Saturday, April 29, 2006

Travels with Gumby

Okay, so I'm not the travel photographer Generik is, but here are some photos from my recent trip to New York with my daughter and her friend.

I'm not sure we were supposed to be on the roof, but none of the doors we went through and stairways we climbed said "keep out" or "employees only."

Near Columbus Circle, after our Easter lunch of hot dogs and soda.

After dropping the girls off at Barnard I wandered off to find a bite to eat. Looking across the street, I spotted this place.

Also from the roof of our hotel.

This struck me as having something of a "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" quality to it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dog Bites Man

The Yahoo headline says Fox Host to be Named White House Spokesman and the obvious question is, what's new?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Internet Porn Filters

When I was in New York City on vacation I went to the public library to check my email. While doing so I clicked on a link and received a message on screen that as recipients of federal funds the New York City Public Library System had to install anti-obsenity filters and the link I had clicked on had not made it through the filters.

Here's the link. It's to a bit from that famously obscene program, Jay Leno's "Tonight Show."

There are arguments, mostly poor ones, that can be made for limiting the access of minors to "obscene" material through library owned computers. Aside from the philosophical objections, as a practical matter such filters are overbroad. I have no idea how this clip came to be censored. It's well known, however, that information having to do with people's health, one of the great benefits of the internet, particularly for people with no or little private access to the internet is among the information most frequently barred by these filters. Filters that deny access to sites containing words such as "penis," "vagina," "sex," and other terms referring to reproductive health, but often also, incidentally, to porn sites, are actually a threat to public health and quite probably contribute to the continuing lack of access to information that makes it more difficult for people with limited access to public health professionals to learn about how to effectively battle STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

It could lead the cynical among us to suspect that only information referring to abstinence is allowed to be disseminated, that the filtering of other information isn't a bug; it's a feature.


Have you ever discovered something and felt pretty cool about it, then after a little reflection felt like a fool because it took you so long? Along with the fact that millions must have discovered such an obvious thing before you?

In the Museum of Modern Art in New York last week I walked into a gallery and had this, Rene Magritte's "Empire of Light," in front of me. A little light bulb went off. That's gotta be the inspiration for this, the cover of Jackson Browne's 1974 album "Late for the Sky," I realized. Which of course it was. And which, of course, Browne acknowledged in the album credits ("...cover concept Jackson Browne if it's all reet with Magritte").

The funny thing, aside from my ignorance, is that my sister, who is an artist, though not a Jackson Browne fan, probably knew this. Much that she knows about history, politics, music, and literature she knows because of the influence they have had on and the extent they have been influenced by painting and design. She thinks more of teaching should emphasize these connections, which would not only allow the teaching of history and politics in particular to come alive, but would also introduce people to disciplines they otherwise might never care about or even be aware of. She's right, of course. My daughter fell in love with the "1812 Overture" when she saw "V for Vendetta" but was curious, when I played the whole CD for her, as to why "La Marseillaise" was in it. She's in her third year of high school French, she knew "La Marseillaise" and she was vaguely aware of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. How natural it seems to tie Napoleon and Tchaikovsky together. What better way to bring a history lecture alive than with a symphonic piece with cannons! This doesn't seem to happen, though.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yes, Virginia, Irony is Dead

During oral argument for a case before the court on whether defendants are entitled to only the right to an attornye or more specifically to an attorney of their choosing, Chief Justice Roberts observed that "there are hundreds of thousands of lawyers" and perhaps it's likely that a criminal defendant that had to settle for his second choice would be just as well represented as he would be by his first choice.

An ironic observation coming from a man nominated by a President and confirmed by a Republican majority that is ready to employ the nuclear option if it doesn't get its way with judicial nominations.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Time Waster

From the fevered mind of Lore Sjoberg, formerly of the Brunching Shuttlecocks (a which this is just a faded ghost version of its glory days) comes your one-stop time wasting shop, Fluffy Little Industries. Looking for an on-line game to waste lots of time on. This is your place.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Too Bad About Hodge

Apparently, the King of Zembla was wrong about this.

Now, where has the king gotten off to?

Update: Ah nuts, now I see that somebody in the King's comments beat me to this.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Which One is Not Like the Others?

While slumming at Pajamas Media, I followed a link to an entry entitled "It Can't Be Done" at a blog called Varifrank. The entry features photos of the ceremonies at the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the opening of the Panama Canal, the opening of the US Interstate Highway System, and the launch of Apollo 11 - the first space flight to put men on the moon. Following these photos of events that opened up new vistas and possibilities for man is a photo of a border fence crossing a beach and running into the sea, over the caption, "2006 - Congress declares 'US Border Fence too difficult and expensive to build.'"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Can We Take a Mulligan on That Game?

Oh goodie, baseball season's back. I'm so happy. So how did the A's do last night?

After reading all Spring about how the team is going to work so hard on avoiding those slow starts that have plagued them in recent years, they're down 7-0 before the beer can even get flat. When is that team going to give up on the notion that Barry Zito is a #1 starter. Yeah, he eats up a lot of innings and never misses a start, but since winning the Cy Young in 2003 he's 2 games over .500 on a team that's 63 games over during the same period. Ray Fosse noted last night that although he was 0-4 last April he got no run support. His freakin' ERA was 6.60 last April. Run support had nothin' to do with it. This guy's going to pitch another 10 years and make millions of dollars because he's a leftie and had one spectacular season. Don't believe me? 10 years ago Shawn Estes won 19 games for the Giants. He's 1 game over .500 since, but there's always another team willing to take a chance on him because he's a leftie who had the one good season.

Don't even get me started on Ken Macha's decision to pull Zito after the grand slam. The four bases on balls wasn't enough to convince him that Zito didn't have it. No, Macha had to wait until the game was out of reach and then throw in the bullpen.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Southern Digest

From Charlotte, North Carolina comes a case of three men arrested for, among other things, castrating willing, um, patients, in a dungeon. These and other fun acts were apparently depicted on a web site. Each man has been charged with five counts of "castration without malice" and five counts of "conspiracy to commit castration without malice." I'm not sure what I find more intriguing about this; that they were able to find six consenting "clients" to let them whack their nuts off, or that this problem is apparently so pervasive that North Carolina was prepared with a law making it illegal to "conspire to castrate without malice."

In the Senate yesterday, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, speaking out against a proposed censure of President Bush for ignoring the will of Congress and the Fourth Amendment, said, "let's don't play games with their lives," the "their" referring to our soldiers and diplomats. Setting aside the absurd notion that requiring the President to follow the laws of our country somehow endangers our diplomats and soldiers, let's break that sentence down, separating the contractions. Hmmm, pull out the apostraphes, add a "u" here, take apart the "o" and the "n," throw another "o" in there. What do we have? "Let us do not play games with their lives." Sweet bicycling Jesus! Here's a suggestion for the voters of Alabama: next time could you send us somebody who's literate? These are the people, no doubt, who complain of illegal immigrants that "they don't even bother to learn the language." Cracker ass crackers!
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