Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Clueless media on Democrats' supposed elitism

Yglesias has a great anecdote from Paul Waldman. Candy Crowley from CNN mocks Kerry for asking for green tea in Iowa. Turns out you can get it in Dubuque - at K-Mart.

In the Goldberg article I noted previously, Teresa Kerry gets attacked for her elitist notion that Missouri pig farmers might benefit by going organic. Where did she get this radical idea? That hotbed of cosmopolitanism, Iowa.

Deterministic Quantum Mechanics

Interesting. Will look around for more approachable material - apparently a number of people are working on this.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jeffrey Goldberg on the Democrats

There was an article in the 29 May 2006 New Yorker about the Democrats' hopes of making inroads in the coming elections. It's full of the usual right-wing-narrative-spin cliches - Dean getting angry, Teresa Kerry being out of touch with the heartland - but "he singled out Diebold, a favorite target of bloggers whose rage against the Bush Administration seems limitless" surely takes the cake. It's an extraordinarily weak constuction - clearly a comma is needed after "bloggers" to keep it from referring to a possibly miniscule set, but then it would seem to apply to all bloggers, which can't be right, and "seems limitless" is as close to meaningless as something clearly meaning "I think they're deranged" can be. I wonder how this got past the New Yorker's editors - the failure of the sentence is so clear, and so clearly a failure of thought. My guess is that the published phrasing is an unhappy compromise between Goldberg and his editor, the former wanting to include a full-out slam against people critical of his 100% CW viewpoint, the latter trying to minimize the damage to the magazine's credibility.

Anyway, it's not up on the web, which is probably just as well for articles written by reporters whose idiocy and credulity for DLC spin seems limitless.

p.s. Apparently Josh Marshall is planning on ripping into it.

update: via JMM, the article in question. Interestingly, this interview/rehash at the New Yorker strikes me as being not as bad.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cracked me up for some reason

The sixth link on google for Crate and Barrel:

Hazard: The acrylic base of the Hanukkah menorah can ignite if the candles are allowed to burn completely, creating a fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: One incident; no injuries.

Description: The Crate and Barrel “Hanukkah Menorah” has a clear acrylic base with brass candle cups. The menorah accommodates nine standard menorah candles. [...]

Sold at: Crate and Barrel stores nationwide and online at from October 2003 through December 18, 2003 for about $25.

Manufactured in: India

Remedy: Do not ignite any candles in this “Hanukkah Menorah.”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Media matters

The press's unprofessionalism is infuriating.

I consider myself a relatively sophisticated media consumer. So when I read this Gregg Easterbrook review of Gore's new movie via a laudatory link by the so-often-180-degrees-off Andrew Sullivan, I should have in full skepticism mode. Yet I assumed there were some valid if unimportant points in the dreck. How naive I was. Just incredible. Also, bad Slate.

Just an embarassment of snark-worthy sadness.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hopefully not for future reference

If a few decades hence a NeoCheney admin uses the precedent of the raid on Rep. Jefferson's office to commit more obvious violations of the separation of powers, let it be noted that I spoke out against the FBI's action. They should have gone through the congressional leadership, gotten a subpoena, and at the least been accompanied by the Hill police force. Two hundred nineteen years of precedence down the drain to further nail one dead-to-rights crooked politician - or perhaps to prove they could.

Hopefully not for future reference.

Update: I was wrong about the subpoena. Right about the House sergeant of arms and the Capitol police, though - why bar them?

Some - well, many - cry chutzpah.

Also should have pointed to the comments circa here, which I'm only catching up on.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rabbi Gellman hits eleven on the clueless or disingenuous scale

I can humbly ask whether my atheist brothers and sisters really believe that their lives are better, richer and more hopeful by clinging to Camus's existential despair: “The purpose of life is that it ends." I can agree to make peace with atheists whom I believe ask too little of life here on planet earth if they will agree to make peace with me and with other religious folk who perhaps have asked too much.
Rabbi Gellman can't be that clueless, so I'm going with extraordinarily disingenuous.

Via Brad DeLong (who [entirely unrelatedly] has trouble reading Lolita here).

Advertising rhymes

I praised the Sony Bravia ad here. Via Crooked Timber, a funny pretty takeoff.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Adam Nagourney gives up

See here for a pretty straightforward account of why the Dems have a reasonable shot at takiing the House this fall.

Update: the hacktacular Mickey Kaus claimed Nagourney is biased in favor of Democrats.

The War on Mallomars and Brad Pitt's Currycombed Cat

See here and here.

("Brad Pitt's Currycombed Cat" © John Thullen)

Update: more good stuff from John.

