Saturday, December 31, 2005


It's been a total of ten days since I posted on this thing (almost to the hour, as the last post, about the "We'll kill you, Mr. Damon" thing was another one of these things where I post because I haven't in forever and am awake. Anyway, I'm back in Chicago, had an enjoyable little break back with the families in Russellton and Trafford respectively, and have convinced Jenna to love "Dawn of the Dead", meaning that my goal is now nearing completion.*

Some observations:

Having Jenna be in Chicago for a week is awesome. Unfortunately, I'm still going to sleep around 10pm, though in this case it's more because I'm on medicine for some residual pain from dental work I had completed rather than because grading labs sucks the very essence of life from my poor, withered body. It's a trade off. But walking around downtown is amazing, and I'm going to be very happy whenever she moves out here following her own degree completion.

Related note: Jenna has no concept of spicy. Every time we go out, it seems, she keeps ignoring the warnings issued by the waitstaff and hillbillies with banjoes that dangle from the ceiling about how the "Shrimp Voodoo Linguini" is kind of on the spicy side. That's fine. People like spicy foods, and it's fine that she enjoys spicy tastes. The problem is that it's invariably too spicy and I have to ride home on the El holding my crab cakes or milder curry chicken while a crying, sniffling, bleeding-from-the-forehead Jenna who looks like she's been jumped sits next to me and holds my arm. Thus are anecdotes born.

I'm going to have to get used to having a new phone. I've traded in the old one, which was a hand me down from my mother, for a new one, which I believe has a button that cures cancer. I didn't realize how compelling it is to take crappy little pictures until I was capable of doing so, nor did I realize how walking through a room filled with abstract mobiles and yarn sculpture could be made altogether different by adding some radio station's top some number of songs of the year through my phone's earpiece. As a result, I have no money, though.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is smaller than I'd expected, but generally works. Jenny Holzer's "Truisms" is hilarious, though I'm not sure it intends to be. For some reason, many artists are linked in my mind to pseudo-revolutionary thinking that doesn't actually work or make sense, so I'm not sure if her exhibit of just that scrolling across a screen is meant to be taken seriously. Either way, I'd recommend the MCA (especially for the $6 student rate), and have discovered that Sarah Sze may or may not be on medication to lower her blood pressure. Goal accomplished there.

I'm going to have to write some popular chemistry literature once I get out of here. I've noticed this for a while, and keep thinking I should blog about it, but it was reinforced with the seven thousand hours I spent in Borders over the past few weeks trying to figure out which books would be good gifts for the family, considering my unyielding non-creativity. Try this out. Walk over to the science section of your local major chain bookstore (Borders or Barnes & Noble seem to work). Look for the chemistry shelf. Compare its size to the biology or physics shelves. I don't know why this is, but for some reason, I consistently find that there are maybe one or two shelves of books dealing with chemistry (the majority of which are aimed at getting the student to pass, allowing them to forget about it), while there are cases and cases dealing with biology and physics. Anyone have any ideas on what on earth is going on there? It seems that chemistry is right in the middle, between the more observable (in everyday) phenomena that make up biology and the remarkably abstractness of physics, and that that space doesn't appeal to today's book store shopper. Hm.

In transferring the numbers in my old phone to the new phone (a service that the salesman offered for ten dollars, and which I was able to complete in a little under a half hour, which suggests to me that I get a job as an automaton for $20/hour), I noticed a memo I left on my phone. I'd been on the El, and in the black sharpie usually reserved for pseudo-spraypainted graffiti and notifications of who one can call for a good time, the phrase "It dont [sic] take a lost dog" was scrawled. I have no clue what it means, but it seemed like it should be posted on here. Perhaps, ten years from now, you'll be walking down the street confounded that whatever it is you want to do is somehow blocked by the mandatory lost dog donation only to realize that you could probably get by without whatever demands the lost dog, or that it really means a toy dog which you have access to, or that you should focus more attention on observing the world around you so that when little Seamus’ lost dog pokes its head out of the alley, you can alert our little friend. Or maybe crazy people ride the El. Whatever. It’s there now.

Before I head back to bed/watching Dawn of the Dead again, I'd like to comment that I'm not thrilled with the Joe Randa signing, but I'm not entirely angry about it, mostly because I don't really know all that much about how that's going to affect everything other than making Freddy Sanchez absolutely positively not play this year, which is a shame. Right now my attention's devoted to figuring out some hilariously complex scheme so that Littlefield doesn't make that whole rumor about signing Sosa come true. It'll involve a hangglider, I'm pretty sure.

Finally, I visited Ed's grave again when I was home. I'll not say anything as I'm trying to save that for a Jan 12/"my friend died six months ago" post, but I will note that he has a headstone now. Set in the ground (as most of the headstones at the particular cemetery that he's in, as with the cemeteries that my grandparents are in) with simply his name, his lifespan, a hockey player on the left and some kind of knight thing on the right and the phrase "Beloved Father of Ansley". I noticed that on occasion I'll still think to myself that he's out there somewhere setting up Burlington Coat Factories (or whatever the hell he claimed to be doing). But, enough of that sadness. Back to sleep.

*Goal not actual goal. Phrase used for comedic effect of scaring conspiracy theorists who have nothing better to do than form conspiracy theories about my blog. Meaning they are the worst conspiracy theorists of all time. For a look at conspiracy theories in a happy little humor/rating article, go here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I'm not a fan of the Boston Red Sox. I was glad they won it in 2004, though that was probably helped along by the fact that to win it they had to take out the Yankees and the Cardinals, who I'm not a fan of to a greater degree (the Angels, Dodgers, Astros and Twins I could not care any less about). Then, some of the fans started to get to me. First there was the fact that everybody on the face of the earth was a Red Sox fan. Then the whole "Fever Pitch" thing. I could deal with the Dropkick Murphys remake of "Tessie", but that's based more on the fact that it's a pretty decent remake.

But I don't have any real ill will toward the Red Sox, other than the jealousy (as that's what it is) that goes with the #2 payroll team in baseball.

Still. The Red Sox Messageboards on are, at this moment, incredibly hilarious. Calls for riots, assault, implementation of a salary cap (teehee? It's funny because the fans that are calling for it are fans of a team that would be strongly affected by it, what with the 2005 payroll at $124 million) and all around persecution complex induced by Johnny Damon's move to the Yankees for four years at $52 million. Some suggest boycotts (presumably because their front office wasn't the one that overpaid him by even more than the Yankees are overpaying him) and all out abandonment of the Red Sox.

I know. The people on are not representative of most baseball fans, and the forums themselves are downright scary in their current state as a mess of thoughtless moderating (the word "shirt", as in a garment worn on the torso is banned) and the worst trolling I've ever seen. But assault?

I know. A Pirates fan complaining about any other team whining about anything is hypocritical. To that, "tu quoque" is my only possible reply.


Twice now, in the span of about 12 hours, I've learned two lessons.

1: Always Read The Instructions-

Having finished my Christmas shopping for the year, I decided to spend around $4 on a CD that I'd once owned, but that I'd lost years ago and have wanted to get back since. The CD?

The Toasters' 1996 effort Hard Band For Dead. Those of us that were youngish in the mid-to-late nineties will recognize tracks 1 and 13 (Two Tone Army and Skaternity) as the opening and closing themes of 'Kablam!', a strange little cartoon/anthology series on Nickelodeon, though they were credited as the Moon Ska Allstars. Additionally, the album marks the last, that I'm aware of, appearance of Coolie Ranx (later of the Pilfers, then a solo artist) as a vocalist, adding to track 3 ("Friends") and 8 ("Don't Come Running").

But enough plugging the album. I get back to the apartment yesterday and the mail has actually been delivered. I presume it's the CD I've ordered, but note that it's mostly styrofoam. That's when I read the note that's taped to the back. In a move that parallels every chemistry test I've ever taken that has needlessly complex instructions that are designed not so much for the purpose of testing whether students can provide the information but whether or not they didn't gloss over the negation thrown into the instruction, I see the phrase "As listed on Amazon, case not included. Liner Notes and CD included."

I'm not going to ask what on earth the purpose of that is, but it culminated in lesson 1. Read the "comments" section of anything you buy from Amazon. It's not a huge deal; I used another case that was sitting around. But it's kind of like buying a blender, only to realize upon its delivery that the power switch wasn't included.

Lesson 2: If you come in early to the lab to get some reading done, don't leave the lab without your keys. Being locked out isn't productive.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Notes to Self

Note to Self 1:

When you bother to clean your apartment, in the sense of picking up all the laundry that's everywhere and putting everything in a place that's actually somewhat structured as something that doesn't resemble what I think the death of the universe will look like, it becomes magically enormous. I might take up some kind of aerobics that require thousands and thousands of square feet, because it seems I have that now.

Note to Self 2:

When you're planning on putting in some good hard apartment cleaning but need something in the background so that you'll stop worrying that every sound you hear is the living dead inching closer, it's best to throw on a movie you haven't seen before. Last weekend, I tried to clean my apartment, but put on a movie I'd just purchased and hadn't seen before. Result: Marginally cleaner flatware.

This week: American History X and Princess Mononoke, both of which I've seen probably a dozen times. Result: I now live in the most awesome place ever.

