Friday, August 25, 2006


Here are a couple of odd items from today's news:

Microsoft releases a Quechua language version of Windows. And I suspect their version of Vista is even further out than 2007 [snark].

I have a domestically bred male Pacific parrotlet named Ti'iki, which is Quechua for 'flower'. These birds hail from the western slopes of the Andes, so I thought it was an appropriate name. Ti'iki does talk a little - he likes to get my attention by saying "Hi Ti'iki!" in a really loud voice, and then, when I look at him, he turns his head upside down. Quite a little clown.

Rampaging racoons terrorize Olympia, Washington (our bucolic capitol)

My sister likes to feed the neighborhood racoons, and they have become so fearless that they sometimes attempt to follow you into the house. I have tried to warn her about some of the risks of encouraging raccoons to hang around (don't click the linkee if you're squeamish!), to no avail.

food for thought

A really thought-provoking series of short essays on the industrialization of food in the current issue ofThe Nation. Go read it (all 6 pages).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

happy birthday

To the wonderful Ray Bradbury. Or see the Wikipedia article. Happy number 86! Mwah!

sadly true

The Rude One waxes strangely, sadly eloquent today:

In heaven, JonBenet Ramsey, who, although her body stopped growing, has acquired the wisdom of ten years of soul-living, wonders why everyone is so excited to see her puppet dance, thinks it's grotesque and even a little embarassing for the same pictures to be trotted out. She asks, to no one in particular, how making her corpse dance, however prettied up it might be, can be so entertaining for hour upon hour, even if the image of her puppet body is interwoven with the immobile features of her alleged killer.

Two Marines and one sailor walk by her and hear the question. They are still trying to accept where they are. In the distance, they see a crowd of other soldiers who are waving them over. They pause behind JonBenet and watch the television she has on for a moment, and, it being heaven, a moment can be anywhere from a split second to four weeks. In that time, they see nary a mention of themselves. Finally one of the Marines tells her, "It's easier to make one single porcelain little girl dance than it is to make puppets out of three thousand grown-ups."

Damn, I wish I'd written that.

the meanest things in creation

Great article on an ichthyologist working on the relationships between venemous fishes. The payoff is in the last two paragraphs. I chuckled out loud when I read it - maybe you have to be a scientist or really devoted hobbiest to get this particular type of geekiness.

Perhaps you thought I was referring to Karl Rove and his minions?

In other news, Grisha Perelman refused his Fields Prize. This article discusses the other prizewinners and outlines their contributions, all of them interesting. The Fields Prize was set up because there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics. The urban legend is that Nobel's wife ran off with a mathematician, and he hated them all with a vengeance. On the other hand, perhaps it was just an unfortunate oversight.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

who's the monkey?

George Allen is a politician in Virginia, being challenged by former Secretary of the Navy James Webb for his Senate seat. HE is thought of as a potential presidential candidate for the GOP in 2008.

Yesterday, he referred to an American-born college student, who is a volunteer with the Webb campaign and who has been videotaping some of Allen's stump speeches, as a "macaca."

Here is a post on the history of the word, and an illustration of how it is used currently. Ugly stuff.

I hope pressure is put on the media to cover this - recall that similar comments ended the careers of Trent Lott and Howard Cosell. Allen isn't nearly as powerful. Plus, he's got a long history of racist statements. Let's take him down.


Cool article about what is looking like a valid proof of Poincare's conjecture.

I did take algebraic topology towards getting a math degree, and so I know about metric spaces. But really the course was, for the most part, well, a bit over my head. Still, the writer does a good job explaining it.

It also makes you wonder about people this brilliant. It sounds as if, Unabomber-like, the mathematician involved just took off into a cabin out in the woods somewhere outside St. Petersburg. I guess he spends his days foraging for mushrooms, and thinks about topology. Perhaps he finds the shapes of nature suggestive - mushrooms, leaves, trees, stones. All of which are topological spheres, by the way (unless it is a very unusual case).

Monday, August 07, 2006

I love Billmon

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Billmon? He has been on fire lately.

On the other hand, he still hasn't posted the last part of his Egyptian travelogue. We're waiting!

this and that

1. Tomorrow is the Connecticut primary. Got my fingers crossed.

2. Right now, the birds are all sitting quietly grinding their beaks.

3. I made fresh bird bread, and cleaned the bird cages (see #2).

4. Finally finished that Roth novel!

5. Fresh bedding! And it's almost bedtime.

6. Sure is quiet around here. Not even any spam comments.