Friday, December 17, 2004

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The World's Best Composition I Student

I always enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's pieces, and his output is amazing. One article after another on all kinds of stuff: SUV safety, ketchup, intellectual property . . . he's all over the map. Now I see he's got an essay subtitled "Mammography, air power, and the limits of looking." It was pretty good.

Still, I can't shake the impression that I'm reading the work of someone who has cooked up a long list of topics guaranteed to please his teacher. There's an air of "glorified research paper" about his work.

I wish I could do it half as well.

via kottke Demented Donald Duck ride.

The caption is perfect.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Outstripping the master

I tend to read more Ask MetaFilter than the venerable MotherShip (mixing metaphors, now). It's nice to have questions instead of rhetoric. The signal to noise ratio seems a lot higher.


Oops. Accidentally posted here instead of 'interact'. But, just in case you're feed reader got you all excited, I'll give you another one I found in the drafts.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Has Bin Laden just handed the election to Bush?

Terror fears usually favour the incumbant and in such a closely contested race that could be just enough to get him over the line. Of course this Return of the Phantom should also remind people about what a bad job the President has actually done in fighting Al Qaeda.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Bush famously said that he "doesn't do nuance". How about the American electorate?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Monday, October 11, 2004

Not my promised flying car but nevertheless a certifiable piece from my Jetsons future.

Consequently, I have an irrational desire to own one of these.

Monday, October 04, 2004


There was an entire Jeopardy! category devoted to blogs? Did any of you all catch this? Is it real? Wow.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Running the gauntlet

Protesting and civil disobedience in an age of terror alerts and mobile communications.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Pardon my anger....

....but crap like this really makes me angry.

I am a "liberal", and I personally own not one but two Bibles (different translations).

And you know, I haven't exactly seen a whole lot of book-burnings hosted by liberals or liberal-minded organizations. I'm just sayin'.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

What a workplace!

Like a car pileup on I-190 in downtown Buffalo, I couldn't look away as a bunch of MeFites pile onto this job ad, which makes this particular place of business sound about as cheery as a graveyard. Not sure what point I'd make, but it's weird to read.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

He's a freak.

Is anyone following the adventures of Ken Jennings, the freakish freak who's been ruling the roost on Jeopardy! for months now? Alex Trebek pointed out the other night that because Ken is still playing, he's not eligible for this year's Tournament of Champions, and will wait until next year. But if Ken wins every day until two days before the 2005 Tournament of Champions, he'll be eligible for the Tournament -- which will include just two players.

Anyway, the guy's something to watch. On the one hand, he's a devout Mormon, so he dominates Bible topics. But then, he's apparently done a lot of studying of alcoholic beverages (if not drinking them, since he's a Mormon), because he always does well with "Potent Potables". The other night he ran the table on a Monty Python topic, and he carries a figurine of a Totoro with him as a good luck charm.

He's a freak. But he's fun to watch.

(I hope all the people he beats get T-shirts that read, "I got my ass kicked by Ken Jennings.")

Friday, September 17, 2004

Bait and Switch

Sharon repudiates America's "road map" while copping flack from his own party about the Gaza withdrawal. The whole thing is an exercise in bait and switch, the purpose of which is to consolidate control over the occupied West bank and to accelerate ethnic cleansing there.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Zero-Gravity Flights made Public

At $3,000 it's still a pricey ticket, albeit a bit cheaper than the privatized Space Flights, but if I had the spare cash, I'd happily go on an FAA-Approved Commercial Zero Gravity Flight.
A specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, called G-Force One, will be used during a nationwide tour Sept. 14-24.

"We kick off a two-week tour with Zero-G flights in New York City, Los Angeles, Reno, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Florida," Peter Diamandis, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the company, told

The kick-off flights will carry "select consumers and guests," the company announced today. The first flight was slated today to depart from Newark Airport in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

Trips available for everyone else start in October.
Are you all tempted to raise the $3k so I can go on the Dallas stop? I promise to post a wonderful entry about it!

Oh, and, they teamed up with Diet Rite!? Find out more about the company from their official site.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Here's something that I'm trying to wrap my mind around:

What, exactly, is a terrorist?

It seems like a no-brainer type question, but I keep seeing the insurgents we can't seem to stop fighting in Iraq referred to in the news as "terrorists". Are they terrorists, though? Is guerilla-type action a form of terrorism, then? Certainly, using car-bombs against civilian targets is terrorism, but is doing the same against a military target "terrorism", or just guerilla tactics?