Note to Self 3:

Sometimes, face recognition applications will tell you you look like Bette Davis. Which, even though I'm not particularly female, is fine by me. Bette Davis is pretty attractive. I'd much rather be told I look kind of like Bette Davis than be told I look kind of like Larry Bird. But that's just me.

Note to Self 4: Kimchi Bowl Noodle=Happiness

Note to Self 5: When the sportswriter for decidedly non-sports magazine Slate starts slamming the Pirates organization, you know you're not doing well. Hopefully, they'll get a chance to prove Mr. Peters wrong this year. The article's good introduction if you're completely unfamiliar with how the Marlins seem to like things (win World Series, sell players to anyone with anything, wait a few years, win World Series, repeat) but nothing really new. The Pirates slamming bit is at the end of paragraph seven, if you're interested in what it is, but not interested in the Marlins. I laughed.

Note to Self 6: Go to sleep, Ryan.

*Edit: Props to Meera on the face recognition software. Indeed, I was bored enough to find out that I look like some decidedly weird celebrities.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

King Kong and 100

So I've gone to see King Kong. I'm not quite sure what to say about it.

So we'll do this.

Can you quickly adjust to Jack Black continuing to be Jack Black (a la School of Rock) with all the facial expressions and strong enunciation that implies?

Can you hold that up for the next three hours?

Really blatant tension between literary playwright types and the out of work vaudeville actresses: Do you dig it?

Are you happy when enormous primates are entertained by dancing, and then violence?

Can you pretty much ignore the tribe native to the mysterious island that's built a wall (inc. gate that Kong could, presumably, have smashed through at any given point) and that just kind of disappears after a while?

Can you pay attention to the screen through a solid hour of everything kicking everything else's ass?

Chloroform. Are you down with it vaporizing on contact with, well, anything?

Are you really into extended scenes with lots of bugs that are kind of unnecessary?

Do you like it when people are remarkably accurate with Tommy guns and airplane mounted machine guns?

Finally, are you ok with the explanation that, soon after its construction, it was possible to just walk the hell up to the top of the Empire State Building, stand there without being blown off by the wind or by the slight breeze that I imagine a 25 foot gorilla would create while he's falling?

If so, you'll probably enjoy King Kong. It's not something I'm probably going to watch in the three hour, seven minute block again, and I can't imagine I'll ever own it, but I wouldn't rule it out yet. It's entertaining. Meh.

Nothing else to say right now, and I need to get back to reading papers, but I thought I should point something out.

This post, right here, is the one hundredth post on Murphspot.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Back for a second.

I just keep putting this off.

But we're back, here at Murphspot, just shy of a week since my last post, with some updates.




Having spent the last week reading papers about zinc and trying to get all of my classes for next quarter in order, there's not been too much to report on the school front. My classes from last quarter, while they refuse to actually make good on the promise that my test is indeed in my mailbox, have been sufficiently rocked, and I'm feeling pretty good. If only because I can stop carrying around the twenty pound beast that is Modern Physical Organic Chemistry by Anslyn and Dougherty. I've not purchased books for Winter Quarter yet, but it's hard to believe that any of them will be bigger than this thing.

After 25 years, they've executed Stanley Tookie Williams, and many other blogs have covered this already, which you can be directed toward from Slate's blog survey. After watching some pretty persistent vandalism on Wikipedia's bio of Williams, I've tried to think about what I'm thinking about the execution, it's status as a cause célèbre and the specific debate this brings up about the death penalty, and I've decided it's probably just a lot safer to go on reading about zinc. But, since we're here, I'll say this. I'm not a fan of the death penalty as punishment and get at least somewhat repulsed by those members of the pro-death penalty bunch that seem to view it not as a simple punishment to be carried out in an ordered fashion after being mandated by the state, but rather as entertainment. While my opinion is that if California elects to have the death penalty as a valid punishment, their government should act accordingly, while persistently ensuring that, with such a harsh and irreversible penalty on the books, no one who doesn't deserve the penalty receives it. Williams killed four, the evidence has been scrutinized over 25 years by several courts, including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and everyone comes to that conclusion. So the Governator's statement denying clemency is actually a rational argument.
Had he been redeemed? Possibly, though not for the murders, as he maintained his innocence of them, and it's not really likely to be considered redeemed for something without admitting guilt. Possibly for his involvement in founding the Crips, and it's beyond doubt that his efforts after 1993 have been at least minimally successful, but I believe that might be too little, too late.

So, in summary:

I'm not a fan of the death penalty still being practiced in the United States, but this is not, as many pro-death penalty bloggers are claiming is true of all who have a problem with it, a pathway through which I'm getting my jollies, deifying murderers and rapists. Some may be. Not me. Probably not most. I'm not a fan of it because there's quite a lot that can go ridiculously wrong, and it's safer, in my mind, not to take that chance.

Without being happy that execution is still happening in America, if that's what the people of California want, that's what they should get. I find it hard to believe that the entirety of California is just trying to kill as many people as possible, but the government can only do what the people want, as long as it is consistent with the Constitution.

Williams did some good, but he also did much more bad, so I'm not inclined to feel sorry for him.

Tookie, according to Williams, is not a nickname. It's a middle name.

I'm glad my middle name isn't Tookie. I'd feel weird writing that on official documents. But maybe not. I suppose I'd get used to it.

Dr. John's playing in Chicago! But it's $55! So I'm not going!

The Pirates lost out on Mueller, which WHYGAVS's Pat points out is probably best for the Bucs, and nothing's taken place today that anyone should be getting really excited about.


Thursday, December 08, 2005


Some quick updates:

I'm done with finals, and they went... decently. I guess I'll find out on Monday how they really went, but for now, the sheer joy of being done with them is enough for me.

Are you a nation state that would like to participate in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, but you're not sure you're down with the religious connotations that the symbols of Christianity and Islam respectively imply? Or, are you Israel's Magen David Adom, and you'd really like to hang out with those hip cats over in the Red Cross/Red Crescent Lounge? Your dreams have been realized, thanks to the adoption of a third symbol for the movement, the Red Crystal. Personally, I would have called that shape a diamond, and would have been more supportive of a red shaded diffraction pattern as a "Red Crystal", but whatever. Israel and Eritrea have indicated that they will use the Red Crystal, as opposed to the Cross or the Crescent.
Winner, Best Optimistic Statement Concealed In An Announcement On The El:

(Upon Arrival at Grand St., at 500 N.) "This... is Grand."

The Pirates no longer have Dave Williams (Reds), Mark Redman (Royals), Daryle Ward (denied arbitration), José Mesa (Rockies[!]), Rick White (denied Arbitration), Ty Wigginton (released) or Rob Mackowiak (White Sox). They've picked up Sean Casey (Williams), Jonah Bayliss and Chad Blackwell(Redman), Damaso Marte (Mackowiak), Victor Santos (Royals, Rule 5). As with many in the Pittsburgh area, I'm ok with the Casey trade, fine with sending Redman to the Royals for Bayliss and Blackwell, less than enthusiastic about acquiring Damaso "Need a heart attack? I'm your man" Marte, still less about losing Mackowiak in the process and reasonably ok with picking up Santos.

Freddy Sanchez is now our only option at third, but that might change.

I'm kind of sick. And need to clean my apartment.


RCN refuses to let me pay them. Sad.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Theremin Music Here

Two things before I get back to studying Inorganic.

1) Have you seen Big Fish? Nice little Tim Burton movie in which Ewan McGregor plays some guy from the South. Tall tales and lies and what have you. I realized yesterday that I am now in one of the first tales of the movie, which is essentially a rehashing of an old legend where the hero does something (in Big Fish, that something is looking into the fake eye of a witch living in an abandoned house) and is able to see how he will die. I've had the same basic experience, except that "witch's eye" has been substituted with "bicycle reflector." So how will I die? I'll be hit by one of these jackasses that feels the need to ride full speed down an ice covered sidewalk on their bike.

That isn't to say I'm against bicycling. Quite the contrary. Just... adjust for weather conditions is all I'm asking.

2) Damn Steelers.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I really need to get better at this whole updating thing. Unfortunately, the next week is going to be the most like hell since I came to Northwestern.

Outline for Next Week:

Monday, December 5:
  • 12pm-Inorganic Final
  • 2pm-Chem 210 Exam Grading

Tuesday, December 6:
  • 9am-Chem 210 Exam Proctoring
  • 12pm-Physical Organic Final
  • 2pm-Chem 210 Exam Grading

Wednesday, December 7:
  • 7pm-Organic Mechanisms Final

Thursday, December 8:
  • Meeting with Thomas O'Halloran and Hillary Godwin to decide my fate

Last things first, I'm not technically in a lab yet. I've got some ideas for a project working with zinc probes and fluorescent dyes in O'Halloran's lab, basically going on with the project of one of the graduating PhD students, but I've also got another option in the form of Nicola Pohl, a professor that's perhaps(?) moving to Northwestern to do some carbohydrate chemistry, which would be more heavily synthesis and whatnot.

I have no idea what to do, but let's not go into that now.

Instead, let's do a quick rundown here.

