Thursday, August 31, 2006

This one is headed for extra innings.

A group of avid fans of a certain Major League Baseball team decide to form a fan club. While trying to decide on a name for their new club, one member remarks that the name of their beloved team could be read as implying that team members are on the receiving end of a certain action. He suggests that the club be named to indicate that club members are the ones who perform said action on the team members. This suggestion is approved.

Within this fan club, there is a tight-knit group of members who all happen to live near each other in a city adjacent to the city that is home to their favorite team. All the members of this group coincidentally share a number of other defining characteristics; all have been diagnosed with a type of mental illness which, fortunately for them, only afflicts them at night. During the daytime their behavior is quite normal, such that they are all able to maintain high-paying jobs in well-respected financial institutions.

The members of this clique become quite wealthy as a result of said employment, and one evening after watching a game they decide to pool their wealth and invest it. They decide to invest in a shipping company. As their wealth grows, the eventually gain a controlling interest in the company. Up to this point, the shipping company had owned only cargo vessels; the investors decide that the company needs to diversify. Seeing that world demand for oil is not going away anytime soon, they decide to purchase two ships for transporting oil from the oil fields to refineries.

One of these vessels is in poor repair; the ventilation system on the ship often breaks down, causing all the ship's cabins to be perpetually cold and moist. None of the maintenance problems, however, affect the seaworthiness of the ship, so the owners are understandably quite shocked upon receiving news that this vessel has sunk in calm waters. They immediately suspect foul play was involved, and the ensuing investigation confirms their suspicions. It turns out that a particularly irritable member of that ship’s crew (a tall, thin fellow) had been caught masturbating while on duty. The captain had informed him that this behavior was unacceptable and that he would be fired and put ashore at the next port. Enraged, this crew member sabotaged the ship, causing it to go down.

This tale may be related more succinctly as follows:

The Yankees fans are Yankee-Yankers. The Yankee-Yankers of Yonkers are bonkers. The bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers are bankers. The bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers bought two tankers.

Who sank the bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers’ danker tanker?

A cranky, lanky wanker sank the bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers’ danker tanker.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'll have what she's driving.

Not being female, I do not know what a female orgasm feels like. But the sensation has been described to me as a warm feeling that washes over one's entire body and infuses one with a sense of well-being.

Driving my new Prius to work today for the first time felt like that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't Panic, Part II

Now that I've come to my senses, realized that the solar system is not collapsing in on itself, and had a chance to calm down a bit, I urge you to read this very sensible essay by Bruce Schneier. For those not inclined to follow the link and read the whole thing, here are the juicy bits:
It's time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. This does not mean that we simply roll over and accept terrorism. There are things our government can and should do to fight terrorism, most of them involving intelligence and investigation -- and not focusing on specific plots.

But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.
Hear, hear! Be not afraid.

Via BoingBoing.

Solar System Collapsing in on Itself!

The planets are going to collide with each other! We're all going to die!!!!

What's that you say? These pictures are just fancy collages used to pretty up a boring old story about a group of scientists changing their minds about something?

Oh. Sorry for scaring you. My bad.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I noticed some pink flowers in front of a house near my office yesterday, and I got to thinking about pink. What is "pink"? It is, in fact, "light red".

But that's silly, you say. There's no such thing as "light red". There's "red", and then there's "pink". They are two distinct entities.

But we have "green" and "light green", I counter. Observe, green suffers no similar loss of identity as it fades to white.

Even the palest green belongs unquestionably to the family of green; it does not cease to be green until it is so desaturated that it becomes white. To be sure, catalog copywriters and interior designers have fancy names for each of these shades, but to the layman they are all more or less green. Similarly, we have "blue" and "light blue", "yellow" and "pale yellow", even "purple" and "light purple". Why no "light red" or "pale red"? Interestingly, we do have "dark pink", but it is unquestionably not "red". Although different individuals may disagree on the shade where red stops being red and enters the land of pink, anyone who grew up in America would pretty much agree that such a border exists.

The history of pink is a very interesting one. Pink is the one color, to Americans at least, that unquestionably has gender implications. It is interesting to note that those implications are of very recent origin--see the Wikipedia entry for "Pink" and especially the Google answers post linked therein for more on this.

The part I left out of the story at the top of this post is that when I noticed the pink flowers, I happened to be wearing a pink shirt. This was only the second or third time in my life that I'd ever worn a pink shirt. It is entirely possible that I would have lived to the end of my days without ever wearing a pink shirt had Mrs. Ego not waged a persistent campaign to get me to start wearing pink shirts. I consider myself very secure in my sexuality and not homophobic in the least. So why did that pink shirt hang unworn in my closet for several years before I finally got around to wearing it?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mystery Word

When the cats awakened me this morning demanding breakfast, there was a word in my head. It was an unfamiliar word. I repeated it to myself so I would not forget it. I fed the cats and went back to sleep.

When I awoke several hours later, I still remembered the word. I looked it up and found it was a real word. For the life of me, I can not recall ever encountering this word before.

The word is Rocambole.

How did this word get in my head?

Update: Of course I had encountered this word before. So now the question becomes: What was my dreaming brain trying to tell me?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Panic

I had never seen "the show with zefrank" before, so I can't say if this installment is a particularly good one or not, but I am saddened by the fact that no one in our government or mainstream media has either the courage or basic common sense to say this. (The stuff towards the end, that is, not the stuff about sucking goat balls.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cause for concern?

Should I be worried about the fact that I sometimes think of the relationship between my Ego and My Alter Ego in terms similar to those described in the links provided by apostropher in this post and (more theoretically) this post?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reading List #1

When I was younger I was an avid reader of books. In recent years, however, I've rarely found time to read anything longer than a magazine article. I recently realized that it's been years since I read an entire book.* From time to time someone will recommend a book to me, and I'll nod, smile, and say, "Sounds fascinating. I'll add it to my reading list," knowing full well that if I were actually keeping such a list and did in fact add a book every time I said this, the list would have hundreds of titles on it. Occasionally I will start reading a book, but events conspire to impede my progress, and before long I will have forgotten what was contained on the few pages I managed to read, such that if I wanted to pick up the book again I would have to start from the beginning. Which I never end up doing. Net effect: no books get read by me.

This state of affairs is unacceptable. It is time for things to change. What I need is a little self-discipline, a few rules, a system. So I've made an actual reading list. My inaugural list is made up of books I've already started reading. (Being the ADD sort, I typically find myself unable to read just one book at a time.) My self-imposed rule is that I don't get to start reading any new books until I've finished reading all the books on the current list cover to cover. Then and only then I get to construct a new list and begin the process anew.

Here, then, is the current list:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
Francis Bacon, Of Empire
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann

I'll let you know of my progress.

* Not entirely true. On the last leg of a voyage earlier this year, I picked up Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People in an airport bookstore and read it on the flight home.