I'm asking because I'm increasingly suspecting that in the War On Terror, we not only fighting the wrong people but we don't know who we should be fighting in the first place.

Thoughts? (Sorry about not linking anything, but this is just half-baked think-out-loud type stuff.)


This blogger, cited on boingboing, says, "These days, GMail invitations are ubiquitous, and people like me are starting to get annoyed with people offering to give away invites." Really? I must travel in a different circle. I have yet to meet anyone in person who has even heard of gmail. I have five invitations, I think, and I can't get rid of them because everybody's totally satisfied with yahoo, aol, hotmail, etc. The very last thing they want to bother with is mucking around with some kind of thingamabob for converting their current webmail stash to gmail. It doesn't matter how easy it is. The power of the google brand seems lost on people with no time or money personally invested in something on the web, and in particular people who would rather copy the dictionary by hand than write a "blog," whatever that is. That's not a surprise, of course, but it does turn out to include almost everybody I know.

So, am I on Mars, or what?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

OK, folks, time for a Dichotomous Poll! Is this whole business about whether the newly-released "Bush National Guard" memos are real, with the whole bit about whether the typewriters in 1971 could do superscripts and nonproportional fonts and cut-and-paste and do PowerPoint and all that stuff (a) a crucial piece of the puzzle about whether George W. Bush can be trusted with the National Security Apparatus and the prosecution of the War on Terror, or (b) a stupid and irrelevant bit of red-herring stuff, and a case of "Ooooooo, a bouncing ball, let's follow it because there's certainly nothing more important to be talking about!" on the part of our national media and political discourse?

I vote 'B', myself.

Friday, September 10, 2004

OK, NFL fans: any football predictions or thoughts on the upcoming season? My personal feeling, icky though it may be, is that the Super Bowl is the Stupid Patriots' to lose.

I want to go to a movie at the theater described here.

(via Tenser, said the Tensor)

One summer Saturday, I'm going to make a smoker out of a garbage can. I'll make it in the morning, throw the meat on it after lunch, and have a great dinner. Maybe I'll even get around to it this fall, when college football is in season.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Driving back from Tulsa to Dallas yesterday evening, I heard a report on NPR's the World about the massive project in China attempting to divert water from the South of the country up to the North and Beijing. The total budget for the project reaches upwards of $14 Billion and will consist of:
three south-to-north canals, each running about 1,300 kilometres across the eastern, middle and western parts of the country.

The three lines are designed to divert water from the upper, middle and lower reaches of the water-rich Yangtze River into the country's drought-prone north.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of cities in North and Northwest China have been plunged into an ever-growing regional potential crisis of water resources.
The project is expected to be completed by 2007, just barely in time for the Summer Olympics of '08. One commentator on the NPR program said that it was akin to try to divert water from the Mississippi River to Washington DC. Just kind of made me go "whoa".
Dogs in Cars is too fun not to steal. (via Metafilter,xp at fw.)
There is growing interest in the use of shipping containers as the basis for habitable structures. These "icons of globalization" are relatively inexpensive, structurally sound and in abundant supply. Although, in raw form, containers are dark windowless boxes (which might place them at odds with some of the tenets of modernist design...) they can be highly customizable modular elements of a larger structure.
Is this actually used much by people with a real need for inexpensive housing, or is it like Cameron Diaz and her Prius?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

You know how at state fairs (and the larger county fairs) they'll have a pavilion or two where you can watch live versions of infomercials, wherein salespeople pitch things like therapeutic massage chairs and space-age cookware? Here's a nifty profile of one member of this special breed of traveling salespeople.

I find sales to be one of the most mystifying of vocations. I spent a year and half doing it (badly), and I can never fathom the kinds of people who can pretty much launch right into an effective pitch within half an hour of seeing the product they're selling for the first time.

Anyone else ever try sales?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Wow, we're posting here again. Hmmmmm....

Well, I might as well bring up a little dust-up in Blogistan regarding the Russian school massacre and the terrorist problem the Russians have in Chechnya. Yesterday, Matthew Yglesias posted as follows:

Worse, even, than the reality of the crime is the knowledge that things will get worse. The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya. At the same time, in the wake of this sort of outrage there will not only be no mood for concessions, but an amply justified fear that such concessions would only encourage further attacks and a further escalation of demands. I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers. Partisanship and complaints about Bush's handling of counterterrorism aside, this business is a reminder not only of the horrors out there, but also that terrorism is a genuinely difficult problem -- I think we've been doing many of the wrong things lately, but no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is.

