When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

30 July 2009

22 July 2009

Thought for the day

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. - Ecclesiastes 9:11

Originally in nautical use

I caved. I bought a Kindle. I love it.

originally in nautical use

20 July 2009

Thought for the day

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. - M. Cartmill

17 July 2009

Useful Latin phrases

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito - "you should not give in to evils, but proceed ever more boldly against them"

Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur - "what is asserted without reason may be denied without reason"

Nice save, Neil

So I'm in New York City for another hour or two - the car service picked me up right in front of the place I was staying in, right on time, and so I was out of Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge Right. On. Time.

And then we got out on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway - traffic was bad, it's a damned hot day - and the car overheated.

We limped at 15 mph to the Woodhaven Boulevard exit--by some miracle, we weren't rear-ended by a transfer truck doing 70 - and pulled into a gas station.

I was about to call the dispatcher to send me another car, when the universe sent me a Band-Aid (maybe Carrie will explain the origin of this Campbell-Weiner family expression in the comments.)

A medallion cab (Yellow Cab) pulled up to the gas pump. I hurried over and asked the driver if he'd take a fare to JFK once he was finished pumping gas.

The guy - middle-aged Jewish dude, maybe a few years older than me, maybe not - grinned and said, "If you're in a real hurry, I don't even need the gas - just topping the tank off."

I assured him I could wait for him to finish, and bought three bottles of water - one for the hapless car service driver, one for the cab driver who rescued me, and one for me - it's a HOT day out, people.

As I took a closer look at the cab - I realized that it was a Lexus hybrid, brand spanking new.

They don't turn Lexuses into cabs in New York City, y'all.

I asked the driver - "Are you the medallion owner?" (The "medallion" is the license to operate a cab in NYC; it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and 99.9% of cab drivers rent them.)

He grinned again and said "Yes. Get in."

We had a delightful drive to JFK from Woodhaven Boulevard on surface streets with no traffic. Neil, the garrulous owner/driver, had grown up in the area and knew the streets like a farmer knows his field.

I tipped lavishly on a $25 fare to the airport (naturally, I didn't pay the guy whose car broke down a dime...)

Nice save, Neil. I mean that thing.

16 July 2009

Health care: What's a statist to do?

The statist establishment would love a single-payer health-care system like Canada's if it were politically achievable. Barack Obama said that if we were starting from scratch, single payer is what he'd back. But, thankfully, Americans are still libertarian enough to cringe at turning the medical system entirely over to government.

So with single payer out of reach, the fans of government control have grabbed for second best: the "public option." This would be government-run health insurance that would "compete" with private insurance. (It wouldn't compete fairly because it could do something no private firm can do: milk the captive taxpayers.) But the public option is proving hard to get. Even some Democrats are nervous about it.

What's a statist to do?
Health Care Competition (Reason, 16 July 2009)

15 July 2009

Augmented reality on the iPhone

Oh my God, is this ever cool.  We're living in a sci-fi novel.

A few are pure of heart; most are grabby of wallet

Killing the Buddha ("...a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches") is just wonderful.

Here's an excerpt from an article entitled "Jesus Is Just Alright" that captures the flavor of it:
A few of California’s holy men (and, occasionally, women) have been pure of heart, but most have been grabby of wallet: Werner Erhard of EST, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Hollywood “spiritual teacher” John Roger, “Crystal Cathedral” televangelist Robert Schuller. Some have been hairy-eyed nutters, such as Jim Jones of the People’s Temple or Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven’s Gate cult; others have been lovably loopy, such as the late Ruth Norman, founder of the El Cajon–based Unarius Academy of Science.

Dearly beloved of TV reporters the world over, Norman spoke in a fruity warble and wore jaw-dropping costumes that suggested the Good Witch Glinda on Moonbase Alpha. Norman’s “Cosmic Generator” getup was typical: a voluminous skirt festooned with comets and brightly colored planets, a blouse dominated by a massive “sun collar” with glittering extensions (solar flares?), a peaked cap bedecked with tiny lights. Somewhere, Liberace is shrieking with envy. In her devotees’ eyes, however, Norman was the Archangel Uriel. To her, and her alone, was vouchsafed the mind-shattering revelation that Space Brothers from the Interplanetary Confederation will touch down in El Cajon in 2001, heralding a Renaissance of Spirit that—hey, wait a minute!

[...]

Easy for me to roll my cynical, godless eyes now, of course. But long, long ago, in a universe far, far away, when the zeitgeist came in harvest gold, burnt orange, and avocado green, I was a teenage fundie. A fundamentalist. One of the Jesus People. A Jesus Freak. A cross-wearing, Bible-believing, born-again Christian.

It was 1973, and I wasn’t the only American teenager with heaven on my mind, as Judas sang, in Jesus Christ Superstar. As the religious scholar Stephen Prothero recounts in American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, the late sixties witnessed the emergence of a countercultural Christianity. “The Beatles sparked a guru vogue when they went as pilgrims to India in 1968,” Prothero notes, but for every seeker who embraced Zen or the Buddha, scores more “tuned in to the Bible and took Jesus as their guru. . . . These Jesus fans were the praying wing of the Woodstock nation.”

13 July 2009

Aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind

...Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops...
Frank Rich: She broke the GOP and now she owns it (New York Times)

Thought for the day, special "back in NYC" edition

The higher the buildings, the lower the morals. - Noel Coward

09 July 2009

Skating babies

It's actually a commercial for mineral water, and it's everywhere else - so it might as well be here too.

Thought for the day

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.  - Umberto Eco

08 July 2009

If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen

if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen

The bar is open

The bar is open

See also:

The bar in closeup

and

Full frontal liquor

This is gonna be fun to watch

Google has taken direct aim at Microsoft’s core personal computer software business, with the announcement of a PC operating system to rival Windows.

