30 June 2007


Eight Facts/Habits

Ocean Guy has tagged me with the Eight Facts/Habits Meme:
The Rules are: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

I'm delighted and appalled.

Okay, let's have at it.

  1. I get up almost every weekday at 5:00 a.m. I read the funnies (Achewood, xkcd, and newspaper funnies at the Houston Chronicle), read e-mail, surf the web some, plan the day, meditate about twenty minutes, eat breakfast (Cheerios with fruit, bagel with cream cheese, grapefruit juice, second cup of coffee with Benefiber) and read my current book, clean up the kitchen, put lunches together (made a night or two before), and head out to the gym, desireably before 7:00 a.m. Then I go to work. I have strongly bought into this idea that if you start your day doing things for yourself, it's a lot easier to get more done at work, because you rarely feel like you're shortchanging your own life for work.

  2. I did a Jeopardy audition in Orlando in mid-May and didn't blog about it at the time. It went well, but I'm not sure I have the personality that makes for good television.

  3. I'm reading biographies of the presidents of the USA in order of their terms. I'm not sure whether that means I'll have to read two of Grover Cleveland or not. Only up to Madison. I've already learned that most presidential biographies are academic, university-press type books, which makes them a challenge. I've also already learned that you get a lot of context you wouldn't in a straightforward history by the overlap of the individuals and events in each other's story.

  4. My partner Mack and I met a little over 13 years ago, and we've been living together over 12 years. We have a chocolate lab, almost 10 years old, named Ursa and a black-and-white domestic shorthair, probably about 15 years old, who used to belong to Mack's sister's family named Tom (by Mack's niece when he was theirs).

  5. I both opened for and worked sound for R.E.M. when I was living in Nashville and trying to be a rock star. Opened for them in two different bands. The first time was supposedly the first time they'd ever played outside of Athens. (I'm skeptical in retrospect about that, but that's what we told ourselves at the time.) Our opening group was called Slim Jim. ("We're Slim Jim from Birmingham. We're ready to eat, ready to eat, ready to eat.") Slim Jim was members of a band called Actuals, or Factual, depending on when in their history, and me (their sometime roadie). We performed on interesting instruments (Howard combo organ, bongos, trombone, power drill) over prepared tape. Robb Earls of Factual and I prepared the tape. One song was called "Homes of the Stars." I had recorded the entire "See the homes of the stars" shpiel at the Nashville Gray Line terminal. The song was four measures of improvisational bleating interspersed with four measures of "the home of the beautiful Tammy Wynette," etc., which ran continuously behind our performing over it. Except it had been processed, and it got kind of psychedelic towards the end. I'm sorry I don't have audio for you. It was a blast.

    Another group I was in, Ed Fitzgerald and Civic Duty, opened for R.E.M. at the Exit In. The bass player didn't show, so I had to do bass parts as well as my own keyboard parts. That was what gave me the idea to do the bassless (heh) X-04.

  6. While living in Nashville, I was a delivery driver and technician for the Nuclear Pharmacy. We delivered radioactive pharmaceuticals to local hospitals that didn't have their own radiopharmacies.

  7. I'm a mutant. I was born with three thumbs, but they cut one of them off.

  8. I met former president Jimmy Carter when he was running for President of the United States. This would've been in late 1975 probably. The Allman Brothers Band was doing a fund raiser for him at the Providence Civic Center, and I was part of the leftish student newspaper (called thursday (in Cooper Bold Italic font) when it came out on Thursday and monday (in Cooper Bold Italic font) when it came out on Monday) at M.I.T. at the time. (It was at thursday that I learned the joy of the IBM Model D Executive Typewriter with proportional spacing, paste up using hot wax, and the joys of working with Louie, pressman supreme, at the Harvard Crimson, where we printed.) About halfway down I-95 between Boston and Providence, Carter moved from the motor-coach supporter bus to the school-bus student-journalist bus and took questions. I was sitting in the seat either right in front of him or right behind him, sorry I don't remember clearly, as he took our questions and talked about how solar power was going to create a boom for plumbers, how his experience as a nu-cu-lar engineer would help him solve the nation's problems, etc. I wrote a gonzo-style story about the trip and concert that lives somewhere in the M.I.T. archives.

Now, striving to swamp the web with exponential wasteful linking, I'm supposed to tag eight people with this meme. Okay, in alphabetical order:

Congratulations. Consider yourselves tagged.

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29 June 2007


SBQotD: 20070629

iPhone or Ratatouille?

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27 June 2007



Recently, Jeff, over at Bearcastle Blog, mentioned (here) how Sloppy Joes recipes had evolved from basic to "gussied up." Here's my Betty Crocker 1986 edition, which seems pretty basic, although the fresh celery and fresh bell pepper are probably somewhate evolved from previous incarnations (celery salt?).

