Saturday, December 31, 2011

Still wondering why you should join Google+?

Even after the world's most brilliant stick figures tried to make the case?

Well, you may already know this, but just in case not, here's another reason I just happened across. After a brief moment of terror, I mean.

Screenshot of Blogger Image Upload interface, showing that I have used 0% of my quota

It turns out, though, that Picasa did not delete everything I'd ever uploaded. Blogger is merely reflecting the new Google policy:

Picasa Web Albums and Google+ 


• You get more free storage: Google+ provides free storage for your photos, which are automatically resized to 2048 pixels. Like Picasa Web, video uploads 15 minutes or shorter are free.

Actually, if you follow the quoted link and scroll to the bottom, you'll see that you don't actually have to join G+ to get unlimited image storage. (With the minor annoyance that, at some point, you'll have to resize your images to the 2048 pixel limit yourself, before uploading, rather than having Picasa do it for you on the fly.)

Anyway, a good bit of news, I thought.

(Now, will Picasa yet allow you to upload animated GIFs?)

I hate to say I told you so, BUT

Headline, reading in part,

When the best you can say about your current status is, hey, at least I did better than Michele Bachmann, I think you don't even have Joementum.

Picture of Romney and Gingrich, caption: Pick one or pick neither ← An ad accompanying the article just added to the lulz. If you've spent any time reading political websites this past decade, you'll recognize it as an obvious piece of Newsmax (slogan: "We are 1%! (less wingnutty than WorldNewsDaily)" clickbait. However, I think for once we can all agree on choice (c).

I can get out and run faster than that!

Due to a serendipitous click on the latest Google Doodle, which unsurprisingly led here, and probably some luck of the draw, I happened across an encouraging story about NASA. However!

NASA’s twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory probes were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in September. The first moon probe is slated to arrive in lunar orbit beginning on Saturday, December 31. The second prove will enter the moon’s orbit on Sunday, January 1.

Nearly half a century ago, we could get there in two and a half days!!!1! This must be Obama's fault!!!1!

Actually, due to the liberal bias at NASA, the long trip time was a design choice. It pays off in increased fuel efficiency, as the welfare queen rocket gets a free lunch gravity "assist" from the hard-working Earth and Moon.

And, as Don "I for one welcome our bot overlords" McArthur is no doubt already furiously typing, it's not like there's any need to carry food, water, and air.

Also, the mission acronymizers should be taken to task for shamelessly pandering to Python fans, the set of whom intersects with 99% of spaceflight fans, for some reason. Or maybe I project.


There's a pretty cool rendering of the travel path starting at about 3:08 of this video:

(post title: John Connor)

At the risk of publicizing yet another way to spam on Twitter ...

... I have to say that this is pretty clever:

(alt. video link)

For the originators of the idea, I mean. This is truly a one and done thing. (Why am I trying to appeal to spammers' better angels?)

(h/t: bad banana blog. Yeah. That guy.)

E-commerce is hard!

Screenshot of an online store showing, simultaneously, reports that I have 0 items in my cart, that I've just added 2 items to my cart, and that I have 23 items in my cart

(The truncation of the e-store's slogan was purely serendipitous.)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Probably just as well that I don't have a camera handy

The moon is behind a narrow strip of cloud, and it's lighting up the whole thing. Covers an arc at least a quarter of the way across the sky, pretty much perpendicular to its normal path, as though it had suddenly decided to make a right turn at Albakoikee and was leaving a wake, or spraying a cloud of exhaust from its retro rockets.

As to the title, it's not that I fear I'd be unable to capture the beauty. Oh, no. It's that the CIA doesn't like us taking pictures of their chemtrails.

I think we can safely say there have been worse promos for a teevee show

(alt. video link)

(h/t: KK, via email)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hey, look who finally made to the big time

William Shatner's picture, accompanying a snippet of text about the Wikipedia article of the day

Link to the article, for the few of you who haven't already memorized it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Line of the Day: 2011-12-28

What's in a name?

Collett lured Elvis to the opposite end of the lagoon with a heaping helping of kangaroo meat while Faulkner plunged, fully clothed, into the water.

True story! Ripped from context!

(h/t: KK, via email)

"Lying or stupid?" is never easy to decide upon with Michele Bachmann

You know, all of these kind of questions really aren’t about what people are concerned about right now.

You mean, besides all the people who constitute your base, amirite?

But on a more hopeful note, as I noted elsewhere, "David Gregory challenged Republican presidential hopeful..." is a phrase all too rarely seen. Who knows, the new year is just around the corner …

I know, I know. You're thinking, I see someone got into the champagne a little early.

Oh, and here is a post by someone famous (maybe!) ...

... that I read in the print edition and kept forgetting to pass along: "Who Wrote Shakespeare?", [ostensibly] by Eric Idle.

Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2011

Over at Vagabond Scholar, Batocchio carries on the tradition started by the late great Al Weisel, "The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves." More than five dozen of them, for your sampling and reading pleasure, and hopefully, in many cases, your pleasant discovery.

