Category Archives: Uncategorized

Maori Legend of Man-Eating Birds is True, proving the New Zealand is Jurassic Park

Slashdot Science Story | Maori Legend of Man-Eating Birds is True.

That doesn’t look too scary, more like a 6-foot turkey!

When You Think About It, The Death Star Was Stormtroopers’ 9/11

When You Think About It, The Death Star Was Stormtroopers’ 9/11 – Star Wars – Gizmodo.


As Shane commented, its hard to make 9/11 jokes in New York and not risk getting punched in the face. But this is fantastic.

Cat-‘o-Nine Tails to whip those Yankees into shape!

Commentary: Why the shock about Joe Wilson? –

Eeee! Someone in the traditional media wrote about the Brooks-Sumner affair in relation to Joe Wilson. 

When do I get to be a history professor?

Ikea Adventures

Today, coming back from Ikea on the Ikea Ferry, there was a very large man, who wore a large diamond ring, yelling in Russian. He was with a tall woman with very large breasts, dressed in white jeans and a white shirt and lots of jewelry. When the ferry docked back at Pier 11 at Manhattan, the two got back in line for the ferry, apparently to ride again.


Yelling in Russian on the free Ikea ferry

Yelling in Russian on the free Ikea ferry



Is the economic downturn so harsh that even Russian Oligarchs need to ride free ferries for Sunday entertainment?

Then, on the C Train back, I made a new friend. His name was Steven. And he was my best friend.


He was my best friend

He was my best friend

How does a fish get onto the train like that, besides a Metrocard? Who knows! But it was his final dream to visit Manhattan, and he did. His personal story will be resold as Finding Nemo II: Lost in New York.

Oh Steven, I will miss you. But there is that saying about there being lots of fish in the sea. I believe it goes: A stitch in time saves 9.

Sunday Reading

Sunday news is filled with hilarious and fun articles about Glenn Beck and the 9/12 protests. I’m sure that there were similar articles during Iraq protests. ANSWER is certainly prone to critique and mockery. But those protests were defined by 3 key characteristics:

1.The February 15, 2003 anti-Iraq War protests were, more or less, the largest protest ever, reaching all over the world. And while 9/12 protestors may think that they were the largest protest ever:

 “I think this is the biggest crowd ever to march on Washington.” Another man, marching nearby, agreed: “I think this is the greatest American outpouring I’ve seen in my life.”

They are wrong.

It is the largest organized protest against Obama, to date. That would be point enough. But no, they have to claim that it is the biggest crowd ever. The willing blindness about the sheer facts of the matter should be a microcosm of the whole movement.

2. The anti-War protests were focused on a single, achievable goal (No War in Iraq) and 

Certainly, groups like ANSWER had their goals all over the place, arguing about Palestinians and marijuana legalization and such. But those were not the points of those protests.

As the Slate article points out, the 9/12 movement doesn’t really have a goal. Its very confused. That one article does a good job listing arguments by the protestors, and then pointing out that they are wrong.

Attendees were also adamant that members of Congress read legislation. Betsy McCaughey, after being introduced by the MC as “the woman who started it all by actually reading the bills,” appeared at the podium toting her usual binder containing the House health care legislation and proceeded to read from it. (Her claims were similar to ones she made in a New York Post op-ed in July. They have been largely refuted.) “I think Congress should read the bills, but I’d be happier if some of them read this a little more often,” said Rep. Pence, brandishing the Constitution.

Unfortunately, reading bills rarely resolves anything. Witness this exchange between me and a young man from South Carolina.

Him: “Have you read the House health care bill?” 
Me: “Yes, parts of it.”
Him: “Do you think it covers illegal immigrants?” 
Me: “No.”
Him: “Then you haven’t read it!”

The bill does not, in fact, cover illegal immigrants.

Timothy Noah’s column in Slate about the protests is short, but to the point. I really appreciate the social/anthropological pseduoanalysis:

What is Washington? It is the Other. Who is the president? He is the Other. What is the purpose of Glenn Beck’s movement? To purge America of the Other.

Also, the column refers to Beck as a Bot who has passed the Turing Test. Wheee!

A Salon article about the protests focuses more on the current return of massive “right-wing” publishing, viewing books through the lens of literary fiction

Now, I didn’t forget the third point:

3. The anti-Iraq War protests were right in the end. 

While some may argue that the Healthcare or other policy is flawed, that doesn’t seem to be the point of these protests. In the end, Obama will not be a secret Communist, or a Nazi, or born in Africa. They are already wrong about these key points.