This seems to me to be suggesting that Russia's old policy of scorched-earth, "Kill them all" military incursions into Chechnya hasn't worked worth a damn, so one might conclude that they might try making concessions -- except that this would only encourage further terrorist activity, obviously, since the terrorists would see it as evidence that they can influence policy by killing and violence. Russia, therefore, is caught in a dilemma where one alternative doesn't work and the other simply isn't possible for other reasons. This seems pretty clear to me.

But then along comes Glenn Reynolds, who seizes on Matthew's second sentence quoted above, and only that sentence, in a "Look at the dumb liberal" moment that pretty much completely misreads Matthew's point. (Read the ensuing comment thread as the Instalanche begins.) And then, after Matthew takes strongly-worded offense to this, Glenn retreats into his usual fall-back position of "Gee, I just can't understand why you'd be so mad at me", coupled with "I don't understand your position" (which somehow I was able to grasp in about the forty seconds it took me to read Matthew's entire post) and tut-tut-ing over Matthew's use of profanity. (The horror of it all! Good thing Glenn Reynolds is so gosh-darned consistent about his disapproval of profanity in political discourse.)

Matthew then goes on to clarify his original position here (as if it actually needed clarifying). I found this whole exercise rather illuminating, in light of the "Nuance? We don't need no steenking nuance here!" attitude of today's political commentary.

And here's something that's been bugging me for a long time now: what's the right thing to do if a case can actually be made that what the terrorists want actually is the right thing to do?

Friday, September 03, 2004

American males in their thirties really need to check out the ESPN2 Sport's Guy's column about why 1984 was the best year ever. I have to tell you, I'm convinced.

Free Samples
37. "Hello" (Lionel Ritchie) -- This was the one where Lionel falls for the blind girl who made the bust that looked nothing like him. Remember that one? She told him, "This is what I see when I see you," then she showed him a sculpture of Barry Sanders, who wasn't even famous yet.

83. During the same year -- yes, 1984 -- Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.

(I mean . . . ouch.)
Kick-ass machine #2

Kottke links this beast. That looks like it might be about as big as a land-based moving thing can get. I've been in awe of these things since junior high, when I saw a picture of a man standing next to the cutterhead, looking really tiny.

Read the first two comments--funniest question and answer I've read in quite awhile.

These are impressive, too. They don't crawl, they walk on huge feet.

The environmentalist in me weeps as I admit the coolness of stuff like this.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Swiped from a comment in a Metafilter thread about the new (totally underwhelming) iMac:
A Computer for the Borg
Following along with Jason's theme, I'll post this article about the current state of poverty in the US from the Economist. Some excerpts:
Whatever crude logic it possessed at the time, the Orshansky poverty line is by now quite arbitrary. Its originator calculated the cost of meeting a family’s nutritional needs and then multiplied this figure by three, because families in that era spent about a third of their income on food. The Census Bureau does not repeat this exercise to determine today’s poverty line; it does not recalculate the cost of an adequate diet or remeasure the share of income spent on food. It simply adjusts Ms Orshansky’s figures for inflation. Thus today’s dollar thresholds do not tell us how much a family or individual needs to get by in today’s America; they simply restate the cost of feeding a family in the 1960s in today’s prices, and multiply it by three.

As the Census Bureau is the first to concede, the poverty line is not a “complete description of what people and families need to live”. A more complete description would show that poor families now spend a far bigger share of their budget on housing (nearly 33%, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics) than on food (just 13.2%). Child care, done for free by the mothers and grandmothers of the 1950s and 1960s, is now a big expense. Deducting this expense from the measured income of families would add 1.9m to the official poverty figure, according to estimates by Isabel Sawhill and Adam Thomas of the Brookings Institution.

But a better measure of poverty would also assess the various weapons the government deploys against it. The current measure ignores non-monetary benefits, such as food stamps. Nor does it count the earned income-tax credit, a benefit paid via the tax code to the working poor, which has become every policy wonk’s favourite way to redistribute money. The Census Bureau has already experimented with such measures, and is probably itching to finally retire the Orshansky line. But its political masters in the Office of Management and Budget may be nervous of any innovation that would raise the official poverty number. To the bureau, the poverty line may be a mere “statistical yardstick”, but to the administration, it is a political stick its opponents might use to beat it with.