This year's participants: A Blog About School | Addicting Info | Balloon Juice | Bark Bark Woof Woof | | bjkeefe | Blue Gal | Brilliant at Breakfast | Chicago Guy | Chimpanzee Tea Party | Connecting the Dots | Cookblog | | David E's Fablog | Diary of a Heretic | driftglass | Fried Green al-Qaedas | His Vorpal Sword | Hysterical Raisins | I Plan and God Laughs | I'll Never Forget The Day I Read A Book | J-TWO-O | Just an Earth-Bound Misfit | Kiko's House | Lake and Local | | M.A.Peel | Mad Kane's Political Madness | Mario Piperni dot Com | Mental Floss | Mikeb302000 | Mister Tristan | Mock, Paper, Scissors | Newshoggers | Norwegianity | p3: Persuasion, Perseverance, and Patience | Perrspectives | Poor Impulse Control | Pruning Shears | Psychopolitik | Rawrahs | Sarah, Proud and Tall | Self-Styled Siren | Shakesville | Simply Left Behind | Stonekettle Station | Strangely Blogged | Stump Lane | TBogg | The Debate Link | The Hunting of the Snark | The Inverse Square | The Rude Pundit | The Satirical Political Report | They Gave Us a Republic | This Is So Gay | Tildology | Tom Watson | Vagabond Scholar | Watergate Summer | We Are Respectable Negroes | Whiskey Fire | World O' Crap | Zaius Nation | Zencomix.

There is also a Twitter hashtag that you may want to check in on: #jonswift2011.

Thanks again, Batocchio.

From a quick first skim, so far, Thers has my favorite title.

I have not actually read all of them yet, but right off the bat, I want to recommend Tom Levenson's piece, "I’m Shocked! Shocked To Find That There Are Neutrinos Going On Here." [Added: and from a link in that article, have a look around Matt Strassler's site. Maybe start with his About This Site page.]

Friday, December 23, 2011


Jon Swift, by BatocchioAny post on this blog from the last year stand out in your mind?

As especially good, I mean. Not all those other ones.

Why I'm asking: Batocchio is putting together the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2011 and has very kindly asked me to participate in the tradition started by Jon, "The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves."

Here's the 2010 edition.

Drop any suggestions you have in the comments, or in my email inbox, or twitter stream, or what have you. Thanks.

Stream of consciousness. Or something.

Urinal with fly in it.  Or so it appears.So, last night, I'm waiting at JFK to pick up some people, and since traffic on the ride down had been heavier than expected and I'd had little else to do besides drink coffee, I headed for the men's room.

"Hmm, that's odd," I thought. "Seems a bit late in the year for a bug to be hanging out in the urinal." But there it was.

Sometimes I overthink these things, so just as I often break stride to avoid stepping on ants, I directed my stream below the bug. But then I couldn't resist seeing if I could, you know, make it move, so I started inching the stream upward to just below it. The bug didn't move. I finished recycling my coffee and stepped away from the urinal. Automatic flush kicked in. "Oh, no! I am guilty of negligent homicide insecticide entomolocide whatever!"

But then even with water pouring down the back wall, the bug refused to budge. "Must already be dead," I thought. "But boy, it's really stuck on there."

And then, walking towards the sinks, I noticed a bug in the next urinal. And the next. And the next. And then the light bulb finally came on. A story I'd heard somewhere bubbled up, and I remembered thinking when I'd heard it, "What a smart idea."

Oh, yeah. We of the stand-up-to-pee persuasion like nothing finer than having something to aim at. But I wonder if the designers ever thought about people who feel that ridiculous guilt about killing bugs? Or, who knows, maybe that made me aim even more carefully.

And yes, it was Terminal Four.

(Pic source, obvs.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kind of like a waiting room, with the teevee tuned to FoxNews

On my first trip to North Korea in 1989, I made a nuisance of myself by randomly barging into private homes. I wanted to see how ordinary North Koreans actually live, and people were startled but hospitable.

The most surprising thing I found was The Loudspeaker affixed to a wall in each home. The Loudspeaker is like a radio but without a dial or off switch. In the morning, it awakens the household with propaganda. (In his first golf outing, Comrade Kim Jong-il shoots five holes-in-one!) It blares like that all day.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the perfect time of year for an Easter Egg!

Go to the Google and type in let it snow.

Or just click here.

In either case, let that new tab or window be for a while.

Okay, I'll stop helping now.

(h/t: MK, via email)

P.S. It was about 60° here in the northeast US today. Oddly enough, I did not hear James Inhofe or any other Republican member of Congress use that as a reason to hold a photo op.

Well, since you asked ...

