Friday, March 31, 2006

Le Chat

Je souhaite dans ma maison:
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.

Guillaume Apollinaire - Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d'Orphée (1911)
illustration par Raoul Dufy

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An Oddsmaker Ascending A Staircase

Although I pretty much understand the hows and whys of it, this Boing Boing post about nontransitive dice still blows my mind. Especially the fact that each of the four dice has a statistical advantage over the die to its right, which in turn has a statistical advantage over the die to its right, which in turn . . . and so on, endlessly. It makes me think of one of those M.C. Escher staircases, always seemingly ascending but never really getting anywhere.

Repeat three times.

The news story I posted yesterday got me thinking that, if it really is that easy to get divorced under Islamic law, it's a wonder any Islamic couples at all manage to stay married. Think about it: during heated arguments people can say a lot of things that they don't really mean and later regret saying, especially people who tend to have a hot temper. And how many many married couples don't include at least one such person? Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time my wife has told me she wanted to divorce me, I could buy a halfway-decent cup of coffee.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blame Ambien?

First it was the reports that some users of Ambien were eating in their sleep. Then reports of Ambien causing sleep-drawing and sleep-sex. But now comes a report of a man in India, apparently not under the influence of Ambien, who divorced his wife in his sleep. For me the best part of the article is the part that describes what the couple must do if they want to fix this "mistake":
The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.
Ah, the wacky things people do for religion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


March 21 is, among other things:More here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Le Pain

La surface du pain est merveilleuse d'abord à cause de cette impression quasi panoramique qu'elle donne : comme si l'on avait à sa disposition sous la main les Alpes, le Taurus ou la Cordillère des Andes.

Ainsi donc une masse amorphe en train d'éructer fut glissée pour nous dans le four stellaire, où durcissant elle s'est façonnée en vallées, crêtes, ondulations, crevasses… Et tous ces plans dès lors si nettement articulés, ces dalles minces où la lumière avec application couche ses feux, — sans un regard pour la mollesse ignoble sous-jacente.

Ce lâche et froid sous-sol que l'on nomme la mie a son tissu pareil à celui des éponges : feuilles ou fleurs y sont comme des sœurs siamoises soudées par tous les coudes à la fois. Lorsque le pain rassit ces fleurs fanent et se rétrécissent : elles se détachent alors les unes des autres, et la masse en devient friable…

Mais brisons-la : car le pain doit être dans notre bouche moins objet de respect que de consommation.

-Francis Ponge, Le parti pris des choses, Éditions Gallimard 1942


(Photos by MAE.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Come Visit New Ephemera

"Come visit New Ephemera, city of fleeting fulfillment." Thus begins the enticement to visit the most delightful place you'll never go.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Email address? We don't need no stinkin' email address!

You will notice that there is no email address for the Alter Ego posted anywhere on this blog. This is because the Alter Ego does not have his own email address and thus far has seen no reason to obtain one. I mean, who would want to email me? What would they need to say via email that they couldn't say in a comment? Nobody who reads this blog or my comments at Unfogged actually knows me, so it's not like I have anything private to share with anyone. In fact, the Alter Ego would prefer not to have any private correspondences with anyone. We have to keep this whole Alter Ego thing within bounds, after all.

However, I occasionally feel like leaving a comment somewhere where an email address is required. Like right now, with ogged guest-blogging over at Washington Monthly. It is of course easy enough to make up a fake email address to put in the required field, something like "". But every time I do so, I revisit the question. Does My Alter Ego need an email address of my own?

So far, the answer remains "no." If anyone who wishes to convince me otherwise, you know how to get in touch with me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday Friday-blogging

Have you ever had the feeling that today is not the day of the week that it actually is? The "I know it's Saturday, but it feels like a Sunday" feeling? Whenever I get this feeling, the reasons for the feeling are usually fairly obvious, such as "Friday was a holiday; therefore, the reason today (Saturday) feels like a Sunday is that it is the second day of my weekend."

Anyway, I've had the off-by-one-day feeling pretty much all week. Tuesday felt like Wednesday. Wednesday felt like Thursday. Today feels like Friday. But the really unusual things about this are:

1) Despite my best attempts to analyze the reasons for this, I have absolutely no idea why I keep feeling this way. There was nothing really unusual about my schedule this week that would tend to prompt this sort of feeling.

2) This feeling has persisted several days in a row and has resisted all attempts to dispell it.

All I know is that the recurring mental double-take of realising that today is not tomorrow is really starting to annoy me.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Otocolobus-blogging

Today we bring you Otocolobus manul, the Pallas' Cat, or, as the Ego and I prefer to call him, the Manul.

(Last two images via some Russian site.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Civil Disobedience

Via Metafilter, "an extrordinary act of public obedience," a very well-done video of some young folks demonstrating the hypocricy of speed-limit laws by getting together and obeying them. Also of interest is the degree of negative reaction to this on the Metafilter thread.

Update: Apparently I'm just about the only person who's seen this who isn't really, really upset at these kids. Oh, well.