But if the level of poverty is fairly arbitrary, changes in the level are quite telling. Poverty fell throughout the long economic expansion of the Clinton years, from 15.1% in 1993 to 11.3% in 2000. Particularly striking was the fall in poverty among single mothers and their families, from 35.6% (4.4m) in 1993 to 25.4% (3.3m) in 2000.
Just some food for thought.
The Blue Mountain Project

Last weekend, I met Denise Cagley-Jefferson, president of The Blue Mountain Project, a charity organization in Jamaica. Here's their mission statement:
The Blue Mountain Project is dedicated to educating and empowering indigenous populations of developing countries to mobilize for sustainable economic development, specific to their needs.
That last phrase is a winner. Their work is a nice addendum to my last post because they actually do things for people. Their projects include building a wellness center and providing toothbrushes to kids.

Be sure to check out their photo album. I like this one a lot, and this one, and this one, too. (I'm trying to talk her into adding a weblog to their site; a photoblog telling the stories of the people and the place would be very powerful indeed.)

That's good work being done there.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

From a Slate piece titled "The Most Revolting Politician in America":
Santorum returns to the word "love" repeatedly in his five-minute address. Rather than speak of a culture war, he pleads that "too many of our children are surrounded by an impoverished culture, causing an emptiness not only of the stomach, but of the heart."
I'm not really sure what Santorum's getting at here, but his words remind me of the following passage from The Nantucket Diary of Ned Rorem, 1973-1985, in which Rorem transcribes his answer to a letter soliciting his support for a group calling itself "Artists to End Hunger." He's not unfriendly to charitable efforts, just this crew's misguided means and flossy language:
To speak of "hunger of the human spirit" is to use the word metaphorically. It may be that "majestic music," as you so sentimentally put it, feeds the spirit, but your group's policy is presumably to feed the body. I will not be convinced that an Indian child, numb from lack of food, can be "nourished" by Beethoven; nor will I listen to a person who asserts the contrary unless that person has literally starved. To draw no distinction between bread and music, and to claim that a starving human is eased by one as by the other, is cruel.
He also recommends that their mailings should include fewer pictures of attractive, well-fed pianists and more of malnourished children.

Also I think of this bit from C.S. Lewis's essay, "Social Morality":
Charity--giving to the poor--is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there are no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality.
It'd be nice to make a point with a string of quotations, but I'm not even sure what my point is. What I can say for sure is that no convention speech on either side is going to change a culture, much less put a bite of food in a hungry kid's mouth. I've got a sinking feeling about the Big Picture.
Make with the chit-chat, eh?

So here's an open thread. What'cha been reading? Listening to? Any good movies? Random thoughts?

Monday, August 30, 2004


Devoter is a new political community weblog set up by a MeFier as an alternative to the ceaseless politic posts on the old blue. You can read more about it in this MetaTalk thread. I'm just kind of posting this as an FYI just in case anyone around here is interested. You can still get an uber-l33t two-digit user number, and this also means (hopefully) that MeFi will kind of go back to normal. Well, I can hope, anyways.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

We all saw it on kottke, but here it is anyways:

The Top 10 SciFi films of all time.

Any thoughts?
Hey Look! A Post!

Hey, how ya doin'?

So there's this SelectSmart guide to ethical philosophy, and I'd be interested to see how you all score and your thoughts, you know, assuming you see this and take it and whatnot. Here are my results:

1. Aquinas (100%)
2. St. Augustine (86%)
3. Spinoza (80%)
4. Ockham (64%)
5. Aristotle (62%)
6. Stoics (53%)
7. Jean-Paul Sartre (49%)
8. Kant (49%)
9. Cynics (41%)
10. Ayn Rand (39%)
11. John Stuart Mill (39%)
12. Nietzsche (39%)
13. Plato (39%)
14. Jeremy Bentham (34%)
15. Nel Noddings (33%)
16. David Hume (30%)
17. Prescriptivism (28%)
18. Epicureans (22%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (8%)

Hope everyone's doing well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Test, One Two...

Nothing too deep, but I saw something that reminded me of Collaboratory, though it was before my time here*. Even taking the "easy" route they had troubles with their encounter with Dostoevsky.

