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Mar. 18th, 2008

04:57 pm - Oh dear

Ben Stein fails, spectacularly:


May. 7th, 2007

01:14 am - Conspiracy Theories

I know most of my friends read this comic already, but this one's so true I want to post it. I'm also saving it for future reference just so I can save time and quote his speech whenever I encounter this phenomenon.


Jan. 12th, 2007

04:33 pm

Cornstarch is apparently awesome:


Dec. 23rd, 2006

02:00 am - Wow...

You can read the transcript, or listen to the audio, but either way...wow. What went wrong with our education system?


Dec. 9th, 2006

12:29 pm - He makes a good point

An excerpt from one or great American orators:

"On the issue of secret evidence... I am also troubled by the disturbing stories of how this policy is being implemented. More and more, new immigrants, often Arab or Muslim immigrants, face deportation or even imprisonment based on evidence they've never seen and never been able to dispute. That's not the American way."

George W Bush, raised the point during one of his debates with Al Gore, and then wrote the above in a written statement on his "Record of Inclusion"

Nov. 6th, 2006

04:58 pm - He's lying! I did it!

Oh, this is rich: http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2006-11-06T131853Z_01_L06698651_RTRUKOC_0_US-SADDAM-GELLER.xml

First, Uri Geller really is desperate for attention.

Second, I want to make clear that *I* was the one who saw (with my powers) where Saddam Hussein was hiding. And then, I telepathically transmitted the data to the U.S. Government. That's right. The $25,000,000 reward should go to me. And you know I'm not lying, because it's a well-known fact that telepaths can't lie. It screws up our Chai....er...Chi.

Oct. 2nd, 2006

11:12 pm - Oh crap

I was all set to not watch Heroes anymore. But the end of the second episode gave me something to look forward to, and now I'm going to have to watch.

Sep. 3rd, 2006

02:18 am

I've been doing a decent amount of reading lately. I've now read two of Richard Dawkins's books on Evolution, The Blind Watchmaker, and The Selfish Gene. The second one was really interesting. Especially the bits about the ants. I am now convinced that ants may be smarter than us. Or they will be. Things learned about ants:

1) There is a species of ants (and one of Termites) that farms fungus. The worker ants scour the country-side for leaves, chew them up, and then use the result for mulch. For the fungus they grow in their colonies. They even weed the "fields".

2) There is a species of ants that don't bother to create their own worker caste. Instead, they create nothing but soldiers. The soldiers invade other ant colonies, and steal their young. These foreign ants then grow up and do all the menial tasks, like raising the children of the militant ants.

3) Many ants "milk" aphids. The aphid is very good at eating sap, but not very good at using the energy from them, and secretes a substance which still has most of the nutrients of the sap. The ants eat this secretion, and to secure their supply, they defend the aphids, even keeping their eggs in the colony with the ant eggs until the newborn aphids are old enough to produce the precious aphid...stuff. At this point, the aphids are incapable of defending themselves.

4) There are several ant species that don't bother to start their own colonies. The queen invades another colony, instead. In one instance, the intruder seeks out the colony's queen, attaches herself, and decapitates the colony's queen. In another instance, the intruder just convinces (probably through a chemical secretion) the colony's ants to rise up against their own queen/mother, and kill her. In both cases, the death of the original queen passes control of the colony to the invading queen, and the colony's staff begins the work of helping the new queen raise *her* children, despite her not being remotely related to them.

So, to summarize:
1) Ants farm
2) Ants have slaves
3) Ants have domesticated animals
4) Ants are not above using chemical warfare and have mind control powers.

I only regret that we won't be around to see them eradicate the cockroaches (the only other surviving creatures) from the face of the earth. From the comfort of their lead-lined colonies.

Aug. 23rd, 2006

10:29 pm

AUSTIN, TX October 30 Book People; 7PM

Save the date. For John Hodgman (yes THE John Hodgman) will be there: http://areasofmyexpertise.blogspot.com/2006/08/american-cities-i-have-always-wished.html

An example from his Q&A about the tour:

"Might I get in the Canadian line to push for a tour north of the border?

Hodg-man replied...
You prove yourself a fraud, sir.

Were you truly a Canadian, you would have said "queue" instead of "line" and "programme" instead of "tour" and "inviso-line" instead of "border" and "SOUTH" instead of "NORTH" because your WHOLE WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN.

I have been to Vancouver, and I know it to be true."

Aug. 20th, 2006

01:33 pm

My online defensive driving course just informed me that I can use my sense of smell to detect dangers such as carbon monoxide. You know...the odorless gas.

Aug. 17th, 2006

10:39 pm

There is little that is more annoying than to have one of your poker opponents pegged as a loose player, call his crazy all-in bet several times, rejoice when you are well ahead of him, statistically, and then double him up. The fact that this guy beat me in the tournament (3rd to my 4th) is only slightly ameliorated by the fact that I got to watch him trounced when he made an all in bet with crap, and lost to the chip leader.

Man, I'm still annoyed at this guy!

Jul. 21st, 2006

10:23 am

You are a dog
Or maybe you are a mosquito, you certainly can't be human.

