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.

Monday, September 26, 2005


So, remember that whole "Plus/Minus/Riff/Raff/Exo/Endo" thing from a while back? No? In short, I experimented with a gimmick maybe twice on here that allowed me to skip having to think up a way to introduce multiple topics into the blog, in favor of just rating them on a rather arbitrary binary rating system as Good or Bad, which was done in a completely subjective manner. We're bringing that back now. And I've decided that this time, we're going to use a system that's not only arbitrary, but confusing. I thought of picking things to name the different ratings after that were the epitome of good and bad, but then that'd lead to all sorts of trouble with comparing things to things that are actually much worse than they are. And I don't need that.

So here's what we're doing.

"Plus" (or "Riff/Exothermic") will now (by "now", I mean immediately now and then never again) be "Sub-Zero". Why? That seems counter intuitive. Sub, for one, generally denotes something as inferior, or in the case of the phrase "Sub-Zero", negative. It evokes images of cold things, of not being able to walk to class without your hair freezing, and illness. So why Sub-Zero? Several reasons. Reason One: My apartment's kind of hot, and I like thinking of cold things for the moment. Two: At such temperatures as are evoked by the phrase "Sub-Zero", these things are possible, and they're too amazing not to be included at least somewhere on my blog at some point. Three: Sub Zero was by far my favorite Mortal Kombat character and deserves recognition.

"Minus" ("Raff/Endothermic") is now "wow", which I've lowercased here, but still indicates "World of Warcraft", which is bad in that it eats souls. I could just have easily gone with something that actually does eat/steal souls (such as Shang Tsung to keep the MK thing going, or SoupTaper here, but I thought it would be funny if I went ahead and caught some heat for insulting people's livelihoods by making bad equal to WoW.

The first thing that will go into "WoW" will be Blogger, for once again deleting what I've written. It recovered about a third of my post after deleting it for taking too long to type.

I'll try to recreate, then. Which is kind of a waste of time when I don't know if Blogger's just going to delete this one too.

So, on with the actual post.

Sub Zero
  • The mentality that would lead me to believe that since I couldn't sleep last night and have an 8:00 am class, I should press on, forgo sleep entirely and try to remain conscious and alert enough to meet with SonBinh Nguyen's group this afternoon at 5:00pm. We'll see how that all goes.
  • Corpse Bride for being quite enjoyable, even if it wasn't the sweet ambrosia that the $30-nonconformist-basketball-shoe/18-bleach-and-blue-dye haired fan was expecting. In my opinion? Quite good. Visually stunning, entertaining as it should be and a better option than sitting at home. Many were disappointed that it wasn't "The Nightmare Before Christmas", but then, if I'm not mistaken, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" already kind of took care of that. This was a different movie, made twelve years later. Much like my advice following Revenge of the Sith, stop complaining about how it doesn't live up to earlier things and enjoy the damned movie.
  • The 3 Penny Cinema for being a nice cozy little theater in which to watch the abovementioned movie, for applying the $4.50 student charge to graduate students, for having a short-film festival next weekend with such gems as the Confederate Zombie Massacre, which can't not be awesome, and for having a more than reasonable price for beer in a movie theater. Being from PA, I wasn't aware you could even do that.
  • The IRA actually going ahead and disarming, which is a positive step, despite the fact that I can't say it'll be permanent. Perhaps now, some peace can go ahead and get started, though I'm somewhat unfamiliar with the political climate in Ireland at this juncture. Still, this month's disarmarment fulfills the July promise to do so, effectively showing that the IRA is willing to work toward peace. Paisley's right to be skeptical, if only because the IRA historically has been a terrorist organization, and most would be smart not to trust a terrorist organization as far as one could throw them. This will have a huge impact on peace efforts, as the IRA can finally actively more towards coexistence. Lovely.
  • Jon Abrams, for recording an album over the weekend (?!) and sending me a song ("Three Years Underwater") with the instruction "distribute this". I'm on a school computer right now, so if any of you wants to hear it, just send me an email and I'll get you his song.