Can we interest you in a new face? France performs a face transplant. Well, doctors in France do. Touted by its proponents as a breakthrough that would allow people that have been disfigured to return to a state of normalcy (normalcy being "I have a face"), but criticized for the possiblity of rejection of the face, they're elective (though I think that that's more of a criticism for people that are undergoing cosmetic surgery that doesn't... give them a face where they have none,) and because they pose risks of identity confusion, as pointed out by Slate.

Again from Slate, Lawrence Krauss continues to be a pretty awesome guy. For those of you joining us late, Krauss is the physicist/author of The Physics of Star Trek and Atom, the latter of which I recommend strongly. Anyway, in a story that does kind of seem like science sensationalism, Krauss criticizes string theory for not actually being testable, which is kind of a huge component in the definition of science (as well as being the primary reason that Intelligent Design doesn't fit the definition of "science"). Good for you, Lawrence Krauss. Again, Slate plays it up a bit too much as "When Krauss Attacks," but whatever. Decent read.

On the subject of Intelligent Design, Lore Sjöberg's got a new Lore Brand Comic up and has resumed posting in his blog at The Slumbering Lungfish Dybbuk Hostel and All-Night Boulangerie. That's good.

Ok. I'm going to go home and read about X-Ray crystallography until either

a) my eyes fall out of my head and roll comically across the floor, having become detatched from the nerves and all that at some point between socket and carpet


b) my eyes, having seen so much about X-ray crystallography, develop the nice, old-fashioned "X-Ray Eyes" ability thing, whereby I can find out what in my refrigerator needs has gone horribly, horribly wrong without actually opening any food containers therein.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


So, the thing about travelling is that I show up four hours earlier than the flight is supposed to leave in order to make sure that I can actually get through security, and then have to find something to do for the three and a half hours that are left over after I've gotten through security and eaten breakfast. So to this then. First of all, let's do some news.

It's old by now, but something still needs to be said about the fact that everyone with a myspace account will eventually inflict horrible crimes upon their fellow man. That's evidently a requirement for having an account. I say this only because a week or so after they brought David Ludwig and Kara Borden back to Pennsylvania (whose Xanga and Myspace accounts have been deleted since), Dominick Maldonado of Tacoma, Washington decides to go on a shooting spree at the mall in Tacoma, where fellow R&M moderator Scott works at a Baskin Robbins. Even more incredible than the fact that this guy would feel the urge to put on a shirt and tie and go into a mall to shoot some people and hold hostages without actually having any demands and moreso than the mall he decided to do this to employs Scott is the response to the negative comments on his Myspace posts. He'd only posted twice in his associated myspaceblog thing, and soon after he was arrested, the a few dozen people descended upon his posts to tell him what a waste he was.

Fine. Whatever.

That's understandable, as he's got a little corner of the internet that people can interact with and that they would do so after he goes out and injures six (one critically with several gunshot wounds) and holds some children hostage in a Sam Goody is only natural. What's odd is the response of one of his friends that had gained access enough to the account to change the biography but not to delete it and chose to respond to those posts, asserting that everyone "was just reacting to what the media was telling them" and that "Dominic is the victim of slander." Not only is that entirely false (as many people who were responding were at the mall he decided to shoot up, and so were probably responding more to bullets whizzing past
their heads than any media coverage), but... well... it's not hard for the media to portray you as a bad guy when you shoot innocent people.

But whatever. The only reason I really mention that is because of my shock that Scott was somehow entangled in this (being shot at and whatnot) and that it provides further proof that myspace and Xanga are either inherently evil or that people are
starting to commit this horrible violence for the blog traffic.

Oh, while I'm somewhat on the subject, prosecutors in the Ludwig case are not claiming that Kara Borden was kidnapped, but that she went willingly and so kidnapping charges will not be pressed. It's an interesting turn as I believe it saves Ludwig from a possible death penalty, but as that's most likely what happened, that's appropriate.

I've been watching/reading Fullmetal Alchemist recently, which passes the time. I think my original rejection of the series was simply because 1) I'm not now nor have I ever been a fan of anime or manga of any kind, as it struck me mostly as a fad/cultural envy 2) Inuyasha's spot on Adult Swim makes me cry, as I hate Inuyasha and 3) I was initially skeptical of the way they were using the word "alchemy". I'm ignoring all of that now and it's actually a decent series. Good for them.

As for information you might actually use, here's a tip. If you're tired and still not entirely comfortable with relying on Bernoulli's Principle to make sure you get to Pittsburgh, don't listen to Randy Newman's "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)," particularly if the next song your computer selects at random from the playlist is "Magical Mystery Tour," followed by "Break Ya Neck." You are not prepared for that kind of shift. Trust me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One Step Beyond.

Incidentally, Chicago Public Radio features a look at 2-Tone ska and an interview with the recently reunited Madness. Listen to that.

EDIT: It's tomorrow at 9pm Central Standard Time.


I hate National City, except for one employee named Laeticia who's the only person I've been in contact with there that can get anything done. In summary, my card's finally been activated for use as a credit card, my cable bill went insane but has finally been paid (though they still don't send me bills or statements or anything) and I've got that more or less under control. Incidentally, in checking that I was giving them the right zip code (as I gave them the address when I'd just moved here and the whole zip code system in Chicago was still somewhat mindboggling), I noticed that the USPS zip code finder requests that you put enter a zipcode. It's not an actual inconvenience, but seems as though something that shouldn't be.

Two tests next week (Monday and Tuesday) followed by Thanksgiving, and the quarter system is becoming more and more effective at giving me an ulcer.

I don't usually comment about the whole Iraq thing, because there are thousands of other bloggers that already do that and I'm really not that interested in trying to add even more to that. That said, the US Army said today that white phosphorus incendiary shells were used in the fight for Falluja as weapon against insurgents (as opposed to the original stated purpose, illumination), which the BBC is claiming runs somewhat counter to the campaign against Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The WP rounds aren't banned by any treaties to which the US is a signatory and it is generally regarded as less bad than most true "chemical weapons" unless aimed at civilians, though white phosphorus does cause pretty nasty burns if it comes into contact with, well, anything. Daily Kos is freaking out about this whole issue, some others aren't saying anything and I'm trying desperately to land somewhere in the middle. WP weapons were used in the Second World War extensively by the British (in the Dresden firebombing campaign and in premade Molotov Cocktails assembled in case of a raid by the Germans according to Emsley's The 13th Element), but if your campaign lists "use of chemical weapons" as part of its raison d’être it's probably not the best idea.

Jason Bay agreed to a four year extension, which is...good. If the Pirates are actually going to try to build an offense, they'll need Bay.

New steroid policy, incidentally, which the players have agreed to which sets much harsher penalties for steroid use (50 games for the first offense, 100 for the second, set on fire for the third) which is long overdue. Pat of WHYGAVS is right in that it's only a start (as it doesn't include blood testing, which is the only way to detect Human Growth Hormone), but it's a good one. It shows that they're at least somewhat serious about trying to eliminate this problem.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What the hell, PA. What the hell.

Back again.

I've acquired the strangest sleeping schedule, which I hope to try to persuade to be a bit more normal today. It's not really that big of an issue, so long as I spend a sizeable portion (read: all) of my waking hours preparing for next week's "Two Exams Before You Go Home So That You Hate Life Before Cranberry Sauce Happens" Thanksgiving special. By far the more important is Monday's Inorganic exam, mostly because I'd like to improve my score in that class, and I've been doing well on the Mechanisms tests.

Things for today:

If you're like me, you often sit on the edge of your futon, wondering how it's possible that it's yet again time to do the laundry and thinking that everything would sort itself out if only you could have a way to simultaneously spend eight thousand dollars and give some poor UPS guy a hard time by making him carry 700 pounds of packages. If so, your dreams have come true. Available on Amazon, those Penguin Classics books. All of them. Every last damned one. 1,082 volumes. Why? I don't know. My favorite bit is where they suggest that it's the perfect addition to any "home, office or institutional library." Presuming I get into a lab, that's just what whoever my advisor will be is going to see. I come in on Day One with a computer, a bagged lunch, and seven hundred pounds of books.

I have fond memories of the Waterfront. From using it to find my way back home after oh... three hours lost in the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the dinner that Pitt bought when a few of us visited the Graduate school to my birthday with Jenna at Rock Bottom and Dave and Busters to watching Tim Burton's Big Fish in the Loews Cineplex and running into RJ at the screening. That good ol' Waterfront. Incidentally, while I'm going on about it, you should head on down to Loews if you're going to see a movie while you're in Pittsburgh. Huge place. Nice. Watch out for shootings, though. I don't know what to make of this. The part of me that says "video games and rap don't make people kill people, otherwise Corey would be in jail" thinks that this is probably unrelated to Get Rich Or Die Tryin', but then you don't see many shootings at Doom premiers. It's odd, anyway, if only because it's a place that I actually went to more than once.

Oh, one more thing.

They caught this bastard, which is good. They can't talk to the 14-year-old girl whose parents were killed in this incident because she's 14 and they need a legal guardian before they can talk to her. So they're not sure if she was going along with David Ludwig or if she was kidnapped. This stems from the fact that the 18-year-old Ludwig was out all night with the 14 year old and when the parents questioned him about it, he shot and killed them in front of a 15-year-old sister of the allegedly kidnapped. He's waived his right to an extradition hearing and will return to Pennsylvania (Lancaster County) to face charges on two counts of criminal homicide, one count of kidnapping and one count of reckless endangerment.

