Die! Die! Die! Die Already, Tomorrow, Jesus!
Title Unsayable In Front of Elderly Parents
A View to An Overactor
Attractive Couple Makes Out in Submarine Car
Nap Another Hour
Visualize World Peace

November 28, 2012

Rejected Bond Titles


Repentant but confused

Bruce Bartlett:  [McCain's] decision to put the grossly unqualified Sarah Palin on his ticket was nothing short of irresponsible. Perhaps more importantly, it didn’t work, and Obama won easily.


wait wait wait wait

"Perhaps more importantly...?"  Really, Bruce?  It would have been ok if they'd won?  Oh yes, it would have been fine.  This is the party that brought you Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle.

It's the failure that's killing him, the product of the sick synergy of Bush's incompetence and Cheney's cynicism.  It would be ok if they'd won - anything's ok if you win.  Bartlett discovered that realism and cynicism are not too far apart, and when you take cynicism to its highest level, there is really nothing left to fight for, no ideals, just a sick ideological game of Survivor.

Orwell told you so, Bruce.


November 27, 2012

Mission Incomprehensibly Cool

[In 1942] Wing Commander Ken Gatward managed the 'impossible feat' of flying his Bristol Beaufighter down the Champs-Elysees at 30ft before dropping the French Tricolour over the Arc de Triomphe...  The British pilot then headed towards the Gestapo headquarters which he littered with 20mm shells - helping to boost morale in Paris when it was most needed.


Injury, followed by insult

Crikey, bad enough that the EA Scrabble on my Kindle put down QUASS on a triple word score, connecting to other words for a total score of 73 points.  While I was busy looking up QUASS in the dictionary, it was adding "IA" to the end for QUASSIA, and another 15.

Those Chowderheads are Boring: Advice for Young Artists

Advice for Middle School Artists at The Amplitude of Time.

November 24, 2012

Quasi-Warholism is Fun to Say.

A facebook thread on my page slapping Warhol around and comparing him to William F. Buckley is here.

November 23, 2012

Why yes, I am an old white man, why do you ask?

A dark moment of the soul...

Still sleepin' on Barry O

The astonishing turnabout in the evaluation of Obama’s campaign, from delusional nincompoops to the most terrifyingly efficient campaign apparatus in history, helps Podhoretz reach his desired conclusion, that Obama’s victory owed nothing at all to his policy platform. Obama’s campaign, he tells us now, was “bereft of ideas” and offered “no second-term governing agenda whatsoever.”


November 22, 2012

Helpmate #2

Here's how you lose a game in 60 seconds...



Two groups that gave their all to defeat Obama, now working overtime to invite negative public attention:

Finish them!

Republicans achieve perfection

I dare you to imagine a Republican policy proposal more perfect than this one:

Michigan Republicans propose tax credit for unborn foetuses (

November 21, 2012

Now I ask you one

Now that we've cleared up the unskewed nonsense, and worked out that Nate Silver was CORRECT, and determined that voter fraud was minimal...why was the President's decisive victory in the popular vote not reported promptly and correctly?

Dull Book Titles

"Of Mice"
"To Irritate a Mockingbird"
"Kerfuffle and Peace"
"Tempered Expectations"
"To Haven't"
"The Color Mauve"
"This Book By Tom Clancy"
"The Friend Whose Name You Forgot"
"A Connecticut Yankee in Connecticut"
"Around the Wild."


Today's Urgent Headlines Today began as a fascination with dull headlines. Here is a real contender, from the Anchorage Daily News.  I'm inclined to start a comment thread of extreme outrage.

The karmic wheel turns

Romney share of popular vote approaches 47%...


November 20, 2012

Comfortably Numb

U.S. pollster Gallup conducts surveys in over 140 countries to compare how people feel about their lives. Singapore ranks as the most emotionless society in the world, behind Georgia, Lithuania, and Russia. Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” says Jon Clifton, a Gallup partner in Washington. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.”


Alaska is a Blue State

In one important respect.

I'm actually shocked at this.  The Alaska I remember was a place where human life was as cheap as dog biscuits, and every third person was drunk and handling a sharp object before taking to the air in a poorly-maintained aircraft.  Like many northern places, Alaska is still high up in the league tables for suicides per capita (#2).

