Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

The Saints of Science!

October 13, 2012


Context if you’ve never seen saints bracelets before.

Via reddit


In case you missed it: George R R on Wait Wait

September 18, 2012

Mr. Martin Himself was on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me this weekend. Click here for a listen.

They went over the usual things you’ve heard (turtles, friends becoming characters in the books). It was pretty funny though, especially this part:

P. J. O’ROURKE: George, this is P. J. I have a question. Did this proceed from a personal fantasy of your own?

MARTIN: Well, you know, if you go back to my childhood again…

O’ROURKE: Yeah, that’s what I actually meant, from a childhood fantasy.

MARTIN: The only pets that I could have were turtles. And I had this castle, this toy castle made of tin. And it was just big enough for two of those turtle bowls that you bought in…

O’ROURKE: Yeah, in the five and dime, yeah.

MARTIN: …Woolworth’s store. And so I kept all my turtles inside the castle. And since they lived in a castle, I decided they were all knights and kings and I started making up stories where they betrayed each other.


MARTIN: And they would die.

O’ROURKE: Wonderful.

MARTIN: You know, these knights were turtles, like die if you looked if you look at them crooked.

O’ROURKE: Right, yeah, I remember.

SAGAL: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that the original model for the warring houses of Stark and Lannister were two turtles?



MARTIN: So Turtle Castle, that was the root of the whole thing, yes.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Well let me ask one question here, because what I’m hearing is that there’s a lot of sex in this and I’m not sure…

PIERCE: How did you get there from turtles?


MARTIN: Yeah, the turtles didn’t have sex.

ROBERTS: No, no, no, but…

MARTIN: I was not into turtle sex.

ROBERTS: But is there more sex in your world than in other fantasies? I’m the impression that there’s this whole…

PIERCE: It is a fantasy, Roxanne.

February 24, 2012

This The Hobbit book cover-derived mug is sufficient. From Etsy

The Hobbit book cover by J.R.R. Tolkien 11 ounce mug, Lord of the Rings

Two losses

October 18, 2010

Wow, two big losses while I was away from the blogging. Both made their marks as outsiders, and both excelled at making complexity simple. Many would be upset with my mentioning Eyedea in the same sentence as Benoit Mandelbrot, but he was a mindblowing MC and a Twin Cities native. That said, Mandelbrot was perhaps the most important mathematician of the last half-century.

Benoit Mandelbrot has been a major influence on the way I view the world. For the record, he’s a lot more than fractals. He used his unique ability to visualize and conceptualize mathematical concepts to create connections throughout fields from biology to finance. Along with behavioral finance, Hindu philosophy and existentialism, his ideas spoke to me at basic levels: With everything I believed and disbelieved as I grew up, the ideas made much more sense than some of the “all-encompassing” answers I was being taught in finance classes. In my opinion, a finance-heavy MBA program is a waste of money without serious study of the objections posed by Mandelbrot. The (Mis)behavior of Markets is required reading–the first half, knocking down established theories of finance, is much more important than the second half. Anyway, read that, and go from there. If you want to stay away from numbers, James Gleick’s book Chaos is an incredibly well-written second read.

“In a different era, I would have called myself a natural philosopher. All my life, I have enjoyed the reputation of being someone who disrupted prevailing ideas. Now that I’m in my 80th year, I can play on my age and provoke people even more.” – Benoit Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot’s now officially retired from the business of disrupting others, and has departed onward through the fractal.

October 2, 2010

“Perhaps my personality means that I’ll crash into brick walls wherever I go. I can accept it all, even if in the end I crack my skull open.”

-Liu Xiaobo in 1986. Now a Nobel Peace Prize favorite, and serving an 11-year sentence in China for subversion.

Coming next month: The Tea Party Coloring Book for Adults

September 29, 2010

For now, you’ll have to make do with The Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids. Really.

CBS reported that the publisher claims to have received death threats over this. (Fox News and its outlets were also all over that little tidbit). Do I believe the “very liberal” publisher when he says he has received death threats over this coloring book? Yes, sure. I also know customer service reps receive death threats from wackos… Celebrities know they’ve hit the B or A lists when the threats start flowing… Paul the Octopus handled death threats with poise… And, wait, weren’t the Tea Party DC protests full of not-so-veiled threats to come back with guns next time? But back then that was patriotic ’cause 2nd Amendment and God-given and shooting people and such. A real Tea Party coloring book would have a page dedicated to threats and an extra white crayon for when yours runs out by page four. Instead, this one shows 50 percent minority Tea Party members on the cover!? Please.

