Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So, my two big questions about climate change are what's going to change and when. I don't think I'm alone in that. But, I believe that there's some confidence that temperatures are going to rise generally and the soil's going to get much less moist. I don't see any reason that water levels won't return to Miocene levels, some 110 meters above what they are now.

This combined with my love of mangroves suggests that maybe I should start looking at swamps long term.

Who knew interpolate had a homophone?

Seriously, I've been speaking this language for close to 40 years, and there's still all these words I don't know.

Interpellate's a good one to know, though. We're hoping for more of it. It's almost impossible to use it in a sentence and not get some hope for the future. As Bush cronies get interpellated during the Irving Libby's trial for impeding the nation's work on WMDs, don't you get a little charge?

[title changed in light of Brad's comment below]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Axis of Constructiveness

Now, the president is fetishizing obstruction and indifference. This administration has totally gone off the rails.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

All they're going to do is talk

From the party of climate change denial to the party of climate change inaction. It really feels like a step up, but a feeling and 35 cents will get you a cup of coffee in Tennessee.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Margarine Defended!

Emma, From I ❦ Margarine, has defended margarine from my elliptical attacks. So, I wanted to point out her comment.

The point of the piece was that trans fats were bad, arguments about whether or not trans fats were bad were dishonest and that fat replacement food additives in general seem to eventually be revealed as poisons (I only implied this, but it's a deeply held conviction.) Margarine introduced trans fats into our diets, but I haven't researched how bad it is for us in its current formulations.

You may consider margarine as incompletely condemned by this blog at this point.

Contribute 60 second video commemorations to loved ones lost in Iraq

Robert Greenwald at Brave New Films -- the documentarian behind Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (as well as Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress) will release a project in March commemorating the American Army victims of the Bush league in Iraq in the words of their loved ones.

He's asked me -- in the sense that I'm part of everyone, and he's asked everyone -- to promote the project and help solicit video clips.

So, this is it! If you know someone who has lost a soldier in Iraq, please point them at the link, and let them in on this catharsis.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The surprising thing about the Manhattan Grand Prix Half Marathon

So, the number one fact about running a half marathon in Central Park in January is that it's 13.1 miles long. Running, we often referred to the length as 13 miles, so I suspect those last 500 feet came as kind of a shock to some people. The second fact are the hills; you do two loops of the park, and there are two long hills that take on far more significance the second time.

The third thing -- and remember that it was 19°F (11° with windchill) when we started the race -- is that ice forms on the water cups the volunteers set out. You might think that they would have fewer cups of water in reserve than they do given this problem, but I guess efficiency is paramount.

At first I was able to pick up a cup of water and poke through it with my thumb. As the race progressed, I started to have to crack it with a knuckle. My last drink of water, I picked it up and smashed the paper cup -- which had something like 3/4 of an inch of ice at the top -- against the table. It created a little cascade of ice and water, but I got my fluid.

In retrospect, the Gatorade Endurance formula probably froze more slowly, but it doesn't have a name that inspires confidence. Anyway, some pictures, courtesy of a friend with a cell phone. It was a beautiful day.
1. Starting off. I'm just to the right of the speaker.

2. Running partner Rob coming in for the big finish

3. Following Rob none too closely. You can pick out my distinctive yellow pants. I'm the fifth runner in the picture.

4. Me and my enormous keister making 13 miles into 13.1.

Finished the half -- placed in the top 3/5 of men my age


NYRR Manhattan Half-Marathon
List by Runner Number: ☺650

Distance: 13.1 Miles, 21.1 Kilometers
Date/Time: Jan. 21, 2007, 8:30 am
Location: Central Park, NYC
Weather: 21 F, fair, 32% hum., wind chill 14 F

Search Results Wheelchair Finishers Award Winners View, Share & Purchase Photos Statistics

Last Name

First Name







AG %
MALECHEM RIONN FEARS M38 MANHATTAN NY 3831 2:19:58 10:41 2606 43.3 %

Saturday, January 20, 2007

AmEx just halved my interest rate

I wrote them and said, "Hey, lower my interest rate!" I don't carry a balance, but I worry.

They dropped it by half. Because I asked. So, if you have an AmEx account, ask.

For those of you who thought the Bush Administration was coming around

Well, you should read the story, to which I was referred by a comment at TPMCafe. But, here are some tidbits...
The government's ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments, a panel of experts has concluded.