  • Slate Magazine, for using Hurricane Rita/Beatles puns twice on today's page, because Lovely Rita was too good a song to merit "Ugly Rita" and "Metering Rita" puns. Also, because I've motioned against hurricanes somewhere on R+M, and I'm of the firm belief that the action of having hurricanes should cease while my motion is on the floor. We've had enough. Please stop it.
  • That whole Dover, PA scene for perpetuating misunderstanding as to the application of the word "theory", for attempting to break down the bar on establishment of a state religion, and the continued misnomer of calling "Intelligent Design" science. It's not. For a more extended commentary, go back to here. Side note, I'm not the only one that makes the locust/cicada mistake. Several people her on the first day of orientation said the same thing. I feel happy about that
  • The Chicago Tribune for deciding that Google Bombs are news, despite the fact that a similar Slate piece was published in March of 2002 which was itself almost a year behind the initial discussion surrounding the "talentless hack" bomb. So, in essence, the Tribune is commenting on something that's over four years old, specifically the "miserable failure" bomb.
  • My inorganic lecture, for being 20 minutes shorter than the 40 minute commute on the L it took to get there at 8am this morning.
  • Insolent fools. Because they are insolent, and fools. This meatloaf is shallow and pedantic.

That's all for now.

Friday, September 23, 2005

...the hell?

Three quick things I can't not point out.

Well, there you go. Modernist Sports Commentary.

Quote from the New York Times article on dimming the city's lights so as not to kill so many migratory birds (sorry, registration evidently required, though it's free and painless):

"They would be swept up by custodial staff," said Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner. "I've often seen them on the streets, and wondered, 'Why is this little songbird dead on the street?' "

Finally, you can make anything look like a cartoon character if you have an active imagination and a good supply of narcotics, it seems.

Best part of that last one? The winning bid was $0.36 (so, a total of $4.36 after shipping in dry ice).

This is Screeching.

So, first of all, there's this. I'm sure most of you won't care, but I for one was amused by the table of contents, which reads like a to do list written by a tweaked and not cannon-borne Hunter S. Thompson. An excerpt, for those that don't want to go to Gutenberg's version of von Liebig's "Familiar Letters".

From the table of contents:
The Subject proposed. Materials employed for Chemical Apparatus:--
GLASS--CAOUTCHOUC--CORK--PLATINUM. THE BALANCE. The "Elements" of the Ancients, represent the forms of matter. Lavoisier and his successors. Study of the materials composing the Earth. Synthetic production of Minerals--LAPIS LAZULI. Organic Chemistry.

From the actual letters:
Then, how admirable and valuable are the properties of Cork! How little do men reflect upon the inestimable worth of so common a substance! How few rightly esteem the importance of it to the progress of science, and the moral advancement of mankind!--There is no production of nature or art equally adapted to the purposes to
which the chemist applies it. Cork consists of a soft, highly elastic substance, as a basis, having diffused throughout a matter with properties resembling wax, tallow, and resin, yet dissimilar to all of these, and termed suberin.

Good to see that in 1843, we were as excited about things like Cork as we are today about...say...parades.


Everyone appears to be pissed off about Federated Department Stores changing Marshall Field's to Macy's. One letter contends that no one will shop there anymore if it's a Macy's. I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one, as people tend to end up in department stores no matter what (but perhaps I'm not getting it, even though the Kaufmann's landmarks which led to their own inclusion in Pittsburgh phraseology and lore are also soon to be Macy's locations). As the article predicts, I'm going to go ahead and guess that either the Marshall Field's name will be restored in a few years when they decide it's a lucrative move...or people will stop caring within two years. My money's on the latter.

Most ironically descriptive moment:

Seconds before getting to the stop on the Purple Line that I have to use to get to my class, a recorded announcement informs us of the stop we're at, while a kind of odd screeching (which is out of the ordinary) pervades the car. The announcement? "This is Noyes."

Yes. Pronounced "Noise."

Temporary Background:


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


So, I'm sitting here typing out my notes from Physical Organic after barely getting to my first graduate level class, and I decided to take a break. So of course, now that I'm done playing with statistics to determine how much n-pentane will be in its most relaxed conformer at room temperature (it appears to be about 35%) as an introduction to P-Org, the first thing I'm going to do is zip over to somewhere that's completely and utterly devoid of statistics. Right? No.

Though to be fair, I landed on a page that has more commentary than most at BaseballProspectus.

So now I'm clicking through the homepages of each of the Major League ballclubs, and I can't help but notice something. The Pirates poll (every organization has a little opinion poll at the bottom of their page, except the SF Giants) seems to be more irrelevant than everyone else's.

While most of those at the top of their divisions or remotely involved in the Wild Card "race" are very understandably performance oriented, even those at the bottom of the league (with us) are more relevant than ours.

