Friday, July 06, 2007

Understatement of the Day

From the WaPo

"And there seems to be an inordinate number of vampires, generally not a sign of community health."

Red States Summarized In One Image

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Absinthe Minded

Absinthe, the spirit of imagination to many, and the devil incarnate to the U.S. government, is being approved on a case by case scenario by the Feds. Banned since 1910 due to unproved health dangers from the substance thujone, found in wormwood, an ingredient in absinthe, it has been the subject of controversy for centuries. Many folk tales and rites and rituals have grown around it and its supposedly hallucinogenic properties.

More here

I can't wait to try this. Should be interesting.

“let me know when you’ve got it open”,

An interesting set of comments on the thesis, "God must exist because millions of people believing for 3000 years can't be wrong"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I actually watched this once.


The description is completely accurate:

Automan was a show about a programmer who made a computer program to help him solve the many crimes that plagued his life. What made this computer program so special was that, when fed enough power, it would manifest itself in the real world. It would also be wearing a seatbelt and have immaculate blow-dried hair. Automan is chiefly remembered for being the only show in existence to make Knight Rider look plausible and well thought-out.

The Citizenship Application for TJICistan

Travis has a job available and gives some really good, well reasoned advice to would-be employees:

When I ask for two references, with contact information, this is because I want two references, with contact information. However, there is another reason: the job I just posted requires good attention to detail. 20% of you failed to include references, and this makes my job easier - I can immediately respond to you and say “I’m sorry; this position is not a match”, and then delete your email. Only 160 emails to go!

When I ask for your resume to be cut-and-pasted, instead of being included as an attachment, this is because I am stuck in the 1980s, and use a non-MIME aware email reader. Also, it’s another opportunity to filter out candidates who can’t read closely, or follow directions. We’re now down to 120 emails.

The job was listed as “customer support”. If you start your cover letter by asking about the “sales associate” position, or the “nanny job”, I know that (a) you’re applying for 100 jobs at once, and you’ve gotten confused; (b) you don’t have the attention to detail that this job requires.


I strongly recommend reading it, as his winnowing procedure is pretty much SOP at every company I have ever worked for.

Then we get to:

Finally, I prune the emails with spelling errors. Spell checkers are free, and they’re easy to run. You don’t care enough about this job to try, so you’re gone. 40 emails left.

Unfortunately, Travis tends to be a do-as-I-Say-not-as-I-Do kind of guy:

Logan Williams Says: July 4th, 2007 at 2:36 am
“… I turned the *add* off again 8 hours later.”
“Finally, I prune the emails with spelling errors. Spell checkers are free, and they’re easy to run. You don’t care enough about this job to try, so you’re gone. 40 emails left.”
Finally, I prune the blogs with spelling errors. Proofreading is simple, and necessary to editing. You don’t care enough about this blog to try, so you’re not going in my RSS reader. 20 Reddit submissions left.

Boed Says: July 4th, 2007 at 5:49 am
“But, come one, make things a bit easier for me, please?”
“and permission to listen to your iPod all day log.”
“Spell checkers are free, and they’re easy to run. You don’t care enough about this job to try, so you’re gone. 40 emails left.”
hmm……a bit of a contradiction wouldn’t you say?

Thus Travis would eliminate himself from *my* pool of potential jobs as I recognize the Do-As-I-Say or "Two Sets of Rules" boss as being incompatible with my personality. And I haven't even read the job description!


Seriously though, it's good advice.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Folks who know me well know I have two irrational fears, one which I have mastered, one which I have not.
The first, mastered fear, is of heights. (Actually it's of falling *from* heights.) (Actually, actually, it's of hitting the ground after falling from heights, but you get the idea).
The second... well, (and remember I said it was *irrational*) it looks like this:

Icthyphobia is my curse. Oddly, I even know why I have this, it involves an act of child abuse on the part of my father when I was about 4 or 5, yet it doesn't make a bit of difference. I have not completely conquered this one. Not yet anyway.

