August 28, 2006

i just noticed that anyone attempting to load this page with internet explorer will get a messed up appearance. the cool rotating header and quotes won't work. i am conflicted: on the one hand i don't want the page to look bad, on the other, i want to punish people for using such a lousy browser. on the other other hand, isn't not being able to fully enjoy my website punishment enough?


evidentally, in addition to the "motivator" there are many other productivity-enhancing tools. what a boon for my mediocre photography skills!

August 27, 2006


via the motivator. isn't the internet wonderful?


two findings without any pretense of importance or profundity.

the city is full of "squares" such as this one named after obscure people from the community. i am glad that "fluffy" opted to include his nickname for perpetuity.

in case you can't read this it says "-2:00." i guess this means you can get a parking ticket for just thinking about parking here.

it's one or the other

i spotted this bumper sticker while driving recently:

though i was able to locate it online, i still haven't been able to determine whether or not its satire...and that tells you prettymuch everything you need to know.

since i can't figure out whether this is pro- or anti- bush i consider it exempt from the fish, heal thyself "no politics" rule...thereby allowing me to make the following prediction (?):

if the one year katrina anniversary stuff begins to look harshly upon the decider there'll be some sort of vague terror alert. no green t-shirts on planes or something. just a hunch.

August 22, 2006

house un-american coffee activities

whenever i go to starbucks, rare though those occasions are, i order my beverage in the proper english convention, and with emphasis. "i will have a medium 'frappuccino.'" we have to put an end to this tall=small bullshit. you come to our country, you speak our language.

August 18, 2006

amateur lexicography

much has been said about the paucity of women in science. the first step in fixing it is, obviously, to popularize the term "astrophysicistina."

problem solved. now if only i could harness my girlfriend's word-crafting skills and use them toward my own ends...

now pitching for boston...

ayla the helper monkey threw out the first pitch at fenway on wednesday. this is him with manny declarmen (this photo might be even better). i've had enough of the primates we've got in the rotation and bullpen--mr. francona, the time is right for a monkey pitcher. he can't be worse than jason johnson.

August 15, 2006

death from above

ordinarily, i wouldn't bother to comment on an apod photo, but today's is just too good: an attempt to depict cosmic rays gone horribly awry.

August 14, 2006

from the department of obviousness department

i am glad i have never bothered to figure out wine, since apperently ratings are almost totally subjective. anyone even remotely familiar with human nature should be unsurprised by the following phenomenon:

[the experiments] were done by frederic brochet, of the university of bordeaux. in the first test, brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. the wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. but that didn't stop the experts from describing the "red" wine in language typically used to describe red wines. one expert praised its "jamminess," while another enjoyed its "crushed red fruit." not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

the second test brochet conducted was even more damning. he took a middling bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. one bottle was a fancy grand-cru. the other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. the grand cru was "agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded," while the vin du table was "weak, short, light, flat and faulty". forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.

this was really just an excuse to mention that i know someone who mixes $4 red wine with diet mountain dew. i guess she is on to something. you recoil in horror now, but if we gave it to you out of a fancy bottle in some oak-paneled room you would probably commend its fruity palate and "almost fizzy" texture.

phase airspace

the department of homeland security has prohibited one of the three states of matter on planes.* we can all rest easier with this color coded phase diagram breaking down the risks involved. thank you cosmic variance!

on the other hand, these varying amounts of alertness will probably make lunch kind of tricky.

*would they be alright with you freezing a big block of gatorade and bringing that with you along with some cups? can you eat powdered hot chocolate out of those bags? what is the attitude toward aerosol products--liquid in the cannister, gas when sprayed? or those sponge toys that get bigger when you put them in water, can you bring the "enlarged" version with you? these questions are vital to our american security. these and "when can expect to get slathered in flame retardant foam and strapped into those hannibal lector carts for all flights?"

August 11, 2006

washed up losers

i have not felt this way about the red sox since you know when.

most people, i believe, have forgotten what it was like down 0 and 3 two years ago. everyone forsook them. many people, in the warm afterglow of the world series claim that they were secretly with them the whole time, but those people are lying. the naive eternal optimism of "we'll get 'em next time"/"sure, pedro can just pitch on 2 days rest..."/"if they just manage to sweep the yankees twice in september..." attitude which had always defined red sox fans was washed away for that day or so. it was unprecedented. for the first time in the modern era the entire fanbase lost hope, but unlike in those prior instances the players, who were usually far more ambivalent, did not. to me it was this momentary inversion of the fan-to-team dynamic that made their world series win so staggering. more than the odds against a comeback or the revenge angle, it was the fact that they first got to the point where probably the most loyal and stupidly optimistic fans in baseball thought they were finished and hated them. of course, it was only a day or so before mr. ortiz talked us down from that ledge, but the point is that is was a pretty hairy 24-48 hours. most people won't admit it, but i didn't even watch the first half of game 4, and what now seems mind-boggling in retrospect struck me at the time as prolonging the inevitable. i didn't watch the first part of game 5 either--i spent those innings being made fun of in the dining hall (if your girlfriend says she'll dye her hair red..."when the red sox win the world series!" causing a tablefull of people to burst into riotous laughter at your expense...and 9 days later they do, and she doesn't do it, you should get a medal for not having a mental breakdown).

but i digress. the point is that i am officially losing hope in the 2006 red sox. a similar tactic was effective in 2004 (and to a lesser extent in 1999 and 2003).
this is your signal to start winning, guys--i mean, lousy bums. wink.

August 9, 2006

universe at 380,000 yrs (not actual size)

this is the cosmic microwave background presented in the best known way of conveying scientific information: printed on a beach ball. talk about an inflationary universe! (i'm so sorry.) anyway, if more results were presented through this medium, no one would ever again have trouble getting funding.

a few years ago wmap secretly distributed them to cosmologists. needless to say, the early universe printed on a inflatable ball is something that i have decided i must have. For some reason, despite not being for sale, the ball seems to have its own web site. as consolation there is a whole page of other merchandise bearing the cmb pattern (those greedy cosmologists!), but mugs and boxer shorts don't have quite the same appeal. i pledge now to the internet, ultimate keeper of pledges made to no one in particular, that i will acquire this ball. i am not sure how yet, but i swear to do whatever it takes--breaking into someone's office, posing as an elementary school, sending threatening letters to beach ball manufacturers. whatever.

Update: Mission accomplished.

August 8, 2006

open letter

dear al gore,

you have placed a lot of emphasis on the 0th and 1st laws of thermodynamics.* now is the time to begin raising awareness about the 2nd: keeping entropy low. at least CO2 can be reabsorbed, entropy only goes up! what would our lives be like if the entropy became too high to find your car keys or pair socks correctly? do you really want to live in a world where our great-grandchildren have to eat the peas all mixed in with the mashed potatoes? (eww, gross). fortunately, there are steps we can take to keep entropy low. they range from avoiding temperature changes, to reducing the number of choices people are allowed, to rolling up the bottom of the toothpaste. every little bit helps. please spend several minutes talking about this in your slide lectures. i can make you a graph.

yours truly,
concerned citizen

ice caps melting. conservation of energy.

August 1, 2006

mare humorum

trouvelot drawings of astronomical objects via bibliodyssey. they remind me more of the impressionistic sketches you would find in a faded 1970's astronomy children's book than rather good depictions of the mid-nineteenth century. but of course, my palate is unrefined.