Warning: Pennsylvania has gone batshit insane.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Trains, Firefox, Psychopaths and Dave Littlefield

Andrea Yates gets another trial after having the first decision overturned based on false testimony by an expert witness of the prosecution; he claimed she patterned her crime, which if you'll remember was drowning her children in a bathtub, on an episode of Law and Order. No such episode exists. The defense is going to try for the "innocent by reason of insanity" again, the same defense that was rejected the last time through. It seems likely that she'll end up in a mental institution, which seems fine by me. She'd still be out of the public, she'd actually probably be getting help and considering her mental state and the fact that she's already tried to off herself in prison... an institution seems like the more appropriate place.

Every so often I remember how much I love the Greasemonkey extension. I've posted about this already, somewhere back there, but I wanted to point out once again that it's just really freaking useful.

And sometimes I think "Wow, I really am not a big fan of the L", mostly when it's running a few minutes late and I've convinced myself that I urgently need to be somewhere like Borders. Evidently, I have no idea. Often it's happened that I hear the piercing *ding* and the louder-than-Krakatoa announcement that my train is being delayed due to signals ahead/workers on the tracks/spite, but it's never occurred to me that a response (not appropriate, but just possible) might be to just get off and burn the sucker. Evidently, the thought sprang to the minds of some commuters in Johannesburg. I just... wow.

Incidentally, it seems that the Metra got $30,000 for their assistance in making the soon-to-be-released Derailed. The Metra, you may remember, actually did have a fatal derailment two months ago.

And, on a related note, the CTA has voted to screw people that pay with cash and disabled riders increasing the former's fare by $0.25 to $2.00 and doubling the disabled rider fare (I believe restricted to busses, but I could be wrong) to $3.50 one way. The CTA does, actually, need more money, but doubling the disabled fare? Seriously? This doesn't affect me, as I buy the 30-day unlimited rides pass (and am keeping track this month of how much I can save like this, though it seems I'll be foiled by that whole "Thanksgiving" thing).
The Pirates seem to be trying to calm fans by noting, emphatically, that this offseason will be different. Hopefully, they're right here and Littlefield will be able to do something positive.

Oh, also, evidently, Dover PA voted to oust the board members that voted for including the inclusion of intelligent design in biology classes. I'm down with that, if only because, as I've argued before on this blog, Intelligent Design doesn't fit the necessary parameters for being a science. So it shouldn't be taught as a science. That doesn't mean it's not true, and I lack enough information to say whether or not it is, but it doesn't follow scientific requirements. I have no problem with directing kids toward Of Pandas and People and I would encourage parents to discuss the origins of life with their kids in the interest of getting as much information about the various theories as possible, but I just can't see how you can present it in a science class without turning it into a theological argument, which isn't the place of a public school science class.

That, and I don't like it when ID-ers (as opposed to simply "D-ers", I guess) try to portray the fact that Darwin's theory of evolution is a theory as something negative. It ignores the actual meaning of the word theory, and that just irks me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Elections and A Kid

Incidentally, Ken Bartley, Jr. becomes the latest school shooting suspect (I use suspect here in the same way that the article I've linked to uses it; a way to avoid saying the guy that they wrestled to the ground with the gun shooting people was guilty before he's actually tried). I'm surprised, actually, that there hasn't already been a glut of commentators alleging that he's been influenced by this hot topic or that, but I'm sure it's coming. Before anything comes out, I can't really say his motives, but these cases have, in recent years, been mostly about kids that seem to take high school and reputation in high school far too seriously. More on this when more exists.

The NYTimes claims that the recent gubernatorial defeats spell trouble going into the 2006 elections. Democrats are playing the elections up as a referendum on Bush's job in the office, Republicans are claiming it has no national significance and is a result of purely local issues and the truth is probably somewhere in between. I tend to actually agree with the Republican viewpoint here (!), that most people going in to vote for governor will, hopefully, be doing so based on issues that are actually involved in the election. There'll be some that vote purely because they're a member of one party or another, but I keep thinking that maybe, somewhere out there, there are people that actually think about how their elected officials will affect them.

On the two articles themselves, considering that the NYTimes article's is commentary more than news reporting and FoxNews uses the term "crowing" to describe Democratic response to Bush's eleventh-hour visit to Virginia, they more or less even out.

EDIT: I've got to include this, only because it shows that this particular form of Godwin's Law works, and because I'm still somewhat bitter about a similar argument costing myself and my partner a debate in 10th grade. Jerry Kilgore, Republican nominee in the VA governor's race invoked Hitler in ads aimed against Democratic candidate Tim Kaine. I'm sorry, Jerry, but it's not relevant, and while it's not exactly the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy (which is ridiculously "fun with Latin", isn't it?) as it doesn't actually say Kaine is Hitler, it implies sympathy with Hitler which is just appealing to emotion rather than trying to discuss facts. So again, I'm sorry Jerry, but that's game over right there.

Of course, this isn't to say that Kaine didn't release ads that were ridiculously fallacious that I haven't found yet, but the Hitler-in-debate thing strikes a nerve with me.

International Edition

Venezuela: So, I might not be the biggest fan of Pittsburgh pitchers. Wells can make me positively infuriated and the stupidity that leads to spending what, half your season on the DL because you couldn't keep yourself from breaking your toe on a laundry cart... you get what I'm saying here. That said, at least none of them have tried to kill anyone. Granted, he didn't actually succeed, and there's a chance he didn't do anything wrong and the charges are false, but there's also the chance that yes, he did try to light people on fire.

France: French bloggers have been arrested and placed under investigation for "inciting harm to people and property over the internet". The two bloggers arrested so far with the pseudonyms "sarkodead" (a reference to French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, criticism of whom has been a rallying point for French rioters after disparaging remarks about the rioters) and "hardcore" (a reference to being "hardcore") don't indicate that there's a coming sweep of French bloggers who are taking the side of the rioters, but it could be in the cards as the French government tries as hard as it can to get some semblance of order back after the thirteenth night of rioting. 6,400 vehicles have been burned, though the rioters appear to be trying to avoid causing damage to private buildings and looting. Personally? I'm somewhat surprised at how long it took Chirac to do something other than kind of refer to it in press conferences before finally calling for a cabinet meeting to declare a state of emergency so that curfews could be enacted on November 8, the thirteenth day into the ordeal.

Austrailia: In lighter things, Gregor's got a =>blog he's being paid for now, and which I enjoy enough to talk about here. He's Austrailian, so you'll have a problem if you can't recall where that is, but the recent posts have been relatively global in nature, as in they cover worldwide news. It's satire-y, so, you know. Expect that. Mostly, this inclusion is more of just a way to somehow associate myself with people who are actually good at writing and have a readership that's actually sizeable, and to express my appreciation for those of us that have jobs that involve either writing smart-ass remarks on the day's news or riding really dangerous things at high, high speeds.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Riots, Cartoons and Selecting an Advisor

Here we go.

So, ideally, I'd be able to strike a compromise between tedious rehashing of current events based on a few quickly scanned articles and frightening threats from crazies on the El. Ideally, and that's what I'll try for now.

In Ryan's Life:

This week has a few important meanings for my career as a first-year graduate student. Two of those important things are tests, which only matter so much in that I'd rather not fail them. One of them is a quiz which seems somewhat less like a graduate school exam and more like an extra credit assignment in high school chemistry, memorizing the Periodic Table of the Elements, minus the f-block metals. It shouldn't be too difficult, and I'd advise you to visit that link to play with the little html toy I've been using to study for this deal. More importantly by far is Friday's ceremonial "turning in of the advisor request forms", which demands that everyone settle down on a priority list of the people they'd like to work for. In the interest of bringing you up to speed on that, and without any order other than "alphabetical", the professors that will be on my list are:

  • SonBinh T. Nguyen, who does some remarkable catalytic work and, incidentally, got his PhD at the California Institute of Technology with recent Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs, and which consisted primarily of developing Grubbs' Catalyst (I). He's currently looking at some surface supported catalysis, and, unfortunately, has no web page detailing his research, so I can only suggest that you look up the papers if you're actually genuinely interested in what I might be trying to do over the next five years.

    Thomas O'Halloran, whose work is perhaps the most removed from my research at any point as an undergraduate. Fairly bioinorganic and I'll direct you to the page for any specifics. There are Several projects of interest here, and my only hangup about working in the O'Halloran lab is that I've never really studied in-depth the kind of chemistry that's done there.

    Karl A. Scheidt, whose work is quite the opposite of O'Halloran's in that it's the closest to what I've worked on in the past. Scheidt's chemistry involves, primarily, methodology and reaction development, though his further establishment is leading to some diversity in projects in the field of total synthesis of natural products.

    Richard Silverman, whose work is primarily in the field of what they're calling "medicinal chemistry", he's responsible for Lyrica, which Standard and Poor's investment branch estimates could make $1 billion annually, which would bring over $60 million to Northwestern University in Royalties.

