Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Friday, June 30, 2006
Web Monkeying, Possibly by Actual Monkey

Steve M. aka No More Mr. Nice Blog links to a Free Republic comments page for his own fine reasons, but there's something great hiding on the page. See, it's about the War on The New York Times, and someone decided to mock the Times' stock price. First they show us that the stock has lost 50% of its value in the last 4 years, which is true. Then the next guy bites off more than he can chew, and here's the result -- click to enlarge, and you really should:

Well, that's funny -- why is the Freeper mocking the rise of Times stock over the last two days?


On Wednesday, the guy saw that the stock was down over the last couple of days. So he went to Yahoo's stocks section and pulled up the chart, and cut-and-pasted the link from his browser URL bar, which was . But he didn't realize that he was linking to a dynamic page that always shows the current chart. So today, he looks kind of dumb.

Thursday, June 29, 2006
Return to Sender

As a tie-in with Superman Returns, DC has a comic out this week which is listed as
Superman Returns Lois Lane
Gets store credit.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
From the Aisles at Barnes and Nobles

Chess, Bitch! I mean, Chess Bitch. You can't say the people who make up book titles don't do their jobs.
"It's Not What You're Like, It's What You Like"

A letter-writer in this week's Answer Man (Roger Ebert's bi-weekly Sunday column) says:
I've used "Being There" as a litmus test of where people are coming from. If they say they don't like the film, it tells me something about the person.
When someone makes this kind of statement, with its smug implication that anyone who doesn't like Film X has something wrong with them, and cannot possibly have an interesting or valid reason for disliking it, well, THAT tells me something about the person. (Especially if the film is "Harold and Maude".)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Blog Comment of the Day And Its Context

First, the setup: this from a poor guy named Colin, in a Jane Galt thread about bilingualism and how the ability to learn new natural languages decays after childhood:

As a software developer, I can't give much credence to the thought that we lose the ability to learn a new language.

When learning a new programming language you must learn the changes in syntax and semantics. Ditto for a new spoken language ("black cat" vs. "gato negro"). When learning a new programming language you must learn the vocabulary changes. Ditto for a new spoken language but on a much larger scale.

I know, perhaps, a dozen programming languages and picking up new ones isn't that difficult. I knew only one under the age of 12 (BASIC on an Apple IIc).

So what makes a spoken language so drastically different from programming languages that one can learn a dozen programming languages after age 12 (I would contend even that all programming languages are created by adults) but, supposedly, cannot learn a second, new spoken language?

The difference would seem to lie almost entirely in the political, economic, and social spheres. At least I don't recall any administration lobbying to require knowledge of Java or HTML to become a citizen...

Correlating language learning ability to age reminds me of that classic book by Herrnstein & Murray: The Bell Curve. Granted, I'd give more credence to correlating with age since it's quite obvious to me that our brain changes as we age: all those that remember your mother's womb, please raise your hand.

OK. Ignorance is curable, although:
-- I thought that the knowledge of the childhood window for language acquisition was common knowledge among people with any interest at all in science.
-- The idea that learning a programming language is enough like learning a natural language that a person's experience with the former is useful in understanding the latter strikes me as an idea that could only be held by someone who hasn't learned another natural language at all, and also has no introspection into how complex their own language is.
-- That reference to The Bell Curve is an interesting bit, though. Language-module-believing-in bigots!

Fortunately, this payoff from Rob Lyman makes it all worthwhile:

I'm a poor programmer whose solution to execution failures is type louder and more slowly.

Jane/Megan knows good stuff when she sees it, and flagged it as comment of the day. But I swear I picked it out first!
Peggy Noonan, Psychic Pundit

Subhead of her piece in the online WSJ:
Washington Democrats think their core voters are barking mad.
Relevant excerpts:
On the Democratic side [...] I believe they think their base is mad.
I got a sense of the distance between Democratic leaders and the base a few years ago when I met up with a Democrat who was weighing a run for the party's 2004 nomination. He hadn't announced but was starting to test the waters, campaigning out of state.

I mentioned to him that the press gives a great deal of attention to the problems of Republican leaders and their putative supporters on the ground in America, but I was interested in the particular problems a D.C. Democrat has with his party's base.

