Thursday, November 24, 2005

Good stuff from Armando

here. I commented about him angrily here and elsewhere, and deleted several more such posts, but let the past bury the past.

Also classy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Not being fluent

I'm not fluent in Italian, which I usually notice when I can't come up with the word for, say, "doorknob", or when I have trouble with a sentence or find myself looking up words to make basic sense of a passage. Tonight I was looking at a recipe which called for cavatappi and I thought, "remove-corks" then "tire-bouchon" then "corkscrew" then "oh, corkscrew pasta". That's what not being fluent really means - even the stuff you know creates little eddies, increasing the impedence or Reynolds number of the language flowing through your brain.

Envying song

Paul Simon is a genius (though I somehow feel he should have achieved [even?] greater things). I love "Born At The Right Time" on Rhythm of the Saints. The song is about the busy overcrowded globalized world and the innocence of children, and is full of felicities, but what makes me envious is the treatment of the second of the lines "Born at the instant/Church bells chimed" - the melody is an oscillating major 2nd, both notes combining euphoniously on "chimed" in what strikes these atheistic ears as the sound of church bells.

Of course poetry has its unique resources and the grass is greener. Here's a combination of film and song that for me achieves the extradimensional effect of the church bells above (note, very long download). I used to live near the stretch of Sanchez street shown, a few blocks which seemed like the center of the universe at the time and now do so again.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Can't lose for winning

It was sad at the time to see Paul Hackett, a good guy, lose a close race to a Republican hack, but it seems to be turning out ok.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mystery Pollster on the Ohio reform poll discrepancies

There have been concerns raised in the blogosphre (e.g. me in John Cole's comments somewhere) about the marked difference between the polling and the voting for the recent Ohio ballot initiatives. There was one Republican-sponsored measure and four election-reform measures from the liberal RON. The latter did much worse than predicted. Is this evidence of dirty tricks? Mystery Pollster analyzes the poll and is highly skeptical of that claim, while suggesting a way to investigate.

Monday, November 14, 2005

What the web is for

hilzoy and Katherine at Obsidian Wings give us a lesson - warning, some of the links there are not for the faint of heart.

And another blotch on my country's honor.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mrs. Rilkefan wants one of these

Even sheep don't deserve this

This blog shares the Francophilia of its namesake. But however much I dislike sheep, French farmers burning British sheep alive is going too far. So here's a cute sheep-related anecdote for the ovines out there.

Oh yeah - pecunious pecoraphiles should take a look at this.

Treat yourself to a laugh

Read the first two comments to this post.

At least Truth

Philosoraptor calls for a Truth Commission. (I assume that's what "Public Epistemology" and "Then we go accumulate the requisite evidence" mean.)

Josh Marshall calls for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Atrios agrees.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What you tell me three times isn't true

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


A wonderful video.

Incidentally, the minor interval on which the main melody is based is the same as the opening of Mahler's Fifth, unless I'm wrong.

The original of this form, as far as I know.

(via Crooked Timber)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Caoutchouc, Byatt, Gopnik

I've been on the critical path for my experiment the last few weeks (i.e., if I'm late the whole thing is late). On the way back from the lab on a recent Sunday, I heard part of an excellent program on NPR called "Says You!". It involves two teams of panelists answering questions about words and standard intellectual witty fare. In one amusing game team x comes up with fake definitions of an obscure word and team y tries to identify the correct definition from the fakes. (We called this "Dictionary" in my household). On the recent show the word was "caoutchouc", which I happened to know, because it's an everyday French word meaning "rubber", but apparently none of the (smart and literate) panelists speaks much French. There's an equivalent show from Britain which features frighteningly erudite panelists, and I have to think this word would not pass muster on that program.

Incidentally, I just reread A.S. Byatt's _Elementals_ - a collection of varyingly fantastical short stories. It's full of lovely writing but also some odd choices, and though I got more out of this time through I wouldn't recommend rushing out to buy it unless you're a Byatt fan. Anyway, I mention it because the first half of it is about the English in France.

Also incidentally, I just read Adam Gopnik's memoir _Paris to the Moon_, which was a slight disappointment to me given how much I admire his reviewing in The New Yorker - but it's still worth reading, especially the later sections when his son is old enough to start playing an active role in the world.

The ring of profound truth

A great post from Kevin Drum. I of course don't think this in and of itself provides a simple refutation of conservatism, but conservatives should take this into account.

last word on prop 77

I endorsed prop 77, but I'm feeling less happy about that. Like Kevin Drum, I set a high threshold for propositions because they're a bad way to govern. He's voting against. Mark Kleiman reiterates his disapproval of 77 here. He reminds me of the anti-prop argument that it would be good to weaken Arnold. As noted above, his "too many D primaries" argument doesn't convince me, and the other arguments against continue to fail to impress me. On the pro side (via the Drum link above), Kash at Angry Bear has data to support my suspicion that CA is gerrymandered for incumbents, not for the party as a whole.

I may vote yes to support Reform Ohio Now, or maybe I'll vote my default no.