Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ball Girl Crazy Catch

A. This is pretty damn cool.
B. There is no way this is real.

The "Turk" A False Automaton, Genuine Fascination

A pseudo automaton that beat Napoleon, Ben Franklin and other notables in chess and may have helped spawn the genesis of computers, pretty damned cool:
The Turk or Automaton Chess Player was a chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, exhibited from 1770 for over 84 years, by various owners, as an automaton but later explained in January 1857 as an elaborate hoax . Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard once and only once.

Pearl Jam Black

This is, by far, my favorite Pearl Jam song.

Just Wondering.....

Is it bad to drink more than six espressos at a sitting?

PETA Vs. Wimbledon

PETA has their cruelty free, gigantic panties in a knot over the shooting of pigeons at Wimbledon:
LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - Wimbledon came under fire from animal activists on Tuesday for using marksmen to shoot down dive-bombing pigeons.
The tournament employs two hawks to scare away pigeons who had become a pest swooping down on Centre Court and distracting players in the middle of tense matches.
But the hawks failed to keep the pigeons away from the players’ lawn and the open-air media restaurant so marksmen were called in.
It's sad, even tragic when a living thing is killed - even a rat with wings, but let's have some perspective here shall we? Pick your battles PETA, perhaps then people won't think you are so utterly ridiculous.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hard Times At Douglass High

Hard Times At Douglass High is a program on HBO which details the difficulties a urban Baltimore high school experiences in complying with the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001". Some observations:
  • On any given day Frederick Douglass High School manages a 83% attendance rate.
  • Many, if not most students skip their first class.
  • FDHS has 500+ freshmen and 180 seniors. Half to two thirds of the freshmen will drop out by their senior year.
  • One student passed the state Algebra exam.
  • In 2004 only ten percent of FDHS students passed the state reading test, one percent passed the math test.
  • Two thirds of the teachers are non certified, many are substitutes who are not qualified in the subject they are teaching.
  • They have an audio and video recording center, Johny can neither read, write nor divide but he has been well equipped at your expense to make rap videos.
  • FDHS were state champs in basketball.
  • The teachers and staff seem well intentioned, but are hopelessly inadequate to the task.
  • Some teachers were upset over their less than glowing evaluations even though only 3 of their 25 students were passing.
  • One teacher laments that the few parents who attended the parent - teacher meeting were the parents of students who were doing so well he didn't really need to speak with them. Go figure.
  • Another teacher laments that there is no funding behind NCLB, opining that the whole thing is a scheme to keep the uneducated poor in their place.
  • The rant after the basketball loss is all you need know about the psychology of victimhood.
  • The basketball coach should be shit canned for failing to instruct his student athletes about the importance of taking responsibility, win, lose or draw.
  • No amount of money will improve this school.

NCLB is not the problem here, no more than the X-Ray that shows a spot on your lung is responsible for killing you. These children come from broken homes, fractured neighborhoods and have been screwed by a useless educational system their entire lives. If nothing else, NLCB mandated testing prevents these kids from get passed on no better than they came in.

What's The Dutch Word For Moron?

Some maroons in the Netherlands think the world will end in 2012:
"You know, maybe it's really not that bad that the Netherlands will be destroyed," Petra Faile said. "I don't like it here anymore. Take immigration, for example. They keep letting people in. And then we have to build more houses, which makes the Netherlands even heavier. The country will sink even lower, which will make the flooding worse."

I thinks it's idioot or something like that, just as it was in English before the Normans screwed up our fine Anglo-Saxon tongue.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Not a thing in the world to be upset about.

Curt Schilling contemplates retirement:
22 years ago January the Boston Red Sox picked a Freshman Pitcher from Yavapai Junior College (the best JC team in the nation btw!) in the 2nd round of the (Last!) January Draft.

3 World Series rings, 3k innings plus later, there’s a chance it’s all over...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gloucester Teen Pregnancies

GLOUCESTER, Mass. - A pact made by a group of teens to get pregnant and raise their babies together is at least partly behind a sudden spike in pregnancies at Gloucester High School, school officials said.
Principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine in a story published Wednesday that the girls confessed to making the pact after the school began investigating a rise in pregnancies that has left 17 girls at the school carrying a child. Normally, there are about four pregnancies a year at the school.

What could have caused this?
Mayor Carolyn Kirk told The Associated Press on Friday that many factors are involved in the surge in pregnancies in her community, a hardscrabble fishing village which has fallen on tough economic times and cut teachers and services, including some health classes.

Yeah, that's it - lack of health classes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

W.B. Yeats "The Fisherman"

Although I can see him still.
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped 'twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.
Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, 'Before I am old
I shall have written him one
poem maybe as cold
and passionate as the dawn.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Number 17, Finally!

(from left to right: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce of the NBA Champion Boston Celtics)

It's been a long time coming. The world was "out of kilter" for 22 years! There now, finally fixed. I feel better already.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yankee's Wang Out Until September

Sometimes headlines write themselves and no, this isn't about an incident in Central Park:
Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang is expected to be sidelined until at least September after injuring his foot running the bases, prompting club co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner to chastise the National League for playing without a designated hitter.
An examination in New York on Monday showed Wang partially tore a tendon and sprained his right foot Sunday during the Yankees’ 13-0 interleague win at Houston. He will be on crutches and wear a protective boot for a minimum of six weeks, the latest blow to the team’s banged-up pitching staff.

I'll be surprised if he comes back at all this year. With out Wang, the Yankees have very little chance of making the playoffs this year.