*Come to think of it, most everything was before my time here. Not that I've helped in that regard.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Ugly Zoo

ugly, ugly, ugly zoo...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Andrew Carlssin luvs Lynndie England.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

To quote a certain fellow " hello . . . lo . . . lo . . . lo . . . "

Oh well... I'm going to blog here regardless of all that mutinous chatter going on in the comments section (actually its not quite enough to call it chatter exactly).

So one question I have for you. What is so darned good about the Caps Lock key that merits giving it a button larger than than the tab key on most keyboards? Personally I've had ENOUGH OF SUDDENLY GOING IN TO CAPS MODE SIMPLY BECAUSE BY A STUPID SLip of the fingers while looking for the shift key.

So after hunting around for an answer (on Google for about five and half seconds) I stumbled over this little sucker.

No need to thank me.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Somehow I managed to blow away Chris' post (don't ask me how I did it, I have no idea), so anyway I'm reposting it from a copy I found in Google's cache. Apologies, Chris.

In a Washington Post Writers Group op-ed, Neal Peirce explores the topic of regionalism by reporting on the trend towards City-County mergers and other alternative forms of governance.

Cruel & Unusual
"That really, really is the worst atrocity. It affects the honour and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them."

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of Al Quds Al Arabi

I really wonder whether, with the emergence of these photos, the game isn't over for the Americans in Iraq. Is it realistic, after the bloody siege of Fallujah and the Shiite uprising of early April, and in the wake of these revelations, to think that the US can still win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Arab public?

--- Juan Cole

I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn’t think it was right . . . I saw SSG Frederick walking towards me, and he said, “Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds.” I heard PFC England shout out, “He’s getting hard.”

Specialist Matthew Wisdom

Specialist Charles A. Graner and Private Lynndie England give the thumbs up to the Abu Ghraib facility.

[warning: more hideousness here]

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Morning Edition without Bob Edwards?!

This is....well, it sucks, really -- especially with Edwards saying that it was a case of "management wanting to move in a new direction", which is basically management-speak for, "Hey, here's something we haven't done before, let's do it!"


Saturday, March 20, 2004

I always get mad when I hear people cite some scientific study somewhere that has received a chunk of government funding, and then follow it up with something like "Who on Earth needs to know that?!" The reason I get mad is that you never know what bit of scientific knowledge from one field is going to prove useful in another, such as this: findings from astronomy and particle physics could help archaeologists learn if there are secret burial chambers in the Mexican pyramids at Teotihuacan.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Interesting survey of Iraqi attitudes one year on about the occupation and the future. PDF, really worth a read.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Janet Dilbeck clearly remembers the moment the music started. Two years ago she was lying in bed on the California ranch where she and her husband were caretakers. A mild earthquake woke her up. To Californians, a mild earthquake is about as unusual as a hailstorm, so Dilbeck tried to go back to sleep once it ended. But just then she heard a melody playing on an organ, "very loud, but not deafening," as she recalls. Dilbeck recognized the tune, a sad old song called When You and I Were Young, Maggie.

Maggie was her mother's name, and when Dilbeck (now 70) was a girl her father would jokingly play the song on their home organ. Dilbeck is no believer in ghosts, but as she sat up in bed listening to the song, she couldn't help but ask, "Is that you, Daddy?"

She got no answer, but the song went on, clear and loud. It began again from the beginning, and continued to repeat itself for hours. "I thought, this is too strange," Dilbeck says. She tried to get back to sleep, but thanks to the music she could only doze off and on. When she got up at dawn, the song continued. In the months to come, Dilbeck would hear other songs. She heard merry-go-round calliopes and Silent Night. For a few weeks, it was The Star-Spangled Banner.

--- Can't get it out of my head: Brain disorder causes mysterious music hallucinations
The new Iraqi constitution is an exquisitely crafted piece of work and a total balls up.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Two tidbits for those that love the funny pages:
Martijn Reemst has now added a search function to his comprehensive Calvin and Hobbes directory, allowing the visitor to recall the best of Spaceman Spiff. has entered round 5 of the Far Side Photoshop Contest, where participants flex their image manipulation muscles remaking classic Larson creations as real-life, full color, multi-dimentional representations of the original pen and ink creations.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I'm not at all sure that if I didn't see my daughter from ten days after her birth until six years later, I would recognize her.

