Dec 16, 2011


Christopher Hitchens died recently. Much has been written about him, before and after his death, and by him, and you can easily find these pieces so I won't bore you with too many links.

One of my favorite Hitchens pieces was about Jesse Helms:
I make no apology for calling him a provincial redneck, because that, to be fair to him once more, was how he thought of himself and even described himself. It was a scandal that a man with so little knowledge of the outside world should have had such a stranglehold on American foreign policy for so long. He once introduced Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of India. All right, that could have happened to anybody. But what about the hearings on North Korea in which he made repeated references to "Kim Jong the Second"? In order to prevent any repetition of this idiotic gaffe, Helms' staff propped up a piece of card on which was clearly written the pronunciation "Kim Jong ILL." The senator from North Carolina duly made the adjustment, referring thenceforth to the North Korean despot as "Kim Jong the Third."
Participating in one of Hitchens' dinner, conversational, drinking, debating spectacles (one gets the impression they can't be called anything but spectacles) is something all his friends mention they'll miss. Speaking of a more serious debate:
I never saw the legendary program when Hitch appeared with Charlton Heston, who, for some unaccountable reason was representing the first Bush administration in his capacity as an all-purpose hawk. As they were being introduced by the presenter, Hitch cut in: “We all know who Charlton Heston is. I just want to ask him one question. [Pause. Smile.] Which countries border Iraq?” Heston, of course, had no idea.

Epic battle

Dec 15, 2011

Blur out embarrassing photos

the Norte Photoblocker is a functional beer cooler surrounded by four sensors
that can detect the flashes from cameras or cell phones. If a flash goes off in
the direction of the Photoblocker, it fires its own flash to flood the resulting
photos with bright white and obscure anyone nearby.

More here.

Dec 14, 2011

Dec 13, 2011

Common misconceptions

From Wikipedia:

On Buddha:
The historical Buddha was not obese. The "chubby Buddha" or "laughing Buddha" is a tenth century Chinese folk hero by the name of Budai. In Chinese Buddhist culture, Budai came to be revered as an incarnation of Maitreya, the Bodhisattva who will become a Buddha to restore Buddhism after the teachings of the historical Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, have passed away.
On the five senses:
Humans have more than five senses. Although definitions vary, the actual number ranges from 9 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception).[ Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, [...]
Cooking meat:
Searing meat does not "seal in" moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, the value in searing meat is that it creates a brown crust with a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.
Good luck trying not to waste too much time reading them.

Dec 12, 2011

Moral education

From How To Be Good:
The moral education of my children has always been important to me. I have talked to them about the Health Service, and about the importance of Nelson Mandela; we’ve discussed the homeless, of course, and racism, and sexism, and poverty, and money, and fairness. David and I have explained, as best we can, why anyone who votes Conservative will never be entirely welcome in our house, although we have to make special arrangements for Granny and Grandpa.

And though I was sickened by Molly’s unctuous performance during the computer and lasagne episodes, there was a part of me that thought, yes, she’s coming along, she gets it, all those conversations and questions have not been in vain. Now I see that she’s a stinking patrician Lady Bountiful who in twenty years’ time will be sitting on the committee of some revolting charity ball in Warwickshire, moaning about refugees and giving her unwanted pashminas to her cleaning lady.
Don't buy the book, it's ok but not as good as High Fidelity.

Dec 9, 2011

Uncontacted tribes is a website documenting the existence of peoples with extremely limited contact with the modern world.

In this video, the tribesman talks about attempting to kill the beast with metal skin - a bulldozer.

Dec 8, 2011

On dentists

From Cryptonomicon:

Oral surgeons, it seemed, were not comfortable delving more than elbow-deep into a patient's head. They had been living in big houses and driving to work in Mercedes-Benz sedans long before Randy had dragged his sorry ass into their offices with his horrifying X-ray and they had absolutely nothing to gain by even attempting to remove these--not so much wisdom teeth in the normal sense as apocalyptic portents from the Book of Revelations. The best way to remove these teeth was with a guillotine. None of these oral surgeons would even consider undertaking the extraction until Randy had signed a legal disclaimer too thick to staple, something that almost had to come in a three-ring binder, the general import of which was that one of the normal consequences of the procedure was for the patient's head to end up floating in a jug of formaldehyde in a tourist trap just over the Mexican border.
In this manner Randy wandered from one oral surgeon's office to another for a few weeks, like a teratomic outcast roving across a post-nuclear waste land being driven out of one village after another by the brickbats of wretched, terrified peasants. Until one day when he walked into an office and the nurse at the front desk almost seemed to expect him, and led him back into an exam room for a private consult with the oral surgeon, who was busy doing something in one of his little rooms that involved putting a lot of bone dust into the air. The nurse bade him sit down, proffered coffee, then turned on the light box and took Randy's X-rays and stuck them up there. She took a step back, crossed her arms, and gazed at the pictures in wonder. "So," she murmured, "these are the famous wisdom teeth!"