Sometimes I get a great notion

that my true calling is to teach poetry.

Then I'm reminded (by e.g. The Poor Man) about students.

Here's where a link to Philip Levine's essay "Mine Own John Berryman" should go.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Experimental constraints on non-Newtonian forces at short distances

I enjoyed this paper, describing a fun experiment looking for deviations in Newtonian gravity at short distances. And since I was entirely unfamiliar with the sub-field of physics in question, the last page or so was exciting. Probably accessible to most people willing to skim up to the description of the experimental apparatus.

Thorough follow-up with cool pictures.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Alas, I think I am becoming an engineer

Vae puto machinator fio. When I introduce myself as a physicist, Mrs R.'s brow tends to furrow, because since she insisted I give up my bohemian lifestyle and earn a living I've been writing programs and futzing with electronics from more of an engineering than a physics perspective.

On the other hand, I assembled Rilkekind's crib yesterday, my attention only slightly distracted by a baseball game. It probably took me an hour, in part because there were a couple of bits where I could have used an extra pair of hands. Anyway, I went looking for a faq on the right height adjustment to use, and came across the Amazon reviews of the crib, a couple of which I read, both from people who had assembled the thing by themselves in 20 minutes - one of whom was 8.5 mo pregnant at the time.

Weird world

Recently I got an email asking permission to use one of my poems in a church service. The poem was probably written when I was in college - I don't remember the circumstances. However, despite the title, Grace, and a touch of religousesque imagery, it was probably inspired by a young woman, and not of the Beatrice sort. But ok, even if I'm as rabid an atheist as I can be, and tend to think religion has been a malign influence in history, these seemed like nice people and I said ok.

I haven't really managed to learn the important writerly craft of distance - most of my work still gives me pleasure. The verse in question however doesn't seem like something I wrote - it may be sappy, or just bad, or just something tossed off by a young man in windy Ithaca. I include it for anyone reading to mock or mend, if they feel the urge:


She asked me why I was crying.
I said, "It's just the wind
Blowing across my face
Fierce as if I had sinned."

I asked her why she was smiling.
She said, "The wind on my face
Touched the corners of my lips
Like the wingtips of grace."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rilkefan's Four Stages of Dealing with Incompetent Administrations

See here and here under this post.

Beware the glaciers?

Beware the glaciers? They should beware us.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Kepner on Giambi

Excellent article on Jason Giambi's approach at the plate. E.g.
He described a typical at-bat, choosing a situation in which Jeter is on first with one out, with Alex Rodriguez on deck:

What's this guy going to do?" Giambi said. "More than likely, he'll try to throw me an off-speed pitch I can hook into the hole and try to roll into a double play. If you're going to sit on changeup, make him throw it for a strike, get it up in the zone.

"Boom, first-pitch sinker, that's a ball, 1-0. Alex is hitting behind me, so more than likely he's going to throw me a 'get me over' curveball or changeup to try to get me to chase. So, 1-0, I can't hit that changeup down and away, you give it to him for a strike.

"More than likely, on 1-1, he's going to try to keep me from leaning over the plate and come inside with a fastball to try to back me off. Well, that's the one I've got to be ready to hit, because if he makes a mistake on the inner half, that's where I want it. That's the ball that I can lean on, and if I have to hit it through the shift or get it up in the air to right field, that's my pitch.

"But if he misses — a lot of times it's up and in — boom, you take it and now it's 2-1. Well, 9 times out of 10, he's going to go changeup down and away again, or he's going to throw me a hard sinker down and away and try to get me to roll into the shift."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Help understanding the press reaction to Colbert on Bush

In the Oct 6, 2003 New Yorker, Rachel Cohen wrote about a famous review in which John Collins pointed out the many errors in a book by Edmund Gosse and then discussed its awful prose. In particular, she notes:
Cambridge stood behind its Clark Lecturer, although none of Gosse’s colleagues seem to have thought the book particularly distinguished, or the review particularly wrong. Henry James wrote to William Dean Howells that Gosse had “paid, fearfully, the penalty” of his “false position” at Cambridge, and later said that Gosse had “a genius for inaccuracy.” At Oxford, when a scholar made an error people took to saying, “He has made a Gosse of himself.” Still, the consensus was that Collins’s review was not nice. The way in which the literary world rallied behind Gosse has sometimes been taken to show that his offenses were not very serious. As Janet Malcolm has pointed out, Gosse’s habitual inaccuracy can too easily be regarded as a sort of condition, “like nearsightedness”; she suggests, convincingly, that physiology is not nearly so helpful here as psychology. [etc]