Tuesday, August 28, 2007
But, Tuesdays can be a problem. Carol Lay is like that girl at the poetry slam who feels it's really important to communicate to us that she was raped by her step father. I'm sorry for her, but it doesn't make it art. I think she's gotten to the point where she has successfully used Salon's poor reading audience to therapize herself, and is trying to draw cartoons out of memories of past anger.
Today (spoiler alert) a man is invited to dig a hole to solve all his problems, and his inviter shoots him when he gets too deep to conceivably avoid the bullet. The last panel makes it clear that the artist didn't expect to surprise us with this, she just had to fill panes. In fact, let's look at the last, say, four.
8/21 embittered woman avoids commitment
8/14 callous researcher kills people for kicks. I liked this one.
8/7 meditation on the word 'Nanny'. The content's fine, but it doesn't seem to leverage the form at all. This would really work better as an essay than as a cartoon.
7/31 bitter and angsty journal of a visit to a comics convention. Sort of an American Splendor thing.
So, um, she had three good weeks. I've really got to choose my data more carefully. I guess the problem is that she's inconsistent; this week and last week were in her lazy mode of bitter, angry bleakness. The good weeks don't carry these. Since I just paid my biennial $70 to Salon.com, I'm sort of of the opinion that they should safeguard their quality.
Monday, August 27, 2007
...and that any positive sign of progress in Iraq is simply a "problem" for them.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, driven by polls and politics, declared "This war is lost," even before the President's new strategy began. Reid also has bragged, "We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war."
And Democrat House Majority Whip James Clyburn said that a positive report in September from General Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would be "a real big problem for us (Democrats)." Meaning the Democrats' desire for an arbitrary troop withdrawal -- and their party's 2008 electoral fortunes -- would be in jeopardy if our troops succeed.
Rionn, America's national security should not be kicked around like a political football. Republicans believe winning the War on Terror is vital to our country's national security. The RNC needs your help to get this message past the liberal media filter and directly to voters. They need to know about the Democrats' "surrender and defeat" politics.
Please click here to make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to help spread the word about the Democrats' political rhetoric and defeatist agenda.
It is unconscionable that Democrat leaders are hoping for our troops to fail so their party can gain a political advantage. And it is unacceptable that the leading Democrat presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both claim to support our troops yet voted against providing them with the resources to sustain their mission and keep them safe.
Your urgent online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to the RNC today will help get the facts about the Democrats' true defeatist agenda and their efforts to put politics above the War on Terror past the liberal media filter.
Our President and our Party are counting on your help. Thank you.
Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
Chairman, Republican National Committee
P.S. The Democrats are hoping our troops fail in the War on Terror in the craven desire that it will boost their party's electoral fortunes in 2008. We must immediately get the word out at the grassroots level about their defeatist agenda. Click here to make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to support the RNC's efforts to get this message past the liberal media filter and directly to voters today. Thank you.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
And what about the images of a burned body with feet or hands left intact? The answer to that question may have something to do with the temperature gradient -- the idea that the top of a seated person is hotter than the bottom. This is basically the same phenomenon that occurs when you hold a match with the flame at the bottom. The flame will often go out without provocation because the bottom of the match is cooler than the top.I haven't taken a thermodynamics course in 19 years, but that doesn't sound totally correct to me. And I worshipped HowStuffWorks so! This page was particularly useful in graduate school when we were revisiting the architecture of the open rear wheel differential. Maybe the standards are lower in the supernatural section.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
So, this leaves me with two questions. Why won't the sea level rise 300 feet, which would essentially leave Staten Island's Todt Hill as the only prudent place to buy? If we don't have any resident ice, which we probably shouldn't, I'm not clear on why we'd have a lower sea level than the high point of the eocene.
Where should I put my money? I'm specifically wondering which country I should buy treasury bonds from. And we know that it shouldn't depend on exports to the United States, or on exports to countries that depend on exports to the United States. We'd also like a reasonable savings rate in the populace, and manageable debt. But, the linked Slate article (which digests this Science article) points out that economies are fragile if they have products not close to one another in the phase space authors Hidalgo and Barabási define, which is about how close the conditions that have to be met for different products are.
I expect things to be tough all over. I'm not looking for an economy that will grow, I'm just looking to maximize a safe investment over time. As the US Dollar continues to fall, where should I look for a survivable currency?