In Other News:

The Boondocks starts in a little under three hours, and I for one will be tuning in. Various sources, from the New York Times (which won't let me read the article online without actually having a subscription) and Chicago reader, a hefty, hefty, hefty free paper have expressed concerns that Boondocks on television will lose its bite in an attempt to avoid being "dated", but we'll see how that works out.

Chirac has gotten around to promising to restore order in Paris after the tenth night of rioting, which spread inward to Paris' historic 3e Arrondissement. An estimated 3,300 vehicles have been burned and ten officers were wounded yesterday by shotgun fire from protesters, two of whom required hospitalization.

I'm going to go study some more Physical Organic now.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Bad Side

In relaying this story about the wonders of public transportation and the people that use this service to someone at Northwestern, it occurred to me that I don't think I'd covered it on Murphspot. And as the whole Matt Lawton thing, while good for a quick chuckle and all forms of the "but aren't steroids supposed to make you good?" comment, it's over. Whatever. I'm not a Yankees blog, so I don't care what happens.

Anyway, back to the CTA. This was...I believe, the day of the VIDEO TOWN post and I quite possibly was simply so excited to have a copy of Land of the Dead in my (albeit temporary) possession that it didn't occur to me to go over what had happened. So here, a review.

Deciding to bypass the local video stores, which I didn't believe would be carrying Land of the Dead, I walked to Thorndale (Red Line) to go two stops south to Berwyn, where the Blockbuster I'd been frequenting was situated. This in itself is a bit of a variation from the norm, as I use Granville for most of my platform-standin', mostly because it's been recently renovated and has relatively few boards that look as though they really shouldn't be able to stay up there. So, anyway, Thorndale. As soon as I get to the top, a woman comes up to me, slightly panicked. I tend to make others slightly panicked, so it wasn't really that much out of the ordinary. She proceeds to tell me the sad tale of her 7-day pass, which is now sitting next to the tracks, below the platform, and how the train that's coming in six minutes will most likely blow it away. Trying to calm her down, I press the button to summon assistance from the CTA attendant while she's trying to persuade myself and another young gentleman to jump down onto the tracks to get her pass. We'd established that the platform was probably too high for either of us to be able to reach the pass without getting on the tracks. Before the attendant showed up to tell us that someone would be by who professionally walks on the tracks getting stuff people have dropped will be by shortly, while myself and this other guy are trying to see if it's at all possible to reach this thing (incidentally, the track is a straightaway at that point, and we could see the approaching train leaving Loyola (one stop further north than Granville, which itself is one stop from Thorndale, just so you don't think we're sticking our heads somewhere at train is about to be), another gentleman (age about 40) shows up behind us.

He gets our attention.

He continues to indicate that his message is pertinant to me.

His message is (as close as I can remember):

"They're going to get me! They're going to take me to jail! And I hope they bring you to my cell when you get there. Because I'm going to rape you. You better hope they don't bring you to my cell, because I will rape you."


Completely unsolicited, completely confounding, probably not a compliment so much as a much less computer-oriented version of a troll screaming "U will B PWND".

Disturbing, but only if you view it outside the context of "crazy guy on the L". I just thought that, because I post about most good things that happen here, I'd include this. Plus, I want to see what comments this garners.

Incidentally, and completely unrelated to that, I made it back around to visiting Slumbering Lungfish again, and at the risk of sounding like a fan/hack, I'm glad to see that regular posts are, once again, being produced.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Juiced-Up Slaw-o

Remember that lazy guy that the Pirates sent to the Cubs (without much of Pittsburgh caring, though much of Pittsburgh didn't really care for Gerut, who was acquired in the trade and promptly spent the rest of the season not playing baseball), who were shocked when it didn't pan out (read: he wasn't that good) in the month or so they had him before shipping him off to the Yankees?

What was his name.


Oh. Right. Former All-Star outfielder Matt Lawton. Who, incidentally, tested positive for steroids and has been suspended for 10 days, which will, of course, take effect when baseball is played again.

How about that?

Riots, T-shirts, and Literal-ness.

So we'll try to get this thing pubished in the next few minutes, such that I can get back to "studying" for my "organic mechanisms exam" so that I don't fail out of "grad school" and have to return to "McDonalds" again. But I should post. Why not.

Blogs that are somewhat interesting:

Blog Of Death which, ok. It attempts to eulogize most of the celebrities that pass away and serves as a commentary of sorts (though less comprehensive, not that they should be criticized for not eulogizing everyone) to the Recent Deaths page on Wikipedia. Decent idea, and I dig it.

Literally, A Weblog, which chronicles incorrect uses of the word "literally" in public media. It's clever and has some good visual puns, though it's interesting that they chose to restrict themselves to the word "literally" alone.

In news:

Paris keeps going, in this case not referring to the infinitely irritating hotel heiress, but rather the rioting in Paris, France, following the electrocution death of two teenagers in a suburb after they touched a transformer in trying to escape from the police, who weren't (according to police) actually chasing them. They claim to have been chasing someone else. It's been escalating like mad following the initial backlash of gangs who blamed police for the teens' deaths and after a tear gas canister (which was the same type used by French riot police) was launched into a mosque.

Chicago's RedEye (an edition of the Tribune) suprised me today with an article on a "girlcott" (which is to say, boycott) by Schenley High School freshman against Abercrombie and Fitch in an attempt to get them to stop selling shirts which degrade women. You'll remember that Abercrombie and Fitch gets in trouble for this all the time and probably won't care. It appears Emma Blackman-Mathis is also a very young gay rights activist. Good for her.

I'm going to go do office hours now.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Survey of Saturday

So, Saturday. End of the week. In a little over two hours, a new week begins, and I'm that one week closer to the five years (260 weeks) I'll put in to graduate from Northwestern with a PhD, on average. With that in mind, it seems as though it would be prudent to relay to you, the reader, what I think of tonight's surroundings.

Blockbuster Video: Who told these people they could blockbust? This would be the second week in a row that I tried to rent something from them and failed. The first was last Tuesday, when Land of the Dead was released. They didn't have it because of some dispute between the Blockbuster higher-ups and Universal and whatever. Go to the Video TOWN entry if you'd like to read more. Today's movie (Batman Begins) is theoretically at Blockbuster sometimes, but through the fact that it's a relatively popular movie and the whole "don't worry about getting our movies back to us" advertising scheme, it was entirely gone. I got a raincheck and left. Determined to see this movie tonight so that RJ doesn't come to Chicago for the express purpose of snapping my neck, I decided to go to Borders.

CTA: To get to Borders from Blockbuster, I had to take the Red Line (once again) for the short trip between Berwyn and Lawrence. Which made me want to point out something. First, I'd like to shake the hand of the person who worked at a Ponderosa Steakhouse and, sick of refilling the little chicken bits in the buffet decided to get out of there and do something. Charged with a hatred of cheap food and a cardboard box full of dreams and wiring, this great person of indeterminate gender went to the massive gothic headquarters (office building) of the CTA and proposed the idea that would eventually morph into a landmark of the elevated train platform. Without them, it would be impossible to stand on the platform, warmed by the healing rays of fast food heat lamps which have been affixed to the roof. Second, I would like to applaud the decision to go with no roof for part of the platform. In addition to allowing the commuter to take in a wonderful night more fully, this section also provides an escape from the thousands of damn spiders in the rotting roof of the Berwyn stop. Go CTA, as it were.

Borders: Are you addicted to cigarettes, gambling or cocaine? Would you be cured of your addiction if only someone would take your vice and hide it, making it nearly impossible to find even with considerable effort on your part? Well, my friend, take your cigs/dice/blow to the Borders on Lawrence, where nothing is where it seems. I went there not knowing what I would buy, but having two possibilities. "Either," I thought, "I'll get Batman Begins on DVD, or I'll get that 1602 graphic novel by Neil Gaiman I've been reading about." Two problems.

The DVDs for sale in Borders are arranged more strangely than the contents of my apartment. Categories like "Horror" and "Mystery" and "Comedy" vaguely point to the section you'll need, but the alphebetization system changes from A-->B horizontally to vertically to diagonally in some places, depending on which shelf you're talking about. After coming upon Batman Begins in the bottom row of the "SciFi" Section (which precedes "Action, where BB was probably supposed to fit"), I decided I'd go to try to find that 1602 thing.

This particular Borders has got two floors and a directory that's probably more helpful if you ignore it entirely. It was near the DVDs, so I looked at it and, noting that "Graphic Novels" was listed as being on the top floor, went up the stairs. Lies! After twenty minutes of doing laps around the top floor, discovering that things are more haphazard than I thought (Automobiles next to Comedy? Metaphysical Studies in the "Art and Architecture" section? Why is the first shelf of "Romance" completely filled with Star Wars novels and figurines? Why on earth is there an entire section on Menopause, and why is it immediately after the Language Reference and before the "How To Buy Wines" books?), I gave up, went downstairs to find the graphic novels stuffed between the bargains and the magazines (which makes sense, I suppose). As I don't know that much about Marvel comics and was more interested in 1602 for the concept of it, I took a pass on that and got Batman Begins, which I'll start watching now, while I do some homework.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

You can have a chair, but not good chair.

I have no idea what that was about, but I remember it being said.