Hemingway Liked To Drink

Fishing, writing, fist fights with Wallace Stevens and in between Ernest Hemingway liked to drink too.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, Rest in Peace

There are very few talking heads that I can stand, Tim Russert was one of them. If only every member of the fourth estate were as able, fair, tough and serious. May he rest in peace.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shorter "Boumediene"

For those who don't want to wade through the entire 134-page (including dissents and concurring opinions) Boumediene v. Bush ruling here's the condensed version:
Justice Robert H. Jackson: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, et al.: "Oh, yes it is!"
If you do want to read the whole thing, here's a link to the pdf.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Nanny State Rids Britain Of Slide With 50 Year Record Of Safety

It's hard to believe these people once had an empire and civilised the world:
For half a century youngsters have enjoyed the 10ft slide in the playground, with no more serious mishap than the occasional bruise or grazed knee. Many of the parents bringing their children had themselves played on the towering steel structure years ago. The tradition has, however, been brought to an abrupt halt by that modern scourge, health and safety.
What a bunch of pansies. There does seem to be at least one sane Briton left:
Local Conservative councillor James Hutchings said: ‘It’s completely mad the way we are being run ragged by the health-and-safety mafia. ‘Children are not going to learn how to judge risks - or how to have fun - if challenging play equipment such as this is denied them. ‘If there hadn’t been an accident in 50 years then the chances are there’s not much wrong with this slide.’
Conservatism, is there nothing it can't do other than successfully combat aggressive nannyism?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pointy Comic: xkcd


Esquire: Snipers in Iraq

Esquire has a fine story about American snipers in Iraq. I know next to nothing about the particulars of the story, but something bothered me:
Hensley said, "If he pokes his head up again, I'm going to take him out." He did not have a high-powered sniper's rifle. He had the basic rifle of the American infantry, the M4. It is basically a .22. The guy across the river was anywhere from three hundred to four hundred meters away. It is not the kind of shot typically made with an M4.
Again, I don't know much about the particulars, but I do know that 5.56 mm is pretty damned different than a .22, as clearly illustrated in the picture above. I also know that shooting a man at three hundred meters or four hundred meters isn't all that hard to do with rifle, even an M4. Hell, I must have killed dozens of prairie dogs at nearly that distance with my civilian M4 and prairie dogs are a hell of a lot smaller than a man. The point is, this is a small detail easy to verify and understand, if the author is wrong on this little detail how are we supposed to believe the rest of the story?


Every once in a while I get a hankering for a Gyro, preferably from a place called Dino's, George's or The Olympia - don't ask me why. With lots of fresh made tzatziki and an iced coffee, I'm in heaven.

Obama, Jim Johnson an Auspicious Beginning

CHICAGO (AFP) - Democrat Barack Obama was roiled by another campaign scandal Wednesday when a key advisor resigned amid damaging reports that he had received preferential home loans.
Although Jim Johnson, who has been leading the hunt for a vice presidential candidate, denies any favorable treatment for his home loan, the accusations could dent Obama's image as an untarnished newcomer who has vowed to clean up Washington politics.
Johnson, a former chief executive of mortgage giant Fannie Mae, resigned just hours after Obama took part in a round table in Chicago highlighting the impact of predatory lending on Americans.
Smooth move. Remind me again how Obama became the Democratic party's candidate for President? A willing, complicit press, identity politics and the inability of at least half of Americans to think critically. Now Obama will pick Lani Guinier as his running mate as further proof of his good judgement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's Someone For Everybody

How's your lovelife?
MONTERREY, Mexico - Manuel Uribe, who once weighed a half ton but has slimmed down to about 700 pounds, celebrates his 43rd birthday on Wednesday with a simple wish for the coming year: to be able to stand on his own two feet to get married.
He lost 300 pounds, he's a rail a veritable rail.

Fishing Monkeys

BANGKOK, Thailand - Long-tailed macaque monkeys have a reputation for knowing how to find food — whether it be grabbing fruit from jungle trees or snatching a banana from a startled tourist. Now, researchers say they have discovered groups of the silver-haired monkeys in Indonesia that fish.
Groups of long-tailed macaques were observed four times over the past eight years scooping up small fish with their hands and eating them along rivers in East Kalimantan and North Sumatra provinces, according to researchers from The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust.

How long can it be before they fashion bamboo fly rods?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hit and Run in Hartford

Central Connecticut is in uproar over a hit and run incident that paralysed a 78 year old Hartford man from the neck down. If that wasn't bad enough, the incident caught on video shows that the good people of Hartford stood by and drove by without offering aid, although at least three people promptly called 911.
From the governor on down people are wringing their wrists wondering how we came to be this way. I'll tell you. When, from the governor on down, you let the little things slide don't be surprised when pernicious assholes drive through your streets as if in a shitty Vin Diesel movie. When more people are familiar with and believe the phrase "snitches end up in ditches" than know or believe Edmund Burke's well worn phrase "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing", don't expect to be able to buy milk at the corner bodega with impunity.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's Not Queen

The gayest album cover ever. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Papa Doble

This recipe is making me thirsty:

2 oz white rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
¼ oz maraschino liqueur
1½ to 2 cups shaved ice
Combine in a blender and frappe until the drink is foaming. Serve in a large cocktail glass, champagne saucer, or goblet. Note: maraschino liqueur is NOT the same thing as syrup from a cherry jar. Fire any liquor store that tells you otherwise.

Thanks For The C-Note

I bet a friend $100 bucks last year that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee for president. He, like Hillary apparently, thought it was a done deal. In my wildest dreams I would not have predicted Obama's victory, I just knew that no one stays on top for 12 months. I would rather have parted with the $100 than face the possibility of another Carter administration except this time the faux wizard behind the curtain is inoculated from criticism by a complicit press and white, liberal guilt. A third Clinton administration although horrible to contemplate, would be forced to govern from the center due to her inherent unpopularity and Velcro like ability to gather criticism.