  • Email threads ("Conversations?") look like Facebook. You've already done that once.
  • In a case where there are several areas filled with text on the screen, and one does want to pack as much text as practical onto the screen, I like boxes around things, not just horizontal lines between them. It's easier for my eyes to stay focused on what I'm reading. See, for a good example, the NYT's home page. This applies to both the particular conversations and the lists of messages, as in the Inbox.
  • The icons on the new toolbar take longer to recognize than the old toolbar's text-labeled buttons. Out of the corner of my eye, so to speak, they're just gray blobs. I actually have to stop and look at them, if you know what I mean. And despite their apparent minimalism, the toolbar takes up more space. More on the new toolbar.
  • I don't like the way the "folders" (Labels) list expands and contracts in response to my mouse hovering over it. Just leave it static, and let me decided to expand it with a click. I've chosen which items to display in the list, again, so to speak, so I can see the things I want out of the corner of my eye.
  • The shades of gray color scheme wouldn't be so bad if the ads in the right column weren't filled with bright blue text. I mean, I know you're offering a free webmail service as a way to get me to look at ads, but come on. Yes, I'm aware there are themes available to change the look. None of them addresses this problem satisfactorily (although I have to admit, the Planet theme is pretty cool). How about a theme that makes things look like the soon-to-be old Gmail look?

I grant that some of these things are in the category of Dumb User Dislikes New Things Instinctively And Will Soon Get Used To, but still, you asked. I don't see what the new design buys me, even if I imagine getting used to it. I can't see that I'll be getting anything new out of it, so why force what appears to be nothing but, literally, a new look upon me?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feeling old? Maybe this'll help.

Always nice to encounter someone worse off than you, amirite?

(h/t: FS, via email)

Monday, December 19, 2011

See what happened because Obama cut the defense budget???1?

Which I don't doubt at least a few wingnuts will exclaim, in response to this news:

U.S. drone hijacked by GPS hack?

A U.S. stealth drone in Iranian hands was hijacked by using software that spoofed GPS coordinates, forcing it to land at those coordinates, the Christian Science Monitor reported today.

The really disturbing part?

Military officials have known about the aircraft's GPS vulnerability since 2003, according to a published report cited by The Register.

Which only proves once again that Obama uses time travel because he hates America so much.

(minor housekeeping note)

The post label the myth of "voter fraud" and the reality of voter suppression is suddenly not allowed, and I'm guessing it's because the new Blogger interface simply does not care for scare quotes.

I put this post up just in case someone linked to the old label; such links should be updated to point to the new label, the myth of voter fraud and the reality of voter suppression. I will be adjusting the labels on the old posts momentarily.

Sorry if you clicked over just to read a post that is boring even by the "standards" of this blog. (Ah, good, scare quotes are still okay in the post body.) As partial compensation, and because I believe that if there is anything more important to modern humor than scare quotes, it is Venn diagrams, allow me to pass along this fine image, sent to me by MK. You even get to click it to big it!

Venn diagram showing intersection of nations who (1) "Bonded in history by American slaves" (2) were "Once a British colony (3) have "average citizen lives on less than two dollars/day" and (4) "only countries to not have adopted the metric system." (Coloring makes it ambiguous whether the US is included in item 3.)

Your chickenhawks are coming home to roost

Following is something several of my political junkie friends and I have been saying for years, but let us not quibble about precedence, and instead be glad that someone with a larger megaphone has also come to these realizations.

Mr. Dionne, the floor is yours.

Newt Gingrich and the revenge of the base

It is one of the true delights of a bizarrely entertaining Republican presidential contest to watch the apoplectic fear and loathing of so many GOP establishmentarians toward Newt Gingrich. They treat him as an alien body whose approach to politics they have always rejected.

In fact, Gingrich’s rise is the revenge of a Republican base that takes seriously the intense hostility to President Obama, the incendiary accusations against liberals and the Manichaean division of the world between an “us” and a “them” that his party has been peddling in the interest of electoral success.

The right-wing faithful knows Gingrich pioneered this style of politics, and they laugh at efforts to cast the former House speaker as something other than a “true conservative.” They know better.

The establishment was happy to use Gingrich’s tactics to win elections, but it never expected to lose control of the party to the voters it rallied with such grandiose negativity. Now, the joke is on those who manipulated the base. The base is striking back, and Newt is their weapon.

The rest.

On a closely related note, the Education Fund of Americans for Democratic Action is conducting a "Congressional Briefing on Voter Suppression" tomorrow. If you're in the DC area, they'd love to have you join them. See the Facebook event page to RSVP and to see who else is going, and get more info here.

Nothing against Capt. Picard, but ...

... just in case you wanted something a little different from the familiar, here is a squirrel doing a facepalm. You're welcome!

Especially you, David Miscavige!

(Swiped from Ecoconsultancy: "The 21 most horrific social media facepalms of 2011.")

Line of the Day: 2011-12-19

[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god.  Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realise that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.  --Christopher Hitchens

-- Christopher Hitchens, via Buzzfeed

[Added] Oh, you wanted to see an even younger version of Hitch? Jack has kindly provided.

Believe it or not, SOPA could shut this down, too

Because there is music in the background, from time to time. Music about which some giant soulless conglomerate could claim WE HAZ COPYRITE!!!1!

Politics aside, this is why the Internet was invented, and why it is the greatest invention of all time: "The 30 Most Important Cats Of 2011."

Some of the commentary is pretty good, too.

30: The Saddest Kitten Of All Time

Kitten: "Sadness is not a temporary affliction to be shrugged off and discarded. It is a mode of being; a way of life; a heaviness on the soul that can never be lifted because its weight is the weight of existence itself."