Everyone else has already chimed in on this, but for the loyal thousands that read this thing (so, Rory, who I suspect knows about it):

If you value your life, you're going to wait outside the theater for the opening of Snakes On A Plane. This requires no further explanation. There are snakes, and they're on a plane, and it's got Samuel L. Jackson (who made them change the name back to Snakes on a Plane after they threatened to make it "Flight 121", complaining that "The only reason I did it was because of the title") and Kenan Thompson. And the only reason people will see it is because of the horrendous title, but that's ok. That's what happened with things like "The Day After Tomorrow" or whatever that was. Personally, I'm fine with just imagining snakes on a plane, with Samuel L. Jackson on a plane, giving the snake the "Say What Again" thing from Pulp Fiction, on a plane.

One of the newer ones at Rum and Monkey made at least two people in two different time zones not sleep, by bringing up the subject of zombies. I'll probably have some huge zombie post at some point around Friday.

Incidentally, this Halloween, I'm "Bach's Arco, Pitcairn". Because I'm going to try to get more and more obscure the older I get. Though, for that to count, I have to face once again that maybe 60% of the people at last year's Delt Halloween Party didn't know who Hunter Thompson was.

I've sent in my rent check, and all is right with the world.

Except that the third game of the world series is still freaking on. Currently, White Sox lead 7-5 going into the bottom of the 14th, with Buehrle coming out to pitch. That's right. They ran out of pitching.

UPDATE: Marte stays out there, strikes out Ensberg, walks Palmeiro, gets Lane to pop out and Palmeiro advances on defensive indifference, followed by a fielding error allowing Ausmus to get to first. Buehrle comes in and induces a pop-out to Uribe with his beard. Game over, White Sox 7, Astros 5. White Sox up in the series 3-0, with Game 4 tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2005

World Series: Murphspot Coverage, Post Game 2

The Dye thing.

It didn't hit him. He knows it didn't hit him. He admits it didn't hit him. It nicked the bat. It should have been a foul ball, rather than a hit by pitch.

For those of you that didn't watch last night's game, IT was a pitch by Dan Wheeler in the bottom of the seventh, with two on and two out.

It's such a big deal because on the next pitch (from Chad Qualls), Konerko gets one of the 18 World Series grand slams in history.

Controversial call? Not nearly so controversial as the Game 2 Pierzynski call. For a number of reasons.

1) Pierzynski's call results (if it's made correctly) in an out, sending the White Sox on to the field for extra innings. Dye's call (if made correctly) results in a foul ball. The count remains full, and Wheeler is still stuck with runners on first and second with Jermaine "I can't get a hit when Ryan's playing MVP 2004 [Clarification: He was on the Athletics for me, not the Sox] but sure I'll do whatever in the actual World Series" Dye. While there's no guarantee that he'll walk (at least somewhat likely considering Wheeler's lack of control in that at-bat) or that he'll get a hit (scoring at least one), there's also no guarantee that the pitch would have resulted in an out.

2) This call was decisive. In that it was made, and everyone knew it was made, and that was the end of that. Eddings' call was controversial because Pierzynski got to first by noticing that the Eddings hadn't actually done his job to give a clear indication of what was going on in the play (yes, I know a "no catch" call isn't mandatory, but it's expected), forcing Eddings to make up his damn mind about whether the inning should be over or not instead of standing around like a fool. The Dye ball was decisive. "Take your base." No second guessing. He thought it hit him, and whether he was wrong or not, he was doing what he was supposed to do. Make the call.

3) The whole Dye thing doesn't matter if Qualls doesn't hang the most hittable pitch ever in front of Konerko. This is important, because bad calls happen in baseball. The Iguchi pickoff in the bottom of the fifth, for example, in which the replay clearly shows that he's safe. To be a good team is to take that into consideration, take what you can if a call goes your way and bounce back when a call goes against you. This is why I don't get the whole "Bartman Ball" thing. Yes. It could have ended the inning, but Steve Bartman didn't give up 8 runs immediately thereafter, nor did he lose Game 7 of the NLCS. The Marlins still needed to score the runs and win the next game. Having Dye on first is meaningless if Konerko doesn't do something (in this case, with the very next pitch). And, once again, the right call isn't an out.

4) It didn't hit him. Ok. Even Dye admits it. But for all the calls of "cheating", I don't think I can recall a single ballplayer getting a favorable call and replying "No, sir. That didn't hit me/I wasn't safe/I didn't tag him. Please don't award me the base/call him out." The call of the umpire is interesting in that respect, as it not only states a case, but makes the case exist. In a post game interview, Dye said he knew it hit him and was prepared to get back in the box for the next pitch when the ump said "Take your base." Find me a ballplayer that'll argue with that, and I'll be willing to take the cheating thing seriously.

That said, Podsednik's solo walkoff blast in the ninth was ridiculous, if only because a)hitting a walkoff homer in the World Series just isn't done that often and b) Podsednik didn't actually, technically have a homer during the regular season. At all. I'm concerned for Brad Lidge's personal well being (after giving up the Pujols jack in the NLCS and the Pods homer last night), but I think he'll pull through.

Series goes to Houston, where the sun shines bright. Except when Minute Maid's roof is closed. In which case it doesn't. Inside. It probably still does outside.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

So...hmm. This is unnerving.

So here I was thinking that I wouldn't write about any kind of news today other than the World Series, in a futile attempt to confuse Murphspot with being a sports blog. So I write the last entry, return to Rum and Monkey before shuttling off to Evanston in the cold rain, and come across this. Holy freaking...

People have beliefs that are screwed up. In this case, white nationalism. I've come to accept that. But these kids are 13 years old, from the Magical Land of California, and I find it hard to believe that they've decided, freely, to start issuing remakes of Skrewdriver songs and other racist propaganda music. Their mother, April, has raised them (that is, pounded into them) the messages spread by the Nazi party and people like Ian Stuart Donaldson who, despite not being from Germany, have some sort of strange Vaterland fixation. I don't know what to say about this, other than I don't think I'd be so completely repulsed by the concept if they were, oh, I don't know, not 13 years old.

Disclaimer: That is not to say that 13 year olds cannot make their own decisions, but rather that thirteen year olds, in my experience (that is, having been a thirteen year old at one point, nine years ago) rarely have the kind of get-up-and-go attitude to do something of this magnitude without serious pushing from their parents. I don't think I had the patience to thoroughly organize my baseball cards, much less release two records and tour the country, espousing whatever beliefs happened to come into my mind (which, I believe, where mostly about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)

I'm done with this now. The next update will be World Series-y.

World Series: Murphspot Coverage, Post Game 1

It's Sunday, and I'm having quite the time trying to force myself into studying Structural Inorganic. As soon as this post is up, however, I'm heading off to the lab to finish this off and possibly do some grading so that the Thursday Night Grade-Fest doesn't become an official weekly experience.

On The World Series:

"Give me the refrigerator-lookin' one"

Or, rather, the closer that throws 100mph fastballs and started the season as an acquisition from the Angels' scrap heap.

Chicago claimed the 5-3 victory in game one over the Astros, with Clemens leaving after the second (he appeared to be half limping once he'd reached the dugout) with a bad hamstring. The Sox bullpen, which was last used in July 1973, didn't show any signs of rust, retiring batters right when they needed to be retired (Ozzie's decision to leave Contreras in notwithstanding). Cotts and Jenks both exemplified Chicago's "Wake us when you're in trouble" bullpen and Ozzie's sign to bring out Jenks (spreading his arms wide and tall, to avoid any confusion as to which rightie he wanted) was a good thing, and if nothing else seemed to confuse the viewer even further, as neither Ozzie or any of the White Sox seemed to realize that they're in the World Series. They played relaxed, steady, good baseball, aside from Contreras' control problems. Houston, I should note, was quite good, but wasn't able to come up with the runs when they needed them. Yes, Clemens' departure probably had a sizeable impact on the game (though he had given up three runs by the time he left) and so Houston's fans should not look at the Game 1 loss as an insurmountable setback.

Also, I'm convinced that Joe Crede is one of the X-Men. Remarkable plays when they needed to happen.

The way it's raining here right now, I wouldn't be entirely shocked if the game tonight doesn't happen, but we'll see. Game 2 at 7:05 tonight (though claims 6:30, Fox will probably find a way to stretch the pregame as long as possible).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Video TOWN.

And then there's that.

First, and actually somewhat important: Chicago leads the nation in the decline of violent crime that has resulted in a 40 year low nationwide, reports the Chicago Tribune. I find this remarkably odd, as going to the Chicago Tribune front page nearly invariably results in hearing about at least one horrific crime(tm) in which, I don't know, some 16-year-old has decided that he was done being broke, and would rather spend his time being tried as an adult for the beating death of a 60 year old pizza delivery man who had the misfortune of being lured (by lured, I presume they mean "called") to a vacant house or the petty theft of about $200 that occured at the pizza delivery guy's funeral, which is more tasteless than actually horrific. The kid is being tried as an adult (which is its own set of controversies, which I won't get into here). The defense is claiming that DeAndre Baber, the kid, is being framed.

Harriet Miers continues to trudge on in her inevitable appointment to the Supreme Court despite never having any actual judicial experience, which President Bush attempts to put forward in a posotive light in a recent Bushism. It appears that she wrote that she would "promote the pro-life cause" and support an abortion ban. From a standpoint of looking at it only as a hot-button issue, this more or less solidifies her position on this one topic, which will certainly (at least now) be central in the decision to approve. While Roberts never indicated how he would rule on the subject, the 1989 memo more or less spells out how Miers would, which could be crucial, considering the place Miers is taking on the court.