I’m willing to bet the coloring book threats came from people who also write daily diatribes to Clifford the Dog. Also, I’m joking about the adult version… unless I make one myself.

Masturbation as political commentary

September 22, 2010

Christine O’Donnell started it, Dan Savage finishes it… “I hereby declare every day between now and November 2–when O’Donnell’s nomination costs the GOP a Senate seat–to be Masturbate to Christine O’Donnell Day.” Please do not let there be any posters.

Richard Swift and Damien Jurado release free covers album

September 2, 2010

Tourmates Richard Swift and Damien Jurado recorded nine covers a couple of weekends ago. That they recorded on fourtrack, then released the album within two weeks, is proof that DIY is alive and well. It’s also free and it’s really good. Other People’s Songs, Vol. 1 is worth a listen if you at all like ’60s folk and R&B.

I first heard Richard Swift opening for Stereolab. The entire set was amazing, but when he performed Lady Luck it felt like Al Green was in the room–I am not exaggerating in the least. RS writes and produces incredible time-faded folk and R&B music, and I’d put him up there with Neil Young for his quality and breadth of songwriting. If the world were just, he’d be co-headlining arenas with The Arcade Fire. I randomly stumbled onto the album, which was announced this morning on RS’s myspace, while listening to the Mynabirds (another Swift project) on

I have a dream…

August 28, 2010

I read Martin Luther King’s speech this morning, and you should too. I don’t, however, recommend turning on the TV today.

Entire speech posted from, I updated a couple of spots where the text doesn’t match the speech

I Have a Dream – Address at March on Washington

August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men–yes, black men as well as white men–would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Iowa State Fair “biggest steer” award went to a clone

August 28, 2010

Welcome to the future, where cloning a past winner beats breeding the old way. I know clones aren’t duplicates, and that the size is affected by environment. And yes, the “old way,” usually involves getting a bull to hump a table then jamming a metal tube in a cow. But doesn’t this defeat the entire reason the contest was set up? The judges are allowing it.

I was at the IA fair this year; I kind of want my money back now.

(The DM Register broke the story this morning)

Seen G-Clooney’s awesome butterfly tattoo, brah?

August 26, 2010

Have you? It cracks me up every time I see that commercial for The American. The people behind the film say it’s symbolic. I say it’s epic.

In other news, Conan started a fight…

August 24, 2010

Conan picked a twitter ‘follower’ war with LeVar Burton today. It’s sad to see him start something he has no way of finishing.

Trail running

August 24, 2010

I ran my first trail yesterday, and can tell my first marathon will NOT be an off-road one. At only 4.5 miles, it felt like 8. Part of that pain was from my purposeful attempt to find the hilliest trail possible. What I found was the alpine skiing trail at Murphy-Hanrahan Park. It’s a great trail; I had fun, with plenty of ponds, prairie patches and wildlife in the area. Being from near mountains, I thought it was a little quaint that the trails were labeled Black Diamond, but they weren’t kidding. Parts of the trail were like jogging a mountain–scrag/rocks on an incline steeper than attic stairs. Not saying my time, but it wasn’t good. I’ll be back out there, though, and sometime I’ll take a camera.

Today when I was jogging my regular route (a Lake Hiawatha/Lake Nokomis loop from my house), I came across two army reserves running in full gear–with packs–at a fast pace. Maybe that’d get me into shape. I’m thinking about doing a 10k obstacle and mud run next month, and I need something like that to kick my ass into gear.

Where I’ve been.

August 19, 2010

Just as an FYI, I’ve been neglecting this blog as I: 1. search for a job, 2. finish paintings I should have finished a couple of years ago and 3. study for a professional finance designation.

Minneapolis has been decent to me, and I have not yet been kicked to the curb. But the job search has been hard. Oh the Shame of writing to get employment: I even once tried to set myself apart using wordiness like perspicacity in a cover letter, only to hear that word in last week’s Futurama episode. But I just had an interview from that one, so maybe Nibbler’s crazy like a fox.

One of the paintings is finally up. More than anything it’s a cheap way to fill the room, but I kind of like it.

The finance exam will be hard and no amount of studying will change that. I am not yet a quant, though I try. It has become hard to hold two opposing viewpoints at the same time: remember the linear/statistics ideas while still not forgetting past lessons from complexity theory. Read a freshwater economics lesson while remembering… well, I just hope they don’t grade me on agreeing with it.