But this mother did, and she was calm enough to create a ruse by which she could obtain hair-samples from the child for DNA testing purposes, thus exposing a pretty brazen kidnapping/faked death. Wow.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Yet another author whose works I keep meaning to read has died: historian Daniel Boorstin.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Did Dean give the Dems back their party?

Whether or not you supported him, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

I'm inclined to think he was helpful in that regard.

Friday, February 13, 2004

What is a thesaurus for?

In a review of A History of Roget's Thesaurus, John Whale (nice name) says, "The safest storehouse for writers to fetch words from is their own head." He does concede that
Of course a thesaurus can help a failing memory recall an elusive word, even though reliance on a thesaurus could end in making more and more words elusive. It can help non-native users of a language enlarge their vocabulary, though . . . with a risk of solecism. It can help copy-editors clarify a paragraph where the writer has used the same word in two different senses. It can ease the fitting of headlines into a fixed space, or the writing of verse in a regular metre, or the solving of uncomplicated crossword clues. Perhaps those are the aims that Roget is still in print to serve.

In my experience, a thesaurus is a machine by which students convert a few syllables to many and an exact meaning for one that grazes the mark.

I once had a student who wouldn't stop using qua until I told him I would reduce his grade by one letter every time I found it.
The library? How quaint.

A report on the Effect of the Web on Undergraduate Citation Behavior, with information on the Composition of Citations, Distribution of Citations by URL Type, and the Persistency of Cited URLs aged 6 months.

From the article:
---Why are bibliographies getting bigger? Access to information is not a limiting factor to student research—time is. Students, many of whom are working on their term papers the night before they are due, may be selecting Internet resources because they perceive them to be more convenient than traditional library research.
---Since the mid 1990s, the academic library has lost its control as the sole information resource provider on the college campus.
---Without citations that pass the test of time, we have no way to proceed forward because we can no longe see the past.

This study may have its limits, but I don't doubt that its conclusions are in the right direction. And don't forget that these students are several rungs up the ladder from the kids buying entire papers, Works Cited page and all.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

“These children don’t need a cup, they need a cow.”

That's the Heifer International answer to malnourished children. Their approach is attractive in many ways.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I thought Comic Sans was the Ace of Spades in that deck . . .

In a sign that no matter is too small to affect international diplomacy, the US State Department has issued an edict banning its longtime standard typeface from all official correspondence and replacing it with a "more modern" font.

Strange . . . I hope I've fallen for some kind of hoax. (via

Monday, February 02, 2004

Jon Cusack is cool.

(No, not that Jon Cusack -- this is some other Jon Cusack. But this is still hilarious.)

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Kevin Drum on the economy:

The sign of of a healthy economy is not so much that living standards are high for the middle class, but that they are getting higher — that people believe their children will be better off than they are. But as income inequality increases and income mobility decreases that's increasingly not the case, and the question at hand is whether we ever plan on doing anything about it. How long does the middle class have to stagnate in the midst of ever more stratospheric wealth for the rich before even conservatives finally admit that we have a problem?

It's a long post, but a good one, with quite a bit of information, such as this depressing nugget: Every state in the United States, except Nebraska and Nevada, has seen an overall shift of jobs from high-paying industries to lower-paying industries over the last three years.

I've mentioned before that I like WIRED because it's really optimistic, a lot of the time, and sometimes I just plain need a good, stiff shot of such optimism. But their unbridled "happy view", in which just about anything that happens in the tech industry is A-OK, sometimes gets cloying -- such as their current issue, which seems to argue in this article that outsourcing is just ducky. A representative exchange, in which the author interviews someone who wants to make outsourcing more difficult:

"But isn't part of this country's vitality its ability to make these kinds of changes?" I counter. "We've done it before - going from farm to factory, from factory to knowledge work, and from knowledge work to whatever's next."

She looks at me. Then she says, "I'd like to know where you go from knowledge."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Anyone else enjoy brain teasers and IQ-type tests? Here are a few from the International High IQ Society. I've taken several of these types of tests online, but never an "actual" IQ test administered and scored by a human. Have any of you been given an IQ test? If so, how do your scores compare with any you have taken online?

BTW, I was a member of International High IQ Society when it was free. They had some great puzzles and an interesting newsletter, but I just can't bring myself to pay for membership without thinking about Peggy Hill and the "150 Smartest People in Texas."

Friday, January 23, 2004

I know that my sense of humor tends toward the demented, but this picture really made me laugh. (But then, I just can't get enough of this whole Howard Dean thing.)