Want to go to the World Series? Sorry. Not going to happen, at least if you're trying to go to one of the Chicago games and have less than $1000 to spend. Tickets to Chicago games sold out in 18 minutes, with most fans blocked out (or encountering error messages from Ticketmaster), with a large portion of the tickets going directly to brokers, who immediately jacked prices as high as $8,000+ for a single ticket, requiring the purchase of a four ticket package at the time of this post. Everyone's understandably upset, and life goes on.

Blockbuster (or at least the ones in the Chicago area, and reportedly elsewhere) are having some trouble with Universal, which resulted in me having to set up an account at a local store that rents videos for reasonable prices in order to see Land of the Dead. It's good in that it at least got me to go somewhere else for my rentals that would charge less, plus I'm more or less positive that the proprietors of Video Town on Thorndale don't take the time to edit their movies. As far as the movie goes...the political commentary does get a tad heavy handed for a Romero film at times, and Dawn of the Dead (the original) is still the best in the series in my opinion, but it was quite good, as zombie movies go. Were I you, I'd buy it. But then, if I were you, then you would enjoy zombie movies.

I haven't yet seen Batman Begins, as the Video Town place didn't have any copies left (Tuesdays are "every movie for $1, except those on DVDs, which are $2) and I wasn't going to pay $5 for a Blockbuster rental when I still don't have a replacement debit card.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Beginning of the Week Post

So I'm incredibly bad at posting as often as I'd like. I post consistently, at least, in the beginning of the week before I get twenty emails asking for regrades for the most recent organic chemistry exam, deal with exams and generally have the life sucked out of me.

But for those first few days of the week, I'm a pita full of sunshine and analysis.

So let's see what we have here now.

In the magical land of California, more people over 40 are dying of overdoses, and that the amount of drug users who are over the age of 35 has risen to one third of all drug users, up from 12% in 1979. Clearly, less people are inclined to be ripped out of their minds when the Pirates arae winning the World Series. It's really the only rational explanation. But for those involved with the report who would rather stick with "facts", the upswing in older drug deaths is more caused by a larger percentage of boomers that got into drugs, then just didn't quit until it killed them. Heroin is the largest portion of the problem. The article indicates that the trend is not confined to the Magical Land, which is somewhat unsettling. As someone who has been affected by this kind of thing, I don't have much to say about it other than that I'm saddened by it.

Having mentioned the Pirates, I'd like to say that I'm looking forward to see how Jim Tracy is going to handle things. I personally would have liked to see how Macha would have handled things with the Pirates, but I guess if I'm still interested I could always just see how he handles the A's next season following the "Just Kidding" end of his contract with the Athletics. Still, though Pat's rightfully concerned about Tracy's take on productive outs, I'm somehow hoping we can pull something together in '06. Sadly, I won't be able to attend many games (as the Bucs tend to play less home games in Chicago than I'd like, play the Cubs 9 times at Wrigley and the Sox three times at USCF, all of which I can't attend without my advisor killing me, regardless of who my advisor ends up being), but such is life.

RJ claims to have purchased this from, and I'll take him down if he didn't.

I'd like to thank, while I'm in the "talk about people I know" section of today's entry, Ryan Paal for inexplicably posting on a post I made in mid-July ("12 Big Macs"). Thank you, Ryan, for still being utterly impossible to understand. One of the Ghost of Allegheny Present scared me, but only because he appeared to have an unhealthy fixation on video-game baseball and the West Wing.

In movie rentals, Crash was decent, if a bit improbable and forced. Michael Peña's performance is quite good.

In School news: I've gotten through my first two exams at NU, and I'm still here, so that's a good sign. Grading has never been more irritating, but that's what you've got to do, I guess.

Finally, the White Sox won the pennant, after the umpiring crew made everything very odd. Summary of the oddities of the ALCS: Game 2's dropped third strike call probably should have been an out for Pierzynski, but Josh Paul's at fault for not taking the half second's effort to tag him to make sure (as typically happens on a catch that's questionable) and rolling the ball back to the mound, especially when he didn't look back to see the ump's sign, and no verbal call was issued. It was a heads-up play by Pierzynski, and that's all. Game 4's catcher's interference (again, with Pierzynski) should have been called, but the time to argue about it wasn't on the way to first. If Finley complains after getting to first, at best the call is given and at worst another run scores and the inning isn't yet over. Game 5: First of all, fans need to learn not to interfere with balls in play. That isn't too hard a concept, is it? Again, Pierzynski's at the heart of a bad call, though this one was against the Sox, and is overturned. The difference here being that more than one ump saw it, conferred with the others and changed a very blatantly bad call. Could the Angels blame the umps for their losses? Sure, I guess, but they don't seem to be. Bad calls happen, this umpiring crew seemed to be more conspicuously bad than most, but the White Sox bullpen throwing seven pitches in the entire series has to count for something. Being in Chicago while this is going on is, at the very least interesting.

In that I'm getting close to understanding Ozzie Guillen, whose intereviews should be grounds for starting a completely separate language department.

I'll be around. I'm going to bed now.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Still studying, listening to something about one of those people that tickets your car for parking somewhere you shouldn't, or simply not returning to it for a while to deposit another quarter, and messing around with userscripts I don't understand. We'll see what happens with that.

Baseballprospectus reviews the Pirates season in their Notebook as though it were a version of Rounders.. Surprise! The report gives at least a bit of credit to having rookies up for a long-ish time, though we didn't bring as many up as the Braves or Rockies. In their assessment, Bay's the only thing we have going our way offensively. They laud Chris Duffy while threatening to revoke Eldred's status-as-prospect, criticize the Bucs for not getting rid of Mesa (preferring to keep him on to destroy chances we had of winning games) and claims that Wells and Redman both "deserved" 15 more wins than they got, blaming their lack of success on a lack of support. I'll agree with that, though Kip had some spotty starts on his own without the lack of help from the offense. They end claiming that 2006 will be a "make or break year". We'll see.

Some of you are fans of Family Guy. If that's the case, you may remember a particularly odd bit where Stewie does a very strange rendition of "Rocketman" in three personas. You may have been kept awake at night worrying about the well-being of the Family Guy writers. To ease your suffering, no. They're not crazy. William Shatner is loonier than an outhouse rat, but they're fine. Enjoy Shatner's 1978 performance that Stewie's bit was stolen from based on. If nothing else, it at least keeps the opinion alive that William Shatner is not well.

Awesome, but not well.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So, don't I look silly.

Before you jump to the most obvious conclusion that my title would seem to indicate, yes. My apartment was burglarized. Or burgled, if you're in to being British. My pants and wallet (less the $12 that was in the wallet) were found in a garbage chute that my apartment has, but my keys were gone. My reaction?

1) Hey, cool, my apartment building has a garbage chute!
2) I've got my pants back (which were new) and my identification, along with my bus pass, so I can at least survive, seeing as how I couldn't cash checks without ID. Identification, not Intelligent Design. No one has ever asked me my take on the origin of species before allowing me to buy something with a personal check, but it's not something I'd rule out.
3) Thank god this guy was only after the $12 in my pocket (How much crack can you buy with that, incidentally? Send your answers to subtleadmissionofbeingoncrack@chicagopolice.cops) and didn't freak out and try to kill me or anything.

I've got new locks installed (the same as before, courtesy Horizon Realty Group) and an additional chain lock. My feeling is that if he comes across that, while he could kick it in, gives me a little time that I'd notice him being there to call the police, plus he wouldn't risk the hassle of such an overt break in. The guy that was on the security tape attempting to break into the complex at 2am approached me later that night, trying to convince me to let him in. Then threatening me. Then giving up. Then asking for money. So I went inside, called the cops on him, and went about my business.

Which all looks completely silly in the context that Over 20,000 have died as the result of a magnitude 7.6 quake Saturday. While I haven't heard opportunists jumping on this one to claim that this is an indication of End Times, or that the earthquake was in retaliation for something (as Repent America's claim that Katrina's devastation was caused by a gay pride event), I'm sure it'll be out there. Still, the constant barrage of disasters lately drives home at least the mortality point, which makes me even more thankful that nothing happened after that guy's break-in on Thursday.

In Lighter News:

The White Sox finished an ALDS sweep of the Red Sox friday night, which inches closer to the ESPN nightmare that is a Yankee/RedSox-free ALCS. Personally, I'm glad. Immediately after the game, the animosity on message boards between ChiSox and BoSox fans disappeared, for the most part, as BoSox fans accepted defeat gracefully and wished the White Sox luck in the next series. There were still some ChiSox fans who rubbed it in the faces of the BoSox fans who had just seen their World Champions swept out of the first round, and some BoSox fans that attributed the White Sox win entirely to luck and continued to claim that the Red Sox would win if only the series was a bit longer. Tim Wakefield is one of these, who claimed on ESPN that this series shows that "The better team doesn't always win", which we'll refer to as a "2004 Derek Jeter". The Sox (White Sox will be implied until their season is over) will start Contreras in the first game of the ALCS, choosing to go with the guy who's hot right now, rather than the well rested (and possibly rusting) Jon Garland, who will start Game 3.