Dec 6, 2011

Decreasing power of God

What can't inflation do?

Dec 5, 2011


Quick verse:

The gum-chewing girl and the cud-chewing cow

Seem somewhat alike, yet different somehow.

Ah, yes, there it is! I see it all now!

It's the intelligent look on the face of the cow.

[no hidden message intended, this is just a quick verse]

Nov 30, 2011

Texts from Bennett

I don't know or care if this is made up, it made me laugh.

Nov 29, 2011

Christian rock 'n' roll

Fortune cookie

Do you know that game where you add "in bed" to fortunes you get in Chinese cookies?

Nov 28, 2011

Useful Friday

If you keep forgetting who borrowed your stuff:

Nov 22, 2011

Worst employee stories

From reddit:

One employee over the course of one year. She's since been fired.

The first 30 minutes of my first day she storms into my office, hands on her hips, and says "I'm Vicki!"

"Hi Vicki, I'm [name]."

"I know that you computer people can see everything. And if you hack my bank accounts, I'll sue you!!!"

"Well Vicki, don't use company resources to conduct your personal banking and we shouldn't have a problem."

She didn't speak to me for three months.

Another time I told her to look something up on Wikipedia.

She replies "Oh, I don't use Wikipedia."

"Why not?"

"I don't support the Wiccans."

She denied an insurance claim where a reindeer had bitten a farm-hand on the hand.

"Vicki, why did you deny this claim?"

"Because the insured says he was bitten by a reindeer."

"Yeah.... so?"

(In a very sarcastic tone) "Well, what do you think happened? A reindeer just swooped down out of the sky and bit the guy??"

She didn't know that a reindeer was an actual animal.

She tells me one day her husband is a really great guy because he spends his free time helping to "clean up the internet."

I ask her what she means and she told me she found a bunch of porn in husbands web browser history. He informed her that he goes to porn sites to download the porn off of the internet servers onto his computer so that he can delete it. Apparently there's a lot of porn on the internet, but he was trying to do what he could to remove as much of it as possible - for the children and all...

She actually believes that he is doing this and uses it as a bragging point to show what a great guy her husband is in conversations.

More here.

Nov 21, 2011

Only one way to say it

This is f***ing cool

Faber Castell

Nov 17, 2011

Nov 16, 2011

Selling skillz

This guy is badass

Nov 15, 2011

Victoria's Secret Angels

What does it take to be a Victoria's Secret Angel?
She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body's muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima's energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes - "no solids". The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and "just drink normally". Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.

Nov 14, 2011

What should I drink?

What should I drink while listening to _________________?

Nov 11, 2011

Useful Friday

Make any web page print friendly:

Nov 9, 2011

He is back

The dontevenreply genius is back:
Special Skaters
Original ad:
Attention all ice skaters and hockey players! Volunteers needed to train children participating in the Special Olympics hockey team. Anyone with adequate skating skill can be used to help teach our athletes to skate. Please call 410-***-**** or respond to the email address above.

From Me to ************@**********.org


I am writing in response to your ad regarding helping children learn to skate.

I was a legend in minor league hockey until my career was cut short by a career ending injury. I still love the game of hockey though and would love to pass on my skills to your wonderful children. I look forward to hearing from you.


From Judy ******* to Me:


I am sorry to hear about your injury. That is very unfortunate. Are you still able to skate? I only ask because we need someone to skate one-on-one with the children.


From Me to Judy *******:

Oh yes, I am still able to skate. I think you misunderstood me. My career was cut short because I was banned after causing another player to have a career ending injury. It was an unfortunate accident, but the league came down extremely hard on me. It really wasn't fair, if you ask me.


Nov 7, 2011

Nov 3, 2011


Nov 2, 2011

My soulmate

Rescued from the spam folder:

Ron Swanson

Oct 27, 2011

Sweeping the nation

First there was Rick Rolling, then planking, then owling. Today, it's:

Halloween or Williamsburg?

Hat tip to Kottke

Oct 26, 2011

Classic Bill Clinton

From this thread:

When I was in the 5th grade my class took a trip to Washington D.C., and part of the trip included a visit to various Smithsonian museums. Since we had a large class we were split into groups to visit different museums at the same time.