Anyway, I’ll get back into the grind here soon enough.

Hunter Thompson fan compiles Hey Rube column online

August 19, 2010

Starting in 2000, Hunter Thompson classed up ESPN online with a column called Hey Rube. While it was ostensibly a sports column, we all knew better, and it offered the doctor an informal outlet both political and personal. This was where Thompson let loose on baseball (not a fan, offered rules including “get rid of the pitcher”) and George W. This is where Thompson was when the planes hit the WTC.

Actually, now that I think about it, Thompson rapped on baseball and GW at the same time at least once:

“Baseball sucks. The World Series is a Fraud and the New York Yankees are a gang of sleazy gold-plated toads. The only pleasure I get out of the Sports section these days is checking the American League standings and seeing the Texas Rangers in last place. … Ho ho. Good ol’ A-Rod, eh? Money means nothing to those jackass thieves in Texas. They are Friends of the goofy Child President, and they are selling enough oil and Energy to the State of California every day of the week to make poor A-Rod’s $250 million salary look like chicken feed.”

For your consideration, the guy behind Totally put in the effort to compile all of the columns in one place. ESPN had them up in various places and with broken links. Like ESPN, the columns are occasionally uneven, but that’s what you get from a stream-of-conscious writer — mess with the bull, get the horns, as they say.

Read these if you still care about the truth.

Best Amazon book review ever!

August 19, 2010

A real American named… 4America… cast his vote on a collection of Einstein’s writings:

Amazon Customer Review of the Day: Rarely is the question asked: What did Einstein actually “do”? [cyn-c.]

In case you missed it in there, after the Ayn Rand name-dropping: “After all what did Einstein actually do?”

To be fair, he thought he was picking up a Baby Einstein book. In a world where no one can tie his own shoes, the velcro man is GOD!

(saw it on the Daily What)

Must-Read: Author on the demise of the last wild food

June 27, 2010

Author Paul Greenberg thinks like I do. His Times Magazine article, “Tuna’s End,” is a must-read on the last days of the warm-blooded, seven-foot-plus “seafood.”

While I was in law school, I spent a year compiling salmon research and environmental protection jurisprudence. I quickly became a vegetarian and an opponent of farmed salmon. The evidence is unreal, if you take the time to read it. It also helped that most weekends were spent out in the Olympic Mountains or the Puget Sound. Just a little time in the “wild,” watching bears, orcas, eagles, sea lions, mountain goats and salmon keeping it real with each other made me want to keep it real myself. Or at least try.

As I wrote that, I just heard the Bon Appetit judge on Iron Chef say, through stuffed maw, “This is why wahoo was created.” Wahoo is a large fish. And if this is a world where wahoo are born in order to provide nourishment to that guy’s weird Scott Stapp coif, then count me out.


Anyway, back to the point: We are making a big mistake. You can eat fish–I don’t judge. But whether you care or not, salmon and tuna are incredible animals and major links in their ecosystems. For years, we killed whales with no more guilt than we now have killing tuna. Until it’s “cool” to want to save tuna and wild salmon, they and the animals that need them are screwed. If you disagree with me, read Greenberg’s article. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

But the main damage that took place that day was indisputably to the bluefin. After the encounter, the fishermen aboard the Jean-Marie Christian VI transferred the fish alive into a holding cage and slowly towed them away. Soon those tuna would be brought to feeding pens where they will spend at least several months putting on weight. Afterward, they will be slaughtered and sent to Japan, where 80 percent of the world’s Atlantic bluefin tuna are eaten with oblivion.

THERE ARE TWOreasons that a mere fish should have inspired such a high-strung confrontation reminiscent of Greenpeace’s early days as a defender of whales. The first stems from fish enthusiasts who have for many years recognized the particular qualities of bluefin tuna — qualities that were they land-based creatures would establish them indisputably as “wildlife” and not just another “seafood” we eat without remorse. Not only is the bluefin’s dense, distinctly beefy musculature supremely appropriate for traversing the ocean’s breadth, but the animal also has attributes that make its evolutionary appearance seem almost deus ex machina, or rather machina ex deo — a machine from God. How else could a fish develop a sextantlike “pineal window” in the top of its head that scientists say enables it to navigate over thousands of miles? How else could a fish develop a propulsion system whereby a whip-thin crescent tail vibrates at fantastic speeds, shooting the bluefin forward at speeds that can reach 40 miles an hour? And how else would a fish appear within a mostly coldblooded phylum that can use its metabolic heat to raise its body temperature far above that of the surrounding water, allowing it to traverse the frigid seas of the subarctic?