The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 21.1kHz
Take the mosquito ringtones hearing test

Jul. 1st, 2006

11:43 am

Here's one for britbrizat: http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/TV/06/30/people.hasselhoff.ap/index.html

Jun. 28th, 2006

11:16 am

Hee hee. This is funny: http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/GiantITP/ootscript

It should be the one with the liar and the truth-teller. If not, go back one.

Jun. 13th, 2006

03:54 pm

An Ode to Air Conditioning:

Cold Air, you fill my house,
and energize my weary cats.
I don't care what others espouse,
they clearly don't use thermostats.

When outside air is 100 or more,
the air inside is 85,
and inside there one smells cat-hair
and wishes one weren't alive.

No AC slows my electric meter,
but leaves me sweaty and smelly.
And while this rhyme doesn't subscribe to any well-defined meter,
My love for cold air I had to tell ye.

Jun. 7th, 2006

11:27 am

I'm developing into a serious fan of John Hodgeman. Here's a link to a thing he did on "This American Life". His bit starts just after 14 minutes into the stream: http://audio.wbez.org/tal/305.m3u

You can also see him here: http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/

And we should all buy his book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0525949089/sr=8-1/qid=1149697780/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-0863969-6128104?%5Fencoding=UTF8

And he has been known to contribute to the Daily Show.

Jun. 6th, 2006

08:58 am

In a webcomic I read, one of the characters was trying to figure out whether it was OK for him to sell a song he wrote to Hummer for $30,000. He reasoned that it would be great to have the money, but that he hated SUVs, and all they stand for. The suggested compromise was that he sell the song, and give the money to charity.

That seems off to me. It seems to me that--leaving out, for a minute, the giving it to charity add-on--he had two choices:

1) Sell the song
2) Don't sell the song

The advantage of #1 is that he gets lots of money. The disadvantage is that he feels like he's supporting something he despises. The advantage of #2 is he gets to feel like he stayed true to himself, while the disadvantage is that he doesn't get the money.

The compromise solution has him supporting something he despises, while not getting the money in compensation. He would be opting for the disadvantage of both decisions. I suppose one could argue that the good done by contributing $30,000 to charity outweighs the shame of supporting SUVs (I don't necessarily feel that SUVs are evil, but he did), and therefore he ends up gaining, overall.

I suspect, though, that the comic is leaving out a 4th factor (first three are money, SUV evilness, charity goodness): artist poorness. Your typical indie songwriter isn't exactly rolling in dough. Giving up $30,000 probably halves his potential income for the year.

Oh well. Just a random rant.

May. 17th, 2006

06:12 pm

Ok, this is hilarious. Read the article, or at least the lead-in, and then watch the video:


Update: I had difficulty loading the video, so here it is from google:


May. 12th, 2006

05:02 pm

Some Performance-based announcements:

1) The Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble (a sister group to the Austin Civic Chorus, in which I sing) has a concert tonight. The big thing about it is that they will be doing the drawing for the Mercedes I mentioned oh-so-long ago. So if you bought a ticket, you could go and find out if you won. And if you didn't, you could go and buy one there. It is too late to buy a ticket online, however. Also, no one should buy a ticket. I want my odds to stay good. ;)
Details at http://chorusaustin.org/
The concert is at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church, 5226 W William Cannon Dr

2) The Austin Civic Chorus is performing Handel's Samson next Saturday (5/20) at 8:00 PM. The performance is at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Drive. Tickets are $21.50 (there are student discounts).

The story is familiar to many, but Handel chose to start his rendition after Handel's fall (and before he destroyed the temple of Dagon with himself in it). Interestingly, Samson was blinded by his captors, and Handel was, at the time, mostly blind. Milton, who wrote the text on which this oratorio is mostly based, was also blind.

Anyway, come out and see us!

3) The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin is putting on HMS Pinafore. Performances are June 15-18, 22-25, 29-30, and July 1-2. Performances start at 8:00 and are $20 (there are student discounts). Thursday performances are only $15, Sunday performances are at 3:00. The performance on 6/16 is the "official" opening night, which means there will be food afterwards. The performance on 6/18 is the children's performance--there will be *many* children there.

Pinafore is one of G&S's most famous shows, with much maritime antics. Buy your tickets now! Or later! Or Else...not.

Rest assured, I will remind people of this later, when I actually have some idea what the staging looks like (we start next weekend).

Apr. 29th, 2006

12:55 pm

Three things:

1) Today is Eeyore's Birthday party! Anyone interested in going (assuming you're not already there)?

2) I signed up for Netflix a couple months ago, and this week's movie is Spellbound, a documentary about the Spelling Bee Championships. Anyone who would like to watch it with me is welcome. Time and date are uncertain at the moment, but tomorrow night seems likely. More details to come. Actually, this is going to become a semiregular thing. I will announce a day or two in advance that I'm watching a movie, and anyone who wants to will be welcome. Normally, I'll have a firmer start time/day.

3) I am having a party. Sometime. Soon. No, really, I swear! It's probably in two weeks. There will be an e-vite or something, but if you can read this, you are invited. Actually, that's only true if you know me, or someone who can give you my address. I won't be posting it here. :)

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