Buccos are interviewing Ex-A's manager Ken Macha tomorrow, and Ex-Dodgers Guy Jim Tracy Tuesday. Evidence so far seems to point toward Tracy getting the position, though personally I'd like to see Macha take it, considering his work with the A's. I promise this is not stolen from WHYGAVS. We just agree on this thing.

The straight-to-DVD release "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" was quite good. I actually watched one of the legitimate, rented copies, rather than downloading it like everyone else in the world. I won't say it was terrific, as it was more or less just three episodes with some hint of continuity and tons and tons of cut-away jokes, but whatever. If you like the show, you'll probably enjoy this.

And Wacky Waving Inflatable Arms Flailing Tube Man.

I've got a test tomorrow, so I'm going to get back to the studying thing.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Someone broke into my apartment, I think, and now I'm locked out, and the company I'm renting from is completely impossible to get a hold of before noon.

This sucks.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dr. Skipper.

So, what's up today then now.

Grubbs (of catalysis fame) splits the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Schrock and Chauvin for green chemistry. Good for them. Upon seeing that green chemistry had won the Nobel Prize, I held out a few seconds hope that Everyone's Favorite New Zealander Terry had somehow done something incredible that led to the Nobel Prize, but no. Just Grubbs.

Reuters reports that Britons steal everything that's not nailed to the floor and on fire. Which is fun.

Harriet Miers is busy telling everyone that everything's going to be ok if she's appointed to the Supreme Court. It appears she's got some support, though it's from Frist, Brownback and, somewhat unexpectedly, Reid. Slate's running an article which points out that she's no Sandra Day O'Connor, though it's not entirely clear if that's really relevant. We'll see how this plays out.

The White Sox destroyed Boston in the first game of the ALDS "B", though it's important for Chicago fans to remember that this Boston team has a tendency to kind of bounce back from things. Still, that puts the ChiSox one game closer to the ALCS, which I'm all for. Boston's bloggers responded by insulting White Sox fans. Yes, White Sox fans are excited. They've got the best record in the American League, were in or tied for first place in the AL Central for every single day of the season, and still they're being written off. So when they trounce the defending Champs by 12 runs, of course they're going to be happy. What I would caution them against is getting too cocky. It's important to remember that the Love must continue.

Bananas are an interesting food. In other news, that is.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

BP's Picks.

I'm about to run off to another group meeting and listen to some people talk about chemistry I'm not familiar with, but I just felt I should link to BaseballProspectus' Hit List for this week, which, while on the surface less objective than virtually everything else on BP, does have some basis in mathematics, and is predicting a Cards/White Sox World Series (NL's obvious, but I'm somewhat amazed to see that they're not choosing the Angels).

Off to Nano.

Monday, October 03, 2005

On The Tracks

Quick update before i have to get back to my physical organic textbook.

This morning was less awesome than expected, with a 40 minute wait on the platform of the Granville stop on the Red line, following a maintenance car derailment at 2:40am, which caused no injuries. So I missed almost all of my class, despite getting to the station on time. Feh. Most of what we talked about was still review from when the TA taught the class, so I didn't miss much. I just wish I would have known to sleep in, but I guess it did get me here. Whatever.

Bush nominates his lawyer for a position on the Supreme Court (filling O'Connor's seat) in a move that can be more or less aptly described as confusing. She's got no judicial experience, but is close to Bush, and that seems to be the prerequisite. This should be a tougher nomination than Roberts', but we'll see about that.

I can't get enough money together to go to a NU Football game, but this guy can do whatever the hell he wants, and what he wants is to play helper to some researchers on the ISS. He does work with near-infrared sensors, and so while I may not understand why people can do this, I'm happy that that whole "science doctorate" thing seems to have worked out for this guy.

The Pirates are happy they get to go home to their families and Chicago is praying like hell that someone around here can win a baseball game or two. Or three. Personally? I'm optimistic about the White Sox' chances against Boston. Boston's pitching has broken down, they're relying very heavily on Ortiz and Ramirez to get the job done, and the White Sox strength is their pitching, which surged back at the end of the regular season to capture 8 of their last 10 games and a 1.57 ERA in the last eight starts. Pat has both teams in his "AL Don't Like" category,which I thought was mildly interesting. While Chicago suffered a drop from their 15-game lead atop the AL Central as of August 1, they were 19-12 since September first. The Red Sox have had a similar 18-13 record in the same timespan.

I'm going to go do something productive now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

First General Meeting.

So let's see here.

In Baseball:

The Bucs actually pulled out a win against the Cubs yesterday, with Duke going 8 innings giving up only one earned run (two unearned), which is actually quite an accomplishment anymore. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it out to Wrigley for the game, and as tonight's game is at 2:20 pm and I've got a meeting with SonBinh Nguyen about his research at 2pm, I'm probably not going today either. Life goes on.

The White Sox are making the citizens of Chicago cry. That said, their magic number shrunk to four yesterday, but not because of anything they've done. Watching what I did of the game yesterday, they were actually looking quite a bit like the Pirates have offensively this year. The Tigers were handing them the game over and over, walking eight, but the Sox, in what's eerily familiar, looked at it and decided it'd be better to just go back to the dugout for a nice sit-down.

So the AL Central is being decided by whether or not the Indians can lose enough games, rather than whether the White Sox can win, while the Yankees and Red Sox actually tied. That's probably interesting.

This guy at United States of Baseball hates football. As an article goes, it's somewhat amusing.


In news:

Slate's got an interesting bit about why Americans are so resistant to the increase in gas prices (the answer: most people can't actually do anything about how much gas they need, and so have no option but to pay for the more expensive gas. It makes the rather obvious connection that if gas prices were incredibly high for...say...five years, a more visible response would be noted as people would have time to save money up to buy a hybrid/move closer to work/fix everything. So the plea from the federal government to "drive only when you have to". Environmental groups are worried that the president's sudden conservationalism hints toward an intended rollback of environmental protection measures. Unfortunately, Bush limits his conservation ideals to being an extremely temporary cause in response to Hurricane Katrina, rather than "Hey, we're running out of gas and it's going up in price anyway, so maybe we should stop that whole driving all the time thing...".

Oh well.

I'm going to go ahead and start doing some work again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What the hell.

You'd like some nice, light reading that tries to make sense out of what is clearly a "we win, you lose" scenario? Go to this thing. The CTA chair's blog. Which is actually very nice for the instant gratification crowd that can't wait to rip into someone connected with the CTA for having some decidedly boneheaded policies (like "If the train is running late, sometimes it'll just start skipping stops, so that the people waiting for the late train are forced to wait even longer"), but the most recent post (concerning food) is entertaining, if only because she dances around the whole apparent hypocracy of getting millions from rent that vendors pay to be in the CTA station, and then fining people who actually eat that food once they're on the train. I understand the concern of having to spend an exorbitant amount to clean, but it still seems contradictory to sell food, then bust people for eating. She rationalizes the policy ("It's not that bad. In DC, you'd be shot.") but I can't help but feel that it's inadequate.

Moving on.

I'm never using Wikipedia again. Two nights ago, I'm kicking around, clicking on whatever link happens to catch my eye and end up reading a bit about Don Adams (of Get Smart fame). Which is fine and nice. Until he dies the next day. Shame, that. I actually liked Get Smart...ten years ago when it actually was aired on Nick At Nite, before being removed for such "classic TV" as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Not that I'm knocking the Fresh Prince. It's just not classic, is all, if new episodes were still being produced when I was in eighth grade, if I'm only just out of college now.

That's nine years. Nine years does not classic television make.

The Bucs dropped another one to the Dodgers, making Kip Wells the first pitcher to lose 18 games since Jose DeLeon in '85, but what're you going to do. I didn't watch the game or listen to it on the radio, but from the report on the Pirates website, that's probably a good thing. They just weren't playing baseball. That's all.

In local-ish news, White Sox Fans were disappointed when the Sox couldn't pull it together to take the series opener from the fourth-place Tigers, and one day after everyone in the state was printing out "World Series Championship" t-shirts, the excitement has notably diminished. Unfortunately, in an attempt to get my sleep schedule back in order, I didn't watch the game after the sixth, and so can't comment if Ozzie ate anyone.

The Dover trial continues, with several advocates calling Intelligent design "a 21-st century form of creationism". Yes, students should be able to access information regarding the differences of opinion in the scientific realm, but as a scientific topic, intelligent design falls flat on its face. It does not invoke the scientific method, it is not falsifiable, it is not testable. It is in no way a valid scientific "theory", in the way science works. Could it be correct? Sure. But it's still not science, and shouldn't be held up as such. While we're here, yes. Theism is imbedded in intelligent design. ID supporters claim that it is not necessarily God that is responsible for design. The counter to this is, of course, "Who designed the designer?", at which point you either have to have a more intelligent non-deity designer, or claim that the designer was a deity, and that its origins cannot be understood.

Which is an example of why it's not science.

Children should learn about intelligent design and religion, but they shouldn't be doing so in a course in which the fundamental underlying principle is "follow the scientific method".

There now. Have fun with that.