Kitten hugging a kitten hugging a kitten
I haven't yet* watched all the videos, but I will say that of the still pix, #24 is my favorite. (As always, clikit2bigit.)

* (h/t: MK, via email, who suggests a healthy consumption rate: "12 days of Christmas = 30 most important cats.")

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The caption for this picture is NOT "The bus driver said, 'Hold my beer and watch this.'"

Crash featuring an school bus amazingly ridden up the back of a tractor trailer

Yes, it's probably in bad taste, since there were some sad consequences. Sorry, couldn't help myself. My inner eight-year-old said, "Cool!"

One of these gingerbread men does not have a last name

Four gingerbread men with Star Trek uniforms.  The red-shirted one has an arm bitten off.

(h/t: MK, via email)

Apparently, you can now see my blog posts on my Google+ page

From now on. Assuming I clicked all the right buttons, I mean.

Q: Why would you want to see my blog posts on Google+?
A: Four letters: xkcd.

If it works, thank this page.

[Added] It may require switching to the new Blogger interface to make this happen. This may only be a temporary requirement: I did have to switch to make this post appear on my G+ page, because the particular Setting referred to in the page linked to above does not appear under Settings in the old interface. I will have to wait until I put up another post to see if the setting change I made under the new interface persists, even though I have switched back to the old interface.

[Added2] It does appear that you have to be using the new Blogger interface is you want the Google+ posting to happen as described above; i.e., the pop-up prompt did not appear, nor did the auto-posting happen when I switched back to the old interface and put up a new post. If you really hate the new interface and want your Blogger blog posts to appear on G+, you can do this by hand: switch to the new interface, click "Share" under the post(s) you want to share, switch back to the old interface. Tedious, I grant.

Sometimes, less really is less

The new Gmail toolbar (top) versus the old Gmail toolbar (bottom):

Top: new Gmail toolbar Bottom: old Gmail toolbar(embiggen)

Maybe it's just me,* but sometimes words are just plain better than icons. I think this is particularly so in an application that has keyboard shortcuts: the words serve as a mnemonic. And note also how the old toolbar takes up less space, despite having two more buttons.

I'm betting that had I not put the old toolbar under the new one, it would have taken you considerably longer to puzzle out what the buttons in the top one do.

Gmail's 'Switch to the new look' box that appears at the bottom of the Gmail screen, surrounded by a red circle and slash

* It's not. It's really not. Trust me on this.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snarky picture of the day

An oldie, maybe, but new to me:

Picture of a thick book ('Javascript') next to a thin book ('Javascript: The Good Parts')

Swiped from John D. Cook, who says he got it from David Walsh.

What's the only force that can make good people do evil things?

"It's just high school kids being kids and administrators doing what they do on a daily basis -- keeping kids safe," Carney said …

"Carney" being Riverhead High School superintendent Nancy Carney and "keeping kids safe" being suspending students for Tebowing in the school hallway.

(h/t: Twitter trending topics | title: cf.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Runner-up for Line of the Day: 2011-12-15

Mitt Romney arrived in New York City on Wednesday, newly endorsed by Christine O’Donnell, who we have not seen since her not-a-witch race for the U.S. Senate. She praised Romney for having “been consistent since he changed his mind.” I so miss Christine O’Donnell.
    -- Gail Collins

If you were paying attention to my tweets earlier today, you know the only reason why Gail didn't win the day.

(h/t: KK, via email)

It may not completely win the War On Christmas, but ...

Cartoon of familiar characters in 'Christmas Group Therapy'(embiggen)

Artist: Glenn McCoy.

(h/t: Ocean, via email)

I gotta stop checking the NYT when the morning has otherwise started off well

FFS, does EVERYTHING have to be a Brand®?

Screenshot of a teaser on the NYT's front page reading 'Q&A: Shaun White on Design and Skater Culture | Target is introducing the the professional snowboarder’s home collection, a line of bedding, lighting and home accessories.'

Nice to start off the day with a small victory

Screenshot of an email from Google Maps notifying me that I correction I had proposed was reviewed and agreed with(embiggen)

Nothing like being validated by one of the world's most powerful companies!

By the way, if you're a map nerd, Google Map Maker is fun.

And speaking of which, I just got my first addition to that approved two days ago, too! This is excitement matched only by the first time I clicked Edit on Wikipedia and fixed something like it pays attention to it's apostrophes or it gets the hose again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This article on Antarctica is a really good read. Cool pix, too.

Kind of amazing to think that the South Pole was a monumental struggle to reach just one hundred years ago.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Still think there's no difference between (D) and (R)?

Ask someone who has the luxury of distance to gain a little perspective. needs a couple of dope slaps from all of us

One of the longest-visited and most useful sites on the Web is showing signs of what happens when you get acquired by a giant corporation. I've noticed a couple of serious problems, including:

  1. Download links that lead to third-party sites, at least one of which served up something that is clearly not what is advertised on the page, and

  2. Software that is stored on's servers, but which contains malware-like behavior; i.e, attempting to open up a webpage dubious enough to cause my antivirus software to block it.

