November 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Bruce

These guys are great

It's not every day that you get to take a picture with a bald eagle, but two brothers in Sudbury did just that after rescuing the bird from a hunting trap. 


November 28, 2015

I May Actually Get Hired to Write This

A Mack Brain
Radio Adventure

Chapter .38:
The Egregious Eagle

"In 1940 San Francisco, a crusty private detective infiltrates the English Literature department at Berkeley as Ezra Pound organizes “Free Verse Poets for the Third Reich.”  But who is cutting Pound’s checks- not to mention the throats of the writers of California’s least mediocre odes? There’s one clue: a fucking eagle."

November 27, 2015

My Comprehensive Review of Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition

I like it.

An overly thorough review by someone else is here.

Buy the game here.

November 26, 2015

Great Black Friday gadget and gear tips


Happy Thanksgiving

Well, let's not push it

Cracked confessional

And yes, I'm putting this shit in list form.


November 25, 2015

This is the best thing I read today

You never know with Catsmeat.  In one of his school reports, which I happened to see while prowling about the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn's study one night in search of biscuits, the Rev. Aubrey had described him as 'brilliant but unsound', and if ever a headmaster with a face like a cassowary rang the bell and entitled himself to receive a cigar or coco-nut, this headmaster was that headmaster.



Kobe 1-14...

My proposal to turn New Jersey into a labor colony for Syrians has been totally ignored!

November 22, 2015

15-0, ties the NBA record

Yeah, stay away from the shootouts

Not without capability

November 21, 2015


How to dance correctly #3

How to dance correctly #2

How to dance correctly #1

Just when I don't think he can do anything worse he does this...AND COMPLETELY REDEEMS HIMSELF

Vacation in the mind

Final and conclusive proof that everything looks good in vintage travel posters (link):

Time to go home, Tex

Alaska’s problems go beyond oil prices. Federal funding has fallen since stimulus funds dried up after the recession, and the state’s influence in Washington has waned since the electoral defeat of longtime U.S. senator Ted Stevens in 2008. The prices of other natural resources, such as gold and salmon, have also declined. Most significantly, the state’s oil production has been falling for decades, dropping below 500,000 barrels per day in 2014 from a peak of more than 2 million barrels per day in the late 1980s.


Bulls wondering where it all started to go wrong

November 19, 2015

Go on

Another day in LA

Clips led by 23. Wasn't enough.

The Warriors scored on every possession in the last five minutes.

Still you doubt

Suddenly, meaning

There are various things we know are meaningless.  Poll results before New Hampshire, for example.  The regular season in hockey.  And, of course, the first three months of the NBA season, usually.

Suddenly, however, the Warriors are challenging that last assumption.  Traditionally the fall is a time when even elite NBA teams work into form, jog around, pretend to play defense, and generally let the other guy have a chance.  The Warriors have broken with tradition by refusing to lose.  Their record now stands at 12-0.

It generally hasn't been close.  The average opponent has lost by 16.3 points this season.  Now there was a 50 point blowout again the Grizzlies, so it's probably more informative to take the median, which is 14.5 points.   On average the Warriors lead by 10 at the half.  They have trailed at the half only in New Orleans (-1 point) and against the Nets (-2).  The Nets actually were stellar, and took the Warriors to OVERTIME, which they lost 10-2.

It would be silly to imagine that they continue this streak indefinitely.  After all, only seven teams have gotten this far.  The record - the absolute limit- is 15-0.  No team has ever started an NBA season 16-0.

And all they have to do to continue the streak is beat the Clippers tonight.

Yes, the Clippers.  The team that called them lucky.  The team whose foaming-at-the-mouth owner has targeted the Warriors, and is enraged that the team is already down 0-1 to them this year.

A man too egotistical and unstable to work as a CEO in the technology industry.

Yes, the same Clippers team that has its coach wandering the mountains alone, searching for a cure, or at least a respite from the pain.

And they can make everything right, at least for a while, just by ending this cursed Warriors streak.

Forget the calendar.  This is a playoff game before Thanksgiving.  This is High Noon.  This is the Rumble in the Jungle.  This could make Vigilante look like Valley of the Dolls. It could make Game of Death look like Gidget Grows Up.  It could make Maniac Cop look like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.   

It's going to be a large-ish early regular season NBA game!

November 18, 2015

Much clearer, thank you

November 16, 2015


November 15, 2015

Form v content

I quite agree with this article about how Apple has lost sight of good design principles.  But grey san serif type on a white background?  Physician heal thyself.

Also, subheads can be set apart with a technique we used to call boldface, before the Dark Times.


Not good:


The new generation of software has made gigantic leaps forward in attractiveness and computational power while simultaneously getting harder for people to use.


The new generation of software has made gigantic leaps forward in attractiveness and computational power while simultaneously getting harder for people to use.

November 13, 2015

I endorse this

 Pharrell Williams raps on this, but looks like he wasn't available to film the video. How they work with that is brilliant.

"The anti-racist Father Christmas!

A kindness from Alan Moore.


November 09, 2015

Run, Marco, run!