The system, based on Google’s Chrome web browser, is designed for all classes of PCs, “from small netbooks to full-sized desktop systems”, and will be available in machines from “multiple” PC makers in the second half of next year, the company said.
Google to launch PC operating System (Financial Times, 8 July 2009)

Carrboro July 4 2009 Farmers Market on Main Street

Every now and then, July 4th falls on a Saturday.

Carrboro, NC's Farmer's Market usually runs on Saturday mornings in the town square.

On Independence Day, the town square is needed for other functions.

So the farmers and their customers move right out onto Main Street - several blocks of which are closed off by the police and fire departments.

Everyone mingles and admires and inspects and purchases fresh produce, baked goods, and so forth.

Had I only brought a New York City coffee cart here with me, and had sources of electricity and water and some good beans, I'd have made a couple thousand bucks easy on Saturday morning. ;-)

06 July 2009

It lacks inlay

NAZARETH, Pa. -- At a bustling factory on the outskirts of this eastern Pennsylvania town, one of the world's oldest guitar makers is using a Depression-era strategy to keep production flowing and avert layoffs.

Workers at C.F Martin & Co. are putting finishing touches on the solid-wood 1 Series model, so named for its simplicity. It lacks inlay, as did the company's stripped-down 1930s model, and is expected to sell for less than $1,000, breaking a key price point and far less than its $100,000 limited-edition guitars made of Brazilian rosewood. More popular Martins generally sell for $2,000 to $3,000.
Guitar Maker Revives No-Frills Act from '30s (Wall St Journal, 6 July 2009)

05 July 2009

What we et today

timmy at the stove
  • Diversity Beans (field peas and navy beans, cooked vegan in a crockpot with olive oil, fresh ginger and hot curry)
  • Brown rice pilaf (brown and white rice, Vidalia onions)
  • Silver Queen corn, scalded, over thick-sliced homegrown tomatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Boiled beets (served sliced at room temp)
  • Gojiberry iced tea
stovetop

Google Wave

Google is working on a Facebook killer. Whoa... very cool collaboration tools.

04 July 2009

Animal greeting protocol in the new digs

The animals are blurred apparently because they are constantly either emerging from or entering into their own personal tesseracts.

greeting I

greeting II

Photo credit: Carrie

03 July 2009

It came from the sewers of Raleigh, NC

It looks like blob of wriggling pudding staring out through a single, puckered eye. You can see it caught on camera, clinging to the concrete pipes below Raleigh's Cameron Village: the Sewer Monster.

It's really a colony of prehistoric creatures known either as bryozoans or moss animacules, thousands of wormlike animals, biologists report. Clustered together in a glistening mass, they feed through tentacles on whatever floats past. More common in ponds, they have turned up in a set of sanitary sewer pipes under one of the country's oldest shopping centers.

Shacked up in a six-inch sewer main, the clusters of worms are about the size of a golf ball, estimates Ed Buchan, an environmental coordinator with the city. But the video footage, captured with a tiny, snakelike camera, makes the monster appear at man-eating size to viewers watching at home.
Don't be alarmed, but it is alive! Sewer Monster found in Raleigh (News and Observer)

Related:

01 July 2009

Admirable candor, indeed

Congratulations, Stan:
Stanley P. Weiner, key figure in Royals’ plan to stay in KC, retires from law firm

By DAN MARGOLIES
The Kansas City Star

Tax lawyer Stanley P. Weiner, a key figure in Ewing Kauffman’s plan to keep the Royals in Kansas City , is retiring after 25 years at Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

One of the top tax lawyers in the country, Weiner was instrumental in devising the complicated succession plan under which the baseball team’s founder and owner bequeathed the team to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts.

The IRS blessed the plan after more than two years of deliberations, agreeing that the donation of the team was tax-deductible for the Royals estate. Absent that approval, the gift of the team would have triggered a deal-killing tax bill of $60 million or more.

The highly unusual plan — devised by Weiner and Sylvan Siegler, his Shook colleague and friend — was designed to keep the team in friendly hands in Kansas City and buy time while a permanent owner was sought. Proceeds of the team’s eventual sale to David Glass went to charity.

The plan ensured the team’s continuing presence in Kansas City — although, as Weiner joked Friday at a Shook reception in his honor, “whether you think that was a good thing or not” is another matter.

Weiner was also a force behind the establishment in 1984 of Missouri ’s IOLTA program, which requires the state’s lawyers to place short-term client trust funds into interest-bearing accounts. The interest is distributed to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to the poor and conduct programs that improve the administration of justice.

In 1976, as a lawyer with Smith Gill Fisher & Butts, Weiner and Ed Smith represented H&R Block Inc. in hearings before Congress on the regulation of tax-return preparers. The resulting legislation governs such matters as when preparers are liable for errors and penalties.

Weiner, a Kansas City native, attended the University of Michigan Law School. After getting his law degree in 1967, he clerked for the chief judge of the U.S. Tax Court. He moved back to Kansas City in 1973 and joined the law firm of Smith Gill Fisher & Butts. He hooked up with Shook in 1984.

Among other things, Weiner has served as chairman of the Heart of America Tax Institute, president of the Lawyers Association of Kansas City, a member of the board of the Harvesters Community Food Network, president of Camp Quality USA and president of the Jewish Community Center.

Weiner, who turns 68 next month and has some health issues, said that four decades of practicing law was enough and that he wanted to spend more time with his two grandchildren.

“I’ve been doing this for 40-some odd years,” he said, adding with admirable candor, “After a while, it gets to be a drag.”
Stanley P. Weiner, key figure in Royals’ plan to stay in KC, retires from law firm - Kansas City Star (29 June 2009)