I hear the real is nice, but it's had quite a run.
Frustrated Angry People: Bkawk! Bkawk!
Counter Lady: We have no cars. We may have some cars in an hour. We may have other cars in an hour-and-a-half. There's no way to know.
CL: I can take your names. I can take your numbers. I can make a list. We have a wait situation*.
Me: But, I must arrive in Boston by 5:00!
CL: You shan't.
Me: Does this happen frequently? Is there some trick to renting a car? Is there some other approach I should have taken?
CL: About every other weekend we run out of cars. We always start the day with cars. From 7 - 9, you can be sure to get a car. After that, it's a crap shoot.
FAP: Bkawk! Bkawk! Bkawk!
* -- I've taken some license with the phrasing and interactions in general, but she really did say, "We have a wait situation." As if this was just something that had happened to our collective selves instead of a purposeful policy Dollar had decided on.
Bkawk, indeed. I'm glad my obligations in Boston were eluctable.
Friday, August 24, 2007
They're not stupid people. They got fixed rate, fixed payment mortgages. They weren't expecting to flip. There's no change in rate or balloon payment going to strike them down. But, still? I expect a lot of foreclosures on luxury properties, if not by February of 2008 then by February of 2009.
I'd best start saving for a down payment. I wonder what I'll be able to get for 20 % down on a $500,000 pad two years from now? The mind reels.
Oh, right. I'd best start saving in another currency. And probably not an Anglophone one.
Wall Street still has a few months to save the year. But the first signs of a chastened holiday season are apparent. Barron's reported that in June 2007, real-estate prices in Greenwich, Conn., fell 4 percent from June 2006. For homes priced above $5 million—the sweet spot for successful hedgies—the decline was 8 percent.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
New York introduced laws last month to combat noise pollution.Now, it doesn't say if this is New York City or New York State. But, I hope it involves the MTA, and I hope they get cracking on the subway.
- Fewer Announcements
- Clearer Announcements (The MTA seems to have an inclination to replace comprehensibility with frequency)
- Rubber wheels. The French can do it!
- More frequent maintenance. There are non-noise reasons for this, but noise is the main one.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
You're talking about all this hormonal response, but how does that relate to someone you meet over an Internet connection?
HF: A lot of people think that Internet dating is unnatural, but I think it is extremely natural, because for millions of years, you might not know that cute boy over at the water hole, but your mother knows his aunt, and you know a lot about him: what he's going to grow up to become, who his relatives are, what his religion is; you know things about him. It's really much more artificial to walk into a bar where you know nothing about the person.
IK: What do you think about a generation of single people who are on SSRIs? Are they spiking their dopamine and messing with their brain chemistry?
HF: Yes. At the university I'm working with, 40 percent of incoming freshmen are on something. Ritalin for fun, androgens to build the body, SSRIs.
And you say that antidepressants not only have sexual side effects but that they dull the brain's ability to feel love?
HF: Yes, I wrote about it [with psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson] in a chapter in the book "Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience."
IK: I think you're on to something, because anecdotally I meet a lot of single people on antidepressants and I would say their mating systems are very impaired. That's 40 percent of my clientele -- when one person is on an antidepressant. And I hear from lots of people whose psychiatrists or G.P.s never even mentioned the sexual side effects before prescribing.
Given the number of single mothers, could humans be heading toward a model in which women raise their babies on their own and just need insemination from the smartest, least scruffy male?
HF: I don't think so. Our brain system for attachment is so strong.
IK: On the other hand, I send my son to a school where a percentage of moms chose to be artificially inseminated or have a sperm donor. They are very successful in their careers, money is not really an issue, and they're raising their children on their own.
HF: But I would guess that if the right guy came along ... Look: One-third of all children in America are born out of wedlock; teen births are going down, but older women are choosing to have the babies on their own and then marrying the guy or marrying a different guy. But 90 percent of Americans do marry by middle age. We're just marrying later and doing more serial pair bonding.
Do you believe lifelong monogamy is possible and natural?
The word "monogamy" means a pair bond, which doesn't necessarily mean sexual fidelity. What you're asking about is a long-term pair bond including sexual fidelity. So ... sure! Forty-three percent of people are serial monogamists, but that leaves the balance of people who form a pair bond and sustain it long term.