[T]he [Bush] group’s chief strategist has boasted of his willingness to spend as much as $20 million to damage Mr. Rubio’s reputation and halt his sudden ascent in the polls, according to three people told of the claim.


November 08, 2015

When it rains top-tier Shakespeare criticism, apparently, it pours

This one via the estimable Ron Rosenbaum.


Actually works

November 07, 2015

Cake Prince

Do you think Bush will drop out?

As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?

Chart:  Eisengeiste Data Team.  Data Source:  Center for Public Integrity


November 05, 2015

Nice cover

Meditation on LaBrea statuary

[T]hanks to an influx of Disney movies as a child, I knew exactly what was happening here: The mother was the one drowning, and the father was one who did not give a fuck. It was Bambi, but with mammoths...

[H]ere’s the thing: I was totally right about the sexes. When I asked the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum about them, I was directed to information from Los Angeles’s La Brea Tar Pits and Hancock Park by Cathy McNassor, which says that the two adults were commissioned by Howard Ball in the 1960s. He had previously done work for the New York World’s Fair, Hollywood, and—wait for it—Disney. I was told the male was positioned in 1967 and the female “depicting a sinking scenario” in 1968. There’s no info on who decided to add the screaming baby—but presumably that person is a sadist who gathers strength from children’s tears.


One of the best things on 'Lear' I've ever read

The good fight

November 04, 2015


Yeah, right

Harvard Business School researchers have apparently determined that sarcasm, especially when it has a sharp edge to it, represents the "highest form of intelligence." 


Alt headline:  "Dicks who teach dicks to get rich by acting like dicks say people who act like dicks are awesome"


Many people keep boasting that we tend to live longer than our ancestors using the misinterpreted measure of life expectancy. 

Life expectancy doesn't tell you how LONG people live. It mostly tells you how many children fail to survive. So reducing childhood mortality when it is high extends life expectancy much more than efforts aiming at making people live longer. 

For instance bringing childhood mortality down from 30% to what we have today, close to 0, extends life expectancy by about 25 years --which is the bulk of the gains since the middle ages. 

If you want to really measure how long people live, use the expectancy at 40. For those into these things, this is the perfect illustration of the beautiful concept of ergodicity.

November 01, 2015

Resistance is futile

No need to watch the movie now

This dude has fucking solved it.




Newly relevant

I was thinking about this chart in my car today, on the way back from the coffee shop.

Assuming for a moment that this is not just another journalistic reproduction of academic malpractice, my future from here appears to be one of long, slow, cognitive petrification.  As much as I'd like to imagine otherwise, my most flexible and creative thinking is probably, according to science, in the past.

This is a bit of an unpleasant shock.  Many of us toil away at various professional tasks in middle age with the idea that one day we'll retire and take up something entirely new (perhaps drawing, for me), or devote ourselves to an avocation long-deferred (writing?).  But what will we be when we reach that point?  Will our eyes be sharp enough to see?  Will we uncomfortable and urgent and open enough to honestly report?

Well, I thought to myself, even if this is true, I could go back through my younger thoughts.  When I worked at WordsWorth I amassed quite a lot of random ideas walking among the stacks on my break, or working on the register late at night.  I had taped up this bit of Eliot's Four Quartets on the side of the register booth:

What might have been and what has been 
Point to one end, which is always present. 
Footfalls echo in the memory 
Down the passage which we did not take 
Towards the door we never opened 
Into the rose-garden. My words echo 
Thus, in your mind.

I think it caught my eye because of the odd combination of its earnestness, its quasi-profundity, and the (usual for Eliot) immaculate prosody.  I admired its ambition but condemned its self-importance.  I got a tape of Eliot reading it, and admired his steadiness and clarity but condemned his preciously constructed accent.

So, I thought as the cappuccino sloshed in its paper cup, I could write an essay about Four Quartets.  Not an easy topic: it is a masterwork prepared during a horrific war, in which he meditates on the nature of time and memory, and on both Hindu and Christian conceptions of the meaning of life.  And, writing in a faithless time, he makes a poem in which high-flown religious and philosophical sentiments are continuously subverted by an emotional tone bordering on clinical depression:

The river is within us, the sea is all about us; 
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite, 
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses 
Its hints of earlier and other creation: 
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone; 
The pools where it offers to our curiosity 
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone. 
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine, 
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar 
And the gear of foreign dead men. 

No, it is too much, I thought.  Time is no healer, after all, the patient is no longer here.  I would be writing about someone else's worries in someone else's time, and also T.S. Eliot.

Rather than pursue this nonsense any further I settled in for a Sunday morning on the sofa, and fired up the BBC for some ambient sound.  Then, for reasons I cannot explain, I decided to listen to an episode of "Desert Island Discs", and of course plumped for the one with Stephen Fry.

Under the rules of the show guests are allowed to take the Bible along, as well as the complete works of Shakespeare.  But what other book would you take?  Fry mentioned how much he loved Eliot - "I particularly love his Four Quartets" - and said he would choose that book, above all others, to take with him.

Along with some paintbrushes.