(Link edited)

OK, who's planning to see this?

I want to, although I'll probably wait for the DVD.

Reactions to the Moon-Mars thing, nicely collected in one place.

(via Paul Riddell, my source for pithy science commentary)

Rolling Stone has a story about Justin Frankel, the inventor of Winamp and Gnutella (via kottke). I didn't know he wrote both of those. My thoughts:

- this guy's value on 'what he wants to do' is too high.
- AOL does stink.
- like Jaq has said, you can't be naive enough to think that, by empowering people you're not gouging the recording industry. Surely most of Gnutella's traffic is illeagal.
- there should be ways to listen before buying. But music that you keep listening to should be paid for.
- however, the current industry is messed up and charges too much.
- some of his motivations sound noble, down to 'taking the wind out of Napster's sails', but, again, it's naive to think there won't be abuse and to take no responsibility for the abuse, isn't it? What would the analogs with guns or cars be (oh, wait. Those industries shirk responsibility, too.)
- more naivete: AOL pays you 100 million dollars, they own you What'd you think? If you don't want them to own you, give some of the money back or negotiate a buy out or something.
- re: Frankel's question at the end, for my part, I think people tend to do what they want, even if it hurts others. We need structures in place to discourage some of those hurts, to keep all of us reined in a little. The tragedy of the commons seems obvious to me.

I've got a post on Metallica, too, that I'm going to put up on interact.
We now have an RSS feed for Collaboratory. Blogger added the feature this morning. I'm hoping it'll start showing up on BlogRolling as recently updated, but it has other advantages as well, like RSS readers. Any of y'all use those?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Did we get our first comment spam?
Futility has nagged at Caroline for a long time. Four years ago, at the dawn of the new millennium, she sat at her kitchen table in Claremont, N.H., and added up her life. It was the height of the economic boom. The nation wallowed in luxury, burst with microchips, consumed with abandon, swaggered globally. Everything grew larger: homes, vehicles, stock portfolios, life expectancy. Never before in the sweep of human history had so many people been so utterly comfortable.

Caroline was not one of them.
Crooked Timber's Harry Farrell has some pointed commentary regarding comments made on other weblogs regarding the New York Times article, "A Poor Cousin of the Middle Class", a vignette about one member of the working poor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"You want to convince me of something, give me numbers." - young Jed Bartlet in the episode "Two Cathedrals" from The West Wing.

Filched from MeFi, here are some numbers on the Bush Administration.

Keep up the good work Start up the good work anytime now, Mr. President.

Collaboratory demographic survey time:

How many of you have taken the Best Places quiz before? I took it several years ago, but then again this morning.

What do you all consider the most important aspects of places to live, according to the categories they use? If you got to pick exactly where you lived, where would it be?

Saturday, January 17, 2004


(butwe'regonnacanceleverythingnotrelatedtothemoonormarsincludingkeepingHubbleworkinguntilareplacementisready! Shhhhhhdon'ttellanyonehaveaniceday)

Via Bookslut:

1. Someone named Caitlin Flanagan somewhat-favorably reviews Dr. Laura's new book.

2. Someone named Maud Newton isn't impressed.

3. I'm not sure why I'm posting this, but it struck me as interesting. I find Dr. Laura to be one of the most nauseating people in American life, and pretty much purely on that basis I tend to desperately want to ignore everything she does, which is pretty much what I do. Oh well.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Darn, I'm so easily amused. At the moment I'm collecting interjections which do a fairly bad job of masking swear words or mild blasphemy.

I'm looking for ones that are fairly well known although I know that many of these are actually obsolete and tend to only be used in ironic contexts. They also tend to be identified specifically as American, British or Australian words.

Here's my current list, I've grouped them around their root cuss word.

(scared the...)
heeby jeebies
(gave me the...)
(Jesu Domine?)
jiminy cricket
jeepers creepers

(god's hooks)
(god's rot)
(god's wounds)
(by god)
(god's truth)
cor blimey
(god blind me)
by gum
(by god)
dog gone
(god damn)
(Surely there are
more of these?)

Can you think of any others?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

When we think of Internet geeks, we often think of people like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, right? Big fat shut-ins who are social misfits?

Well, according to a new study, that's not accurate. Among other things, your typical Net geek has an active social life and shuns television.

