Saturday, June 30, 2012

Institution of the Day



TED talks from the founder, Dan Ariely, are recommended, as is his recent appearance on

Friday, June 29, 2012

Two nights ago?

Felt a bug crawling near the inside of my right elbow. Glanced down, whacked it with my left hand. Was kind of a hard-shell bug, so I had to blanch and whack it again.

Who knew fireflies could light up, and stay that way, after they're dead? Now I feel even more guilty.

Line of the Day: 2012-06-29

Punditry is a whole industry built on confirmation bias.
    -- David McRaney

(h/t: Alan Henry)


A blurb on the front page:

A gene mutation that breeders latched onto because it makes a tomato evenly red also stifles genes that contribute to its taste, researchers found.

No one could have predicted ...

No, I can't bear to click that link either.

Looking on the bright side, there's always a chance that the wingnuts will reject this finding, too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Prescriptivist Descriptivist Fight!

I was going to go with PDF! as the title, but I figured none of you would click on that. Even with an exclamation point. Who wants to hang the browser, or launch a hellabyte download?

Anyway, a very fun piece by Joan Acocella, from a few weeks ago due to my dead trees reading lag, in The National Review.

Deep thought

Is there a word for what's been done to the erstwhile initialization in cases like these?

Did you guys send your RSVP yet?

Oh please. We RSVPed last week.

If not, there should be. Maybe if I could think of another example or two …

Too boldly!

Perfect note on a great day:

SUBJECT: thought you would appreciate this

I'm following the Supreme Court decision on Metafilter, and this was just posted:


NYT has finally put up a breaking news ticker: "Supreme Court Allows Health Care Law to Largely Stand"

06/28/12: the day everything was so crazy, the NYT split an infinitive



(Jinnet, via email)

- - - - -


- - - - -

Also too, a 'shop I have already seen twenty times and cannot be seen enough.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All hail the free market sparkle pony!

Kate Miller, a Time Warner Cable customer in Utica, N.Y., said her 2-year-old daughter Jane has already learned the word “buffering.”

The above is from yet another story of how keeping US telecoms free of librul socialist government intrusion produces (As It Was Written) competition among them, resulting in better and cheaper Internet service for all!

Or, you know, not.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good news! Skynet threat is gone.

It appears that the rise of the machines will be focused instead on searching for funny videos of the true master race.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Need a ruling from Mr. Poe in aisle 9

And the really sad part? This is happening in the USA (of course), but the original reporting is from Scotland.

(title: cf.)

Cool pic

Swiped from Patricia Fara, whose lecture I have just begun to watch. [Added: and it's not at all yet another talk on how Darwin rules and wingnuts lose. Give it a look.]

[Added] Dr. Fara says a few moments after showing the above slide that the picture on the right was the prize-winning entry in a 2008 contest called "Designing Darwin," sponsored by the British Society for the History of Science. More here. Worth clicking over to see the original and some of the runners-up.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another Malkin meltdown looming?

Missing punctuation? Or another revealing instance of how liberals' disregard for life knows no end???1?


(h/t: CKC, via email)

Trolling the PACmen

Hmmm. This looks promising ...

Lotta wear and tear on this poster:

Now, this is a new one on me:

That guy to the left? I got him to the point of veins bulging all out of his forehead.

Also, who knew you could spray when you hiss liberal?

Good times.


Anybody from the Bhtv forums know if Piscivorous moved recently?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How not to get me to read your spam

The subject line:

Tim Russert's sex scandal exposed at funeral

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So much coolness! (For nerds like me, I mean.)

No, that's not a still from 2001, although at first glance, it does look like it could be, doesn't it? Actually, it's an artist's conception of NuSTAR in orbit around the Earth.

NuSTAR (short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray) has apparently launched successfully (press release | Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog post). It is a space-based observatory designed to focus on high energy x-rays, which, National Geographic says, will allow it to:

... capture images of black holes, neutron stars, and other cosmic bodies with a hundred times more sensitivity and ten times better resolution than previous spacecraft.

The way it got into space was by being attached to a rocket, which was attached to an airplane, which flew up to 40,000 feet and dropped it. Five seconds later, the first of the rocket's three stages fired:

The satellite is stored on the rocket in a collapsed state -- only two meters long. Once in orbit, it extends to ten meters long.