As an example:

Division Leaders:

  • St. Louis Cardinals: Which potential Division Series opponent makes you the most nervous? (Not the best question, but reasonable enough. It's asking something that Cardinals fans are no doubt thinking about after clinching the NL Central)

  • Atlanta Braves: Other than Jeff Francoeur, which rookie has had the biggest impact? (Terrific question: Involves analysis of their rookies in a more involved manner, maybe. Probably not, but let's say it does.)

  • Chicago White Sox: If the playoffs started today, who would be your No. 1 starter? (Again, good. Implies to the polled that their opinion might matter. It doesn't.)

  • San Diego Padres: Who deserves the most playing time at first base? (Same as CWS, and kudos to the Padres for finally breaking that .500 mark while leading their division.)

Last Place

  • New York Mets (11.5 GB): Who should be the Mets' second baseman next season? (Good, question about the future that makes the polled think they're making a difference.)

  • Kansas City Royals (40.5 GB): Who is your pick as Royals Pitcher of the Year? (Good, for a team that has done so horrendously, it's good that they're focusing on strong points, even if the organization doesn't actually care.)

  • Tampa Bay Devil Rays (24.5 GB): What position should Jorge Cantu play next year? (Good, future oriented, and relevant to the Pirates case, what with Rob Mackowiak.)

  • Colorado Rockies (14.0 GB in the worst division in the Majors, 0.5 games behind the Pirates overall) Who has been the biggest 2005 surprise? (Good. Terrible year, but let's try to look for some bright spots. Couldn't be a better question for the Pirates.)

So what's the Pirates question?

Which current Pirates jersey is your favorite?

What?! Not only is it the only fashion related poll question out of the 29 that exist, it's somewhat mocking that the Phillies poll question (Who is Ryan Howard's biggest threat for NL Rookie of the Year?) includes at least some indication that yes, the Pirates are a ballclub, not a fashion house. It doesn't even really allow for the illusion that the person being polled is having some kind of input on the team. While I'm well aware that no one in the organization really gives a damn who the fans of their team thinks is the best choice for third baseman, it's somewhat comforting to the fans to think that they do. The most that will come of this poll is that the Bucs decide to ...I don't know...not play as many road games (the road gray jersey is trailing with 8% of the vote at present).

In more interesting news, Ian Snell chose a bout with Roger Clemens to get his first win in the Majors, and we (by we I mean not me, because Chicago TV stations don't really care about Astros/Pirates games) get to watch Gorzelanny make his debut against Pettitte and the Astros tonight.

I'm going to get back to work now, and try to finish this up in time to do something else with today.

Monday, September 19, 2005

To the lovely drivers of Illinois -or- Please stop telling me to run over this old woman.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm the most patient driver in the world. Anyone who's ever ridden with me can attest to the fact that I don't tend to react lightly to people who, in my opinion while I'm behind the wheel, have no business doing what they're doing. That said, my recent travails in Chicago have left me with one very solid impression, which sticks out among the other, more fluid impressions.

Chicago drivers cannot hear in the range that a car horn does its thing. That's the only explanation. I've never heard so much honking/beeping/angry-depressing-of-the-horn in my life. Which would make sense if everyone in Chicago also couldn't drive. But they can. What's sticking out is that people are honking their horns when it's entirely unreasonable to do so. I can understand honking at the guy who's turned his car off in the turning lane to finish his bagel. But to honk at someone because they won't turn left while traffic in the other direction is already occupying the intersection? The net result, as far as I've found, is that everyone is completely desensitized to it. No one pays attention. The noble car horn, once presumably a communication device to warn of danger or alert other motorists to a situation is completely useless, because everyone does it all the time. Granted, this doesn't affect me much. I've got no car here, and pedestrians rarely get honked at, and if they do, they're being complete tools anyway. Still.

Also, I'd like to start a petition to the CTA to stop picking up passengers. I was skipped earlier because a train decided to run "express" past my stop because it was behind schedule, and realized (while I waited for the next train) "Hey! If they just stop picking people up as a rule, they'll always be on time.

Four Counts of Freakin' Awesome

So, let's go down, in no particular order, things that are awesome.