Starting nearly a month ago, I have been trying to report these problems through a number of channels, including clicking the "Report a problem" link on the relevant page, posting advisories in the user review sections, sending email to several different support addresses, and tweeting @CNETDownloads, and I have gotten no response. Nor, more importantly, were the problems I reported addressed.

Mark ZuckerborgI finally thought to look on Facebook, and did at least get an acknowledgment there. However, the discussion thread seems to have been removed from their wall. You can still see it, but only if you know the exact link.

I am happy to report that the two specific problems I reported have been addressed as of late this morning. (He said after checking his links for this post. Thanks, Nathan.) Still, it seems worth leaving this little rant up, because I shouldn't have had to work so hard to get my messages delivered. A "Report a Problem" link should actually do something, shouldn't it?

And ideally, some sort of algorithm would scan user input and add a little weight to posts and emails from people who have been members since forever. I mean, the word Community hasn't become completely empty, has it, CBS?

Don't answer that.

The truck from 'Duel' bearing down on youAnd there is of course the larger problem of putting up a download link that points to a third-party server. I mean, if there is an easier way to open up a security hole that you could drive a truck through, I can't think of it.

That should never have happened.

I don't have a problem with them referring users to highly credible sites, such as, but you can't let the guy running or whatever cash in on the trust that the name carries. Or once carried.

There's yet another new annoyance. I am grateful to Trent Todd, in that FB discussion thread, for pointing out that it is actually much more obnoxious than I had realized. Here's a brief description.

Rather than just serving up the software directly, has recently begun serving up their own wrapper installation program. It has been using this approach for an increasing number of specific software packages, at least based on my sampling. In addition to handling the download you actually want, this wrapper program also tries to get you to install other stuff. While I have found it easy enough to spot what I should uncheck or decline, I realize now that for a less cynical experienced computer user, the authoritative appearance of this wrapper program -- including large-type phrases like "Strongly Recommended" -- would likely intimidate a lot of people into accepting whatever was about to be shoveled onto their machines.

I'm a little late to the dance on this one, as a look at the report by that Trent referred me to will show. It appears that, at last, some notice has been taken by management at Perhaps not enough, if the comments under that post, and the updates at's post, are any indication, but at least the new direction is encouraging. And as noted above, I am happy to report that my specific reports were acted upon.

EFF logoThe other bit of good news, which I have no doubt actually caused the response by's management, is that some of the bigger guns on our side, like the EFF, Boing Boing, and a bunch of computer security pros, have been taking a hard look at recently. Let's hope continues to clean up its act, and let's all keep up the pressure on them until they do.

(pic. sources: Moredigital, Bullet Proof Poet, Forgotten Flix, The Girl Who Loves Horror)

Modify your .emacs to start with a clean *scratch* buffer

Ah, one of life's minor nuisances finally solved:

;; Remove the annoying text that populates the 
;; *scratch* buffer on start-up
(setq initial-scratch-message nil)

Monday, December 12, 2011


A visualization of the Kaprekar sequence for four digit numbers, due, apparently, to D. Deutsch and B. Goldman, 2004


Take any four-digit number in which at least two of the digits are different. Put the digits in descending order to make one new number, put them in ascending order to make another. Subtract the smaller from the larger. Apply the same process to the result. Use leading zeros, if necessary, to make the subtraction results into four-digit numbers. Keep doing that until you reach the obvious stopping point. Bet I can guess what your final number is!

We are not bound by your dictums, Bob Costas

Tebow  getting Tebowed
Tebow (L) getting Tebowed
Last night, during halftime of the otherwise fabulously entertaining Giants-Cowboys game, Bob Costas indulged himself in spewing the same thing that every other overpaid pundit seems to have emitted lately: pablum posing as apologeticism for Tim Tebow. Sadly, the remote control was at that moment just out of reach.

Costas, unlike most of the other nine hundred, did not even have the decency to acknowledge that, yeah, there is something a little annoying about Tebow's non-stop demonstrations, but instead went right to "… Tebow, whose sincere faith cannot be questioned, and should be respected …" It was then that I managed to get to the mute button.

Giant cow statue from South Park episode 'Cow Days'
And remember what happened
to the real cows in that episode
At the risk of reinforcing Eric Weiner's preconceived notions about "Angry Atheists," let me just say that, no, we need not take Tebow's faith on faith, and more importantly, that there is no reason whatsoever why it should be respected. Tim Tebow, same as anyone else, has the right to believe whatever fool thing he wants to believe without fear of retribution from the government, and I will defend that right to the death. That does not mean that his belief should be any less immune from criticism or mockery than any other, be it political, philosophical, conspiratorial, or just plain woo. There are no sacred cows.

I see by Kenneth Fang's transcript that Costas went on to cite Frank Bruni's latest column approvingly. I was going to say a few words about that thing, too, but someone with a sharper scalpel has already taken care of that.

(cow pix from here and here)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands ..."

A tough column from a tough old bird. And of course, "old" here is a term of affection. This is happening far too soon.