One clear conclusion from this data:  stay the hell out of Wyoming - #1 in traffic deaths per capita, #1 in suicide.  And work is no picnic, either.

Gee, I wonder if the oil industry maybe has some influence on all of this?  There's something else about Wyoming...trying to remember...something tugging at my memory...

November 19, 2012

Less interesting books


Mario Rubio: Soft on Time

Science! Religion! Who can tell? Although clearly, evolution alone cannot explain such a dickless wonder.

November 18, 2012

You heard it here last

Skyfall is excellent.  Ebert thinks so, too.  As does Roger Moore:

"To me, he looks like a killer. He looks as though he knows what he’s doing. I look as though I might cheat at backgammon."

November 16, 2012

Awkwardness as a litigation tool

"I wanted a courtroom where the government and Google were at the same table, hand in hand, and somebody is challenging them." Reback declared. "Because when I did the Microsoft case, that was the turning point. When the government had to sit at the same table with Microsoft and defend them… I wanted the commissioners to feel the cosmetics if you will, the presence of the government defending Google’s conduct in litigating against a consumer protection agency, I wanted to know if they feel proud of that."


By the way, if you want to use wireless at Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto you have to sign into Facebook first.  Well, that's not exactly right.  There's a bypass option at the bottom of the Facebook page.  It doesn't work.

November 15, 2012

Pretty cool President...

...of Uruguay:

We've been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty.  But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?


November 14, 2012

Scheming boxes


November 13, 2012

The Program

Your Primer on the Petraeus Scandal's Growing Cast—Now With Twins!


Helpful diagram here.

Bourdain signs off

I took money from a credit card company once. Never to be repeated. 


November 12, 2012

On the desk of the next CIA director

Greetings, welcome to the agency. To ensure your stay is a productive one, here are a few reminders:

November 11, 2012

Well there's your problem

There's a lot of waste in government.  For example, there's a job, apparently called "unpaid social liaison to the Joint Special Operations Command."  Apart from screwing CIA directors, I'm not sure what the job entails.  Anyway, in my administration it would be gone.  ON DAY ONE.

[UPDATE:  “There’s no such thing,” one officer told us. The made-up title appears to be a polite way of saying “rich Tampa socialite who likes to hang with four-star generals.”  (link) ]

November 10, 2012

Final tally

With Florida checking in, that's 206 electoral votes for Romney.  McCain had 173.

It's a subtle point...

...but I think I see where Garry Wills is going with this:

Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation?  What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth.


How to become an irrelevant, regional party

The overall narrative of the segment is, to paraphrase: Single women are so obsessed with birth control and abortion that they can't be bothered to care about the economy or even take care of their kids.


Republicans say Rove can take comfort in the fact that he got them about as close as they could to the White House by relying on the votes of whites.


I like the strategy, keep at it guys.

They know he's half white, right?

Ebert notes an obvious - in hindsight - connection.


November 09, 2012

Make ALL the Republicans Sad!

Let's keep in mind the real danger they face. The worst a small portion of these white people mourning Romney (a largely redudant adjective, to be sure) are facing is a return to Clinton-era tax rates. So, apparently, America is .. no more.

It's one thing to be on a losing team, but what, exactly, are they crying about?

Can't Touch This

These guys are on a level (Intercepted!)- a bit of Fry and Laurie? Laurel and Hardy? Watch pretty much any Key and Peele sketch. Warning: I have actually hurt myself laughing.

A good thing happens to a good guy

Partha Dasgupta honored at Tilburg.  Good call.

The Laird recommend this Dasgupta work, which until Doctor Kapital writes his, must be regarded as the definitive short introduction to economics.

November 08, 2012

Dr. Kapital Question

Ideologically-Pissy Selloff of Stocks + Improving Economy = Bargains?

November 07, 2012

Flawless victory

Nate Silver goes 50-for-50.


Air-Based Schadenfreudenator Blasts Green Inappropriate Delight Laser to Devastating Effect

Talking Points Memo: "Liberal Schadenfreude Hits Impossible Heights." Hardly. I've only been up since 8.  

Suffice it to say that America's modified 747 Air-Based Schaudenfrenator Fleet just laid waste.  And if you don't like it, at least in Colorado and Washington, you can now get legally baked. 

