Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frankenstein's Mistake

When you hear (or, in this case, see) the word "Frankenstein" what comes to mind? Something like, say, this?

Understandable. Do a search for that term and you'll see a bunch of such images.

You, and the coding at the search engines, would be wrong, of course.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All things being equal...

An idiot who happens to agree with you is no less of an idiot than one with whom you disagree.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Did you hear about NPR?

If you paid attention to the media at all last week you heard about NPR firing Juan Williams, and attributing that to remarks he made on The O'Reilly Factor. And NPR has largely been criticized for that, although it seems fairly obvious (and Williams himself felt) that they had been looking for a reason to give him the axe.

Are we to interpret the intent behind the firing of Williams was to be a punishment—as denying him the reward of having the job he did? Obviously it didn't work out that way; if anything, firing him was a reward, freeing him up to get a better-paying gig at Fox News. But was it supposed to be a punishment?

Eh, probably not. Even as inept as those behind the decision demonstrated themselves to be, they couldn't have been so daft as to think that Williams would be cast out into some journalistic void with no possible prospects. More likely they knew he had a chair waiting for him over at Fox News, perhaps even perceiving him as having one foot out the door given the number of appearances he made there, and finally concluded it was time to cut him loose.

It's almost as though they fully grasped that they'd get some bad press for how it would come off, but (here's the rub): NPR would be in the press. Think about it: When was the last time you heard NPR get mentioned by the entire media in this way?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Post #1000 Extravaganza. Or Not.

This is the thousandth post here on the blahg (and after only six and a half years), and thus I am faced with the challenge of deciding what to do about that.

On the surface, it seems noteworthy because one-thousand seems like a number worthy of commemoration, but other than being the point where whole numbers change from three digits to four what is particularly special about it? Ultimately that aspect holds no intrinsic value save what we have been convinced to imbue upon it. If one is impressed, is not nine-hundred ninety-nine not also pretty darned impressive? (If someone handed you a check for $999 would you rip it up because it wasn't $1000?)

I'd thought of making a big deal out of the post where the number corresponded with the highest prime number that's still under one-thousand (nine-hundred ninety-seven), but I didn't remember to pay attention and the opportunity to do so obviously has now passed. Not that a prime number is any less arbitrary, but it would have appealed to any nascent math nerd fan base I may inadvertently be developing for the site.

Nonetheless, I have devoted sufficient attention at this point to realize that #1000 is here, stepping into the batter's box (so to speak), and thus if I find myself inclined to make a big deal of it, I need to make that decision. Even as dismissive as I was above about it holding significance, as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing about it now there's no denying that I've been brainwashed convinced of it being potentially noteworthy. The proverbial cow has escaped the barn; closing the door is pointless.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Even more Portland adventures

For the 999th post on this blahg I direct you to... my other blog (the one devoted to my photography). Recent posts (numbers 521, 522, and 523) over there have continued shots from a trip to Portland, featuring, among other subjects:

Pittock Mansion

Belmont Street

Tanner Springs Park.

And miscellaneous shots from around the house of the friend we visited.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Yankee Series

With Fox carrying the World Series and hoping for better ratings there, the fact that the Yankees have been eliminated from the post season must leave the Fox executives concerned. While true fans of baseball find it interesting that the Rangers finally make it to the Fall Classic—reducing the number of teams that have never played in the series down to two: their American League West compatriots the Seattle Mariners, and the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos)—it's unlikely that games played in The Ballpark in Arlington would draw as many eyeballs as games played in the new Yankee Stadium. Or the old Yankee Stadium.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Violence is bad. Hooray for violence.

Two big stories from last weekend were the NFL cracking down on violent hits in their games and Jackass 3-D setting an October box office record (unseating The Social Network from the top spot it held for the two weekends previous). One is a group deciding that they want to take steps to reduce injuries in a violent situation; the other is a group deciding that they want to subject themselves to violent situations designed to result in injury. Both proved very lucrative, indicating people have an interest in seeing the infliction of damage, be that upon another highly paid athlete or on oneself by a self-proclaimed "jackass."

However, it seems more likely that the typical American mother would be much more proud of a son who makes it to play for a football team, making money for purposefully performing physical punishment upon others than she would be of a son who chooses to punish himself for the amusement of others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Specious Origins: Why it doesn't matter if you teach evolution or creationism

When it comes to the ostensible dichotomy of evolution and creationism, there are people who believe one explanation and people who believe the other, and both groups passionately contend that their view should be taught in public schools and that the other view is harmful to the young minds.

Both sides are wrong, but not for the reason you're thinking.

Last night I saw a story on the news where the Delaware senatorial candidates debated that very topic. The thrust of the article focused on how Tea Party darling and non-witch Christine O'Donnell appeared to question that the First Amendment mandates the separation of church and state when "taxman" Chris Coons alluded to that. (See for yourself.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"I'd like to register a complaint, please"

Here's the joke: Why did humans invent language? So we could complain! (Ba-dump-chick!)

Like the best humor it's funny because it's true—or, at least, it carries a sense of "truthiness." Even conceding that communication serves more of a purpose than merely that, there's little quibbling that we have more language than is necessary for merely the utilitarian purposes of living in groups.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

And the loser is not...

In the last post I alluded to the governor's race in New York. Here in California we have Whitman and Brown, both of whom seem to be running on the platform of spotlighting how much worse the other one is.

It almost seems like the ballot should be reworked so that rather than voting in favor of one candidate you would instead identify the candidate who you'd most NOT want to see in office, and then the governor's office would be given to the one who was shown as least objectionable.