I am ashamed to admit that we make Sloppy Joes here at home using a can of Manwich and two 1/2-pound packages of Boca brand fake ground beef. And serve them over cornbread made from Martha White mix (much to my oldest brother's consternation—about using cornbread mix instead of making scratch cornbread, not about using faux meat).

On the same page below that, though, is one of my favorite all time foods (even though I haven't made it in forever): Open Faced Hamburgers. My mom and/or one of her best friends Mary Bob—yes, that was her name, so deal with our redneck ways, thank you very much—used to make these, serving them on hamburger buns, not bread as called for in the recipe. The buns, having too much sugar in them, blacken up around the edges really nicely under the broiler, so you have to watch them closely. Use a 50-50 mixture of mayonnaise and mustard for dressing. Serve with handcut french fries. Eat many at one sitting. Mmmmmm.

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SBQotD: 20070627

iPhone or Transformers?

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26 June 2007


Say, Bro!

From an e-mail, admittedly not attributed and admittedly not strongly sourced, to Andrew Sullivan:
Roughly 2,000 generations ago, the entirety of humanity was reduced to as few as 2,000 or so individuals living in Africa. From that small group of survivors, who were living just 60,000 years ago, every human on earth is descended. 60,000 years is a blip on a glacial timescale. As we migrated around the globe, we left little genetic footprints along the way that can be found in all of us - but all roads lead back to Africa just 60,000 years ago.
This is all consistent with what WJC was saying in his Harvard commencement address recently:
When the human genome was sequenced, and the most interesting thing to me as a non-scientist – we finished it in my last year I was president, I really rode herd on this thing and kept throwing more money at it – the most interesting thing to me was the discovery that human beings with their three billion genomes are 99.9 percent identical genetically. So if you look around this vast crowd today, at the military caps and the baseball caps and the cowboy hats and the turbans, if you look at all the different colors of skin, all the heights, all the widths, all the everything, it’s all rooted in one-tenth of one percent of our genetic make-up. Don’t you think it’s interesting that not just people you find appalling, but all the rest of us, spend 90 percent of our lives thinking about that one-tenth of one percent? I mean, don’t we all? How much of the laugh lines in the speeches were about that? At least I didn’t go to Yale, right? [LAUGHTER] That Brown gag was hilarious. [LAUGHTER]

But it’s all the same deal, isn’t it? I mean, the intellectual premise is that the only thing that really matters about our lives are the distinctions we can draw. Indeed, one of the crassest elements of modern culture, all these sort of talk shows, and even a lot of political journalism that's sort of focused on this shallow judgmentalism. They try to define everybody down by the worst moment in their lives, and it all is about well, no matter whatever’s wrong with me, I’m not that. And yet, you ask Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Bono to come here. Nelson Mandela’s the most admired person in the world. I got tickled the other night. I wound up in a restaurant in New York with a bunch of friends of mine. And I looked over and two tables away, and there was Rush Limbaugh [LAUGHTER], who’s said a few mad things about me. So I went up and shook hands with him and said hello and met his dinner guest. And I came just that close to telling him we were 99.9 percent the same. [LAUGHTER] But I didn’t want to ruin the poor man’s dessert, so I let it go. [LAUGHTER]


When Martin Luther King was invited here in 1968, the country was still awash in racism. The next decade it was awash in sexism, and after that in homophobia. And occasionally those things rear their ugly head along the way, but by and large, nobody in this class is going to carry those chains around through life. But nobody gets out for free, and everyone has temptations. The great temptation for all of you is to believe that the one-tenth of one percent of you which is different and which brought you here and which can bring you great riches or whatever else you want, is really the sum of who you are and that you deserve your good fate, and others deserve their bad one. That is the trap into which you must not fall.

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23 June 2007



Along the lines of "five favorite aliens in sci-fi" (as seen below), how about five favorite robots/computational intelligences in sci-fi?

  1. Robot, on Lost in Space (the TV series).

  2. Ralph Numbers, in Software by Rudy Rucker.

  3. HAL 9000, from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  4. Robotic Maria, from Metropolis.

  5. Huey, Dewey, and Louie, from Silent Running.

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Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," as performed on a Theremin.

<afterschoolspecial>To learn more about Theremins, follow the instructions at the end of the video.</afterschoolspecial> Or, check out where Marc Kevin Hall raised the Theremin issue recently in this post over at Hidden City.

Video from Laughing Squid via Boing Boing.

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Favorite Alien Meme

Via Ocean Guy, "What's your five favorite aliens from SciFi?"

  1. The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  2. Clint Howard in "The Corbomite Maneuver" (ST:TOS).

  3. H. R. Giger's alien from Alien.

  4. Marvin the Martian.

  5. Detective Francisco from Alien Nation.

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22 June 2007


Annual June-Is-Gay-Pride-Month Post

Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford, at Spinner.com (part of their whole "Rockin' Out" gay/rock thing):
There's no doubt that if you have the opportunity to come out of the closet and declare yourself, it's wonderfully liberating. You're setting yourself free from your own self-imposed prison. Some people never do that. Some people lead double lives. But if you are afforded the opportunity to step forward and say, "This is who I am," it's important. You have to bring some serenity to your own life.
Happy Pride.