I was part of the group who toured the Holocaust museum. The tour was great; very illuminating for a 10 year old to be packed into a train car and see the horrifying images of the atrocity, but the tour was the shortest of the three groups so we ended up in the large open lobby/bookstore of the museum while we waited for the other groups.

During this wait I got bored, and knowing me, I tend to get in trouble when I'm bored, so I looked for something helpful to do to keep me out of trouble. I found a rag and started dusting bookshelves.

That lasted for about 2 minutes until I ran out of things to dust and we were still waiting. Then I saw something I'd never seen before; a fire-alarm with a very dusty plastic cover on it. I wanted to be helpful so I went over and dusted it, but most of the dust was on the inside of the cover, so I lifted it...

... and all hell broke loose.

The sound echoed through the entire building, and I was frantically trying to get it to shut off when this ENORMOUS security guard came over, and slammed the cover shut, then stood over me looking like he was about to eat me. Several people ran for the exits, and a few women I remember screamed at the sudden VERY loud noise. Everyone was looking at me when it was shut off. I have never since been so absolutely petrified. I have also never been more relieved than when one of the chaperons of our group hurried over to claim me.


My teachers were already stressed out with the logistics of keeping so many kids together and safe/fed/watered/etc. on this trip that when they called me into their hotel room that night to talk they all agreed that they wouldn't tell my parents if I didn't, and just left it at that.

When we got back home, my parents were excited to tell me that I had received a letter from President Bill Clinton which basically said, "heard you were in town, hope you enjoyed your visit." Since I was the only one in my class to get a letter like that, I asked my teachers if they knew anything. They told me that they had been interviewed by Secret Service agents at the museum, and were informed that the President was in an office in the building meeting with heads of the museum and had to be evacuated when the alarm sounded.

My parents didn't find out until I told them the story; 12 years later.

Oct 20, 2011

Oct 19, 2011

Oct 11, 2011

Because he loved animals

We are all familiar with Whitey Bulger, the godfather of Boston's Irish mafia, who was arrested in Santa Monica this summer, after 16 years of hiding.

Why was he caught?

Because he loved animals

Bjornsdottir took notice of the attention the couple routinely paid to an abandoned, tiger-striped cat in the neighborhood, and eventually grew close (or at least closer than most) to Greig [Whitey's girlfriend]. It was that bond, over the cat, that ultimately led to the fugitives' capture, according to the paper.
she saw a CNN report on the FBI’s latest effort to track the 82-year-old Bulger and his 60-year-old girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Bjornsdottir recognized them immediately as the Gaskos, her former neighbors—Tiger’s benefactors—an ocean away on Third Street.

Oct 6, 2011

Lyrics That Aren't Lyrics

Most of these types of videos aren't well done, but this one is pretty interesting


Crushed by a bullet

Oct 3, 2011

What men are for

From Cryptonomicon:

And so when it came to anything of a practical nature [Grandma] was perfectly helpless, and probably always had been. Until she had gotten too old to drive, she had continued to tool around Whitman in the 1965 Lincoln Continental, which was the last vehicle her husband had purchased, from Whitman's Patterson Lincoln-Mercury, before his untimely death. The vehicle weighed something like six thousand pounds and had more moving parts than a silo full of Swiss watches. Whenever any of her offspring came to visit, someone would discreetly slip out to the garage to yank the dipstick, which would always be mysteriously topped up with clear amber-colored 10W40.
It eventually turned out that her late husband had summoned the entire living male lineage of the Patterson family--four generations of them--into his hospital room and gathered them around his deathbed and wrought some kind of unspecified pact with them along the general lines of that, if at any point in the future, the tire pressure in the Lincoln dropped below spec or the maintenance in any other way lapsed, all of the Pattersons would not merely sacrifice their immortal souls, but literally be pulled out of meetings or lavatories and dragged off to hell on the spot, like Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. He knew that his wife had only the vaguest idea of what a tire was, other than something that from time to time a man would heroically jump out of the car and change while she sat inside the car admiring him. The world of physical objects seemed to have been made solely for the purpose of giving the men around Grandma something to do with their hands; and not, mind you, for any practical reason, but purely so that Grandma could twiddle those men's emotional knobs by reacting to how well or poorly they did it. Which was a fine setup as long as men were actually around, but not so good after Grandpa died. So guerilla mechanic teams had been surveilling Randy's grandmother ever since and occasionally swiping her Lincoln from the church parking lot on Sunday mornings and taking it down to Patterson's for sub rosa oil changes. The ability of the Lincoln to run flawlessly for a quarter of a century without maintenance--without even putting gasoline in the tank--had only confirmed Grandmother's opinions about the amusing superfluity of male pursuits.