Yes, bluefin tuna are warmblooded.

That bluefin can be huge — 10 feet and more than a thousand pounds — is a side note. For those of us who have seen their football silhouettes arise and vanish in less than a blink of an eye or held them alive, their hard-shell skins barely containing the surging muscle tissue within, they are something bigger than the space they occupy. All fish change color when they die. But with tuna the death shift feels more profound. Fresh from the water, their backs pulsing neon blue, their bellies gleaming silver-pink iridescence, they seem like the ocean itself.

And in a way they are, which explains the second reason bluefin have come to possess such totemic power. For bluefin tuna and all species of tuna are the living representation of the very limits of the ocean. Their global decline is a warning that we just might destroy our last wild food.


June 23, 2010

Technically, I’m not at day 44… yet.


Now a Minnesotan

May 30, 2010

I’ve been in our new place in Minneapolis for a few days now, but this is the first time things have settled down to the point that I could do anything online. First, we filled a 24-foot Budget truck with mostly records and books and some small amount of furniture and drove. 200 miles into our trip, still in Eastern Washington, the truck’s engine struck its last stroke, ending in a blast of black smoke that left us, luckily, in a small town called Ritzville. I will never rent through Budget again, as the service was horrible and we had to break our contract to get a U-Haul from 90 miles away because we were not “eligible for another truck” from Budget. In the end they did reverse all charges, but we still had to move all of our stuff from one truck to another, then catch up two days’ lost time. We flew through the scenic areas of Montana (almost all of Montana is scenic) at night, then woke up to catch the breathtaking flatness of North Dakota by day. We stopped in Fargo, where I found the American Dream alive and well KMart and Happy Joe’s Pizza. I felt like an ass for not liking guns as much as  billboards said I should. I felt like an ass for not liking guns as much as billboards said kids should. I felt small next to the people, and I enjoyed how nice they were. In short, I’ve always wanted to go to Fargo and I was not disappointed.

And we made it. I am now Minnesotan, or something. Yesterday we bought two 1965 Raleigh/Robin Hood bikes, which will come in handy now that I live in a more residential area than Capitol Hill, Seattle. We bought our first couch. We also bought our first television and our first Blue Ray player–before, the only tv’s I’d cared to have were hand-me-downs or one I “won” in a work raffle. Toying with the idea of hooking it up to get actual channels… that’d be a change of pace I’m not sure I’m ready for.

All of this is to say that I have not been catching up on blogs, or the news, lately.

This morning I read an article about a post-Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace interview that was never published, but is now coming out in book form. It’s an interesting look at how writers like to have themselves perceived, and how they interact with other writers. Wallace talks about a television addiction to which I think we all succumb:

Talking about his novel, Wallace accepts the criticism that it’s difficult, but he considers difficulty valuable, an integral component of contemporary fiction. “If the writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart the reader is,” he says. Wallace contrasts literature with the electronic media, especially television, an amusement that is his own personal weakness, an actual addiction. “One of the insidious lessons about TV is the meta-lesson that you’re dumb. This is all you can do. This is easy, and you’re the sort of person who really just wants to sit in a chair and have it easy.” He takes this idea to the outer limits in “Infinite Jest,” a novel in which terrorists seek to acquire a peculiar weapon of mass destruction: an underground film with the capacity to mesmerize and kill its viewers.

I hope to never sit in my (new) chair and just have it easy, even if I did just buy a massive television. Can’t wait to play Atari and Mega Man 2 on a gigantic scale though.

Moving to Minneapolis

May 14, 2010

Posts have been sparse as I have been packing for a move to Minneapolis.

I’ll miss Seattle and my crazy CapHill neighborhood, but it’s been a drag being far from family. At least now I can be a few hours from the parents and can finally use my PTO for vacations rather than trips home. If we hate it, we told ourselves we can always move back out here.

It’s a little scary quitting my job to become unemployed, too. I’d been telling friends I’ll be the only JD/MBA dog walker in the Twin Cities, then one responded, “Don’t bet on  it.” Sobering. But my wife’s got a job there so we’ll make do. Anyone hiring?

In the meantime, we’ll be driving through Yellowstone, which is a big deal for a natureboy like me.