Wonder what Donald Trump would say to that?

Remember how Democrats ridiculed George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq? Obama copied it in Afghanistan. He escalated the drone program, killing off al-Qaida’s leaders. He sent SEAL Team 6 into Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden. He teamed up with NATO to take down Muammar Qaddafi. He reneged on his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay. He put together a globally enforced regime of sanctions that is bringing Iran’s economy to its knees. That’s why Romney had nothing to say in last month’s foreign policy debate. No sensible Republican president would have done things differently. 

Obama’s no right-winger. You might have serious issues with his Supreme Court justices or his moves on immigration or the Bush tax cuts. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford. Obama’s in the same mold as those guys. So don’t despair. Your country didn’t vote for a socialist tonight. It voted for the candidate of traditional Republican moderation. What should gall you, haunt you, and goad you to think about the future of your party is that that candidate wasn’t yours. 


No controversy over here

On the overnight plane to London, somewhere over Greenland, the pilot sent a text message over the entertainment system letting those of us who were awake know that Obama had won. The nice older British couple sitting next to literally wiped their brows in relief.

Even Cameron et al are ok with it:
Official congratulations from the British government on Obama’s reelection received sustained applause in Parliament on Wednesday, with much of the enthusiasm emanating from benches packed with lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party.

November 06, 2012

Roger makes a good point

Sad Face

You, today, have the power to make Mitt Romney sad. What a country!

Best with INSTANT SOUSA !!


November 05, 2012

So much for home field advantage

Number of Ducati motorcycles I saw during my 12 day visit to Italy: 1

November 03, 2012

Would be more helpful with an indication of who paid for each one...

Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever


If only there were some way to put something like this to a vote

"He should resign! He told us he would resign if he did this poorly," Giuliani said...


Maybe the North Koreans have a point

Hey, I saw a terrible movie on the plane last night, although, mercifully, the sound was off.  Step Up Revolution is Singin' in the Rain meets Battleship Potemkin.  And not in a good way.  As I tried to chew through the restraints, I got the impression that the plot of the film was rather thin.  This was a mistake - Huffington Post provides this concise summary:
After dancing its way across Baltimore and New York City in previous iterations, "Step Up" moves to Miami, where homeboys Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Eddy (Misha Gabriel) have been best buds since toddler-hood and now lead a local dance flash mob known as, well, "The Mob," just to keep things simple. Together with their crew, including choreographers, visual artists and a DJ, the guys have been busting out surprise dance numbers all over Miami and shooting video to compete in a YouTube contest to win $1 million. 
Sean's day job as a waiter at a luxury hotel helps support his dance habit and pay the rent on the house he shares with his single-mom sister (Megan Boone) and niece. When Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick) turns up at the hotel – owned by her father Bill (Peter Gallagher), a ruthless real-estate developer – for a summer of bartending while preparing to audition for a coveted spot with a high-toned local dance company, attraction inevitably sparks between the two. 
As it turns out, aloof Emily needs Sean's help more than she suspects. Seems that the dance company director (Mia Michaels) thinks Emily is a talented performer but wound a bit too tightly to be truly creative. So if she wants to make it onto the roster, Emily is going to need some new moves, which she figures Sean can help deliver once she discovers he's one of the motivators behind The Mob. After her video debut, a sexy number in a crowded, fancy restaurant, draws millions of hits online, Emily's brought on with the group as they plan their next outrageous "mission." 
However there's one major obstacle looming over the pair's romantic bliss and professional success: Emily's dad is determined to build a new luxury development after razing the multiracial community where Sean lives and hangs out with other Mob members. Although Sean agrees to keep Emily's identity concealed while she rehearses and performs with his crew, if word gets out, his street cred will be totally shot, which could complicate that business about winning the YouTube video contest. Emily has another idea, though, encouraging Sean and The Mob to stand up to her dad's development plans with some proactive dance interventions.

I think that exhausts the tropes, except they missed the opportunity to have his sister, Mary Louise, need an operation that could only be funded by having him die so his song would be a hit.  But they can get to that in the next one.

