Aug. 20th, 2007 03:49 pm
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So here's this evening's relaxing schedule for the last day of summer...

  • 4:00 pm: Sherilyn drops Kate off for soccer practice at Eureka School.
  • 4:10 pm: Sherilyn, with Robert in tow, arrives at Excelsior School for Class Assignment Night to volunteer (serving pizza to 1000 parents and kids).
  • 5:10 pm: I drop Josh off for his lesson at Tricks Gymnastics.
  • 5:30 pm: I pick up Kate from Eureka. Note this is at another school in the same district, likely also having a Class Assignment Night, so parking will be ... interesting.
  • 5:40 pm: (hopefully!) I arrive with Kate at Excelsior.
    • collect Robert
    • feed pizza to Kate, Robert, and myself
    • visit first, fourth, and sixth grade lists, posted at various places on the school campus, to copy down each kid's teacher names, room numbers, and known classmates
    • Kate and Robert find restrooms and change into their gis
  • 6:15 pm: I drop Robert and Kate off at Granite Bay Karate.
  • 6:40 pm: I pick up Josh at Tricks.
  • 7:00 pm: With Josh, I pick up Robert and Kate at GBK.
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posted this on some blog, where pharyngula found it, and from him I got it...


Jun. 6th, 2007 08:33 pm
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I'll have more to write about Josh's teeball team -- the one I've been the manager for -- later, possibly this weekend, when I write up a postmortem.

But I had to mention this.

One of my players - Garen - would be a credit to a ten-year-old little league team. (He's six.) He can throw the ball from third base to first and hit the first baseman's glove. (He's six.) He can also catch a ball at home plate fired from the outfield by an adult. (Again, he's six. He's been telling me the things he plans to do when he's in the majors. I believe him.)

Today for about the first time we were playing with actual outs, in that if the team on the field got the runner out by normal baseball rules, he didn't stay on base but actually went back and sat in the dugout.

With runners on second and third, the batter lines the ball hard to third base. Garen, playing third, catches the liner on the fly. He immediately steps on third. He then turns, charges up the basepath toward second, and tags the runner.

I just watched a six-year-old turn a by-God unassisted triple play. One that he could very plausibly have turned against kids twice his age.

I'll remember a lot about this season. But that I'll definitely remember.
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Silvery. Tinny. Golden. Leaden. Coppery. Mercurial. Chromed. Calcified. Nickeled. Kryptonian. Technical. Promethean. Radiant. Tantalizing. Curious. Ironic. Sulfurious. Osmotic.

okay, so we have 18 adjectives whose root words are elements, and have something to do with those elements, at least if you squint.

I want there to be more. How about:

Antimonious. Manganese. Rutherfordian. Thallious. Aluminiumish. Tungsteniac. Zinctastic. Palladial. Ununquadiumoid.

I don't yet know what they all mean, though "ununquadiumoid" means "less unstable than you'd think".
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As far as I can tell the term doesn't yet exist anywhere (Googling it turns up blank). I want to claim ownership. Nobody can tell me I can't! I don't have to follow your rules! I'm the most important thing in the universe!

Why hasn't someone applied this word to Camille Paglia already?
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Guess who this is.

No fair peeking. And no, it's not an ancestor of Matteo, as far as I know.

Give up? here's the answer. Pretty cool, I assert.
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Wikipedia is "the democratization of knowledge"... and its backers assure us that definitions will greet us as liberators. - paraphrased from comments on Crooked Timber

"We attempted to stimulate the economy. We only succeeded in annoying it." - Frank and Earnest, yesterday
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He's already made his decision, but we want a poll of people who read my journal. (I don't pay for lj, so I can't do a poll directly, so please respond in comments if interested.)

What would you say is the most outstanding geographical feature of the state of Florida? Our candidates are:

(a) the Everglades
(b) the long coastline
(c) Lake Okeechobee
(d) its flatness
(e) the Keys
(f) other...

Comments welcome. He's doing research for the geography portion of his comprehensive Florida paper for 5th grade.

A koan

Oct. 16th, 2006 12:36 pm
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I've been rereading Hofstadter's GEB to get a sense of whether Robert can read it yet. Probably not, since I would rather he read the whole thing and not just skipped ahead to all the dialogues.