Layout problems? On that site of all sites?

Screenshot of a typical sign-up form. 'Date Of Birth' is next to 'Sex.'  There is a link to explain why the former is necessary, but it is positioned next to the latter.

Nonetheless, I still think you should join.

Madonna con bambino

I think you can guess how I feel about the underlying story, but that aside, this is a great picture by Anastasia Taylor-Lind:

Mother holding infant(embiggen)

More here.

The Grate Debate

From the WWDTM quiz in the NYT:

6. The Republican race is about to get a lot more serious and dignified, because who’s agreed to host a debate?

  1. The queen of England
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Alex Trebek
  4. Paula Abdul


6. (B) Donald Trump says he wants to evaluate the candidates himself before bestowing his sought-after endorsement. Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann declined, Mitt Romney declined (once he figured out that’s what people wanted him to do) and Rick Perry said no, too, after spending a long time trying to remember the third letter in no.

(h/t: KK, via email)

You mean, as opposed to chained up?

Ad on Facebook for with title 'See pics of women for free'

Oh, wait. You mean, as in money? That I won't have to pay? To look at pictures of women?

I hate to break it to you,, but there's this thing called the Internet, and … let's just say you're not exactly pitching a unique offering here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Fredian Slippers
Freudian Slippers

Brought to you by The Nation and The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, the latter of whom also offer my new favorite breath freshener:


P.S. If only the head dropped down and went all the way back up to 12 counterclockwise, I'd buy the Sisyphus Watch in a New York minute. I'd even allow it to fall just to the 6 and have a thirty-second rest each time.

P.P.S. And? How about "A passport to bring you back to the good old days …?"

Line of the Day: 2011-12-10

“I’m always looking for sounds that are pleasing at the time,” he told me. “The sound of a helicopter is really annoying until you’re drowning, and it’s there to rescue you. Then it sounds like music.”
    -- Tom Waits to Sasha Frere-Jones

For one brief, terrifying moment ...

... I thought Terry Jones (the pastor, not the Python) was a Wikipedian.

Screenshot of a Wikipedia appeal from Sengai Podhuvan, Ph.D.(embiggen)

But no. I apologize to the good doctor.

And I must say that in addition to being more handsome, Sengai Podhuvan sounds like a somewhat more worthwhile individual, and by "somewhat," of course, I mean "infinitely."

(It would not surprise me to learn, however, that Terry Jones contributes to that other site.)

Friday, December 09, 2011

From the annals of a dog named Ducky

This is pretty great.

Lines 5 and 6 FTW.


(viaviavia, I think.)

From the cabinet of curiosities

Not to get all ageist, but how old is this can of Cameo Copper Cleaner that I just found?

[Insert picture here as soon as digital camera is at hand.]

A suggestion is given by one of the selling points on the label (colors orig.):

Modern plastic container leaves no rust rings, marks or scratches on porcelain tile or other surfaces. Easy to handle, no mess, no soggy cans!

And how about on the other side, at the bottom of the label?

You'll find the Woman's Touch in every Purex product

I mean, who puts the bullet point at the end of the line anymore?

Price stamped on top has some sort of weird mark, which I think signifies a foreign currency of some kind:


Not to get all paranoid, but right after I finished composing this post, the next ad I saw (on some other site) led me to a place where I was invited to …

Sign up to contact Senior Dating Elite Club members!


From a post by Tara Hornor on website design, which is about using dark backgrounds and what you have to do to help visitors who, say, are coming from the bright white pages of the Google:

Paco Underhill, in his groundbreaking book “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” (2000), describes how we have to carefully transition customers from the parking lot of a brick-​​n-​​mortar store into the physical building. Basically, we have to give them time to adjust from the hot asphault and bright sun to our dimly lit, air-​​conditioned atmosphere. Nowadays, most large chains have a long walkway from their entrances to the first set of merchandise displays to help with this transition.

Do you believe that? I can think of examples, I suppose -- Home Depots and some of the bigger, newer Wegmanses I've been in, but I can also think of plenty of stores that have merchandise ready for you to look at all through those walkways.

Anyway, back to websites. I think this is a delight to look at, but I find that if I happen upon a blog or other site with long stretches of text, the content has to be about three times more immediately appealing for me to want to read it. I think this is a learned reaction to the pain of going back from a site like that to the white background on most sites.

Evidence that The Singularity is upon us

Examine this picture closely. It's okay. It's for Science.


Notice anything odd?

Hint: which model do think has the best body?

Won't someone think of the children who are trying to make a living with Photoshop?

(h/t: TC, via email, and Rebecca J. Rosen)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Embrace your parochialism, my fellow New Yorkers!

If you thought Saul Steinberg's View of the World from 9th Avenue …

… was not so much humorous as just plain sensible, then you're gonna love Harold Cooper's

What's it all about? Here's a hint: Two of my favorite structures are at 4724th Avenue and S 9666th Street, and at E 12,928 Avenue and 63,975th Street.

(h/t: WCBS 880 | pic. source: Strange Maps)


album cover: 'Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan'

What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International?