Moooom, stop embarrassing me

Mama lion saves her cub:

Sep 29, 2011

Stop this barbaric custom!

One of my favorite columns:

The other night, I was having dinner with some friends in a fairly decent restaurant and was at the very peak of my form as a wit and raconteur. But just as, with infinite and exquisite tantalizations, I was approaching my punch line, the most incredible thing happened. A waiter appeared from nowhere, leaned right over my shoulder and into the middle of the conversation, seized my knife and fork, and started to cut up my food for me. Not content with this bizarre behavior, and without so much as a by-your-leave, he proceeded to distribute pieces of my entree onto the plates of the other diners.

No, he didn't, actually. What he did instead was to interrupt the feast of reason and flow of soul that was our chat, lean across me, pick up the bottle of wine that was in the middle of the table, and pour it into everyone's glass. And what I want to know is this: How did such a barbaric custom get itself established, and why on earth do we put up with it?

Two things I love best

Nerd humor:

Don't you just love that guy?

EDIT: Another classic Marshall moment - doing stand up

Sep 27, 2011

Avocado - dog's greatest enemy

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, feeding avocados to your pets or any other animal should be avoided at all costs. Animals such as cattle, horses, goats, rabbits, birds, dogs, cats, and even fish can be severely harmed or even killed if they consume the leaves, bark or fruit of the avocado tree.

Sep 23, 2011

Email of the week

On Sep 23, 2011 9:35 AM, you wrote:
not answering emails from europeans anymore? dat's racist

On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 11:20 AM, Johnny Castle replied:
I was listening to Ahmadinejad's latest speech, which said the only model left for a functioning society is Iran. Since Europe is kind of passe at this point, I figured I'd find some Persian friends.

Actually, I didn't get your message until after I left for practice in SF. Didn't get home until 2am. On the way home, I was spacing so I accidentally drove to Santa Clara. Am I forgiven, or do you want an eye for an eye. WWAD?

Things Apple is worth more than

Sep 21, 2011

"Hope they keep you"

On July 15th of 1971, U. S. President Richard Nixon shocked the nation by announcing his intention to visit the People's Republic of China and meet with Chairman Mao. Understandably public reaction was mixed:

Sep 19, 2011

The Art of Seduction

From reddit:
When she comes home from work, she should find you lying naked on a bear-skin rug by the fireplace, rose petals strewn all over, candles lit. If you like you can be strumming a small ukulele, so that when she comes in you can say, 'Oh, I didn't see you there. I was just composing a song to you, my love'. Then remove the ukulele so that she can see your big cock. Then say, 'Oh, I am so sorry, this is just what you do to me.' Then stand up, take her hand with your naked self, and lead her into the kitchen. There, you have prepared a feast - lobsters, the finest caviar which you personally extracted from the black sea the last time the government sent you to the region on a secret mission, chocolate strawberries and champagne. 'Eat, my love' you should urge her, with your inexplicable slightly Spanish accent, 'I cooked this all for you. You are too thin' (girls love to be called thin). While she's eating, take out a small sketchpad. When she asks you what you're doing, say 'Why, I am drawing a portrait of you,' then sigh heavily. When she asks you what's wrong, say 'Nothing, it is just that I have studied with all the great masters, from Picasso to Kinkade, yet I cannot capture the beauty of one such as you.' Then, take her hand again, and lead her to your patio.

More here

Sep 16, 2011

Sauerkraut perfume

Whole Foods is selling goat's milk soap.

I can't wait to buy their kimchi shampoo and blue cheese deodorant tomorrow.

Also, Whole Foods controls you, as you always suspected.

Sep 12, 2011

Zuck is gonna code

Zuckerberg doesn't code much for Facebook anymore, the same way that Steve Jobs never hand-coded software for the iPhone. But, as the Groups team was adding the finishing touches to its product, Zuckerberg said he wanted to write a few lines. "Everybody was like, Ohhhh, Zuck's gonna write code," says Feross. Someone set up an easy bug for him to fix-adding a link to a picture, or something-and he went to work. Five minutes passed. Twenty minutes. An hour. "It took him like two hours to do something that would take one of us who's an engineer like five minutes," says Feross. It was like a retired slugger coming back for one last at-bat, for old time's sake, and finding he'd lost more of his game than he'd reckoned. Still, he got props from Feross & Co. for getting his hands dirty.
Hat tip to kottke.

