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)
Monday, October 30, 2006
User Interface Issue

Also surprising is TX-22 , [Tom Delay's old district,] where former representative Nick Lampson is in a statistical tie with "write-in." The trouble for the Republican write-in candidate, dermatologist Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, is that the voters have to write in her name with a track ball on a virtual keyboard with no hyphen. Probably many people will flounder.

Saturday, October 28, 2006
And At These Prices You Won't Get Many More Either

A commenter at Volokh:
I had the best joke about Katherine MacKinnon. I don't think it's appropriate for this forum, but suffice it to say that it starts, "So Katherine MacKinnon, Stephen Hawking, and Paris Hilton walk into a bar."

Friday, October 27, 2006


(Via, and there looks like a trail from there.)
Out of the Inkwell

Check out the inkblot-matching game here, via.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I Only Have Eyes For You

I've never, ever, written any fiction of any length that was any good. As an example, as a teenager I once thought of a story idea that even I knew made no sense: there's this blind guy, see, and one day he meets a girl that he can see. Why, and then what? I never had any idea, although if I tell you that I thought maybe it's because the girl was radioactive, perhaps you'll see how I don't have the deft poetic touch you'd need to turn this into something worthwhile. But I'd think about this idea every couple of years, and wonder if there was anything to be gleaned from it.

Well, Jack Fucking Pot: This is from a feature story in Wired about prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, which is, as the name implies, a complete inability to recognize faces:

WHEN ZOË HUNN WAS 14, her three closest friends decided to enter a modeling contest in a London department store. The girls tried to convince Hunn to sign up, too. She thought it was a silly idea; looks didn't matter to her, and she had no idea whether she was pretty. She had never paid much attention to her face – it didn't seem to represent who she was.

Though she didn't know it, Hunn was severely face blind. Her father had the same problem. Both just assumed that they were bad with faces, in the same way some people are bad with names. They developed elaborate coping strategies, like focusing on voices and searching for clues in a conversation. Inevitably, they embarrassed themselves.


In the summer of 2003, she traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the annual theater festival. On the third night, she saw a performer who was unusually memorable. He was a tall mime with white hair and vivid black eyebrows. She stared at him. He was the first person she felt she'd ever really seen.

Later that night, the unimaginable happened: Hunn recognized him in a bar. It was like being thrown a lifeline. She mustered the courage to introduce herself and told him that his performance made her laugh. He smiled and thanked her. She learned his name was Mick, and that was all she needed. She was in love. It didn't matter that he was a 44-year-old mime trying to make ends meet. She could see him.

Mick, for his part, was captivated not by her beauty but by the way she watched him as if her whole world depended on the sight of him. It was a performer's dream, and Mick melted in the intensity of it. Despite the protests of her parents, they moved in together within a few months.

And it turns out, she was totally radioactive! No, it doesn't. In fact, the article never gets back to Zoe and Mick, which is too bad. But at least I got to use the story title that I wanted to use all those years ago, as the title of this entry.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Speaking for Nerds All Over

Here's a first-person account from a guy who, he says, is the only person ever to recover from Spasmodic Dysphonia, a total loss of voice. And it turns out you probably know his comic strip.

UPDATE: Mark Liberman at Language Log has more here.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Hurry! NBC Has Lawyers!

A well-done shaggy dog story from SNL last night, as Brit Hume (Darrell Hammond) questions GWB (Tim Forte) on the Iraq war.

UPDATE: Fast ones, too.
Apples With Agents

A couple of times in the last few weeks, somebody has mentioned to me the Honeycrisp apple, described both times as one of the best apples they'd ever had, and supposedly not available in supermarkets because they don't grow enough of them. The next time I was in Whole Foods I looked for them, and sure enough there they were. I got a few and found it to be a perfectly fine apple, but nothing to write home about.

A week later, John Scalzi:

You know, there are very few things in life that beat a really crisp apple.

And I'm not even that much of an apple person.

This is the type of apple I'm eating, incidentally. On another note, I think it's mildly disturbing that an apple variety has its own Web domain.

