Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain picks VP candidate

From Revtim on Straight Dope msg board (thx to anya):

Funny McCain/Palin headlines (if you're juvenile like me)

On my phone the CNN Mobile headline was something like
"McCain Taps Palin."

On Yahoo news there was one that said
"McCain picks Palin as surprise No. 2"
which of course makes think that at his age, a surprise No. 2 might not really be news...

But I think the main question we need to answer is: Who's hotter, Michelle Obama, or Sarah Palin?

Monday, August 25, 2008

what i've been doing...

Had dinner with a cousin in CA recently.
Great time. Dinner and drinks, lots of catching up. Retrieving our cars from the parking garage I discovered I’d lost the keys to my rental car. While I spent 15 minutes ransacking my backpack, they locked the exit gate to the parking garage, so we now had NO car.
Decided to walk to my hotel (2-3 miles). Being directionally challenged I turned the wrong way and we walked about a half mile in the wrong direction.
It was late, so we bummed a ride with someone getting gas, but since that was almost doing something successfully, we cleverly left my cousin’s cell phone in her car to keep our stupidity streak going. Actually, to be fair up til then it had been solely *my* stupidity streak. But anyway, it sounds like we were both hammered, but let me assure you (Mom) that it was not so...

Anyway, the next day I discovered that:
a) Enterprise’s Loss/Damage Waiver doesn’t cover keys.
b) AAA will handle it (for a fee), but wanted to tow the car to the dealer first.
c) Late-model cars have really expensive high-security keys ($100 and up)
At lunch I went back to the restaurant where we’d eaten and found they had my key. I was so happy I asked the girl who gave it to me if she’d marry me, but she just laughed and assumed I was joking.
From now on when the car rental company gives me two keys, my policy is going to be to cut the little cord and save one key in a safe place. If they don’t like it, they can bite me.
Never did find the phone. The girl who has it is named Chevonne and she drives a yellow VW beetle; that’s pretty much all we know about that.
Asked around the next day and found out that if you drive up to the gate in the parking garage, it will open automatically to let you out. :-/
So that's the end of that story. Then I found five dollars.

Last week I stayed at the Historic Santa Maria Inn. They have stars on the doors telling the names of famous ppl who have stayed there; the ones in my hallway that I noticed were Rudolph Valentino, Kim Novak, Gregory Peck, Gloria Swanson, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau; my room had Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. So anyway, there’s that…

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some of my many opinions

Mark Spitz was not invited to the Beijing olympics and is in a minor snit about it. I think he's an idiot and needs to get over himself. Seems like even the person writing the article found him annoying and couldn’t help putting in a little dig about how his show business career never really took off like he’d hoped. In any case, reading his comments make me think maybe people knew him and that's why he didn't get invited...

I find this article on Beijing gymnastics a nice piece of writing. No, it’s not War & Peace, but for what it is, I think it’s a job well done…

The Spanish basketball team is in trouble for making slanty-eyes in an advertisement.
It was dumb. Someone should have realized at some point that maybe this was a bad idea. And I would expect any number of the Spanish basketballers to be racist to some degree – pretty much all of us are. (In my experience, people who feel the need to announce that they are not racist are almost always the least educated on racial issues, the least self-aware, and the most racist people in the room.)


a) I think there are contexts within which one could highlight the eye thing -- one of the single most obvious differentiating features between our phenotypes -- without it automatically being an issue of malice, or racism. We are “round-eyes”, they’re not. Noting that is not in itself racist.

b) painting with an extremely broad brush, if we were to rank various cultures’ “xenophobic-ness” based on my limited experience/impressions, I’d put the Chinese up near the top.
I can understand Beijing’s taking offense. But I can also believe that for some players it could have been done with a large measure of innocence, and understand their suspicion that the whole thing is an issue of the media looking to stir up controversy...

I know I’m starting to sound like Ted Kasczcszcynski, but once again the guv’mint is being assholes. There are apparently a lot of people born in South Texas who were delivered by midwives and so don’t have birth certificates. Add the fact that (in exchange for cash) some midwives were apparently making false statements about who was born in the USA to help people fraudulently get citizenship. So now we have people being refused passports because they have no way to prove they’re Amerkins. But is this really where the terrorist threat lies -with people who’ve lived their whole lives here?
And what’s worse: to give someone like that – who is effectively socially indistinguishable from his neighbor who was born here – a passport when he doesn’t deserve it, or to deny a legitimate citizen a passport on the basis of paperwork that might be impossible to produce, thereby preventing him from making a living?
People need perspective.

I saw Robin Williams last weekend – he was right behind me in a crowd of people in Seattle. I have a thing about wanting to be chill with famous people and not fawn over them or bug them. So anyway...
Bryan [over shoulder]: Love your work, dude.
RW: Thanks, dude.
Guess that was my 15 minutes...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nice reasoning powers, man…

Somebody posted this about how evil psychiatrists and psych meds are.

