Archive for April, 2009

The Dispossessed Review

23:49 30 Apr 2009. Updated: 12:38 21 May 2009

Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed won the Nebula in 1974, and the Hugo and Locus in 1975. It’s a classic of science fiction, but represents a clear break from the three preceding triple-crown winners. It’s much “softer” science fiction, with less focus on technology (even though, in a sense, a technological breakthrough is at the core of the plot) and more focus on social and political issues.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Resignation Letter Game

23:49 28 Apr 2009

I know this has been all over already, but still, best way of announcing that you’re leaving your job ever.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Pensecola Christian College Regulations

23:50 27 Apr 2009

Pensecola Christian College, an unaccredited (except for nursing) university, has about 4500 undergrads, and they apparently have to abide by rather stringent regulations. Some excerpts:

Married personnel should refrain from physical display of affection realizing that our college students are not allowed to have physical contact.
—Bruce Gerencser, “Pensacola Christian College Rules and Regulations”, Bruce Droppings, 17 April 2009


Permalink     23 Comments     [, , , , ]    

Alara Reborn Prerelease

23:45 26 Apr 2009

I went to Eudemonia yesterday for the Alara Reborn prerelease. Despite my stated preference for the old-style larger prereleases, in truth I doubt I would have gone yesterday if the prerelease had been a large one, because it would have been in the South Bay and would have been harder to get to and generally eaten up more of the day.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Signs from the “Tea Parties”

22:28 24 Apr 2009

I support not bailing out the banks, and I’d love to see more transparency around the Federal Reserve, but I still think the recent “Tea Party protests” are primarily astroturf campaigns, are hypocritical insofar as their participants mostly don’t seem to have protested massive spending under the last eight years of Republican government, and are primarily an attempt to generate “right-wing” publicity.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Insane Bike Tricks

23:59 23 Apr 2009. Updated: 16:13 26 Apr 2009

My friend Stephen posted this to Facebook earlier today, and it’s just too good not to share:

I don’t know much about bike trials, but there’s no way the stuff in that video is anything but amazing.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

Bullying: Institutional Inevitability?

22:41 21 Apr 2009. Updated: 12:59 03 Dec 2009

Over the last month or so I’ve come across a bunch of articles on school bullying, mostly in the United States. A common thread among them seemed to be the lack of interest of the school authorities in effectively dealing with the bullies. This is always a little surprising (and disheartening) on the individual level, but makes perfect sense to me on the institutional level.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

Obama Administration on Copyright: Same Old

20:37 20 Apr 2009

I missed a lot of these moves when they occurred. Even though the “copyright czar” position hasn’t been filled yet, it looks very much like Obama’s administration is little better on copyright issues than the previous administration.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Fog and Sun around San Francisco

23:53 19 Apr 2009. Updated: 01:05 20 Apr 2009

On Saturday Seth and his mother and I did some sightseeing. We’ve been having absolutely gorgeous weather recently, and we started off at Lafayette Park.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Pirate Bay Guilty Verdict

23:35 17 Apr 2009

I’m not surprised, but I’m not happy: ‘Court Jails Pirate Bay Founders’.

I figured, given the amount of pressure brought to bear, that the court would use any means it could to find them guilty. I’m not sure they actually are guilty given the way the laws are written.

(Oh, and for anyone who wants to claim that their defense was to get away on a “technicality”: as my friend Deirdre used to say, all laws are technicalities.)

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

All You Had To Do Was Say Your Majesty Shove Your OBE

23:11 16 Apr 2009

After my brother passed on Blood or Whiskey’s “Your Majesty” (because I mentioned Flogging Molly’s If I Ever Leave This World Alive due to its being used on Weeds), I was reminded of the unpleasant fact that both Bob Geldof and Bono accepted induction into the Order of the British Empire.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , , , ]    

Less Room in the Ivory Towers

20:26 14 Apr 2009

From one form of labor exploitation to another, different but with some similarities: grad school in the humanities.

