October 2013 archive
This would work better on radio, where you wouldn't hear the capitalization:
Women who relied on the withdrawal method, which depends upon a man "pulling out" (hopefully) before ejaculating, as their only form of birth control, tended to be less likely to get pregnant than women who used withdrawal along with other forms of birth control over the course of the study, but Dude said this finding was not statistically significant.The Dude (not dude) is Dr. Annie Dude, author of a recent study.
Yes, I am easily amused. I love that espionage and cryptography are continually in the news.
Spy agencies, in the USA in particular, have enjoyed way too much secrecy and I celebrate seeing their business become a topic of discussion. I say that both for serious, practical reasons (a democracy should operate with a bare minimum of secrecy) and also because it's just fun to see spies getting caught. To the extent spies do not care to honor our First and Fourth Amendments, they deserve the hot water they now find themselves in.
I also like seeing double standards brought to light, and few activities are as full of double standards as espionage. Inside sheds with (optically) opaque "windows" on the roofs of US embassies, spies make a mockery of Article 41 of the Vienna Convention:
1. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.And spying on missions in New York violates agreements the US made as host country to the UN headquarters.
It's all ironic in light of how a key charge against Edward Snowden is that he broke agreements he'd made with the US government.
About NSA surveillance of world leaders, New Zealand's Minister of Defense said yesterday
New Zealand's not worried at all about this. We don't believe it would be occurring,You mean, because New Zealand is one of the Five Eyes and, not coïncidentally, its US Embassy doesn't sport one of those funny sheds on its roof like the ones in Europe do?
and look, quite frankly there'd be nothing that anyone could hear in our private conversations that we wouldn't be prepared to share publicly.It kills me how the phrase "quite frankly" is often a dead giveaway that untruth is to follow. Around 25 years ago, an ad in SPY magazine had a sample fragrance. The issue as mailed to subscribers came with a note from the publisher acknowledging that this was intrusive while assuring that it would never happen again. Well, it did.
In 2005, Google said,
There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.Well, there are.
Ad money comes at the expense of freedom. Not only do you end up watching what you say about your advertisers, you also watch what you say about their competitors. As Bill Gaines of Mad magazine once put it,
We long ago decided we couldn't take money from Pepsi‑Cola and make fun of Coca‑Cola.Mad started taking ads in 2001. But I give them credit for being ad‑free for the previous 43 years. I remember asking my high school physics teacher whether photons were actually particles or waves. He said that particle and wave were only models. In so many words, he was saying that photons were what they are rather than what we conceive them to be.
If I'd had that conversation after Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out, I might've linked it to a line, indeed one character's only line in the film.
In any case, my teacher's answer drove home the concept the map is not the territory more forcefully than anything had before in my experience. It made a lasting impression.
I read Hamlet in high school too, and I remember liking the line
Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'...which I liked not just for the subject matter but also for the word nay.
When my brother and I played chess, nay was our private word for knight. Although the origin is lost in antiquity, I think it came from how chess notation labels knights by N. It may have been inspired by neigh, although we definitely spelled it nay. It figured in a bunch of stock phrases, e.g. if a player's knights were protecting each other, we'd intone the words the nays are in phase.
Older chess notation sometimes used Kt for knight, but that's neither here nor there.
People often found it remarkable how many private terms and inside jokes could be heard in conversations between us brothers. To me, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. It'd strike me as strange to see brothers who didn't have their own language. Cassettes didn't sound as good as LPs, but music on cassette tapes started outselling LPs in 1985.
Television in the USA started as broadcast and gradually moved more toward cable. I was continually amazed at how bad cable looked and how little anyone seemed to care. Most analog cable video I've seen was noisier than what we would get at my parents' house with an antenna on the roof.
Personal computers have decent keyboards and legible displays, but more and more people type with their thumbs while looking at displays smaller than their palms. I recently heard that there's a street in my valley named after a friend of mine. That got me thinking about street names. Guess what the most popular street name in the USA is.
Developers who create subdivisions get to choose lots of street names, which vests creative power in a class of people whose imagination often leaves something to be desired. From a conversation sixteen years ago, when I was getting my house in the desert:
The most popular street name in the USA is Second Street, more popular than First because the base street is often named Main or something.
If programmers numbered streets, we'd see Zero[th] Street more often. It warms a geek's heart to see examples of zero-based numbering dating from times before electronic computers. I don't know whether the founders of Granby, Colorado appreciated the advantages—but even if not, we can still admire their taste in starting a numbered series with Zero Street.