Four discs, 72 tracks. Seal and Bob Dylan doing "Like A Rolling Stone?" Can't wait to hear that. And how great that Peter Seeg could contribute. (With "Forever Young," by some coincidence.) Full track listing on Consequence of Sound. And all profits will go to AI.

Remember, only sixteen shopping days until Isaac Newton's Birthday!

(Sadly, it won't be coming out until 24 Jan 2012.)

(h/t: Tom Morello, who contributes with his take on "Blind Willie McTell," but who has yet to learn the concept of the permalink)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Can you guess what story is being told here?

A narrative in emoji

(Artist: @tanlines)

Hover your mouse over the image for the answer.

Swiped from Intro to Narratives in Emoji 101 (permalink).

(h/t: Jenna Wortham/NYT)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Still think we're just a bunch of dirty smelly hippies?

Home page of the NYT, right now:

If the Gray Lady and two powerful MOST RADICAL LIBRUL EVAR centrist politicians are paying attention …

Just sayin'.

Stories here and here.

George Will is sucking something

A cartoon/mashup of sourpuss George Will, holding stop sign reading 'UR Insufficiently Conservative'Extra-sour lemons, I think.

Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, …

Sweet! But how does he really feel?

Gingrich … embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. … There is almost artistic vulgarity in Gingrich’s unrepented role as a hired larynx … Olympian sense of exemption from standards and logic … His temperament — intellectual hubris distilled — … grotesque opportunism — tarted up as sociology — … (as Churchill said of John Foster Dulles) a bull who carries his own china shop around with him.

Much as it discourages me to contemplate the downward trajectory which today's GOP is bent upon pushing this country, at least there's the entertainment of watching guys like George Eff Will have to face what they helped bring about. And who knows? Maybe some decade, they'll even admit their complicity. Know hope!

(h/t: Substance McGravitas, in Comments under the previous post about GOP2012)

(pic. sources: Faith Trust and Pixie Dust, Northern Insights / Perceptivity)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Well, that's just entirely too sensible for MY country

The government of Switzerland has released a new report arguing that unauthorized file sharing does not threaten Swiss culture because consumers spend the savings on concerts and merchandise. It concludes new laws are not needed.

Protect IP!

S-O-P-A in the U-S-A!

And that other thing wingnuts always yell!

But if you'd rather read about what happens when the grownups are in charge …

The next time someone tells you "We understand phyics so well, we're just about done" ...

... (and yes, I am assuming you run into such characters fairly often, because I do), point him or her to "Fundamental constants are not constant—or maybe they are, we don't really know," which is a remarkably clear blog post, title notwithstanding.

Who knew a Unicode character could be endearing?

Cute kid with a shy smile
Above: a character, perhaps,
but not a Unicode one
A nugget, from the Firefox 8.0 release notes, section "What's New," item "Improved CSS hyphen support for many languages:"

U+00AD (SHY)
An invisible, "soft" hyphen. This character is not rendered visibly; instead, it suggests a place where the browser might choose to break the word if necessary. In HTML, you can use ­ to insert a soft hyphen.

Emph. added.

shy smiley

(pic. source: The Fellas and I... | smiley source: | much, much more)

New York Times embraces LOLcat-speak

Or maybe Dennis Overbye is simply unimpressed by NGC 3842.

NYT photo caption showing typo 'teh' instead of 'the'

Click pic to see original screenshot at full size.

[Update] Already fixed. In response, no doubt, to several thousand carefully worded letters of complaint.

Shorter Republican Campaign For President

Willard Newt Willard


Mr. Romney’s strategy, in short, is to pretend that he shares the ignorance and misconceptions of the Republican base.


Newt Gingrich is Sad That Politics Has Gotten So Nasty

In conclusion:

Newt Already Magnanimous in Victory

Okay then! Let's link to a portrait of the new First Couple!

(h/t: thouartgob || pic. sources: 1 | 2 | 3)

You probably already know this about the Wall Steet Journal editorial page ...

... but just in case not, they are lying liars who lie, and the most recent example I've come across deserves to have attention drawn to it.

This is from Jeff Sommer's piece about the latest Nobel prize winners in economics (which I recommended yesterday, for other reasons):

Mr. Sims and Mr. Sargent neither prescribe cures nor forecast the future. Nor do they deal in the sound bites of talking heads on cable TV. They are reluctant celebrities, men whose work can baffle even Ph.D.’s.

So it comes as a surprise, not least to Mr. Sims and Mr. Sargent, that these two now find themselves thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight. Conservative voices, like the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, have claimed them as their own. The men’s work on economic cause and effect and the theory of rational expectations — which maintains that people use all the information available in making economic decisions — proves that Keynes had it wrong, these commentators say.

It would be a provocative thesis — if it were true. But Mr. Sims and Mr. Sargent say their work is being misread. Both, in fact, are longtime Democrats who maintain that government can, and should, play a role in economic affairs.

Minor wrinkle

I added the Followers widget to the sidebar, because why not? If you're a follower and would rather not have your icon displayed there, visit your Blogger Dashboard, scroll down to the Reading List section, and click the blue Manage button at the bottom of that section. It should be evident what to do from there, but if not, please ask for more details.