  • I rented Dawn of the Dead on Friday night, then proceeded to half-watch it while I played flash games and reveled in my not having work or a roommate to entertain me at about 1 am Central. I'm atoning for that now, when I have to get up in a few hours. I'm just going to say...holy hilarious, Batman. Not only is it more satire/comedy than horror anyway, but it's also very strange to see zombies shambling around and falling over in what very clearly is Monroeville Mall as well as seeing one guy/zombie's shirt clearly references Pitcairn of all places.

  • I've been really worried about buying books, especially since I just spent all of my money moving to Chicago and still haven't been paid by Northwestern only to discover that SHAZAM I own one of the books. Two editions too early, but Cotton's Chemical Applications of Group Theory have never been so sweet.

  • People commenting!

  • Ken Foree, along with Zombie Hare Krishnas, Zombie Nuns, and peppy little Zombie 7-year olds. No. The Zombie Baby from the 2004 remake ain't got nothin' on the peppy Zombie 7-year olds. The Zombie Baby was dumb. Yes. That's technically related to bullet number one, but it's 3:30 am and I think I forgot what I was going to have be the fourth count of awesome, and don't want to change the title.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

About Slap.

Usually I'm a big proponent of using the actual diacritics as opposed to their phonetic equivalents, I completely forget how to get an umlaut on an "o" without a number pad, which I don't have and was too lazy to find out.

Sorry. Apply that to Schroeder's name. Right there, for example.


So then. I've forgotten to post for almost a week. I'm going to go ahead and rectify that.

In News?

We're not the only ones this happens to, it being a somewhat outmoded and not entirely representative system of elections leads to confusion over who actually won a vote, this time in Germany. But now, that was just the party election. They've moved on to the actual election between Schroeder and Merkel. It's funny to me that Reuters explains the abbreviations behind Merkel's CDU (Christlich-Demokratische Union) and its sister party in Bavaria (Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern e. V.), but not that behind Schroeder's SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), because (and I'm stretching) "socialism" is a dirty word in any language.

It's surprising Schroeder's this close, considering that there was an (albeit failed) vote of confidence on July 1. Merkel, on the other hand, is most famous for both being able to mark the "female" box on mall surveys and supporting the Flat Tax by associating with Paul Paul "The Crushinator" Kirchhof", which Slate covers here.

Oh, wait.

You don't care about German politics and economics, do you.

Well, then, to sum up.

The Pirates finally won a series that this blog covered more extensively than I could hope to now against the Reds. Unfortunately, it was a series that also included Zach Duke's first loss and which is marred by the occasional appearance of Jose Mesa. I'm not going to try to go into why I'm not the biggest Mesa fan (coughrunproducerforouropponentscough), so scour Pat's blog for that. No one in Pittsburgh actually cares, as a team that actually won some things that's playing in Pittsburgh. Personally? Whatever. I'm not the biggest football fan. I'm currently weighing the pros and cons of spending $20 on a ticket to watch the Cubs play the Pirates next week at Wrigley. The biggest con is that I haven't been paid yet and need to scrounge up the money for books, which are, just as I left them, incredibly expensive.

Let's go ahead and take another five day break.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

La Marche!

And again, here we are.

I'm sure most all of you have heard of this La marche de l'empereur documentary. I haven't seen it quite yet, and may or may not do so in the future. We'll see. To clarify about the form of the title I've used, yes. It's a French film that was picked up by Warner and released stateside, evidently improving on what was a corny soundtrack by getting rid of the Bob Saget on America's Funniest Home Videos-esque dialogue for the penguins as well as the pop soundtrack, and just going with a solemn-voiced Morgan Freeman who, evidently speaks fluent French, which he's used to communicate with Canadians, long thought an impossible task.

But that's not what's great about this. That's not what's made me comment on it in my blog.

What made that happen is this piece in the New York Times, which, to summarize, discusses the positive feedback to the point of crafting it into a very specific kind of political tool by conservative commentators. Most of their comments, I don't take issue with. Sure, the footage of penguins struggling to survive sends a nice family/togetherness/sacrifice message. What I do take issue with is the opinion that the movie somehow acts as "a strong case for intelligent design" and the joy that's apparent from the fact that the US version doesn't talk all that much about global warming, taking the absence of a mention as proof that global warming doesn't exist.


As you'll surely read, Luc Jaquet says that he made the decision to leave out global warming...more or less because there's a larger story to tell and that while it's an issue for the penguins, that isn't the story he wanted to tell. So, fine.