As a result, the panel said, the United States will not have the scientific information it needs in the years ahead to analyze severe storms and changes in Earth's climate unless programs are restored and funding made available.
According to the report, NASA invested about $2 billion annually in Earth-monitoring missions from 1996 to 2001, but that figure, when adjusted for inflation, started a decline in 2002 and is projected to be $1.5 billion annually from 2006 through 2010. Since President Bush announced plans in 2004 to return astronauts to the moon and later send them to Mars, many involved with the NASA science program have warned that their efforts are being curtailed, and will be restricted further in the future.


The problem at NOAA is different, and involves continuing and costly complications with its National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System. Initially conceived in the 1990s as the next-generation weather forecasting satellite for NOAA and the Defense Department, it is now three years behind schedule and as much as $3 billion over budget, according to the Government Accountability Office. In addition, the NSC report says, many of the weather and climate instruments that the satellite was supposed to carry have been dropped to keep costs from further increasing.
I knew that Mars program was worse than just a bad idea. I didn't suspect that it was specifically targetted at undercutting climate change research, but that's mostly because I'm a moron.

I don't have much to say about the article past its content, I just wanted to share a little outrage. So, there you go. There is this, though:
NOAA officials announced last week that 2006 was the warmest year on record in the United States -- part of a highly unusual warming trend over several decades that many scientists attribute to greenhouse gases. Some climate experts think that the atmospheric warming could bring more extreme weather -- longer droughts, reduced snowfall and more intense hurricanes such as the ones experienced along the Gulf Coast in 2005.
Many? Some? How about 'all ... not fellating the power structure.'

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The loss of what I never had

Ah ... so, I leaned on Asurion today, and they admitted they had some VX9800Ms lying around, which the phone lady believes are VX9800s with a software upgrade. While I was all excited about upgrading to the VX9900, really getting my phone back is what I wanted.

So, my insurance is finally grinding into motion! I should be happy!

And yet ... the eight days of promise of this fantasy phone got me all excited. What should be a time of rejoicing tastes of ashes.

Stupid human nature.

Please share your story concepts

Well, Brad's suggested maybe another posting on theSpoof. Now, when last we visited the website, it was barely holding together as an enterprise, and I was more or less forced to create my own venue. This blog is somewhat more conducive to logorrhea than full on satire, though, and the spoof writing was worthwhile. Remember this classic? Ah.

Last October, Paul Lowton came back to theSpoof. I've just found out about it. So, maybe we'll see if we can't put something together. What is there left to write about, though? Hasn't every absurd possibility come to pass? Think of these great satire titles
  • NOAA attributes balmy Manhattan Winter to El Niño
  • Bush thinks 20,000 more troops is the ticket
  • Corporate economists claim housing slump over, nothing to worry about
  • Saddam Hussein executed by Shi'ite extremists
  • Condoleeza Rice to replace Cheney, lower impeachment risk cited
  • Democrats win office, promise to reduce corruption
¡Dios Mío!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I win again! Or, run up again. Whatever.

Rionn Fears Malechem,

Congratulations! Your headline submission for the Overheard in New York Headline Contest has been chosen as a winner or runner-up. To find out which, check the site on Jan 11th. If you're the first-place winner, please email me your full name and the address where we can send your prize, a signed copy of the book Overheard in New York. Thanks!


Morgan Friedman
Publisher, Overheard in New York

Two thirds of Republicans still approve of Bush's performance

What are they hearing that I'm not hearing?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A little pro-sprawl argument

So, Jan K. Brueckner of UC Irvine and some Irish woman argue that Robert Putnam was wrong -- they call him out in the abstract -- and that social capital is better in the suburbs. City people are less engaged than drivers in their communities and the latter have more and better friends.

I guess this is somewhat more credible than my sun sign affecting my driving record, but it's pretty surprising.

Manhattan Luxury Real Estate continues to inflate

Um, does this somehow not sound sustainable?

One of the biggest price surges in Manhattan took place on the Upper West Side, where four-bedroom and larger apartments cost an average of $5.7 million, or a 48 percent increase over the fourth quarter from 2005.
If you haven't been keeping track, the fourth quarter from 2005 was one year ago. This is a year-on-year increase of one half. It's nice to see exorbitant unearned bonuses for financiers going into transitory housing prices.

Still no phone

I'm starting to lose my initial delight at having my Lucky Goldstar VX9800 replaced with an VX9900. I had already given the phone over a week to show up on its own, so I've been without for going on 16 days -- without my fancy convergence device, I can't read my email during the day, which has been causing all sorts of problems.

Asurion calls me every three days and tells me the equipment is still on backorder. Are there manufacturing problems, or are they just waiting for the price to come down? LG apparently hasn't scheduled an IR call since August, so there may be something bad happening in Korea*.

