April 24, 2008

Valiant weirdos hit Thomas Friedman with Pie!

The world is round motherfucker!

As news sources as diverse and varied as the Brown Daily Herald to the Providence Journal to the Providence Daily Dose, are breathlessly reporting, pompous windbag Tom Friedman got pied by some commies at my school Tuesday. Evidently, they were not fans of his "sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet, for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change." Learning the precise views of pseudo-intellectual phonies like Friedman is not really my cup of tea, so I don't know too much about that, but it sure sounds about right. (The moment I hear the word "globalization" my brain initiates a complex series of reactions that blurs my eyesight, disables my hearing and causes me to start thinking about baseball*). Nonetheless, I am familiar with his cheering on of the Iraq War (great call dude!), and his repeated insistence (like all those other Very Serious and Respected commentators) that good times there were a mere 6 months away. Perpetually 6 months away. So he totally knows what he's talking about. Let's all listen to him and not throw pies. NOT!

Anyway, for someone with such mustachioed views on world events, he sure doesn't take a pie to the face very gracefully. Look at the way he freaks out and then looks all indignant -- as though he didn't just deserve or expect to get ambushed by some leftist caricatures with tins of green cool whip.

*Oddly, the phrases "Gaza Strip" and "meatless lasagna" have the same effect.

Update: A friend of mine here who went to high school with the alleged pie thrower, recounted an incident in the model UN wherein she dumped a bucket of water on the student playing George Bush. Foreshadowing of things yet to come? I think so.

April 23, 2008

Valuable Relics coming to Bristol Parade!

Bristol, my home town, inventor of the 4th of July Parade, should have an interesting day this July: the Red Sox 2007 World Series trophy, and recently incarcerated ex-Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci will both be marching.

The Bristol Phoenix, on Buddy's history with the parade:

Mr. Cianci incurred the wrath of chief marshal Dr. Manuel Luciano DaSilva and town officials after he crashed the chief marshal's reception, which was being held under a tent at the Bristol County Medical Center. Mr. Cianci, who had just been elected mayor of Providence, had not been invited to attend. Despite being turned away, Mr. Cianci showed up anyway — via helicopter.

"Guests ... were less than delighted to see Cianci arrive; the downdraft from his helicopter props threw up billowing clouds of choking dust under the tent canopy," Mr. Simpson writes.

Five years later, in 1980, Mr. Cianci crashed the parade again, when he arrived at the Colt High School athletic fields via helicopter.

"They smuggled me in like the Trojan Horse," Mr. Cianci was said to have quipped later.

Other years include stories of Mr. Cianci falling off horses, being "un-invited" from the parade, and being called "rude" by the parade chairman. But one of his most storied connections to the parade and Bristol's residents will mark its 25th anniversary this year. For the last quarter century, one of Mr. Cianci's toughest stretches of the parade route has been 2 High St., the house owned by Raymond DeLeo. In 1983, shortly after being indicted for assaulting Mr. DeLeo over a rumored mutual romantic interest, Mr. Cianci defiantly marched by his house, pretending not to notice him. Over the coming years, guests in Mr. DeLeo's yard were known to turn their back when the mayor approached.

The rift ballooned in 2002, Mr. Cianci's last year marching, when guests in Mr. DeLeo's yard sang him an impromptu song in "honor" of his recent indictment on corruption charges that would eventually send him to prison for five years:

"For he's a RICO felon, for he's a RICO felon, for he's a RICO felon, which nobody can deny," they sang.

The last time Cianci marched (in 2002), shortly before being convicted of racketeering, he got a standing ovation. After his Napoleon-like exile, his return should be fairly amusing.

As for the trophy, that was arranged by Jeremy Kapstein, the guy who sits directly behind home plate at every game, and therefore has a position of influence with the team. He came down to Bristol for some seafood and had the misfortune of running into a parade official who managed to finagle it through "two or three months of e-mails, phone calls, back and forth letters and even a hastily arranged meeting among Mr. Kapstein and Fourth of July Committee officials in the parking lot of the Verizon store on Route 6." Nice.

[Some pictures from 2006, 2007]

April 14, 2008

We now resume our regularly scheduled program, already in progress

So, sorry about that, Topography readers. Wasn't really in the mood for blogging for a few weeks. Or perhaps I was, but I was deluged with work and malaise.

But now, the work tide has (temporary) gone out, the Sox opening up Fenway has cleared away the malaise, and the sun is shining. Or it will be again, soon. So here is some of the junk that I bookmarked long long ago and never posted:

Subatomic Particle Plush Toys. I suppose a lot of people don't already anthropomorphize particles. This should be helpful to them. [Emergence]

Backreaction: Black Holes at the LHC - What can Happen? This is one of those retarded stories where news outlets get their hands on some sort of pseudo-factoid and run with it. If you are reading this, you probably know about the "LHC might create a black hole and swallow the Earth" thing. Some guys from Hawaii, who are NOT scientists (despite what I heard reported at least twice) sued to stop the LHC, pending some type of investigation into the likelihood of this catastrophe (which was actually conducted like 10 years ago). Backreaction does a good job of explaining why this is dumb. It boils down to this: black holes would only be created if there are large extra dimensions, which there almost certainly are not. And EVEN THEN it would be 1/1000th the size of a proton. And EVEN THEN it would only hit a few nuclei on its way through the Earth, and EVEN THEN it might not absorb them, but IF IT DID it wouldn't matter, since it would have a velocity well in excess of Earth's escape velocity. There is also a funny man-on-the-street video of people's views on the issue as well [via BA].

Eliza, Computer Therapist. I remember this as a DOS-based program on my family's 386. It is a psychologist with frustratingly naïve AI. Now, like all things of that era, available as online javascript, for free. Says the original (wildly erroneous) description:

Eliza will amaze you with its ability to ask probing therapeutic questions and then keep the conversation going. Based on the first computer therapist developed by AI expert Joseph Weisenbaum at MIT, this program will keep you, your friends or your family engaged in hours of conversation.
Well, at least it doesn't try to give you anti-depressants.