What's more interesting is the claim that this a case for intelligent design. Andrew Coffin, a writer for World Magazine points to the odds that an egg could survive in such a climate being indication of intelligent design. Surely, he argues, something couldn't have evolved in such a harsh climate, so it must have been made in nearly its complete form at some point there. Which is fine, if you ignore the whole Pangaea and plate tectonics arguments, which would have allowed for the development of such birds on a much more mild climate, followed by millions of years of evolution after the separation of the continents.

Interestingly, the only time the film mentions something even close to evolution is to say that the penguins have been living as documented for millions of years, though the Times piece doesn't talk at all about the response of Young Earth Creationists.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Some news. For you!

Remember that show My Two Dads? I don't. At least, not really. It's garnered some hatred on IMDB and was associated with Paul Reiser. That's not the news. The news is that Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority went ahead and approved the creation of an embryo with three parents in the name of research toward combating mitochondrial diseases. In short

  • The researchers will first fuse sperm with an egg taken from a woman at risk of passing on a mitochondrial disease. Before the sperm and egg form an embryo, they will be transplanted into a healthy egg taken from another woman, leaving the defective mitochondria behind. The embryo can then develop as normal.

So there's that.

Also from the Guardian, there's this piece which argues against the bulk of popular scientific journalism (as in the NYTimes' Tuesday Science section,) in that, in order to presumably make the science accessible to readers who haven't ever actually taken a science course, editors and journalists tend to excise most of the useful information from the article. The author probably wrongly criticizes Humanities Graduates for their role in the dumbing down of science, but his core complaint is right on. Could scientific information, such as that in most reputable journals, be made more accessible to the person who's not into science? Sure. But to do so, one usually has to cut out most of the information that's actually useful. The job of science journalists, rather than pruners, should be to expand on what the article is saying. Most scientific journal articles tend to leave out as much presumably known information in favor of getting to the heart of the matter: the data. The job of the science journalist is to interpret this data with a strong enough scientific background to make sure what they're saying is actually what's presented, to relate it to the rest of the world so that scientific research isn't seen as something with no purpose, and to cover something other than the whole "L-tryptophan makes you sleepy" at Thanksgiving and "Chocolate is actually good for you" at Easter.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

No Title Entered.

Roundup, because I haven’t really gone near current events in a while.

In Sports:

The Pirates dropped 2 of 3 against the Reds, sunrise, sunset. Paul Maholm did good work until the seventh, but whatever. It’s not as though anyone in Pittsburgh was actually watching, as today was the season’s first Steelers game and …well, they win sometimes. Today, for example. In real Pirates news, they’re finally giving an indication that they’re not picking up Mesa’s option for the 2006 season, as given in the ”Mother of God what were we thinking having this guy close for us, but we’re still probably going to let him close every now and again” article.


In news:

Arlen Specter (the relatively sane senator of Pennsylvania) is against nominating Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court to take Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat, which hasn’t actually been done yet.

Conservatives don’t think he’s conservative enough, liberals don’t think he’s moderate enough, and Specter refused to comment on what he thought of Gonzales’ politics. Specter makes it clear that he’d like to see another woman on the court, provided he finds someone that can do the job, but hesitates to imply that there’s a quota system, as that is bad for business. Gonzales’ nomination would make him the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court (good if you’re trying to court the growing Hispanic vote, I guess) and the chances of it happening are improved by being very good friends with Bush.

Personally? I’d say leave him at Attorney General. We’ve just got him through the appointment process on a vote that went almost entirely along party lines. Just let him do his job there, rather than wrapping him up in another appointment hearing and having the public go through another Attorney General appointment. Besides which, I’m less frightened of him as Attorney General than as a Justice, as I’m not sure I’m entirely trustworthy of a Justice who thinks of the Geneva Conventions as “quaint and obsolete”.

This technically isn’t news until Gonzales is, maybe, nominated on Tuesday.
Again!  Whatever.

In news that most of my readers will find most interesting among the three stories, German brewers have come up with a 25.4% alcohol beer, served in a shot glass. There’s nothing more really to say about that.  

That’s all, then.  I’ve just bought some more cockta.

Friday, September 09, 2005



Two things I felt I should post about really quickly, that will probably eventually become much more than two.

