February 27, 2017

Stoicism in a nutshell

The BBC program "In Our Time", hosted by the estimable Melvyn Bragg, has taken up the topic of stoicism on several occations:

There's a lot of "In Our Time", and it all seems to be really good.

Quokka selfies


February 25, 2017

Really?! Also: citation needed

From the Wikipedia entry on the song "La Bamba":
The Kidsongs Kids perform their version on their Boppin' With the Biggles video and it took more than 100 shots to edit their version of the music video.

February 24, 2017

A moment for Claudio

Leicester's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri nine months after winning the Premier League made former Foxes striker Gary Lineker "shed a tear".

Ranieri guided Leicester to the title despite them being rated 5,000-1 shots at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

The Foxes are 17th this season and lost to League One Millwall in the FA Cup.



The Guardian has the story.  This is positive un-American!


February 19, 2017

Just sayin'

I'm not an audio snob, but the headline makes fun of the BT.2020 pass-through, and unless you get that dialed in to as close as Sigma 3 as your receiver and titanium-shielded acoustically isolated speakers allow, you might as well rip out your $2000-per-linear foot Monster Cables and replace them with farking string.

I mean I like having a laugh at "tech jargon" too, but if you can't be bothered to dial in the BT.2020 pass through, why don't you just smash your stereo gear with a hammer, throw it in a dumpster, [and] set the dumpster on fire? Go buy a plastic AM radio at the dollar store and listen to it in the shower, most of you wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. Assuming you could even figure out how to turn it on, if you can't figure out a simple 2020 wave analysis function. Big 'if' right there. Don't turn on the shower and accidentally drown yourself. But like I say, not a snob.


From an article about a flower show

We normally prepare for a trip by imagining the worst and then are grateful for what doesn’t happen to us, so we fully expected cold weather and fierce winds on the crossing, with sheets of salt spray lashing the deck, and the ship rolling and plunging; and we imagined ourself lying on a bunk quietly retching into a plastic bag, and then the inevitable iceberg and the rush for the boats, with us caught in a despicable act of cowardice and going down with the boat in shame and disgrace, and then our obituary (“Was fondly regarded despite insufficient flowering over the years”). But, of course, the first day out was bright and balmy, and we lay in a deck chair and dozed and slowly burst open.

- Garrison Keillor, 1992


February 18, 2017

Meanwhile, at Yosemite...


February 17, 2017

Well, yeah

"Man is condemned to be free."  So said Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist.  And perhaps only a French existentialist could think that we are "condemned" to be free.  It's the kind of thing that would occur to you as you sit in a Parisian cafe on a rainy afternoon, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, and feeling the enormity of existence settle on your shoulders as you gaze in ineffable, inexplicable horror at the glass of beer in front of you.

[The podcast, which is very good, is actually about Epictetus.]


Zombie John McCain is all out of bubble gum

  • "[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”
  • “They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”
  • “They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”
  • "They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."


February 12, 2017

The bards will sing

Following the Super Bowl Steve Young appeared on the Tolbert & Lund show on KNBR and explained the now-legendary fourth quarter - we present our own partial transcription here, in free verse:

It was brutal
It was inspiring
brutal to watch

There are comebacks
that you just can't stop
But this one was self-inflicted in some ways

And that's what's so hard,
especially with so much on the line,
at the Super Bowl

Look, as you manage games
because you know
someone says
I'm a game manager, he's a game manager
they usually use that as a cut on a quarterback,
he's just a game manager
a lot of the job is game management

There's some other phenomenally important things
that really just extend the game, extend the ability of your team
to go score and win and all that stuff

but a lot of quarterbacking
is nuts and bolts

And when you get away from that,
especially with the Super Bowl on the line
I use the word criminal,
that's probably too strong
but it's just
it's how you lose
it's how you lose Super Bowls
it's how you lose any game to be honest with you