That way, when nothing got done, it would be as expected; the purpose was merely to not screw up in any significant way.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I find myself liking the idea of politicians like New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, even though I don't care for people like New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Most politicians are so guarded about their actual opinions that the only basis one has as a voter to try to determine whether a candidate would represent him/her is a series of vague platitudes designed to avoid offending anyone. Ordinarily it takes a lot of digging by a candidate's opposition to find something that reveals the candidate's fundamental beliefs in a way that allows for gauging how well those beliefs match or differ from the voter's. Paladino has the gumption to come out on a major news interview and declare his disgust with homosexuality. He spells out how he found witnessing a gay pride parade to be "not right" when talking to an orthodox Jewish group while a camera obviously records the speech mere feet away.

Truly fascinating, especially from this coast.

Obviously, I don't live in New York so I won't have the opportunity to vote for any candidate on their ballot, but I can use his own words to make up my own mind about whether I would support him on Election Day.

I wouldn't, more than likely, because as is well documented I'm one of those wackjobs who does consider homosexual love to be as valid as heterosexual love, and thus at a core level Paladino would not represent that aspect of my beliefs. Or really any of my beliefs. However, in a way, I do respect that he didn't mask it or pretend to be something he's not. I get a definite scuzball vibe from him when I see him in interviews, and while I don't find that appealing as a person there is something refreshingly open about it as a voter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


When people enter an airport they are funneled through a structured area as they go through the security checkpoint; the queue of humans is cordoned off with stanchions and employees keeping things relatively organized.

Then those same people get to the gate for their flight, and the onus to maintain order is left up to those same people who couldn't be trusted minutes earlier. The waiting area by the gate has a counter behind which the employees make announcements about which group gets to board, and there's a bunch of chairs where the pending passengers sit. Beyond that, there's no structure imposed on the space, so when the staff starts announcing who gets to board, people coming from multiple directions to that point of entry at the gate have to queue up with nothing but the patience of some and the pushiness of others to guide them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Now that we've passed the date on the 2010 calendar that read October 10 we can rejoice in the knowledge that there's only two more dates this century where some people will get all excited about the coincidence of the number of days into the month matching the number of months into the year and the number of years into the century. Twenty-six months from today we'll have the last such date (December 12, 2012, or as it will be touted, 12/12/12) until January 1, 2101.

If humanity is still around then, I'm sure the novelty of that date will make it equally popular as the matching day-month-year days have been (and will continue to be) for the first dozen years of this century to schedule weddings (especially if it falls on a weekend).

If our species does not make it until that point and aliens land to review what's left of our civilization, allow me to explain why this arbitrary aspect of our means of marking the passage of time struck a certain portion of the population as being a more prized day to schedule an event.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"Good morning"

Another real life adventure:

In the morning I leave the condo, walk three blocks east then one block south and get to the platform for the train. Generally the only thing that delays that trek is if I catch a red light at any of the intersections I must cross. One morning last week it was something else.

As I exited the building and started east down the sidewalk there was a man crossing the street and then walking down the alley that bisects the block. I noticed he glanced over toward me, took a few more steps, then glanced toward me again. As I approached he turned and came back to the sidewalk.

He wore a wide-brimmed straw hat and tie-dyed t-shirt, and held a plastic bag with some green leafy vegetables poking out of the top, suggesting he'd just come from the market. "Excuse me," he said. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" I replied with slight apology that I had a train to catch. "That doesn't matter," he retorted with a noticeable twinge of annoyance. I wasn't blowing him off—well, not entirely—I did, in fact, have a train to catch. "I'm not weird," he continued.

"I didn't say you were," I noted, by this point committed to the conversation by default.

He went on to explain that he said "Good morning" to people to see what the reaction was. He paused, so I gave an "Uh, okay" in acknowledgment. Then he looked me in the eye with great intent and said "Good morning."

With that gauntlet thrown down I replied "Good morning" back, looking him square in the face and smiling.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Dummy Sanchez

When I read about Rick Sanchez getting fired from CNN for some remarks the host made on a satellite radio show I must admit I was shocked.

I wasn't shocked that Sanchez would put his foot in his mouth so deeply, nor was I shocked that he'd be canned for saying what he did.

I was shocked that CNN was still on the air, much less that such a moron had still been employed on it.


I think that CNN fired him not so much for calling Jon Stewart a "bigot," but because he didn't know how to use "bigot" correctly. It's not a demand for political correctness; it's a demand for rudimentary grasp of vocabulary.

Friday, October 01, 2010

It's a funny thing (not a political thing)

On a politically themed podcast I heard recently they touched on the upcoming Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies (which I mentioned last week). They did expressly mention how it was an obvious parody of Glenn Beck (everyone seems to be on-board with that), and reflected on how these rallies were now only being held by TV personalities, and how that has been accepted as the new paradigm for expressing political views. It was noted how apparently there was some concern by Democrats that the timing of the events (on the Saturday before Election Day) could take away from the chances of that party (in that those who might volunteer in door-to-door get-out-the-vote efforts (not that the panelists were of that opinion). One panelist thought the rallies brought a necessary bit of fun to the side that's lacking in enthusiasm, while the others were skeptical that reaching disaffected voters was best achieved through the "fur coat of irony."

I continue to be amused and bemused by the way two silly shows on a comedy channel are considered to be leading voices for a political party. These rallies are not striving to encourage the ostensible agenda of one party or the other; the one is suggesting that it would be spiffy if those who are acting in alarmist ways could "take it down a notch" and the other is lampooning that alarmist rhetoric. They're not get-out-the-vote events; they're entertainment presented by entertainers.