Firstly, I talked on the way home from Northwestern today. Not to myself, though that wouldn't be entirely out of place on the El at certain times during the day. This was not one of those times, and as I'm generally one to try not to convince people I've become completely unbalanced until I at least get to know them, I wasn't screaming nonsense. Instead, in a somewhat strange sort of events, the man across the aisle started talking to me. I perhaps looked talkative, as I'd just been talking to another first year grad student, and after kicking me on the way by he mentioned something about Kip Wells, presumably brought on by the fact that I was somewhat out of place wearing a Pirates hat in what is very firmly Cubs territory. After talking about the ballparks of the Bucs, the Cubs, and the White Sox (the entire discussion amounted to "PNC is nice, and it's too bad the Pirates can't play up to the level of their surroundings, Wrigley is quaint but uncomfortable and the guy who decided to face the outfield of Comiskey (U.S. Cellular) toward the projects rather than the Chicago skyline was a moron"), he started on about psychology. That is, evidently he writes books which deal with the subject in an accessible manner and occasionally for children. After mentioning what the hell I was doing in Chicago, he proceeded to get out a little notepad and write some things down. I have no idea what per se, but I tried not to let it bother me.

This constitutes my first experience talking at length and about our respective philosophies toward working to someone completely random in this city.

Secondly, I've just finished my first Cockta, which, for those of you that haven't seen empty bottles of it strewn around a back alley near you, is a Slovenian soft drink which is evidently infused with herbs (but not, sadly, caffeine) and tastes like a sort of syrupy coke with a bit of an herby aftertaste. It's actually quite good. Very elusive as to what on earth it tastes like until you read the advertisement, which gives away the orangey-herbal thing. Evidently, I could have bought this and waited a year to drink it, or more likely, it could have waited in the stockroom of the grocery store for a long time and then found its way into my apartment when I got sufficently curious. I'm not sure why it's called "Cockta", and it brought on a fear that I'd slip and hit the enter key 2/3 of the way through the name while typing it in to google, which would lead to a much different set of results, presumably.

I still don't know the results of my proficiency exams. :(

Update: Went to get my results after getting notification that they were ready. Spent 45 minutes in the public transportation system, ten of which was spent on a platform hoping that the Purple Line to Linden would eventually show. It did. And I am proficient in all areas. Which is a relief, because I haven't had Inorganic in three years, and I've never had Kinetics.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Done with that.

Proficiency exams are, at long last, over and done with. Now, I've just got to sit back, pass out from not being able to sleep last night, wake up, sit back up, and wait for tomorrow to come so that I might learn if I need to take classes to make up deficiency. As the system stands, I've got to do that if I test below a certain score (based on the average of the scores from this year's class). Evidently, that's about to change to a system where you're required to take those make-up courses anyway and you're rather testing "out", which is how I'm going to choose to pretend this is happening now.

Jack Shafer presents an interesting case against rebuilding New Orleans. While I have to say it's hard to imagine somewhere like the Big Easy not coming back, his argument points out that, for a great many of us that don't live there, our view is more nostalgic than practical. I'm not positive why he makes race such a huge issue, really, in his case against rebuilding, and it almost...well, whatever.

Now, to do important things. Like let time pass.


So well then.  I have an internet connection, which would allow me to blog and do the whole “commenting on news” thing.  On the other hand, I’ve got an organic proficiency exam tomorrow, after which I’ve got the much more enjoyable prospect of putting out small fires, which is to say slightly less enjoyable than starting said small fires.  

But what blog was ever improved by me being more proficient in organic chemistry?  Possibly Jenna’s.  Almost certainly not Hazen’s or either of Rory’s.  Definitely RJ’s, but enough with that.

Two recent deaths which are of incredible importance to everyone everywhere.  Firstly, less importantly, the passing of Chief Justice of the United States (not of the Supreme Court, evidently, owing to a change in title to make the position more obviously connected to the other branches of government) William Rehnquist.  John Roberts is up for the job now, and while Roberts seems less completely batshit insane than what might have expected from President Bush, it would appear to be at least slightly more important now to make sure that he’s actually more devoted to the cause of justice rather than any specific ideology, be it liberal, conservative or otherwise.  But even if he is remarkably conservative, he’s now replacing Rehnquist (who was anyway) rather than O’Connor (one of the swing votes), so net change is zero as far as the makeup of the Court goes..  What I’m concerned about was that Bush may have nominated Roberts precisely because of his moderation and has some psychopath in a holding cell somewhere that would have been released upon Rehnquist’s death, which presumably would have come after Roberts appointment and would have resulted in slightly easier passage than even the moderate Roberts, owing to everyone just being sick of everything already.  