Many comments follow, including this one that I think is the key:
Honeycrisp must have just got a new agent. I'd never heard of them before this year and John's the third person I've heard praise them recently.
There's a marketing story here somewhere.
Fond Dutch Memories via YouTube

I was thinking about this great Dutch TV commercial that was going around the late 1990s, and wondered if YouTube had it. Sure enough...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Continuing Saga of Stuff I Just Realized

Along the lines of Monty Python sometimes being called "The Beatles of Comedy", the name "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969) is pretty damn reminiscent of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" (1967), don't you think?

Extra Fun Fact: the foot Terry Gilliam uses to crush stuff is from here.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Lady, You Just Plain Unlucky

Plane hit home of woman hurt in Macy's parade
NEW YORK - A woman whose apartment was burned in the high-rise crash of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s plane was the victim of another frightening, bizarre and high-profile Manhattan accident years earlier, when a lamppost knocked over by a parade float seriously injured her.

Kathleen Caronna and her family were unhurt in Wednesday’s crash, which killed Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger. But the engine of the Cirrus SR20 landed in her bedroom, which went up in flames minutes before she would arrived home, her relatives told the Daily News in Friday’s editions.

“How do you go through two major things like this?” Caronna’s sister-in-law, Lisa Brown, told the paper. “It’s spooky. It’s very spooky.”

Big Scary Cat In Your Face From My Name Is Earl Blogging

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Coors Light Fake Press Conference Bill Walsh Ads, Or: Just Put the Keywords In The Heading and Google Will Bring You The Hits

I finally captured the 3 Bill Walsh ads this past weekend; earlier cranky criticism here. Click-n-go, until the copyright people come for them:

UPDATE: YouTube member tumordog (oh, who am I to mock another man's netname) has this theory:
I think these are real press conferences with a new backdrop. I believe the Walsh conferences are from when he was brought back to the Niners as a VP. He said something like "I haven't come here to clean house," which would be consistent with that. He also said "12 and 4 isn't bad," and he was appointed to that position in 1999--following the 12-4 season in 1998. I bet this is from his press conference when he came back to the team.
More on this completely unimportant story as it develops.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Sleeper Wakes

Hey, faithful reader...I finally found something truly bizarre worth posting about:

GUIDING LIGHT Episode 15,038: "She's a Marvel"
Airdate: Wednesday, November 1

teams up with Marvel Comics and unveils a new super-powered character
on Wednesday, November 1.

The episode, titled She's a Marvel, focuses on mild mannered and
harried Harley Davidson Cooper (played by Beth Ehlers). Zapped by an
electrical current, Cooper finds herself imbued with superpowers she
must somehow incorporate into her life as a cop, mother and wife.

In addition to this special episode, Marvel Comics will release an
eight-page comic back-up featuring some of Marvels mightiest heroes
(and villains) descending on Guiding Lights city of Springfield to
determine if this new super-powered being is friend or foe!

GUIDING LIGHT is broadcast weekdays (check local listings) on the CBS
Television Network and is a Procter & Gamble Production.
Now, that's art.

In quick TV-reporting news, I've been spending too much time looking at the picture produced by my new Series 3 TiVo to actually write about any new shows, although I've seen only a few. The S3 tunes digital signals -- including HDTV -- from over the air, as well as directly tuning analog and digital cable, and it makes my TV look twice as good as before. One of the best-looking shows I've seen in this mode is ABC's Ugly Betty, which I watched a couple of times and then realized I was only watching because it looked so good. Which is pretty ironic for a show called Ugly Betty, which is vaguely about misjudging people by their looks. So I dropped it.

Other shows sampled: Smith, cancelled after 3 episodes! The Class...I'm enjoying the cast, although Jason Ritter seems to have scrunched up his face a lot since Joan of Arcadia. Both Studio 60 and 30 Rock seem like keepers, although I like to read Alan Sepinwall who explains everything that's wrong and stupid with Studio 60.

And on the superhero front, Heroes and the new Legion of Superheroes animated series. More on those, probably, later. So obviously I only watch shows about superheroes and thinly fictionalized versions of Saturday Night Live.

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