If you don't have a Blogger Dashboard, you might have a look at the Google Friend Connect customization page, under the "Sites you've joined" item.

And thanks for following!

Is Chick-fil-A worse than Hitler?

Eat More Kale

(In case you missed the tweet and the other tweet.)

Petition here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Colbert Report addresses SOPA and censorship

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Fight for the Future, via email)

No matter how crappy your life seems right now, this will help

The Saddest Book Ever Written

Michael Pemulis is my new hero.

(h/t: @jccherry)

Why Newt Gingrich Keeps Winning Republican Debates

Newt Gingrich on stage with some Mighty Morphin Power Rangers(embiggen)

(pic. source: Swampland | h/t: Jim Newell)

On a much more uplifting note ...

... than that last link to the NYT, I'd like to applaud Jeff Sommer for his hugely enjoyable piece, "Good Morning. You’re Nobel Laureates."

Yep, it's a profile of two economists. And it is hugely enjoyable.

Yeah, the players are a bunch of spoiled brats who make millions for doing what I wish I could do for free

But then there are the NBA owners.

Today's Worst Persons in the World.

Friday, December 02, 2011

"All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned."

"Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

It's not just the ex-Governator who's saying it anymore. Meet the X-47B.

Please help out StrangeAppar8us

If you've read Rumproast, you're familiar with StrangeAppar8us. It seems he's had a bit of bad luck, to understate matters rather severely, and he could use some coin.

If you can help out, that'd be great. Visit this Roast Post. You can even send money by snail mail, if you don't like doing financial transactions over the Web.

And don't just take it from me that he's a good egg. TBogg and Angry Black Lady agree.

Which means traffic coming from here won't exactly jump out, relatively speaking, but hey, every little bit helps.

Line of the Day: 2011-12-02

(The last paragraph in the latest installment of Thursday Night Basset Blogging.) Can't just post it directly. Wouldn't be fair.

Jake Lamar: "Not disappointed by President Obama"

Well of course he isn't. He's French!!!1!

And you know how else you can tell? This is way too reasonable for American political discourse:

(alt. video link)

The above is Feministing's Featured Video. Or at least it was when I went to read about a form of vintage sexism and some "Christians" who voted to ban interracial couples from their church. It was posted by Zerlina Maxwell.

Never has a team slogan seemed so appropriate

Can-do Matt can do:

Picture of me getting a haircut from Matt, the back of whose t-shirt reads 'Finding a Way'

(embiggen) Photo credit: KK

More on Facebook, here and here. The pictures are set to be viewed by FB friends only (assuming I've understood today's version of Facebook privacy settings correctly), but if we're not connected in that way and you really want to see them, please drop me a line.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Line of the Day: 2011-12-01

Young woman holding sign reading 'If they enforced bank regulation like they do park rules, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place'

Swiped from Lee Fang's Second Alarm.

An absolutely superb talk

Here is Lawrence Lessig speaking at Google. The title of his talk is "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It," but to me, that doesn't begin to encompass everything he talked about.

Somehow, though, the talk is only 45 minutes long. There's also a 15 minute Q&A at the end. Highly recommended, no matter your political leaning, even if that leaning is fully toward apathy.

(alt. video link)

More: and #rootstrikers.

Jennifer Lopez apparently on mission to make Mitt Romney seem authentic [updated]

Oh, J-Lo.

I was bugged by that Fiat commercial from the first time I saw it, and I've always thought the "Jenny from the 'Hood Block" thing was more phony than Milli Vanilli, but if true, this just takes the cake.

Well, I still like "Out of Sight." Although it's starting to seem lately like Steve Zahn was the hot one.

(h/t: Jezebel)

[Update] In Comments, graz recommends another Fiat 500 commercial which why it isn't in heavy rotation instead is beyond me.

Want to find the God-Botherers nearby? Just ask Siri, on your iPhone!

Saw these two items a couple of days ago:

And now, we have an update. Apparently, the reason Siri wants to steer you to a bunch of anti-choice nuts when you're asking about abortion clinics or places to get birth control is because, Apple says, "We're kinky."

Or something like that.

P.S. I don't remember Apple speaking in the past exonerative quite this much before.

Let's Get Scared

Some fragments …

DNA sequencing is becoming faster and cheaper at a pace far outstripping Moore’s law …


“Data handling is now the bottleneck …"


The lower cost, along with increasing speed, has led to a huge increase in how much sequencing data is being produced. World capacity is now 13 quadrillion DNA bases a year, an amount that would fill a stack of DVDs two miles high …


Researchers are increasingly turning to cloud computing so they do not have to buy so many of their own computers and disk drives.

Google might help as well.

“Google has enough capacity to do all of genomics in a day,” said Dr. Schatz of Cold Spring Harbor, who is trying to apply Google’s techniques to genomics data. Prodded by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, Google is exploring cooperation with Cold Spring Harbor.

In conclusion, the worry about tracking cookies is over.

Read the whole sequence article.