Keeping with the air-related theme as of late:

It begins with an idea. The idea becomes a sketch. Which becomes a blueprint. Which becomes a wind tunnel model. Which becomes a prototype...

...and sometimes it just stops with the sketch.

Concept Aircraft of the past.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A day on Earth is roughly 24 hours. A day on Mars is roughly 24 hours, 40 minutes. The difference doesn't sound like much, but it adds up and it's screwing up the sleep patterns of the scientists in charge of the Spirit Rover.

The sacrifices for science, eh?

(Free LA Times registration required)

Monday, January 12, 2004

If this article is to be believed, the RIAA has come up with some new strategies to deal with "pirates" whom they think may not have as much knowledge of US legal procedures as others. Hmmmmm.

(Talk about losing in the court of public opinion, eh? I wonder sometimes if the RIAA sits around saying, "Hey, this ought to make people hate us even more!")

(via Lynn Sislo)

I got 10/10 on this space quiz. I'm something of a space buff, but this one's still pretty easy, I thought.

At the end of this blog post, I found the following generalization of what differentiates liberals from conservatives:

Conservatives measure how far they are from the bottom and are mostly satisfied. Liberals measure how far we are from the top and think we need to work harder.

Anyone agree? Disagree?

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Here's an interesting thought experiment/parlor game question, via Terry Teachout: You have a lot of money -- a seven-figure amount -- that you're can donate to one arts institution in the United States. Who gets your money? Just one. (And no "Arts Councils" who will spread the money around to a bunch of artists!)

I'd give it to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, myself.

Friday, January 09, 2004

So what do you do when a President you really don't like proposes something you really want? Like Bush's impending space policy announcement?

I'm a bit surprised by this, because Bush has never struck me as the kind of President who's remotely interested in science or much else in that realm. It's an election year, and obviously they kept this in a drawer just in case the Spirit Rover mission failed. But, I've long felt dismay over the "ho-hum" attitude toward space we've pretty much embraced since the Apollo missions ended, so if he's sincere, well -- it's not remotely enough to make me vote for him, but I'll be sorely disappointed if the eventual Democratic nominee pooh-poohs the idea.

Yet another variant of the "Geek Quiz", this one focusing on "nerdiness". I got fifty percent, which I gather is a decent score. This one's actually kind of fun, because the questions don't identify the subject matter -- you're just supposed to know.

Weren't we going to read a book together?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

La Befana, the Christmas witch. This is a really fine piece of writing, and a lovely fable.

This is in breathtakingly poor taste, but that's probably to be expected, given the source. I'm an animal lover, but I think PETA is just plain nuts. Anyone else?

(Although I must confess that given my particularly dark sense of humor, I found the picture of the psychotic knife-wielding June Cleaver-esque mommy rather amusing.)

Of all the crap I ever had to endure in grade school, I am firmly convinced that the diagramming of sentences was the most spectacularly useless. But it evidently occurred to someone that, since the Preamble to the United States Constitution is a single sentence, well by golly, it should be diagrammed!


(via TNH's Particles)

So, did anyone else despise diagramming sentences the way I did?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

OK, that last post obviously didn't take. Let's try another Wired article (though I'm dubious about y'all's love for Wired):

To: The next head of the Motion Picture Association of America (to be opened upon arrival)
Subject: How Hollywood can avoid the fate of the music industry

Do you dream of movies on demand over broadband?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

From the latest issue of Wired (this was a good one): 101 ways to save the Internet.

Do you agree that the Internet is in danger? What are your favorite suggestions for saving it? Discuss.

Monday, January 05, 2004

FBI Issues Alert Against Almanac Carriers
I thought that this was a joke when I saw it in my in box. I guess not.
Hey amigos, it's been a long time, but I finally returned to blogging, maybe for good this time.

Since I know how much folks like the maps, I thought I would share this:

With the 2004 Presidential Election fast approaching, we might ~look forward~ to the onslaught of maps that paint the U.S. red and blue, illustrating which states lend their political support to Bush, and which states will back the Democratic Challenger To Be Announced. CommonWealth Magazine takes a more nuanced view of the American Electorate, and has divided the country into ten regions that spread beyond state boundaries, using counties as their unit of analysis. Although it will take quite a while to truly absorb the methods CommonWealth used, much less understand the ramifications for the candidates vis-a-vis campaign strategy, I highly recommend taking the time to read about our fractured electorate.

(via Sennoma's newly-created, terribly promising Malice Aforethought)