Aug 30, 2011

Aug 26, 2011

Aug 25, 2011

Not a fan of exchanging ideas or open discussions

From New Yorker article on Justice Thomas,

He discusses these issues almost exclusively with his law clerks, whom he chooses for their ideological compatibility. At Stetson, he described his relationships with his law clerks this way: “Zero tolerance for mistakes, zero tolerance for excuses, zero tolerance for tardiness. I want my stuff done. I want it done my way. I also make it clear that if you don’t like my opinion, or you have a different opinion, all you’ve got to do is get nominated and confirmed.”

Aug 24, 2011


Is there a more memorable classical piece out there?

Aug 23, 2011

Celine Dion

From Simmons' mailbag:
Q: That Celine Dion guitar actually wouldn't be a bad gift (from the Collectors Convention photo essay), and here's why: if you take the pick guard off (the white part that she signed) and replace it with a new one ($20), you've got yourself a Fender Telecaster for $319. Even the cheaper Telecasters still run about $600. So if you do the math, her autograph actually dropped the price by about 50%. Come to think of it, I should bring Celine Dion and a Sharpie marker with me every time I go shopping and just have her autograph stuff.

Aug 22, 2011

Aug 19, 2011

Wedding photos

Stick with it, the payoff is good

Aug 10, 2011


Perhaps because they have such a gift for creating difficulties with non-Germans, the Germans have been on the receiving end of many scholarly attempts to understand their collective behavior. In this vast and growing enterprise, a small book with a funny title towers over many larger, more ponderous ones. Published in 1984 by a distinguished anthropologist named Alan Dundes, Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder set out to describe the German character through the stories that ordinary Germans liked to tell one another. Dundes specialized in folklore, and in German folklore, as he put it, “one finds an inordinate number of texts concerned with anality. Scheisse (shit), Dreck (dirt), Mist (manure), Arsch (ass).… Folksongs, folktales, proverbs, riddles, folk speech—all attest to the Germans’ longstanding special interest in this area of human activity.”

He then proceeded to pile up a shockingly high stack of evidence to support his theory. There’s a popular German folk character called der Dukatenscheisser (“The Money Shitter”), who is commonly depicted crapping coins from his rear end. Europe’s only museum devoted exclusively to toilets was built in Munich. The German word for “shit” performs a vast number of bizarre linguistic duties—for instance, a common German term of endearment was once “my little shit bag.” The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a “Purgation-Calendar.” Then there are the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings: “As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!,” to select but one of the seemingly endless examples.

Dundes caused a bit of a stir, for an anthropologist, by tracking this single low national character trait into the most important moments in German history. The fiercely scatological Martin Luther (“I am like ripe shit, and the world is a gigantic asshole,” Luther once explained) had the idea that launched the Protestant Reformation while sitting on the john. Mozart’s letters revealed a mind, as Dundes put it, whose “indulgence in fecal imagery may be virtually unmatched.” One of Hitler’s favorite words was Scheisskerl (“shithead”): he apparently used it to describe not only other people but himself as well. After the war, Hitler’s doctors told U.S. intelligence officers that their patient had devoted surprising energy to examining his own feces, and there was pretty strong evidence that one of his favorite things to do with women was to have them poop on him. Perhaps Hitler was so persuasive to Germans, Dundes suggested, because he shared their quintessential trait, a public abhorrence of filth that masked a private obsession. “The combination of clean and dirty: clean exterior-dirty interior, or clean form and dirty content—is very much a part of the German national character,” he wrote.

The anthropologist confined himself mainly to a study of low German culture. (For those hoping to examine coprophilia in German high culture he recommended another book, by a pair of German scholars, entitled The Call of Human Nature: The Role of Scatology in Modern German Literature.) Still, it was hard to come away from his treatise without the strong sense that all Germans, high and low, were a bit different from you and me—a point he made in the introduction to the paperback version of his book. “The American wife of a German-born colleague confessed to me that she understood her husband much better after reading the book,” he wrote. “Prior to that time, she had wrongly assumed that he must have some kind of peculiar psychological hang-up inasmuch as he insisted upon discussing at great length the state of his latest bowel movements.”

The Hamburg red-light district had caught Dundes’s eye because the locals made such a big deal of mud-wrestling. Naked women fought in a metaphorical ring of filth while the spectators wore plastic caps, a sort of head condom, to avoid being splattered. “Thus,” wrote Dundes, “the audience can remain clean while enjoying dirt!” Germans longed to be near the shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, was an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis.