Thursday, July 28, 2005

If You Live in Chicago... have until 31JUL to get a free Chicago Card for the CTA (normally $5). Order online or read this to find other ways to get it. Even if you only visit Chicago you might as well get one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

We Claim this for the Queen!

This desolate, inhabitable arctic island of 1.5 square kilometres (that's probably smaller than your neighborhood) near the North Pole is called Hans Island. There is a huge debate brewing between Denmark & Canada over who this small parcel of land actually belongs to. It's nestled right between Greenland (a Danish Territory) and Ellesmere Island (Canada). Unfortunately, back in the day, the smart people that originally came up with the boundaries between Greenland and Canada never really defined who Hans Island belonged too, and thought they'd decide some time later. Which, I guess is now.

Who cares about this dot on a map of the world? With global warming (a hot button issue for evil-twin Y.) changing possible fishing routes, and the remote chance of valuable mining to be done, people do care.

Recently, some suit from Canada went up there for a little tour and promptly returned. The hope is that if/when the issue gets to International Courts, Canada can say "well, we occupied it...see, we sent important people there!". The Danes are countering with a research vessel heading there soon.

The Battle of Hans is still to be played out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dangerous Irrelevant Variables

I have been reading Principles of Condensed Matter Physics this summer and ran across section 5.8.8 entitled Dangerous irrelevant variables. The world of theoretical physics is indeed a strange one.

Remember what the internet was created for? So researchers could share data. No really. Perhaps this one post wont change that the internet is 99% porn and shopping, but oh well. I can not more highly recommend The Science of Scientific Writing by Gopen and Swan.

  • If technical writing is part of your professional life (reading or writing) then you must go read this.
  • If techinical writing is a part of your personal life you probably should read this.
  • If technical writing is not part of your personal or professional life, but you do read or write from time to time, then it couldn't hurt to go read this.
  • Monday, July 25, 2005

    What Happened to Jermaine Dye?

    Another addition to the strange professional athlete injuries
    Jermaine Dye has learned one thing from being sidelined by a spider bite: "I think I'm going to pull back the sheets now."

    Dye has been sidelined since being bitten several times on the leg during the White Sox's stay in Cleveland ...

    "When it first happened it just looked like little bites so I just kept playing, and all of a sudden it just kept getting bigger and bigger and the lymph nodes and stuff started popping up, so you know that you need to go see a doctor and what's going on," he said.

    "Once you find out that it can become dangerous if it spreads and gets into your system, you start to worry."

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Me and Apu Revisited

    The recent murder (yes, I'd call it murder) of an innocent Brazilian citizen, wrongly associated with the recent horrendous bombings in London underscore what I've thought all along: Some people with the power to kill really can't tell 'non-white' people apart. I understand the issues of national security, and the threat of suicide bombers is very real. I also understand that the powers that be (aka The Man) must make some important decisions in a very short time frame. However, without significant training and grounds (other than he lived in a place that they thought terrorists lived) those decisions can't be made effectively and events like this could be the norm. Although the English Government and Police have apologized sincerely, they have not addressed the obvious ignorance that permeates their tactics. If you can't tell a South American from an Arab (the terrorist profile!) there are obvious problems.

    Saturday, July 23, 2005

    More Fun News

    From The Tribune
    New York real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran gave Oak Park the No. 5 spot on her list of "America's Sexiest Suburbs."
    You can find her report here. As a dooper (that's Dear Old Oak Park[er]) I was shocked to read this statistic:
    SINGLES: 40.6%***
    MARRIED: 10%***
    DIVORCED: 49.3%***

    ***source: Oak Park Illinois City website
    What's happened?

    What Really Matters

    Forget about all of the civic politics going around. Let's discuss what unites us all: hot dogs. July is national hot dog month. What, you didn't know that? I'm willing to do my part to celebrate. Anyhoo, the visionaires at the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council recently lost their cred when they said that New York has the best hot dogs in the USA. Obviously, Chicago is calling foul, and rightfully so. Just to be clear, I love New York and all that, but when it comes to pizza and hot dogs, Chicago has it beat. The proof is in the waist-lines, people! New York hot dogs are not that bad, but end up being soggy, and that awful deli mustard is...well, awful! It should also be noted that I'm not a fan of the 'traditional' Chicago dog, with peppers, tomatoes and whatever. I'm a pretty straight forward ketchup/mustard/bbq sauce kinda guy. The meat on a Chicago dog is far better than anything that could come out of NYC. I even take the whole list with grain of celery-salt (ZING!) as we all know that both cities pale in comparison to a good Toronto dog. Bigger, with Bacon Bits, Honey Mustard, Mayo, salsa, etc... When they come up with an international list, then we'll talk. Who's up for some Maxwell Street?

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Bikers Beware

    Since all of the Yins and Yangs are avid recreational/commuter bikers I thought this post about the ChicagoPlice cracking down of bikers. [in case you didn't know bikers are supposed to follow the rules of the road which includes staying off the sidewalks] They plan on issuing (for real) tickets after a blitz of warnings. I appreciate the warning, and agree that there are plenty of bikers who give everyone else a bad name. Lots of people agreed, which surprised Eric Zorn. My experience is that all bikers receive a level of disdain from cars and such, but also that bikers give it out in healthy doses to pedestrians. Let's just be safe, shall we?

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Too much Yin, not enough Yang

    The recent posts have all taken a certain slant on things. The reason is that I've been out and about seeing the country. I had a couple of days of debauchery in Las Vegas, then off to NYC where I found some new digs. How the mice did play when the cat was away!

    Perhaps my final word on the whole smoking ban debacle will be this. The entire argument is not based on trying to impose people's values on another. Those type of arguments go nowhere and can be debated ad nasueum. I haven't been arguing on the side of morals and values, but rather on a very real, and very serious public health threat. That argument has not been addressed by anyone yet. Enough of that.

    Whilst getting administrative junk done at NYU, I was criss-crossing Washington Square and saw an interesting bill posted: "If you saw a guy get beat-up by 4 plain clothes officers a few nights ago, please call....". Kind of funny.

    I was enjoying a bottle of wine with a friend at some jazz bar thing, and he mentioned that the guy from Broken Social Scene (the indie rock wunder-band from Toronto, also the darlings of the Toronto scene and indie media a few years ago) got beat up in Washington Square a few nights ago. Here's the story, which is a good read from Pitchforkmedia. Anyways, to summarize, they just arrive in NYC, and the first thing they want is some pot. So they head down to NYU and try to score. Unfortunately, he tries to score off an undercover cop. OOPS! A whole bunch of plainclothes cops descend and tell him to put his hands up. He claims that he thought they were mugging him (muggers pretending to be cops), and he resists. That's when they get all Rodney King on his ass. Needless to say, the indie-rock scene is up in arms over the treatment of one of their own. His lone defense was that he forgot (perhaps this is a sign, stoner!) that he was no longer in Canada (more liberal drug laws). Pretty pitiful excuse, as far as I'm concerned. Now he's suing the NYPD for police brutality and and some other stuff, pretty American, no? I'll be the first one to say 'fuck the police', but he admittedly resisted the cops after trying to admittedly buy some drugs.

    I have no qualms with pot, and I support the legalization/de-criminalization, but dude needs to take responsibilty for his actions. Indie-rock bands take note: things like this happen when you become a sell-out!

    University of Pennsylvania Pop Culture Blitz

    A medical student from the University of Pennsylvania recently won the Ashton Kutcher produced Beauty and the Geek competition. In the show geeky males were paired with their beautiful counterparts and competed to win $250,000.

    And in other news, a University of Pennsylvania Law Student placed 8th at the World Series of Poker. He repotedly carried his $1,150,000 check home in his pocket.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't

    The left's reaction to the Supreme Court nomination
    Everyone wondered if Bush would try to shove a right-wing fanatic down liberal throats or play it safe. With Roberts Bush is obviously playing it safe - maybe because he's tanking in the polls, or suffering from the Rove scandal and bad Iraq news, or just because he doesn't want another battle to distract from his faltering domestic agenda ... He is a well-known Washington insider, an institutional player, a highly-placed member of the legal Establishment. He enjoys the kind of respect Kenneth Starr had before embarking on his anti-Clinton crusade, as a safe, sound man, not an ideological zealot like Edith Jones or wacko like Janice Rogers Brown. These qualities are going to make Roberts's confirmation easier.

    They are also what make him dangerous.
    Oh dear, this isn't going to be pretty.

    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Thomas Sowell's Random Thought

    One of my favorite online opinion people is Thomas Sowell. In a recent column entitled Random Thoughts he gives the following
    Many people are so preoccupied with the notion that their own knowledge exceeds the average knowledge of millions of other people that they overlook the more important fact that their knowledge is not even one-tenth of the total knowledge of those millions. That is the crucial fallacy behind the repeated failures of central planning and other forms of social engineering which concentrate power in the hands of people with less knowledge and more presumption.
    I thought this was especially relevant when you consider the juxtaposition of the recent pro smoking ban post and the anti video game regulation post. We should not let either a minority or a majority of do-gooders use the government to impose their values on the public.

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Living Wages

    In a "definitive" study done by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy entitled Examining the Evidence: The Impact of the Los Angelas Living Wage Ordinance on Workers and Business the following conclusion was reached
    Living wage laws have proliferated around the nation, partly as a response to the stagnation of state and federal minimum wages, as well as to the increasing privatization of city services as a means to cut costs. These laws are designed to remove the incentive for government to contract out jobs to low-wage employers, thus leveling the playing field for city contractors.
    I guess if you think this is an argument for or against living wage ordinances would say a lot about your outlook on public policy. Dmitri Vassilaros doesn't like it and neither should you.

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    How we do in San Andreas, bitch!

    The story about a bunch of 'hackers' that 'unlocked' a graphic sex scene in GTA:San Andreas has been floating around for a bit now.

    It brought along it's usual crusaders of people trying to censor it, or make it Adults Only. Do people not have 'regular' jobs these days, where they actually contribute to society?

    Although I'm far from calling myself a gamer, I've played GTA a few times, and honestly I thought it was a good time. I think part of the problem stems from an older generation just not used to modern video games. When people from my generation, people that grew up on video games being more than Pac-Man or Pong, get some power, games of the GTA ilk won't seem that big of a deal. Does anyone remember the original taboo game of Leisure Suit Larry? That was groundbreaking stuff. I think adults forget the ability of children to be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, right and wrong. In 50 years, I expect the notion of violence in video-games and music being the root of all evil to be abandoned. Chris Rock has a great line about this witch-hunt to blame games/music/books/movies for violence: "Whatever happened to just saying they were crazy? Can't people be crazy anymore?".

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    A Civilized Chicago (finally).

    The city of Chicago is once again contemplating the idea of a smoking ban in all public areas, including bars and clubs. I don't have much hope of it passing, but it would be great. Every single argument against this law just doesn't hold true. If you read the article, the group is trying to compromise with having smoking licenses or a time frame in which you can or can't smoke. Absolutely stupid. There is no room for compromise. I wish Chicago had the cojones to follow the lead of major North American cities (New York, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver and even Madison rep'ing the midwest). But it doesn't. The fact is that there is no big drop off in business to bars/taverns that restauranteurs are afraid of. People will not lose their jobs. What happens is that the people who wish to smoke will get up from the table and go outside. Pretty simple, no? Stocks in Febreeze would plummet. Until this city gets serious about this issue, it will still be living in the dark, smokey ages.


    As some people will tell you, I really can't stand comic books. Marvel, D.C, whatever. Hate them all. However, I do enjoy comic strips. Nothing better than reading the Sunday strips.

    This one's a bit too close for comfort:
    Anyone know of any worthy strips?

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Baseball Predictions

    Since both my preseason eveluation of the Cubs and (unpublished) preseason prediction for the White Sox were so accurate, I decided to make my all-start break predictions for the last 48% of the season.
    AL playoffs:
    White Sox (Central champs) def. Angels (West champs)
    Indians (wildcard) def. Red Sox (East champs)
    White Sox def. Indians
    2nd half faders: Twins and Orioles
    Come up just short: Yankees and Athletics

    National League:
    Cardinals (Central champs) def. Mets (wildcard)
    Padres (West champs) def. Braves (East champs)
    Cardinals def. Padres
    2nd half faders: Nationals and Astros
    come up just short: Florida

    World Series:
    White Sox def. Cardinals
    I don't want to make the post forever, so as these predictions come true I will explain to you how I did it. For a fun recap of the 1st half read that link.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    German Teen/Worm Sentenced.

    I ran across this stroy at The Tribune and slashdot. Here is the meat
    The BBC is reporting that Sven Jaschan, author of the Sasser Worm, has been found guilty of computer sabotage and illegally altering data. He received a 21 month suspended sentence, as he was tried as a minor. He was 17 years old when he wrote the worm.
    Both stories contain this quote
    "Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for anti-virus vendor Sophos PLC. "In many ways, Sven Jaschan was lucky that the police caught him when they did."
    Now Graham isn't in law enforcement, but it is an interesting point. Should it be the age when the crime is committed or the age when arrested? The first reaction is when the crime is committed. However, suppose it was another 10 years before he was caught. Clearly he was living through his adult life not taking responsibilty for his actions, so why try him as a minor? On the other extreme, why is a crime committed 1 week before your 18th birthday dramatically different then 1 week after? It seems arbitrary, but almost any alternative would be equally arbitrary. I leave it as an open question.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Where are the Cubs?

    In an ESPN baseball article, Sean McAdams addresses what each playoff contender needs to try and acquire before the trade dealine. The Cubs where noticibly absent from the National league list.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    "Tasteless" Jokes...ZING!

    The French PM Jacques Chirac recently caused an international incident when he insulted the national cuisine of England and Finland. He is quoted as saying of the English:
    “We can't trust people who have such bad food,”
    Which I think is a fair appraisal of English cuisine. Although, recently an English colleague of mine made a great dessert called trifle. They also do have Fish N' Chips. That's good stuff. In defense of Chirac, perhaps one of the great dining experiences of my life was around the northern coast of France.

    I shouldn't be one to talk (since my mother's pot was sometimes full of goat, pig tails and ox-tails like any good caribbean pot), I think the worst food on the planet MUST be Polish. They will pickle ANYTHING. Granted, most of their food is quite humble for socio-political reasons it really is quite bad. I once had a 'traditional' Polish dinner with an ex-girlfriend (who was Polish) who smacked her lips at every single thing on the table. Friends, this was food that I imagine MONSTERS would eat. You definitely can't trust people who have such bad food. Not to sound bitter (another great pun!), but she couldn't be trusted either. What's your vote for poorest national cuisine?

    Bar Dispute

    The Yin Yang team took in the White Sox game at a local bar and of course there was a dispute. I am posting the evidence that I am right - a starting pitcher must pitch 5 innings to be elligible for the win. Better luck next time, Brandon McCarthy. Brandon was spotted a 5 run 1st inning lead against the Devil Rays, the worst team in the American League. Don't get down on Brandon too much though, he has enourmous potential.

    The issue that hasn't been settled is this: Suppose a starting pitcher leaves in the 3rd inning leading 12-8. The next pitcher records one out, then is replaced by another pitcher who completes the remaining innings. Who gets the win? I will post in the comments when I figure this out (unless someone beats me to it)

    UPDATE: I went to the official scorer's website and found the following...
    (a) Credit the starting pitcher with a game won only if he has pitched at least five complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game. (b) The "must pitch five complete innings" rule in respect to the starting pitcher shall be in effect for all games of six or more innings. In a five inning game, credit the starting pitcher with a game won if he has pitched at least four complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game. (c) When the starting pitcher cannot be credited with the victory because of the provisions of 10.19 (a) or (b) and more than one relief pitcher is used, the victory shall be awarded on the following basis: (1) When, during the tenure of the starting pitcher, the winning team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game, credit the victory to the relief pitcher judged by the scorer to have been the most effective;(etc.)

    Sunday, July 03, 2005

    Meet My New Girlfriend

    Since the Yin Yang crew has been ponificating on Tom Cruise (and his small little indie movie) lately, I've decided that the Madness must stop. Enter my latest muse Miranda July. For those not in the know, Ms. July (no, not this month's Playboy centrefold) is a well established visual and sometimes audio artist. Performance, NPR, web-based stuff and a pretty hefty bio (including a few Whitney Biennials) she's done it all. You can see her latest creation in Me and You and Everyone We Know. You'd think that coming from an 'artist', it would be some weird abstract, snooty, artsy-fartsy crap. The truth is that it's a very low-key accessible meditation on modern life/love that's won quite a few awards at Cannes and Sundance. Something really struck a chord with me, and it's probably the 2nd best movie I will see all year. The 1st being Malick's yet to be released The New World. The point is, I'm in love. So go and support m'lady and see her movie. Our kids are going to be hot.