This is the sort of story I would presume is playing out all over the country. I'm like that. I try to be judicious about this sort of induction. I know it's a flaw.
But, so, who would be interested in empty neighborhoods with cheap houses close but not very close to a major metropolis?
I live a block from a major Joint Disease institute. So, I might develop a totally reasonable theory that there are only a handful of, um, MJDIs in the world, then walk out my door and have my entirely correct theory called into question. So, I'm not asserting that neutron stars aren't rare. I just think a responsible science journalist might wait until the neutron stars' rarity is reëxamined by astrophysicists.
To make matters worse, Calvera has a totally new predeliction toward x-ray emission over visible light. Which means it's hard to see, and it could have many brethren hanging out within 250 to 1000 light years away. Also? It's off disk. It's not lying on the plane on which you expect to find everything in the Milky Way.
Unexpected position, unfamiliar EM signature, close proximity. These things could be everywhere.
Monday, August 20, 2007
[T]he administration is cooking the books, the intelligence on Iran... I would hope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under no circumstances do you invade Iran. [W]hat about our trying to destabilize their government, which we've been doing for the last 25 years? ... We destroyed their democracy.And I think that's at least artful, if not flat wrong. I recently had the opportunity to read the book All the Shah's Men -- apparently as I enter middle age I've started reading a lot of non-fiction -- which tells the story of how we took over destabilizing Iran's government from Britain 54 years ago, when Kermit Roosevelt coordinated the effort to "destroy their democracy" and install the Shah.
We propped up a dictator in Iran for (almost) the whole time Senator Gravel was in the Senate. We've been accountable for political instability in Iran from about the time that Mike Gravel started college. When Iranians participated in handing over our Democracy to the tender ministrations of Ronald Reagan, it was really just payback.
clarification: Mike Gravel left the Senate in 1981. There's no reason you'd know that, I looked it up myself. But, when he says 'the last 25 years,' he's saying 'since you ingrates voted me out,' which is why he doesn't date back 28 years to the Islamic Revolution itself, and why he doesn't date our destruction of their democracy at all, preferring to imply it was in our last 25 years of meddling.
Clearly, this is deluded. It doesn't mention how hedge funds are tied to luxury Manhattan real estate prices and work to artificially inflate them, so when they pop, the real estate market will go with them. Actually, I haven't heard the term 'luxury Manhattan real estate' in a while, as the prices have sort of blurred any such distinction.
Obviously, the only people telling financiers that their bonuses will be fine this year are their managers, who are trying to keep them from returning to goat farming at least until the pick up their bonuses, which their managers are telling them will be fine. And boomers are buying in Manhattan because it's the only place in America still appreciating, and they want that real estate investment to appreciate.
Comically, the article asserts
A strengthening dollar, a severe terrorist attack or a national economy hobbled by housing market woes could inflict blows of varying strengths.as if foreigners valued their investments in US Dollars. If the dollar depreciates against their currency faster than their US based assets increase in dollar-denominated value, of course, they're losing money. What seems to get lost in this analysis is that foreigners don't like to lose money. A selloff would be a little worse than a drop in buying.
Of course, your favorite line from the piece has to be
Julie Friedman, a senior associate broker at Bellmarc [says] “‘moral’ and ‘the highest amount’ don’t necessarily overlap.”Is she going to put that on her business cards? So, this is just so much tripe from the Newspaper of Record, purely written to overwhelm whatever vestigial tendency to reason is left in the trend-following home buyer.
So, the New York Times editors are a prideful bunch, and they'd like you to know that whatever forces impel them to sell you easily predictable disasters, they're totally able to analyze them after the fact. This brings us to How Missed Signs Contributed to a Mortgage Meltdown. Now, personally, I think that referring to our current situation as a 'mortgage meltdown' is a little overblown. Magical bunnies could arrive from Mars tomorrow and expel little golden pellets into the hands of struggling homeowners, so it's too early to worry. I was being ironic. I know you can't always tell.
[T]here were ample warning signs that a financial time bomb in the form of subprime mortgages was ticking quietly for months, if not years.It's funny that they don't mention the newspapers. Do they understand that they're allowed to do research and analysis? There are many complaints that political coverage is all he-said/she-said horserace folderol, and of course topics like Climate Change involve serious in-depth consideration. This is all expensive, and papers are losing readership, so I could see them not wanting to spend the money.
As far back as 2001, advocates for low-income homeowners had argued that mortgage providers were making loans to borrowers without regard to their ability to repay. Many could not even scrape together the money for a down payment and were being approved with little or no documentation of their income or assets.
[T]he cast of characters who missed signals like the rise of delinquencies and foreclosures is becoming easier to identify. They include investment banks happy to sell risky but lucrative mortgage debt to hedge funds hungry for high interest payments, bond rating agencies willing to hope for the best in the housing market and provide sterling credit appraisals to debt issuers, and subprime mortgage brokers addicted to high sales volumes.
But, why read the paper? If they're going to 'sheepishly admit' four years on that the Iraq occupation was sold on lies -- even though this was obvious at the time -- we're doing just as well listening to Rush.
Monday, August 13, 2007
But, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took second in the Ames Straw Poll. You might point out that lunatic fringe candidates Brownback and Tancredo took third and fourth, and the CW-tagged-unelectable Ron Paul took fifth, but the whole field sort of looks lunatic fringe in aggregate.
I don't know a lot about Governor Huckabee. The only thing I've heard about him recently was that he offered to work with Michael Moore to fight obesity after being kind of a dick to him after Sicko. But, he never seems like a loon or an outsider when I do hear about him.
So, liberal establishment fantasies aside, the GOP may well have a credible presidential candidate to bring to the table next year.
Friday, August 10, 2007
So, OK. I know you've been clamoring for Rionn Fears Malechem coffee mugs. You can order them through Brightroom.
If you no longer wish to receive these marketing messages from American Airlines, please visit: www.aa.com/emailunsubscribe or reply to us and type "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.
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Now, I think that's pretty sucky that they sent me an email to which I can't respond. But, OK. I don't want to start a dialogue, I just want to get off their list. So, I click the unsubscribe link.
Unsubscribe From Our Email
OK, seriously? I was all over the link clicking idea, but making me log in? I guess they wouldn't want any evil-doers to whom I had innocently forwarded the email masquerading as me and unsubscribing.
Remember this is an airline we're dealing with. This is a business that thinks it's a good idea to give you an 8-character alphanumeric code which you can remember instead of, say, your name in order to retrieve reservations. So, when I go to the login page, I'm faced with
I have to know my AAdvantage number; if I want to unsubscribe and I don't have my AAdvantage number, apparently I can register for a new one, and then unsubscribe. I was a little annoyed that Southwest made me reenter my email address to get it unsubscribed. Now, I see the bar they were trying to clear.
Now, American Airlines doesn't send me my AAdvantage number when it sends these things out. As a good air traveler, I'm supposed to have my customer lockin number tattooed in reverse on my forehead, so that I can just read them in the mirror whenever I'd like. So, now I have to log in to Travelocity and retrieve my AAdvantage number. This is annoying because my stored authentication information isn't on the new computer. I would have had to reenter them anyways at some point, but American Airlines thinks now is a good time.
So, I try to guess which password I used for Travelocity. Nothing funner. It turns out that Travelocity lets you use a login name or an email address, but you have to commit -- you can't log in with either one like at Craigslist. Now, you might think that blaming American Airlines for Travelocity's authentication is unfair, but the point is they insist that I go through something painful to retrieve my AAdvantage number.
I don't just need my lockin number, though. I need my password. After entering it wrong, I get Your password is case sensitive and must be 6-12 numbers and/or letters, my old buddy the incremental password rule. So, now I can click some radio buttons and unsubscribe from
just wanted to hear from American Airlines less. I just unsubscribe from everything.
I get a follow-up email
NET SAAVER FARES
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If you have unsubscribed to one of our email products, we will remove
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So, they're not sure exactly what I did, but suspects that someone logged in to their web site with my authentication information and changed one of my 'contact preferences.' They do allow the possibility that I unsubscribed, and if so they'll get to that in the next few weeks.
Why ten days? Their staff psychologists probably estimated that no one is going to recommend this painful unsubscribing experience after ten days, and they don't actually have to do anything.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I was 4647/5162 for men, and 1918/2060 among 30-39-year-old men, so I was essentially back with the elderly and infirm. While one thinks of marathoning as a sport for the middle-aged, there were only 771 men aged 40 - 44, which suggests that absolute rank will come down significantly in the future.