His eyebrows went up in the way people's eyebrows go up when they're interested in what they're about to say. He said--I write from memory; it was not an interview but a conversation--that he was getting an education in that area. He said when he spoke before local Democratic groups they were wildly against the war in Iraq and sometimes booed him when he spoke of it. It left him startled. He had supported the president for serious reasons: He thought Saddam a bad actor who likely had weapons of mass destruction. He wanted to talk about it, but they didn't want to hear him. They were immovable.

But there was something else. He didn't say it, but something in his manner suggested he thought they were . . . just a little crazy.
And he was blinking it in Morse Code, too.

UPDATE: Behold the power of the TBogg link! Oh, you are.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Word Tip

"Arguably" and "inarguably" are not opposites. Unlike the well-known pair "flammable" and "inflammable", this is accomplished by having the the "-arguably" in "inarguably" mean "it cannot be argued to be false", while the bare word "arguably" means ""it can be argued to be true".
Friday, June 16, 2006
World Cup Salute

The last time I was in England, I was watching some kind of sporting event involving some Cup -- maybe rugby -- and I heard this from the announcer:
It's the fans' not knowing who'll win -- that's what makes Cup fever!
Word. Anyway, England advance. (Note authentic use of singular).
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Fisting and Rimming, Out; Cartman's Mom and the Horse, In

The Hot Blog has a copy of an internal memo from some exec involved with South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, on a version of the film they were about to submit to the MPAA. Do have a look.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Stephen Colbert on RFK Jr: OK, Not OK

To Robert Kennedy Jr.'s face: "Which was easier, for Bush to steal Ohio in 2004 or for your uncle to steal Illinois in 1960?" OK.

During the opening tease, with Kennedy backstage: "I interview Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and he has a secretary names Colbert. Coincidence?" Not OK, if you get the joke.

(A story: my sibling-who-covers-news-events-including-presidential-elections was in charge of the coverage of one of the Democratic debates in 2004. At one point during the logistical planning, someone from the network suggested to the DNC rep that the candidates be brought onto the stage through a backstage route that passed through the venue's kitchen. The DNC guy said, really seriously: "We do not take Democratic presidential candidates through the kitchen.")

Things I didn't know, from the Wikipedia link:
"Maître d'hôtel Karl Uecker, writer George Plimpton, Olympic gold medalist decathlete Rafer Johnson and professional football player Rosey Grier helped detain Sirhan, with Grier jamming his thumb behind the trigger of the revolver to prevent further shots from being fired, as he had no way of knowing in the confusion if all the shots had been fired."

"Sirhan, a lifelong Roman Catholic (not a Muslim as many mistakenly assume)..."

"The Rolling Stones were recording Beggar's Banquet when Robert Kennedy was shot. A lyric in "Sympathy for the Devil" was subsequently changed from 'I shouted out, "Who killed John Kennedy?"' to "I shouted out, 'Who killed the Kennedys?'"

Thursday, June 08, 2006
Why Ann Coulter's Revolting Attack on the 9/11 "Jersey Girls", of Whom She Said "I Have Never Seen People Enjoying Their Husbands' Death So Much", Will Not Give The Right-Wing A Bad Name
My wife came home from church last night and said they were ranting about that "liberal" woman that attacked the 9/11 widows.

They didn't know she was a conservative.

-- commenter "ibobunot", at Political Animal.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Don't Talk About The War, Part (It Looks To Be) Three

Headline in the (UK) Telegraph:
Fears for the worst as 10,000 Spitfires head for Germany
(It's OK: they're inflatable toys, carried by British supporters of their World Cup teams, and intended for use to bait and mock the Germans.)

In earlier installments:

Don't mention the war, World Cup fans told

Germany enlists Basil Fawlty to stop us mentioning the war

Thursday, June 01, 2006
Reasons to Cut Down

A Volokh commenter:
In "Persistant Mullerian Duct Syndrome" the affected individual has the Male genotype of XY, penis and testes, but also a uterus and fallopian tubes. There have been documented cases of overzealous masturbation leading to auto-fertilization and subsequent pregnancy.

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