Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ah, jeez

Is it me, or is the Overton Window getting as narrow as it was pre-Iraq invasion?

[Added] Next thing (via @edroso) that I saw after clicking publish. Don't know whether to be comforted that I'm not the only one thinking these things, or distraught that I'm not the only one thinking these things.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blast to the past

The latest spam comment on this blog just got blocked. From this post.

Does rickrolling seems really long ago to you?

A larger mystery: why spam comments appear on posts from five years ago, and not on the latest ones. (This is usual, and regular if not particularly frequent.) Do the spammers think they'll have a better chance with the old posts of sneaking in unnoticed? But if so, why would they think anyone would ever see them?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The magical free market sparkle pony gives you the bestest cheapest cell phone service!!!1!

Or, you know, not:

“Over the next decade,” Mr. Meinrath said, “U.S. consumers may overpay by over a quarter of a trillion dollars for worse levels of service than customers in other countries receive.”


Line of the Day: 2014-08-24

Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.
     -- Robert Jay Lipton

The piece from which I swiped that is ... I dunno. Either meh, or too much of a 101-level course when I'm looking for 102. It's about shifting attitudes regarding climate change, if you're interested.

But I did like that line.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's black and white and read all over?

From a piece by Clay Shirky about the decline of printed newspapers:

... and black newsroom humor long ago re-labelled the Obituary column ‘Subscriber Countdown.’

(h/t: David Dobbs)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The first thing we do, let's kill all the humans

Not really, obvs, but cheese and rice, sometimes a blurb will make your knee jerk.

Salmon, once nearly extinct on part of the Columbia River, are recovering, to the delight of birds. As a result, those charged with protecting the fish have a new plan: shoot the birds.

(story link)

On the upside, he's now got more time to go on the down-low


(h/t: KK, via email and the FB)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Statistically improbable phrase of the day

... I started hanging out at a local pigeon supply store.

Also, is a “pigeon mumbler” like a horse whisperer?

Also, too, would you consider this gentrification? And if so, with all the negativity that that connotes?

John Gotti’s old Mafia headquarters became a pet-grooming center.

Based on the article, that's a book I'd like to read.

Um ... yeah. Well, I certainly aspire ...

Sometimes, throwaway lines make you (me) think. Here's one, from the start (about 4:50) of a Google Talks interview thing with an erstwhile Tibetan monk who seems now to be in the business of ... talking to small crowds of people like the Googlers, which is not a bad thing, something he says one of his teachers told him:

... unless you can improve on silence, it's better not to say anything at all.

I can hear everyone I work with nodding with cocked eyebrows, of course, but that's not the important part.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Nerd food

This isn't for everybody, but I hugely enjoyed it, and I think some of you will, too:

The never-ending conundrums of classical physics
Even today, scientists still try to solve sprinkler brain teasers from the 19th century.

I remember having a discussion with several other bright undergrads, our TA, and one of the physics profs about the sprinkler problem (we were all reading Feynman at the time), and we came to ... no conclusion. (I managed to end the discussion by speculating that the sprinkler would move chaotically, which, while incorrect, at least had the advantage of being a proposal no one else had made.)

I also remember the feeling I had at about the same time -- a few weeks into my Intro to Modern Physics course -- that the message of the course was everything you have previously learned about physics is wrong.

As with most things, it turned out to be not quite that simple.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

John McWhorter: "Txtng is killing language. JK!!!"

I thought this fifteen-minute TED talk was great. I especially liked the bit about the earliest of the language scolds.

I agree with McWhorter's general argument, and have since reading Lewis Thomas (e.g.), but he made a number of points I hadn't thought of, and I liked the little tastes of professional linguistic discussion he added.

(h/t: Jack, via email)