Part of my increasing grumpiness at waiting for the replacement phone is the parlous state of the phone I'm using now. The whole reason I didn't give it to my mother was that the buttons became somewhat unreliable after the last time I dropped it. Besides the fact that it's hard to go back to T9 once you've been using QWERTY.

So, waiting....

* -- No, I know. I'm just making fun of the website. But, they do seem to post news pretty rarely.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Momofuku Ando has passed

And in his honor, a little haiku:
Winter cherries bloom
Cheap noodles oppose hunger
Pour boiling water

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Astrology's new respectability short lived

One comment on MonstersAndCritics:

This study is bull****Dec 31st, 2006 - 07:17:22

I've written Lee Romanov for a citation to this study, but here's the reply from one of her minions:

'Thank you for contacting us.

Car Carma was written for the pure pleasure of the many visitors to our
website, It is not intended to be a textbook, but
rather a light hearted commentary with a unique look at the little-known
world of insurance. The topics of insurance, accidents, tickets and the law
are factual. We have learned from drivers across Canada, USA and UK, that
the information given was both needed and appreciated by almost everyone.

The references to astrology are meant to tickle the fancy and Lee had a
great time writing this book, purely for your enjoyment. I hope you can
appreciate Car Carma in that light and thank you sincerely for your

In other words, it's bullshit.

I try to keep an open mind, though.

So ... I followed the hypnosis link in the last post

Apparently, Wendi Friesen can hypnotize you over the web. She's automated it. Does that make you a little more wary of computer viruses? Sure, they can delete all you files, but you have backups, right? Now, apparently, if you misconfigure your firewall, you could wake up being tackled by Secret Service agents in a screaming crowd.

An astrological reading

Went to tonight, and got a Juno sign, which is supposed to indicate what sort of romantic partner I am. Now, I was told I have a rising sign in Aquarius, which prevents me from putting any stock in Astrology, however I heard tonight of the study. There's apparently a correlation between your sun sign and your insurance risk; while one would expect Taureans to be the lowest risk, we are actually middle of the pack on both tickets and accident. Despite this flaw, the study encouraged me to give Astrology another chance. I was warned off by its exhortation to wise women to get a reading, and was later notified that ...

Determined to lure your boyfriend back? Is your girlfriend giving you the cold shoulder? Hypnosis might just bring that special someone closer. Find out how -- now. It's free!

This was the sort of people we're dealing with. But, I charged ahead. This is it:
Your Juno is in Scorpio

Some may think you a bit unkind, darting from flower to flower and breaking plenty of hearts before you commit to just one person. That's not it at all; you're just very choosy and will think long and hard before you choose the partner who will be yours for the long haul. In fact, you are wonderful at committing yourself to lengthy relationships and are extraordinarily loyal once you've decided on your course. You won't change your mind and will hang onto a relationship until the last dying end, in which case your acumen and choosiness come in very handy. Why stay in a rotten relationship? You fight to keep the relationships which are valuable to you instead. You have a tendency to be a bit emotionally controlling but your strong points are your sensuality, your intensity, your attention to both the physical and emotional sides of love. Your partner is likely to be someone with a little mystery or a few secrets but a wise Juno in Scorpio chooses a partner who is giving, one who doesn't withhold affection or information in the interest of wielding power.
Well, I do stay in relationships far too long. And I have found specifically that this business of withholding information in the interest of wielding power is somewhat grating. But, I have to wonder which Juno signs are set on the trail of parsimonious withholders.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Making Lemonade

So ... way back in 2004, I was looking for a phone, but I couldn't find one that didn't have a camera in it. Well, there was one that had push-to-talk, but I wanted that even less. So, I took the camera.

It was great! I took snapshots! Things I saw got digitally recorded! I resolved that my next phone would have not only a camera, but flash and zoom!

As with all stories of loss and heartbreak, there was this girl. She liked to text me, so I got a phone with a full keyboard. No flash. No zoom. Just a regular digital snapshot device. I spent more and more time with my phone, and the girl and I, we grew apart. She was nice and all, but didn't clip to my belt.

I left it in a cab! Devastating. There was much drama. I spoke to the cabbie over the phone, I waited for him in the rain, but the phone was lost. I called Asurion to get my replacement phone -- and I have to say I disagree with Consumer Reports about the phone insurance -- and they didn't have it. 'No longer manufactured', they said. I was crestfallen. The woman tried to console me with a VX9900, which is on backorder. I've revived an old phone, so I can wait a few days.

It has flash! It has zoom! Along with the full keyboard! I can see why people lose their cell phones, now.

Does this make me a tech blogger? Can I get a free laptop?