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]