Monday, August 06, 2007
It's colorful and flashy, but of no purpose. Guess who ran faster, me (green line) or The Runner Known as Jared Rochwerg? Seeing as I ran 10:50 miles and we're clearly separated, you'd be smart to guess her, but I don't thing the graphic pushes you toward that conclusion.
The 'Nike+' race results application was promoted in our Goody Bag, but 404'd before the race and errored out last night. It only displayed its glory after I received an official notice this evening.
I know you can't read the axes, but up is supposed to be 'faster' and across is supposed to be 'distance'. So ... the viewer is supposed to believe that we slowly gained speed over the first five kilometers -- a stupid design choice -- and tore up the last kilometer -- a programming error. As a programmer, I blame programming errors on sloppy QA. My far more dramatic arc in speed brings me back to where I was at the start at 20 k. Wasn't that a stand-still? Are they suggesting "Jared" and I were running at some other arbitrarily selected speed? Did they really fit an exponential to the gun time, even though they know when I crossed the start line?
So, there you go. The pointless graphical race result for yesterday's NYC Half marathon.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
|split||gun time||net time||local pace||global pace|
So, in the hill-free area, my time ballooned out to almost 11 minute miles, then beyond. Obviously, that's mostly fatigue. Somewhere in mile 12, about two-thirds through the fourth split, my leg started cramping, and the reason I ran the last kilometer at 12:21 is that my attempt to open up my gait 100 m from the end and finish strong backfired, and I had to twist my leg around to subvert the cramp and keep moving.
So, OK. I don't intend to do this half again. I didn't like the fumes on 7th, and the number collection was too much of a hassle. They put way too much time and effort into the ancillary items and the festival at the end. Bands were an interesting idea, but the first one on 7th Avenue was really not paying music one could run to. Running down the West Side Highway had a nice post-apocalyptic vibe, but now I've done it.
And the nine-minute mile, without which I can't do the 2:00:00 Half, which is a pre-marathon goal, is no less elusive than it was at my first half in January. Still, a very pleasant way to spend a morning.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I'm giddy. It's like living in a Representative Democracy. I may start writing letters to Carolyn Maloney; she seems like she'd be pretty much on the same page regarding my offense at the idea that retailers can't ask for more money from you if you use a card that they pay more to process. I really think Congress should bar the federal courts from enforcing any such stipulation in an agreement.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I told frontman Carl Finch this story, so I'll tell you. I read about them in some magazine -- maybe Rolling Stone -- a progressive rock polka band, whose first tour was of Texan Insane Asyla. So, I went to my local record store, off South Street in Philadelphia -- to buy some music. And all they had was a demo cassette they'd been sending around to record stations, and that someone had illegally resold to this store.
So, I bought it. And I've been a fan since. But, I'm the sort of a fan who pays no attentions whatsoever, so about three and a half years ago I fell in with this crowd that told me Brave Combo was still touring! And had a kind of an alt alt following! And I was thrilled!
Tonight was the first time I saw them live. I was utterly delighted. These guys are solely responsible for the resurgence of the accordion, and in fact the one performing accordionist I know has opened for them.
So, I think this is good, I think grief is a cycle, I think I have to be hit with these crises every so often to move on.
But, I miss her like I'd miss the color yellow.
(1) Follow the link in the title
(2) Type 'p' and select 'Paul Brown and the Killing Devils' from the drop down box
(3) Enter my name and email address.
Could you get that for me? Thanks!
[W]hat we call optimism is more like a suicidal, willful naiveté, and that rather than shielding us from despair it leads us there. I haven't worked this all out in my head, you understand, but something tells me that optimism is not your friend.
I share this with Keith Knight. And this is one of the things that has kept me off drugs forever -- I really appreciate my superego. This is an almost impossible thing to share with someone, as if someone told me they often thought about jumping off things, I would think they were suicidal. But, the fact that it would kill you is the number 1 argument against making such a leap.
So, thanks, Keith, for making this a little more okeh to talk about. I feel like it's one of those unexplored common areas of the human condition, simply because we're afraid to own up to it.