Sinful by Nature

In totalitarian societies, the law is beside the point. Laws are written in such a away that compliance is completely impossible for most or all citizens. This gives the state leverage over the population because citizens can always be counted on to be doing *something* illegal at any time, and the threat of a prison sentence can be used to get them to do things they ordinarily wouldn't do, e.g. turn in a family member or friend, cover up goverment miss-steps, kill or torture etc. If you wonder why I am so adamently opposed to "Wars on $metaphore", it's because they often bear a striking resemblence to this idea. The War on Drugs has some prime examples, but the War on Terror is not without it's charm in this area.

Governements did not invent this idea though. The stole it whole cloth from religion.

Here's a great example of the idea that we all have "orginial sin" and therefore must subect ourselves to the Church to make it right with the gods.

Elegant, And Best Served Cold

From (the usually suspect) Yahoo News:

The family of Ron Goldman has purchased the rights to O.J. Simpson's canceled book, "If I Did It," from a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee in a settlement reached Monday. The book rights will be held in the name of Ron Goldman LLC, Goldman family attorney David Cook said.


Ron Goldman LLC will own Simpson's name, likeness, signature and story and will hawk it to satisfy this terrible judgment. Justice has arrived in Miami," Cook said.

The Goldmans own the copyright, media rights and movie rights. They also acquired Simpson's name, likeness, life story and right of publicity in connection with the book, according to court documents.

The Goldmans want to rename the book "Confessions of a Double Murderer" and plan to shop it around, Cook said.

Monday, July 02, 2007


One interesting thing to note: if the President had pardoned Libby, Libby would have lost his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination and could be compelled to testify before congress.


It was a smart move.

Deep Weirdness about Spin States

The consequences of half-integral spin are one of those things that, I always assumed, were mathematical and not physical. i.e. you learn that the identity operator for spin in quantum mechanics is 720 rotation, not 360 rotation. It seemed odd and, now I can see that it was simply explained to me wrong by a professor who (in retrospect) didn't understand it either. Why do you have to rotate twice to get back to zero?

Feynman not only understood it, but gives a very clever way of internalizing it.

He really was the best of his generation.

A Sin Of Which (unusually) I am Not Guilty

At least with respect to biologists:
From PZ:

Authors, film producers and directors, special-effects teams go to physicists, especially astrophysicists, to check that their worlds are workable, credible; they go to astronomers to check how far from their sun a planet should be, and so on. They even go to chemists to check atmospheres, rocket fuels, pheromones (apparently they're not biology….), even the materials that future everyday clothes (not only spacesuits) will be made of. They do go to self-styled "astrobiologists", who are usually astronomers or astrophysicists who remember some Biology 1.01 (or think they could if pressed). Between them they invent reptiloid "aliens" (who are cold-blooded enough to do all those dastardly things no warm-blooded American male could do…), feline aliens (who have the psychology of the household cat writ large, especially by more mature female authors…), dinosaur "aliens"…. Or giant ants. Or were they mut-ants, I don't remember (but how many screen mutations have you seen that change the recipient, not its progeny?). Or a vast array of "alien" human actors with a bit of wax, as easy on the Special Effects Dept as the Pure Energy aliens, or the Aliens on mid-day TV shows who magic things out of the air and see through clothing (do their eyes emit or receive X-rays?), and which otherwise free the writers from having to produce a consistent plot. Or Vulcans who can produce viable offspring with humans (when even our cousins the fish can't - mermaids are even less breedable than Spock). These people know that they don't know about physics, or astronomy, or chemistry. Those disciplines are real science. So they get help. But the biology seems so 'obvious' to them … and they don't realise that it feels just the same to be sure and wrong as sure and right! Of course, those of us that agree biologists can see that all those anthropomorphs can't be alien, they're vertebrate mammals and must share our ancestry here on Earth.

I stear clear of commenting too much on biology, I simply don't understand it well enough. I'm happy to *speculate* on life bearing planets, but I'll usually admit pretty quickly that I don't know much about the science.

Astronomy YouTube of the Day

APOD ups the ante.