But on the other side -
the frenzy that they allowed

You know that it was twenty eight to three
They had a shot
They had a drive that went three and out,
and I'm like

oh, you've got to go end this

because otherwise you're going to get the flurry of all flurries
from one of the greatest players ever, whatever you wanna say

He's comin'

If you give him a shot he'll start calculating in his mind
and the whole team is built this way
and they know - they're very mature as a group -
they're not going to go away
they're not going to disappear and fall flat

They're comin'

But you can end it
by going, even 31
'cause you knew the score
how are they going to pull that off

They don't do it

They go twenty eight and nine
and miss the extra point

Ok, now you know you need a field goal
You need that extra field goal to get away from three scores
And so when they miss the extra point
oh, doesn't really matter, neither here nor there

Then they go to the onside kick
a little desperate in my mind
Bill, what're you doing?
It's a little desperate

And it doesn't work and
I'm like ok, now you've got the ball on the 40

Now, with your season, career, everything, on the line
Get five, ten, fifteen yards
and end this.

I know people say
it's fourteen minutes in the fourth quarter,
whatever it was:
end it right there.

Doesn't happen.

Now it goes
Now they get the field goal
so now it's twenty eight to twelve

Tolbert:  Remember, real quick, remember Steve - after that onside kick, they got nine yards on first down to go to the 31 yard line to get in field goal range, and then Matthews holds and outside of field goal range they go.

That's the second time that's going to come up, right,
because they were running the ball
very effectively
and every time they seemed to hand off
so....see, now you've frustrated me even more because
I'd forgotten about that one
I'd forgotten about that one

As a guy that's played a long time, you know
you're making the same calculation they are.

You know you're in trouble
because now he's two scores down

I get it, two point conversions,
I get it

But now everybody smells success for the first time
Now you've really got to end it
Now's the time
because you don't want to get into this flurry.

So they run the ball, remember,
and it's nine yards again
they try to throw incomplete or whatever
oh I remember, they run the middle and it goes nowhere

So that's third and one
He's in the shotgun
Full blitz is coming
I'm sitting there watching this
Here comes the blitz
Are you throwing?
What are you doing?

He takes the deep drop
the linebacker comes
the running back misses him
or misses the assignment
Here comes
the linebacker free

And he takes a - he's lookin' the other way -
he takes the big drop
and the big windup to throw the big sail route
you know, the classic 28 yard sail route
with the whole season on the line

and then he gets the strip sack
and you think to yourself

you know what?
you deserve it

you do

Whatever's comin',
you might pull this out
you might sneak this by
you might somehow -

but what's comin'
you deserve now

That was my reaction

Because I've been there
I've lived it
I'd made mistakes
I get it
When it happens, own it

Whatever's comin'
is now on you

So then that happened.
So they go down and make it twenty.

And then they make one of the great
throws and catches
in the history of Super Bowls
or any game.

Julio Jones makes that catch down at the 22
but Matt Ryan steps up
and off-balance
throws a laser down there
and it was beautiful

And then you say to yourself
ok, you lucky suckers
you moved this ball down

Now you can end it for good

You get a second chance to end it
'cause a field goal,
in my mind,
ended it.

And, so, you're at the 22
You remember
They ran, did nothing

And then, in your mind the thing that cannot happen is
what Tom, you didn't play football
but you know this, what cannot happen?

Tolbert:  Sack.  Sack.

It cannot happen
cannot happen

Honestly, if a pass is called
You just know, 101,
I cannot go down.

I've got to figure out a way to throw the ball near somebody
I have it in my mind this ball's coming out

And you see him go back
he gets pressured
he tries to go make a play
and down he goes

and I think to myself you guys deserve this twice now
now whatever's comin', I'm done with you guys
and so it ends any chance
and you say oh my gosh

and here comes Tom

February 11, 2017

OKC shows why it has the reputation it enjoys today

The fans, so amped pregame but so frustrated as the lopsided score materialized, resorted to one final cupcake chant as Durant completed his national TV postgame interview, victorious in his emotional return.