But anyway, I've gotten to some of his Zen musings and I remember a little koan that happened to me some two decades ago.
The teacher told the students, "It is like this, and yet not like this."
The observer asked, "What, is this a Zen thing?"
One of the students turned on the observer. "Are you then anti-Zen?"
The observer stared at the student. "To call something anti-Zen is to imply that there is such a thing as pro-Zen. And that very concept is entirely anti-Zen."
At that moment the student was enlightened.
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Is "evolutionary tract", in the sense of an evolutionary pathway or branch (as opposed to a proselytizing book on evolution), a malapropped "evolutionary track", perhaps by malcognition with "revolutionary tract", or does it actually mean something real? If so, how does it differ from "evolutionary path"? There are 900-odd references on google (and 200 to "evolutionary tracts"), but most of them are either using it in a very metaphorical sense (an essay at MIT about televisions) or refer to books about evolution, usually on barely-literate creationist sites.

A tract can be "a structure along or through which something passes" in an anatomical sense (respiratory or digestive tract), but evolution doesn't have structures along which organisms pass... a tract can be a book, a piece of land, an extension, or a structured pathway ... it's kind of an all-purpose word, since as far as I can tell those four things have nothing to do with one another.
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My snarked response to one of the most poorly-done grammar flames ever:
Read more... )
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Skatetown manager, passing me running a cygwin shell on my laptop: "Hey, by the way, we've just set up a wireless network."

Me: "Cool! I'll have to sign my kids up for more skating lessons, then!"

Moments afterward, the rink blazes out Van Halen's Dreams, followed up with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's rendition of the Nutcracker's Russian Dance (i.e. the 'sub-Metallica elf-stomping' rendition).

Just saying. Anybody need spare karma? I appear to be extruding some.
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This, imho, is the solution to Fermi's Paradox.
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The Cat In the Hat: Dennis Franz as narrator 
                    Marlon Brando as the Cat
                    Gilbert Gottfried as the Fish
   Gottfried: "No no! Make that cat go away! 
           Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play!
           He should not be here. He should not be about!
           He should not be here when your mother is out!"
   Franz: "Then I said to the cat, 'Now you hear what I say.
           You pack up those things, and you take them away!'"
   Brando:                    "Oh dear, you did not like our game.
           Oh dear. What a shame. What a shame. What a shame."

Fox in Socks: Robin Williams
   Williams: "Gooey goo for chewy chewing!
             That's what that Goo-Goose is doing.
             Do you choose to chew goo, too, sir?
             If, sir, you, sir, choose to chew, sir, 
             with the Goo-Goose, chew, sir. Do, sir."

Horton Hatches The Egg: Dan Ackroyd
    Ackroyd: Up out of the jungle! Up into the sky!
             Up over the mountains ten thousand feet high!
             Then down, down the mountains, and down to the sea
             Went the cart with the elephant, egg, nest, and tree...

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Liam Neeson
    Neeson: Yes. Some are red, and some are blue
            Some are old and some are new
            Some are glad, and some are sad
            And some are very, very bad
            Why are they sad and glad and bad?
            I do not know. Go ask your dad.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?: MC Hammer
    Hammer: Oh, the wonderful things Mr. Brown can do
            He can go like a cow. He can go moo, moo
            Mr. Brown can do it.  How about you?
            He can go like a bee. Mr. Brown can buzz
            How about you? Can you go buzz buzz?
The Big Brag: Baxter Black
    Black: The rabbit felt mighty important that day
           On top of the hill in the sun where he lay.
           He felt so important up there on that hill
           That he started in bragging, as animals will...

The Lorax: Al Gore
    Gore: And I´ll never forget the grim look on his face
          when he heisted himself and took leave of this place,
          through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace. 
          And all that the Lorax left here in this mess
          was a small pile of rocks, with one word...

Oh, The Places You'll Go! : Martin Luthor King, Jr.
    King: You'll look up and down streets. Look them over with care.
          About some you will say, 'I don't choose to go there.'
          With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
          you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
Green Eggs and Ham: Peter Lorre and Jack Nicholson 
    Lorre: Would you eat them? In a box?
           Would you eat them? With a fox?
    Nicholson: I don't f--ing want any green eggs, okay?

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This article is very interesting to me -- apart from the amusing/horrified sense of the blatant underlying lie and how clumsily it was propagated -- because it's such a wonderful ironic example of the fallacy of equivocation, which I run into all the time when I read/contribute to quasi-philosophical discourses on science, e.g. and their ilk. So this gets woolly, and way off the topic Prof. DeLong brought up. But the fallacy is so pervasive I wanted to say something.Read more... )
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Missed the first one, and the other two are already sold out so I can't attend. Pfoo.

It requires free registration, but this is a Sac Bee article about how the Sac Zoo is doing a series of evolution lectures the way it's supposed to be done: they are inviting scientists, which means they're presenting science. Apparently these lectures -- geared to docents, not the general public -- normally get ~25 attendees, and right now they're at over 100, and despite moving the venue they're sold out: "The waiting list for Wednesday's talk is 68 deep; 18 deep for a talk on March 22; and five deep for the last talk on April 26."