The launch system, called Pegasus, is claimed by its owner, Orbital Sciences Corporation, to be the "world's first privately developed space launch vehicle." Its maiden launch was in 1990 (!).

More pix in the gallery, hosted on the mission home page, via NASA.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Salad Days at Applebee's

I have always counted on Doghouse Riley to keep me on an even keel about David Brooks's lifetime sinecure at the NYT, but …

My theory is that Bobo’s primary purpose in writing columns these days is to provide material for Pierce.

… I can't argue too much with that.

Especially when you get bonus nuggets like this:

It was time for his daily walk with Geppetto, the busboy who worked the kitchen, as opposed to Douthat, the busboy who worked the big parlor with the fireplace and got all the good tips at Christmastime.

That calls for our favorite flowchart, wouldn't you say?

(title: cf.)

Regarding #23


Rodriguez smoked the ball over the left-field wall, where it landed in the hat of a 15-year old Yankees fan from North Carolina who said he made the five-hour drive south to see his favorite team play for the first time.

Congratulations, A-Rod. That's a record I thought would never be tied. And it was awfully nice of you to get it done during a commercial break of the NBA finals, so I could see it live.

Call him Slappy now, all you LGM haters.

[Added] Speaking of whom, and of the NBA finals, don't miss this.

[Added2] Good post here.

Shots fired

Probably unfair of me to lift these three paragraphs only out of David V. Mason's op-ed, but I couldn't resist.

I’m with Harry Emerson Fosdick, the liberal Protestant minister and former pastor of Riverside Church in Manhattan, who wrote that he would be “ashamed to live in this generation and not be a heretic.” Being a Christian so often involves such boorish and meanspirited behavior that I marvel that any of my Mormon colleagues are so eager to join the fold.


Eventually, Mormonism will grow up. Maybe a Mormon in the White House will hasten that moment when Mormonism will no longer plead through billboards and sappy radio ads to be liked, though I suspect that Mr. Romney is such a typical politician that, should he occupy the Oval Office, he’ll studiously avoid the appearance of being anything but a WASP. This could set back the cause of Mormon identity by decades.

Whatever happens in November, I hope Mormonism eventually realizes that it doesn’t need Christianity’s approval and will get big and beat up all the imperious Christians who tormented it when it was small, weird and painfully self-conscious. Mormons are certainly Christian enough to know how to spitefully abuse their power.

It'll be interesting to survey Greater Wingnuttia's reaction to this. I suspect the consensus will congeal around yelling about the NY Times "trying to drive a wedge." And of course, being haters of Christianity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I wasn't sure that I'd like this talk ...

... but I ended up loving it. It's "Jonah Lehrer on The Science of Creativity."

I was worried that it would be hand-wavy to the point of distraction, but it's really not. To the extent that we know anything in a truly scientific sense about creativity, Lehrer seems to have it all at his fingertips. Plus, he's a really good speaker, both in his presentation and in the Q&A. I would be shocked if you did not learn at least a couple new things.

The talk itself is about thirty-seven minutes long, and the Q&A is about twenty-six.

(alt. video link | HD video link)

P.S. The link to the grit survey mentioned during the talk is partway down this page. I have not yet taken it, since I'm pretty sure it'll be terribly confirming of my self-impression. But maybe after another coffee, or beer, or hot shower, or walk.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Apparently, Texas isn't the only impediment to education

Following up from the previous post, check out the disturbing tale at the House of Substance.

Think they've changed any since then? I'm betting yes -- they're probably worse now.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

"How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us"

Gail Collins has a piece in The New York Review of Books on a subject observed on this blog from time to time. Collins's piece, it says here, is a reworked excerpt from her new book, As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda.

(h/t: Ars Editor's Picks)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Deep thought

Why do people so often say Put on your shoes and socks and Take off your socks and shoes?

Is that some kind of vehicle?

From the annals of two nations separated by a common language? Or just a mistake? Current residents of my ancestral home: please advise.

If you're wondering why I was reading Irish Central, it's because it was the first source that popped up when I news-Googled Bill Maher Mets, because I heard some wingnut yelling about those two topics on the radio a day or two ago, and wondered why. Now we know.

Friday, June 01, 2012


In re previous post, see also.

Line of the Day: 2012-06-01

(Leviticus 19:28)