I may I have mentioned that it's not a good movie.  The dancing, however, is excellent.  If you like this modern style dancing these kids do nowadays, here's the opening scene.

It did get me thinking about the political power of song and dance, which, let's be honest, is fairly easy to dismiss.  Chairman Mao did not say "political power comes from a well-executed triple step," after all.  But I see Cracked has explored the topic further, and concluded that it is not only a potent force, it might have been the downfall of the Sumerians.
I think the conclusion is unavoidable: Psy (And boy, doesn't his name sound more ominous now?) is a linguistic hacker, and his masterpiece "Gangnam Style" is the music equivalent of herpes. It has reprogrammed our brains at a deep subconscious level, to make us ride imaginary horses.

Fortunately for all of us, Psy's intentions are benign and centered on fun.  Or so he says.

There is a neo-Platonistic, or perhaps Jungian question in there, however.  Is there some ultimate song deep in our subconscious that we are longing to hear...and when we hear it, will we break out into a rapturous dance we already know, but do not know we know?  Is the dance of life trapped in us, waiting for the keymaster to release us into throes of Dionysian (in the hedonistic sense, not the cthonic) ecstasy?

Of course not.  Of course not.  We are not automatons.  We are not some latent virus waiting to be activated.  We are rational agents in a world of concrete and specific opportunity, empowered by scientific powers of the highest order.

And let the universe tremble at our power.

November 02, 2012

A non-partisan economic commentary

We at Eisengeiste try to stay above the dirty, dirty scrum of politics, so I think it best to let this chart speak for itself.

Your choice is clear, recant your unfortunate remarks, or...(droid with needle appears in background)

Gratuitous Spinelli


November 01, 2012

Coffee is Available


Diminished in its relative standing after the attack of the clones, our own Spinelli of Cole Valley nonetheless serves the finest chain store coffee in the hemisphere, Indonesian brew that I can only compare to high-end selection served in specialty shops.  The company now franchises its stores, so quality, ambience and location are a bit uneven, and the brand has been exiled to a basement location at its only location in Orchard Road.  But the coffee itself remains a delight, a precious relief from exertions of functioning in such a self-conscious and self-important place.

Hong Kong

As you climb up the hill from Central, but before you get to the art and antique shops on Hollywood, you pass a nondescript building with a small sign that says Rabbithole Coffee and Roaster.  You would be wise to make the climb to the third story and investigate.  Waiting for you is a little shop, managed I'm told by a Japanese couple, that is maintained with greater attention to detail than the average U.S. surgery center.  The coffee?  So good it obliterates memory of all others.  Absolutely fantastic.

Reading their website, one might think this a bit hyperbolic:
If you love coffee, you will always remember the best cup that you ever had. You will remember how fragrant and special the aroma is, how flavorful and balanced when the liquid hit your mouth, and how the wonderful aftertaste had lasted in your palate that you think you would never want to drink water ever again.  
This experience sometimes is not easy to find even for the most experienced coffee drinkers, but we are here to provide you this experience: to fall into the rabbit hole, and into the wonderful world of the greatest tasting coffees.
But it is true.

His name is...oh, nevermind

Well, all-in-all a disappointing year for Matt Cain.  I'm not sure the perfect game and victories in the post-season can wash away the pain of spoiling his perfect 0.00 playoff ERA, but I'm know he'll find small consolations where he may.

To recap, Mr. Cain has now started eight playoff games and allowed 13 runs, for an earned-run-average of 2.1.  The numbers are marred somewhat by relatively poor performance in the Divisional series - his ERA in those games is a stratospheric 3.1.  Performance in League Championships and World Series is notably better, 1.4 and 1.8, so it may behoove the Giants to save him for those more strategic situations.

Playoff WHIP of 1.05, Strikeout/Walk ratio of 2.4...pretty standard really.

It is a sad commentary, perhaps a reflection on his character, that Cain has won only four of those games and lost two.  Perhaps is the pressure of the name - what Giants fan doesn't associate 'Matty' with The Christian Gentleman?  Perhaps it is pressure he puts on himself, knowing that he still has not matched his eponymous predecessor's post-season win level?

Our advice to the perennial underachiever:  relax, play with pep and ginger, and good things will happen.  Someday ESPN or Sport Illustrated might even write an article about you.