The second, more culturally impacting and probably more recognizable by the general public, Bob Denver died.  Gilligan.  Not only did he enlighten us in the unpredictable nature of life at sea and how one can survive on an island with people that have no business being in the same room together while not actually being competent at anything and the all important not bludgeoning the Professor for making the 90th coconut radio but not addressing the whole “hole in the damn boat” problem, but he also made fashionable the white bucket hat.  Or at least was the first to do so.  Also, he gave Alan Hale something to do for a few years.  Good for that.

Barbara Bush is more or less completely insane, suggesting that "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (chuckles)--this is working very well for them.”  Chuckle indeed.  By chuckle I mean… I don’t know what I mean.  I can’t respond to that.  It’s just insane.

Barbara Bush and Kanye West should have a talk show together.

Addendum: While I like the idea of local channels which broadcast local baseball games, I'm very, very confused about Comcast SportsNet, which, since I got cable yesterday, has done nothing but play White Sox games. Which is's odd to turn the television on and wind up once again in the middle of the 4th of a game that you've seen bits and pieces of on two seperate occasions. I just...what the hell.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Return

After RCN decided that I wouldn't get cable or an internet connection this month, it decided to give me one tomorrow, which showed up today. Which is nice, because now I can have no time to spend on the internet now that school's underway. C'est la thing. In celebration of finally being able to connect here, I'm going to post the thing I wrote the day I moved in. I completely forget its contents, and hope that won't matter too much. I'd say that you should pretend the date below is about a week ago, but since I've only posted once in the interim, it shouldn't make much of a difference.

1:02 AM Central Time
August 28, 2005
Written In CHICAGO

I’ve moved. I’m actually very pleased with my apartment, as it’s much nicer and bigger than I remembered it. Then again, when I was here last, the kitchen appliances were in the living room, so it probably had the effect of making it seem not so good. Other than that, the new paint, carpet and microwave/stove thing make me enormously happy.

Now, on to matters.

I, whenever I get around to it, shall endeavor to find out what the hell is going on in Elkhart, Indiana. From the view from I-90 on the way through, not much. Mostly flat earth. Some trees. Lots of sprinkler systems. Crops. But every once in a while, in the middle of one of these vast monuments to modern agriculture, the scenic view is interrupted by matters inexplicable. Z.B., a giant electronic marquee that proclaimed proudly that it belonged to some manner of Hall of Fame. I could not see what KIND of Hall of Fame, as I’d just woken up (the previous night, I slept 2 hours before setting off) and I didn’t have my glasses on. I’ll have to figure that out, if for some reason I ever drive on that road again. Another of these unexplained presences in the fields was a very random and somewhat elaborate playground. But whatever about that.

I realize the labor atrocities that Wal-Mart is responsible for in the modern world, and the treatment of their employees is…less than desired. To say the least. But once again, I found myself acquiescing to the corporate behemoth’s call to buy buy buy. Mostly because WalMart seems to be the only place in the damn world you can get a futon that you can actually take with you that day so that you can have a bed. Target, for some reason, doesn’t stock them, nor do Sears or Kohl’s, and at Value City I was told by a slick business suited long hair pomaded back man named Jesus that I could buy a futon, but that I would either have to pick it up Wednesday (impossible) or pay $80 for delivery to my apartment.

Upshot: I have a futon, and have already scuffed the perfect walls with it.

I’m calling tomorrow about cable and an internet connection, though the first of those two is infinitely more dispensable. I’m probably actually just going to be calling the cable company about getting some internet up in this piece.

Until then, I shall retire to Moneyball and that damned Star Wars Game.

Update: I've since finished Moneyball, tried for about a minute to read "Men At Work" before deciding I had much, much better things to do, and have finished the damned Star Wars Game.

Also, I checked out that Hall of Fame thing in Elkhart. I thought I'd misread the sign. I hadn't. It's the Recreational Vehicle/Motor Home Hall of Fame.

What the hell.


I've now fully moved into the Edgewater apartment (which, surprisingly, has a name that fits as I believe that with a good strong wind I could probably get a baseball into the lake from my front door). I have no internet connection as of yet, and am typing this from one of the most irritating kiosks I've ever had the displeasure of kiosking at. I'll be back with more when I get something that's somewhat reliable and that doesn't not accept my password "just 'cause".