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21 June 2007


Tempo di Hillary

The New Republic's group blog, The Plank, has a better idea than Celine Dion (Hello? Mrs. Clinton. Besides consistenly sucking, she's not even American) for Hillary's campaign song. Click here for a video introduction to the song. Not going there? Here's a hint:

I was kind of hoping she'd go for a song that pretty much straightforwardly tells the Hillary story like it is.

Sez Mr. Christgau:
And while introducing the band members by cock size may protest their belated obsession with sex too much, I can't complain when the answer to the title question is KiraHillary, who plays bass so stalwartly she deserves all the credit she can get. A MINUS

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Trolling for Local Politico Traffic...

...and fulfilling the requirement to implement the latest trend.

It's Congressman Rick Keller (FL-8, R). What cheeseburger? See Mr. Lane, here.

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20 June 2007


A History of the Term "White Trash"

Here, from the National Sexuality Resource Center. Much more complicated than one might think. Link via Your Daily Awesome.


19 June 2007


New Title of Address

From now on, you may address me as "Mister Herr Doktor Professor Engineer Wilson." I passed the PE exam.

Addendum: Yeah, I modified it from a previous version.

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18 June 2007


For All You Danny Elfman Fans Out There

It's The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. On The Gong Show!

And for those of you who came late to this party, yes, that's right, that's what the man did before becoming a big soundtrack composer. That and Forbidden Zone.

Gong Show link via Half Bakered.


Richard Rorty, R.I.P.

"Make your private life beautiful, and your public life humane...." From Virginia Heffernan's memorial to the recently deceased Richard Rorty in this article at Slate.

I'm sorry to say I don't know more about this man than what I've learned in the past few weeks. I think I should.

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11 June 2007


Do I Really Need to Say This?

Who gives a rat's ass about The Sopranos?

Yes, I understand it has been the critical television success of the past five or so years. I understand that it is well written and appealing. I understand that it has captured a broad critical swath, incorporating both left and right in its (rather uncritical) collection of fans, especially among those who see themselves as defining or being the cultural vanguard.

I think we glorify gangsters too much. I know that The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II are great movies. The Godfather itself was a tidily written novel, if nothing to phone home about. I can deal with that. Those movies and that novel told us about a time and place in our history. The Sopranos is about now, and its nudge-nudge, wink-wink that it is cool for a psychopathic gangster to be an icon of popular culture is disgusting.

But, recall, I'm someone who closes his eyes when they show the bullet penetrating the skull of the deceased on CSI (any flavor).

Do we really need to be further desensitized to the violence and mayhem that follow crime, organized or un-?

Eff the Sopranos. Besides, I live, work, and play around too many New Jersey and Long Island transplants to have spent my time watching characters ostensibly set in New Jersey, Long Island, etc.

Enough. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Next: Why Lost sucks.

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09 June 2007


Final OK/CO Trip Pics

Last sets of pics from the Oklahoma/Colorado trip.

Pike's Peak: Set here; example below.

Mack 3

Denver: Set here; example below.

Reds at Rockies 3

Sorry, but the Denver pics were shot with my Treo 650, so they're pretty crappy.

Spent much of this past week at the FAA Tech Center in Atlantic City. Have some phone cam pics from that trip, but not really much to look at. They're yet to be messed with in any substantive fashion. They put us up at the Trump Taj Mahal. We're talking serious gaudiness, people.

Excepting bars, I had forgotten what it was like to be inside in a place where people smoked; i.e., the casinos. Yikes. Came out ahead a few dollars on the blackjack, though. Big spender, etc.

We're off to Chattanooga for Saturday night. We'll visit there with a cousin on m dad's side. Then Sunday, we're at my mom's family's annual reunion on Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama. Maybe they're having the Alabama fan appreciation this weekend, again, too. What do you know? They are. But no Bonnaroo this weekend; that's next weekend.

Back home Sunday night for what I hope is a while. As much as I love it, I've been doing too much traveling.

Best wishes to all.

01 June 2007


Continuing the Travelogue

Wednesday, we drove from Hooker, Oklahoma, to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We went west, following the Cimarron River through Cimarron County, Oklahoma, and into northeast New Mexico. Then we made our way to Colorado Springs by taking a detour to see Bishop Castle, something truly amazing and wonderful, and all the continuing work of one man.

Cimarron River Valley set here; example below.


Bishop Castle set here; example below.

Dragon Sky

We're currently in Denver. Going with our buddy TRJ tonight to see the Reds play the Rockies at Coors Field.

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