First Flashback Friday

This is a little late in the day, but I want to make every Friday a flashback Friday, where I post something I’ve already done. Hopefully something somewhat relevant to something I’ve seen over the past week.

This week, I was struck while reading the Thresher to see that Prof. Evan Siemann was in charge of a committee overseeing changes to the Honor Code. During my time at Rice, of all the professors I interacted with, Siemann was the one who seemed to have student interests least in mind. During arguments about calendar changes, he didn’t seem to care what student concerns were, just his own. Rice is supposed to be a university that stands apart because of its dedication to the undergrad body. But Siemann seemed to view student concerns with utter disdain and annoyance rather than concern.

He should be the last person in charge of any undergrad oriented changes. The Thresher does a good job calling for deliberation when contemplating the changes Siemann recommended

Thus, this Flackback Friday will be a Backpage in which I mocked Siemann for his complete ignorance of student concerns and rather selfish attitude towards university concerns. 1130thresp20

I wish that I had a copy of the cartoon Dan did for that week. It was an excellent mockery of just the horrible attitude of Siemann and other professors towards the academic calendar.

Burn Down Monks

Betty Draper’s dad died on June 11, 1963. This date is 8 days after the death of Pope John XXIII, upon which Peggy’s mom commented, and the date on which Thich Quang Duc burned himself to protest the Ngo Dinh Diem administration’s treatment of Buddhist monks.

One Catholic leader died, while another continues to slide the path towards his own.

Slate’s review ( complains about the “heavy-handed” death scene, with the adults sitting around the table, condemning their daughter’s emotional outburst while scenes of Vietnam air on the television.

But I think the real message was from what little Sally yelled: “He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s really really gone, and he’s never coming back.”

Because the world is gone. The world as they knew it is gone. And it is never coming back. June 11 marks the day upon which the conflict in Vietnam first entered American living rooms. It is also the day when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the door of the University of Alabama to protest integration. And I’m sure there is something subtle about Vatican II and the death of John XXIII. The world is changing.

Like Betty, and her insistence that she is her father’s little girl when he attempts to talk about his end of life planning, these characters want to be treated like children and remain oblivious to the fact that the world is not static. They want to hide because it bothers them.

However, it will take the younger generation to implore upon them that their previous world is gone, gone, and never coming back. The gap between the adults and Sally will come forth full scale with the Vietnam and Civil Rights marches, with youth riots, and the rise of youth culture. Perhaps it all could have been avoided if Betty had just hugged her daughter upon receiving the news of grandpa’s death, rather than marching inside and closing the door behind her.

The coming conflicts become all the more apparent when one goes back and watches the conversation between Bobby and grandpa about war.

“War is bad.”

“Yeah, but it makes a man out of you.”

Given his age, Bobby (or at least kids his age) will end up serving in Vietnam. While Grandpa Gene may relish in his World War I years, despite how violent and pointless the war was, for some reason he can take pride from it. The only Vietnam vets who seem to love their time there are politicians who want it on their resume. 

What is the difference? Is Bobby’s generation more self-aware? Are Grandpa Gene’s senility and constant strokes a metaphor for his generation? Or was Vietnam just a different war?

As part of this conversation, Gene tries to give Bobby a German soldier hat from WWI, one of those hilarious stereotypes with the spike on top. However, Don tries to stop him. Despite the obvious parenting conflict, which is a large message of this episode, this scene has two interesting points. First, Don critiques the helmet as “a dead man’s hat.” As the Salon review says, Don is the one actually wearing a dead man’s hat, living under the stolen name from a fallen peer in the Korean War. Second, Gene backtracks from his comment of “here’s where I shot him,” (or something like that) pointing to the bullet hole, to saying that there were a lot of people shooting at a lot of other people, and he doesn’t know whether he got him or not. War is not a battle between men. 

And maybe that is why Don is so uncomfortable with war. He knows people. He knows the stories we want in our lives, our hopes, dreams, etc. But that is not what war is, despite the glamour that media and commerce throws upon it.

Anyways, I was going to comment on the parenting throughout the episode, but I think I’ll end here. 

He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him round the Union Square, and round Washington Square Park, and round Chelsea’s flames before I give him up!


Once again, I murdered a mouse.

Once again, I murdered a mouse.

Burn Down Blogs

Everything has already been done, so why do it? What possibly interesting thing could I have to say?

Well, apparently, something, because after much deliberation and slight encouragement, I finally founded a blog that I hope to which I’ll post on some regular basis.

I Tweet enough as is, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

Right now, just finished reading Employment Services v. Smith. Reminded me of my time at Texas Monthly, given all the talk about peyote. But that’s a topic for flashback fridays, which I swear I’ll do.