The format already has drawn objections from a few people who say the question of how species developed is inappropriate for the zoo, or who would like to see contrary points of view presented equally.

"I suppose it would have been a politically correct thing to do to have both sides presented, but intelligent design is not part of our curriculum," Chappell said.

"We're glad that we're doing this," [Whittall the organizer] said. "We're surprised that a portion of our audience didn't expect it was the zoo's place to do that."

"We're not saying what (people should) believe in the home," Whittall said. "We're talking about science."

The UC Davis speakers were offered honoraria of $75, but both are declining the money.

* Feb. 22: "Science and Non-Science: The Truth Behind Intelligent Design," on why intelligent design is fundamentally nonscientific, and flaws in intelligent design arguments, by Maureen Stanton, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

* March 22: "The Hard Evidence For Evolution," on how fossil finds support evolutionary theory, by Richard Cowen, paleontologist and UC Davis professor emeritus of geology.

* April 26: "History of Evolutionary Thought," on the people, politics and debate of the 19th-century era when Charles Darwin published the seminal book on evolution, "The Origin of Species," by Robin Whittall, zoo education director.

* All lectures are on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for members, $9 for the general public. Teachers may qualify for discounted admission of $5. For more information, call (916) 264-5889 or see
Wonder how the first one went.
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Well. I've finished Tantras, of the Forgotten Realms Avatar Trilogy. (Useful to read, as it gives important background to the city I've placed my Banewarrens campaign in.)

I have long since gotten over the hubris and arrogance of reading a mediocre novel and saying "I could write better than this", since I have quite a bit more appreciation for even journeyman skill at novelization, having begun a novel some time ago and found that it's much harder than it once seemed.

Tantras is written by Alan Smithee. Okay, not really "Alan Smithee", but it's written by a pseudonym that, as it turns out, stands for a committee of professional game designers. I can see why no actual human wanted to put his name to it.

Not only could I write this novel better than they did, the rough draft I would submit for review and edit would be better than their finished product.

If you have the misfortune to read this novel, I suggest the following drinking game. I don't drink, but I think the novel would have benefitted if I had.

1. Take a drink whenever a character responds with an emotion (typically sudden anger) that does not even remotely follow from the conversation.

2. Take a drink every time a normal author would have used a profession, descriptive term, or other variant label to refer to a character (e.g. "woman", "hero", "quick-thinking adventurer", "adjectived protagonist"), and this author instead used the character's D&D class (thief, mage, fighter, cleric).

3. Take a drink every time the adverb used to describe a character's act of speaking is "flatly".

In any case, following those three rules you will be falling-down drunk after reading any given chapter.

If you're teetotaling, you can reverse rule #2, and take a drink every time a descriptive term other than character class is used. Your glass will be untouched when you finish the novel. (Exception. Elminster is referred to as both a 'mage' and a 'sage'. But he never speaks -- he 'grumbles' all his lines.)

I am at a loss even to speculate why "flatly" was the favorite adverb of the parties guilty of this work. Self-deprecating ironic commentary, perhaps, on the quality of the characterization? I do not exaggerate when I say the word appears on at least every other page.
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2c sugar
1c butter
4 eggs
7 ripe bananas
a couple tbsp lemon juice
2.5c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Makes three 1-pound loaves.

Found myself thinking about what Bill Maher said about Starbucks (*), and what George Carlin has made a career out of observing about euphemisms.

You have to eat half a loaf of this to eat one banana, and with that banana you're getting a third of a stick of butter and a third of a cup of sugar.

This is not "bread". This is cake.

But since we call it "banana bread" I blithely feed it to my children for breakfast.

Ah, the power of words...Read more... )
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I have to say -- much as she's not my favorite candidate -- there's still just a little glimmer of a patriotic thrill at this shirt.

And I already see the T-shirt I'll get when I lose the rest of my hair.

Basically, just about any T-shirt on that site that makes literary or historical references -- I don't much care for pretty peace or buddha symbols -- would make my wish list for the next time someone felt like buying me something. Just saying.

And awwww, Gandhi said it first. Once, some time back, I said "Decide what kind of people you'd like to see more of in the world. Then go become one of them." I didn't know (but am not surprised) that I was ripping off Gandhi: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I said it in prose, though.
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I'm reminded that September 19th, 1987 was the day the market dropped 500 points, from 2300 to 1800.

Mostly I bring this up because of the pungent comeback to a vapid newsanchor question I've recall happening that evening. Delivered by a 'stock market analyst'...

Interviewer: "So -- 2300 to 1800 in one day. A drop of five hundred points in one day. How long is this going to go on?"
Analyist: "Well, no more than three and a half more days."


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