Permalink     4 Comments     [, , ]    

Pro Athletes Can’t Hold Onto Their Money

17:18 13 Apr 2009

It’s not surprising that some athletes make terrible financial decisions, and one often hears about the Michael Vicks and Mike Tysons of the world ending up with nothing. But I didn’t realize that it was quite so common, and that these examples aren’t exceptions but rather the rule. According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, “[b]y the time they’ve been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce”.

Permalink     4 Comments     [, , ]    

New York Strangers Help Cute Robots

12:19 12 Apr 2009

This is probably all over the net by now—I saw it via Sarah Milstein—but it’s too cool not to post about: Tweenbots.

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
—Kacie Kinzer, tweenbots.com, 2009

I think it’s a fascinating project, and love the fact that the tweenbots were largely helped to their destinations successfully by strangers. I immediately wanted to see experiments where different features on them, as well as different routes and different times, and possibly the presence of money on the tweenbots, would alter the results. I’d also love to see how the results would be altered by their becoming more common as a result of running tons of experiments with them…

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Foreclosure Squatting

23:35 10 Apr 2009

This is pretty interesting: advocacy groups for the homeless are helping them move into empty foreclosed homes.

Also, apparently US banks have a significant “shadow inventory” of foreclosed homes they’re not selling.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    


12:29 09 Apr 2009

The following video, put out by some bunch calling themselves “The National Organization for Marriage” (a name that really makes no sense given their aims, as they appear to be trying to prevent a lot of people from getting married), is an awful and misleading hodgepodge of fearmongering and bullshit, combined with plerny of earnest faux-martyrdom. I love how they convince themselves that not being allowed to practice bigotry in the public sphere is an infringement on their religious freedom—and maybe it is, but then so are the laws that get in the way of religious practices of human sacrifice.

Anyway, that’s all pretty obvious… what I can’t quite get over is how, in this video attempting to unite the forces of anti-gay prejudice, they end by touting “a rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color coming together in love”. I swear the the rider “to protect marriage” is spoken faster and more quietly than the rest. It’s both funny (in a wrong way) and appalling because it’s always appalling to see bigots attempting to appropriate the language and symbols of tolerance. I have to say, though, that as appalling as the message is, these jokers strike me as mostly laughable.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

Bad Behavior Plugin

10:55 07 Apr 2009

The various blog moves and reworkings seemed to reduce the amount of comment spam I was getting, but now it’s gotten out of hand once more, so I’m resuming the use of the Bad Behavior WordPress plugin. Hopefully this isn’t something any legitimate readers or commenters will notice, but if for some reason you find it affecting you, please let me know via email.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

WWII Racist Posturing

19:28 06 Apr 2009

I guess it’s not surprising, but it’s pretty disgusting: the Allied commanders wanted to ensure that Paris was liberated from the Germans by “white only” units.

The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris.
Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle’s division must not contain any black soldiers.
—Mike Thompson, “Paris liberation made ‘whites only’”, BBC News, 6 Apr 2009

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Point Lobos Photos

22:33 05 Apr 2009. Updated: 14:19 06 Apr 2009

I went to Point Lobos State Reserve with Niall Murphy yesterday, stopping at Monastery Beach on the way. I took some photos for the first time in quite a while.

Permalink     12 Comments     [, ]    

Federer Meltdown in Miami

15:07 03 Apr 2009

This morning I watched the Key Biscayne Master’s semifinal between Roger Federer, ranked #2, and Novak Djokovic, ranked #3. Neither of them has been playing great tennis, with Djokovic squeaking by Tsonga and Federer scraping by Roddick.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

No Google Street View in Broughton

23:56 02 Apr 2009

The Guardian reports that residents of a village in Buckinghamshire phsyically prevented attempts to add street view images of their town to Google. Perhaps because I’m a sneering, post-ironic, San-Francisco-values, technocrat elitist, I find this extremely amusing. This line just makes it better:

Jacobs said there had been three burglaries in the last six weeks: “If our houses are plastered all over Google, it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike.”
—Maev Kennedy, “Coy village tells Google Street View ‘spy’ to beat a retreat”, guardian.co.uk 3 April 2009

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]