Based on a conversation with Dr. Kapital

February 07, 2017

Professor Irwin Corey accepts the National Book Award Fiction Citation for Thomas Pynchon, 4/18/74

Mencken once said, "He who underestimates the American pubic - public, will not go broke." This is merely a small indication of this vast throng gathered here to once again behold and to perceive that which has gone behind and to that which might go forward into the future...we've got to hurdle these obstacles. This is the main deterrent upon which we have gathered our strength and all the others who say, "What the hell did that get?" - We don't know. We've got to peforce withold the loving boy... And as Miller once said in one of his great novels- what did he ... that language is only necessary when communication is endangered. And you sit there bewildered, and Pinter who went further said "It is not the lack of communication but fear of communication." That's what the Goddamn thing is it's we fear - communication. Oh - fortunately the prize has only been given to authors - unlike the Academy Award which is given to a female and a male, indicating the derision of the human specie - God damn it! But we have no paranoia, and Mr. Pynchon has attained, and has created for himself serenity, and it is only the insanity that has kept him alive in his paranoia. We speak of the organ...of the orgasm...Who the hell wrote this? And the jury has determined to divide the prize between two writers - to Thomas Pynchon for his GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. Now GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is a token of this man's genius...he told me so himself...that he could...in other words, have been more specific, but rather than to allude the mundane, he has come to the conclusion that brevity is the importance of our shallow existence. God damn.


February 06, 2017

Damn, Charles

A lone Anchorage prison guard sits at the receiving end of Alaska's failed mental health system, trying to keep 28 acutely disturbed men from harming themselves or others.

The Mike Module, as the unit is called at Anchorage Correctional Complex, is staffed by a single corrections officer and a single nurse except when clinicians visit. I sat down with two retired officers to find out what that job is like.


What's wrong with Anchorage, Alaska



February 05, 2017

The Talented Mister Brady

Four-time Super Bowl MVP?

* Throws clipboard over shoulder *

We'll take a look at the whole body of work another time.

HOUSTON – Down 25 points in the third quarter, Tom Brady delivered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history on Sunday, befitting of his status as greatest quarterback of all time.

Previously no team that ever trailed by more than 10 points in a Super Bowl had come back to win. New England was down 28-3 late in third quarter...


Deadspin's take:

The Impossible Band

Ringo events are often sloppy affairs.  This one is not.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to White House: NO

"Appellants' request for an immediate administrative stay pending full consideration of the emergency motion for a stay pending appeal is denied."


February 04, 2017


Memo to economists: SHOW YOUR WORK

I know Krugman is famous for his acerbic writing style, because he has the New York Times bully pulpit, etc.  But I read him religiously because he show his work.  He explains why he thinks what he thinks.  Recent example:
Germany in effect has an undervalued currency relative to what it would have without the euro. The figure shows German prices (GDP deflator) relative to Spain (which I take to represent Southern Europe in general) since the euro was created. There was a large real depreciation during the euro’s good years, when Spain had massive capital inflows and an inflationary boom. This has only been partly reversed, despite an incredible depression in Spain. Why? Because wages are downward sticky, and Germany has refused to support the kind of monetary and fiscal stimulus that would raise overall euro area inflation, which remains stuck at far too low a level. 
So the euro system has kept Germany undervalued, on a sustained basis, against its neighbors.

For me these tend to be one-sided conversations because hardly anyone else does this, relying instead on argument from authority.

Paul is good.  Be more like Paul, everybody.



Why does [Cuban emigre] Rodriguez draw Trump with missing facial features?

“That's the way I see him,” Rodriguez said. “I see him as someone that's very angry, and it's pretty much his mouth that's moving all the time, so that's how I tend to show him in some of my work.”

Rodriguez added that the Der Spiegel cover is a statement about the kind of country he wants to live in.

“I don't want to live in a dictatorship,” he said. “If I wanted to live in a dictatorship, I'd live in Cuba, where it's much warmer.”