And okay, apparently the field sometimes attracts people who really ought to be on the other side of the counter.
And brain chemistry can be famously complicated, individual, and difficult to regulate, even with the best meds.

But of course, what’s left out is:

a) you can take *any* profession make a list of nutjobs who did horrifying things while practicing that career;

b) WRT to people who did things while under psychiatric care, or while taking meds: well, DUH. They’re crazy people – that’s why they were on meds and under care.
Ted Bundy sometimes wore a cast on his arm or leg as part of his MO to attract the young women he killed; clearly casts make people crazy.
Similarly, most ppl on whom CPR is performed die. Why? Because the only people we do CPR on is *dead* people. CPR does not cause dead people. Psych meds *can* make people crazy, but not as often as they make crazy people able to function. Association is not causation.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and PS. A final thought from The Tick:*
And, isn't sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you're good and crazy, oooh, oooh, oooh, the sky is the limit.

*thx to Cal

Since this post has generated such a firestorm of comment, let me add this (thanks to Izabella):

* Some of the cases listed were situations where people had gone *off* their meds before killing people, or hadn't been taking them long enough to build up to effective levels in a person's system.
* Marilyn Monroe's mother was institutionalized for much of her life; Marilyn had mood disorders in her family, and took recreational drugs. Some ppl are going to do what they're going to do no matter how much time they spend with their therapist.
* sociopaths can be close to impossible to diagnose and "treat"; it’s a little weak to hold psychiatrists accountable for what these people do.

Friday, August 08, 2008

nefarious and sundry

This info on how much information Google was ordered to turn over is kind of cool, at least if you're a geek like me.

This story of people exchanging bad money disturbs me. AFAIC, the govt has a burden of proof in showing the money's NOT legitimate before they go confiscating it. That they can do it so easily makes me scared.

Some people got offended by a role-playing game in which one of the strategies is apparently to feed your princess so much that she becomes fat and is therefore more difficult for your opponent to carry away. It seems to me that it's actually a positive thing in the sense that they assume you'd still *want* to carry her away (ie, it's a nice break from the traditional societal message that fat=unattractive). Just saying.

I was in the airport recently (Baltimore, I think) and saw a wall ad that said:

SUV is to your old processor
as hybrid is to ______
(answer: AMD opteron processor).

It's mildly frustrating that they got the A-is-to-B-as-C-is-to-X thing wrong.
When you say
A is to B as C is to ____
you're saying that there's a relationship between A & B which is paralleled in the relationship between C & [something].

There is no relationship between SUV and your old processor; the comparison should read:
SUV is to hybrid as your old processor is to [AMD processor].
It's clearly not as catchy, but at least it's correctly laid out...
You're welcome. ;-)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

all about me, august 2008

lemme see, went to CO for family reunion, NJ for business, DC to see family, TX for business.

came back, did a tiny deck project with a friend in seattle, then went camping for the weekend.

tonight i got to go to a bday party with traditional russian food, not to mention friends, drinking, toasts, singing, etc -- much fun had by all.

on friday i had an epiphanal moment: on the way back from my friend's house in south seattle, i got lost. for over an hour. i tried to cut around traffic and ended up nowhere near where i wanted to be. and it took me 70 minutes to get to somewhere that enabled me to find my way home. total travel time for what should have been a 35 minute trip: 1:45.

i asked for directions 4 times, and got good ones only once ("I-90 is back that way!" shouted the young men with do-rags and gold teeth. they were right.) and yes, i probably shouldn't have asked directions from the two 300-yr-old men with bottles in their jackets at mid-day who probably haven't owned a car in 10 yrs. my bad on that one. but the goth girl and the ethiopian shopkeeper seemed like they knew what they were talking about -- too bad they were talking about streets that apparently only exist in their minds...

news flash: i have no sense of direction. i suck at puzzles involving spatial concepts (if you wrapped this polyhedron in paper, then removed the paper and spread it out, which shape would you have? i don't know -- that effed-up-looking one, i bet....)

if i walk into a building and take one turn, i immediately lose all idea what direction the entrance is in; if i get into and out of an elevator, the act of turning around 180 degrees wipes my brain clean of all directional references.

when driving, the only way for me to remember N/S/E/W is to visualize in which direction I might find Canada/Mexico/The Pacific Ocean/Pennsylvania. (No, I don't know why Pennsylvania -- that just represents East to me...)

i would make the world's worst spy.

so my epiphany is this: there is no excuse for me not to have a GPS. they apparently cost less than $300 now. if you added up the value of the time i've wasted driving aimlessly hoping to run into something familiar, you could more than pay for a GPS.

you don't see paraplegic people dragging themselves along the sidewalk because they're too proud to buy a wheelchair, do you? no, i didn't think so. i rest my case.

so: anyone got a recommendation on a GPS? i'm thinking a Garmin...