Yesterday, Wikipedia's Numbered street article failed to acknowledge the Granby, Colorados of the world:
Grid-based naming systems usually start at 1 (but sometimes at a higher number), and then proceed in numerical order.which I edited to read "but sometimes at a higher or lower number". I figured someone wouldn't share my sense of humor, and indeed my phrasing was short-lived. 149 minutes after my edit, it was reworded to "but sometimes at a higher number or even at zero".
This presents my first Wikipedia quandary: do I fight for my preferred phrasing? I'm inclined not to, partly because I doubt I would prevail.
There's a Zero Road in Montgomery, NY but it's next to P Road and thus like the Eye Street that's next to H Street in Washington, DC.
Century Boulevard in Los Angeles is between 99th and 101st Streets.
Google numbers their buildings whimsically, not limiting themselves to integers nor even to real numbers. If only city founders were as uninhibited. There is only one Pi Street in the USA, and—sadly—it is not between Third and Fourth but rather between Mu and Tau Streets.
We do, alas, have streets named with mixed numerals. Wikipedia:
The shortest correspondence in history is said to have been between [Victor] Hugo and his publisher Hurst and Blackett in 1862. Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables was published. He queried the reaction to the work by sending a single-character telegram to his publisher, asking "?". The publisher replied with a single "!" to indicate its success.I saw a tattoo on someone today in the form of a semicolon and asked what it was about. The answer took me by surprise. As I've said before, I love Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. I was thus looking forward to the DVD release of Room 237, a film of interpretations of The Shining. While waiting for the DVD, though, I was coming across scathing reviews of Room 237 that dimmed my hopes some. People found its "interpretations" ludicrous.
I watched Room 237 today and can tell ya what it's like. You hear several people's spoken commentary on The Shining while you watch anything but those people speaking. You see excerpts from The Shining, excerpts from other films (some by Kubrick, some not), animated illustrations, and—because this is a movie about watching movies—the occasional staged scene of people in movie theaters. The visuals are generally well-edited and engaging.
The key to enjoying Room 237 is to not judge it by whether its observations are compelling and/or trenchant. By that measure, much of it is disappointing. Room 237 is worthwhile to the extent you can find the weaker commentary curious rather than merely pathetic. It is remarkable what people tell themselves they are seeing. Sometimes a paper tray is just a paper tray.
If nothing else, Room 237 will show you the wealth of detail available to be considered in a Kubrick movie. If you're already attuned to detail, you'll see how to notice even more. I've watched The Shining a bunch of times and Room 237 makes me want to see it again.
The identification of the floating head as Mr. Gropius refers to Walter Gropius, the German architect who was a practitioner and advocate of Bauhaus architecture and Functionalist architectural philosophy.Well. The head is indeed that of architect Walter Gropius. But as far as my friend who composed the layout knew, he picked it because he thought the word Gropius had a nice, creepy sound. Some who don't live in California are not shy about telling you why they don't. Commonly cited reasons: the traffic is unbearable, or the smog, or the prevailing mentality, or the taxes, or the earthquakes.
Let's talk earthquakes. What's not to like?
You're very unlikely to be killed by one. And if you are—well, is there a classier way to go?
Property damage, inconvenience, injury? Possible, yeah, but still not all that likely.
If you live where you aren't feeling earthquakes, I think you're missing out. They're wilder than all the weather-related disasters, which are just variations on things you see all the time: wind, rain, ... . And I have earthquakes to thank for the mountains where I live.
The first earthquake I ever felt was a 6.0 on April 26, 1981.
The best one was the Loma Prieta 6.9 on October 17, 1989. I was at work, about 40km from the epicenter. I got under my desk and cheered. After the main shaking ended, there was slow lateral swaying: way cool.
As natural spectacles go, I rank the Loma Prieta earthquake up with seeing a total eclipse of the sun. If big earthquakes were as predictable as eclipses, they would be tourist attractions.
For geeks in the audience (who love all things telephonic): call volume after the Loma Prieta quake taxed the PSTN like nothing else I've seen. It's the only time I've waited a minute or so to get dial tone after going off-hook.
To be fair, there were downsides to the Loma Prieta earthquake. It took lives and broke a lot of stuff, although not as much as some people thought. Seeing the damage on the news could give the impression that the whole bay area got trashed, which wasn't the case. All that I lost was a lightbulb.
It left people on edge for a few weeks afterwards. There were aftershocks, you'd feel one every day for a while, and they weren't fun anymore. The streets were quieter than usual at night; people were staying home. It wasn't until months later that I was enjoying earthquakes again.
Knock astrology out of his head, and the belief too that the cactus on his windowsill cares about him, and what is left? Barefoot, naked despair. ‑ Stanisław LemWhoa. You mean, the cactus on my windowsill doesn't care about me?