Mike Beversluis

Monday, January 31, 2005

On hoisting someone by his own petard

Note, this is a family oriented blog and so it's important that you know: Hoisting John Stewart by his own petard by calling him a dick has surprisingly little to do with his genitalia. A "petard" was a bomb, something like a black ball with a fuse coming out of it, used in Medieval Europe to blow up castle gates. It was some poor sap's job to run up to the gate, dodging as best he could the withering fire from the defenders above, stick the petard onto the door, light the fuse, and run like hell to get away. Obviously mistakes were made, causing the runner to launch skyward. Hence, he was hoisted by his own petard.


Du duh de duh!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Le monde vivant, by Eugene Green (2003)

I waited two weeks since I saw this movie before commenting on it because I wanted to avoid just criticizing it. Waiting was good because now I have something positive to say, as well. Since not all of you will have seen it, the short summary is that it is a movie that tells a medieval story, but the costumes are reduced to a minimum; to give you an idea, the main knight wears his sword over his blue jeans, the lady is in a sweater and the lion is represented by a dog.

Ok, but let us start with some criticism. The movie is boring and slow: it could last 40 minutes rather than 75 and it would not need to leave out anything of what is said and done.

Besides, some of the lines spoken by the characters, a mixture of philosophy and existentialism, sound hollow.

The good thing is this: the movie takes away all of what is superfluous from the medieval tales (in fact the characters are dressed in the attire of our times) but leaves the thing that attracts and charms more, that is a world where actions are a direct result of feelings and the feelings are clear and strong (well, a little bit the opposite to the complications I, and I bet others too, live through every day).

Ok, I already told you that it is boring, so I'm safe.

JTS

Take that, Tom Cruise

Apparently, it's bash Tom Cruise week here, but why not? Actually, why limit yourself to a week or even a month? I declare this the Bash Tom Cruise For The Rest Of His Life epoch.

Manolo's Shoe Blog: My Name is Tommy

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Sign of the times

From this morning's Seattle Times


Spanish-speaking Catholics seek a voice in times of worship


These days, Carmen and Audelio Diaz show up for Spanish-language Mass at Kent's Holy Spirit Church at least 30 minutes early. The 75-year-old Audelio is hard of hearing, and they figure it's the only way they'll find a seat up front so he can listen.

Sure enough, by 12:30 p.m., when Mass starts, the pews are already so packed that people are standing along the back wall. And by the time the Rev. Michael Tyrrell begins his homily, several hundred others are standing in the vestibule and spilling out into the parking lot.

It's the third parish that Tyrrell, a Jesuit priest, has visited that day to celebrate Mass in Spanish — each one drawing a large crowd.

Across Western Washington, almost "every time a parish starts a new Spanish Mass, it's wall-to-wall packed," said Mary Beth Celio, director of research for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.


Hence Bush's courting of hispanics and black church ministers through faith-based initiatives. The political tea-leaves are only mysterious to those who dislike the message. Even Senator Hillary is now Pro-Chife.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Science contemplates itself

Science made stupid. This is hillarious.

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A meditation upon moving



"A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labors men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a lot of little stars belonging to one's own homestead."
George Elliot

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

sour grapes

Just so you know, and my schadenfruede somehow requires that you do, French wine is being distilled into grade-F rubbing alcohol rather than languishing unsold [possibly - if they can get the EU to subsidize it].

Word of the Day

From Meriam-Webster's Word of the Day, came this ironic tidbit about the word "egregious."


The Word of the Day for January 27 is:

egregious \ih-GREE-juss\ adjective
: conspicuous; especially : conspicuously bad

Example sentence:
The armchair commentators at the office spent their coffee
break grousing about the egregious errors of judgment they felt
had been made by the coach of the losing team.

Did you know?
"Egregious" derives from the Latin word "egregius,"
meaning "distinguished" or "eminent." In its earliest English
uses, "egregious" was a compliment to someone who had a
remarkably good quality that placed him or her eminently above
others. That's how English philosopher and theorist Thomas
Hobbes used it in flattering a colleague when he remarked, "I
am not so egregious a mathematician as you are." Since Hobbes'
day, however, the meaning of the word has become noticeably
less complimentary, possibly as a result of ironic use of its
original sense.

See the damage hipster dipshits can render? Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.

Sincerely,

Your egregious blogger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

How to tell if it's Winter in Rochester

So Winter begins and you're all "Look at the wonderful snow:"



And then it starts to snow again and you walk out late at night to listen to the hush filtering down from above:





Fast forward a few days, and the novelty starts to wear thin.



Serenity Now!



So, snow piled higher than your car = winter. Now you know.

In non-weather related posting, I am a genius, if not for my thesis, then for my plan for business card cd-r distribution. Genius! 50MB is the perfect amount of room for pdfs of the ole ball and chain, plus reprints of my papers. I will toss them out at conferences like a poker dealer tossing out cards in Vegas.



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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Economics is useful for something?

The games people play. (via Brothers Judd)

So, if I was going to hire someone, I would make them play games with the other applicants and sort them out. Oh, Stratego! Will you never cease to amaze?

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Pentagon's independence grows

Isn't it the point of a secret organization to remain, you know, secret?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Awful plastic surgery

Mickey Rourke has really gone too far with the rhinoplasty, facial reconstruction, etc. (pg for stripper-fu)

Also, I'm expecting a lot of insight from Tom Cruise in the upcoming allegory about the NeoCons fight against humanity. If anyone is prepared to tell us the nefarious effects of shadowy cults, well Tom certainly is. Turns out, the aliens are all very short and can be thwarted by putting their spaceship keys on a high shelf and hiding the ladders. (BTW, where'd they find someone shorter than Tom to give him the medal? I'm thinking a reverse Gataca leg shortening surgery was involved: "They'll never question my dedication again.")

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Baby names

I know several women expecting babies any minute now, so let me helpfully provide some name suggestions. Personally, I think Armageddon is kickass.

As to my own moniker, Mike is fine by me, but rather common. Hey, thanks for asking. Growing up "Mike" doesn't get you beat up like poor old Sue; which in the totallity of things is a plus cause you don't have to go toe to toe with your dad later. And imagine if you lose that fight. However, I have hung out in rooms with as many as four Mikes at a time. This is a lot of Mikes per volume, which lead to Dekokekola, Toaster, Bug, and Spooky; rather Wodehousian, ne? So Mother[s], perhaps you needn't obsess over names - your kid will get branded with the worst thing their peers can make stick anyway. The best you can aim for is a "do no harm" policy.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Okay, one tiny little post won't hurt

Minims [via American Digest]

Monday, January 17, 2005

hah

Despite the ton of snow outside, here's something you will not see in Rochester:


"Ah, Mike, will you ever get tired of putting up dorky pictures you find off the internet?"

No.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Link

Today I was unprofessional. [via Beautiful Atrocities [pg13]]

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The SMRT money is playing the lottery next week

The current Mega Millions Jackpot is estimated to be $130M. Given that the numbers chosen are random, the odds of selecting the winning combination is one chance in 135,145,920 (52*51*50*49*48*52/5!). With these odds, it's likely that there will be a drawing next week with a jackpot greater than $135M; at which point the game's expectation value (payout*probability) is greater than $1, the cost of a ticket. At this point, when you play the lotto, you should expect to get back more than you paid. So, what are you waiting for?

Alternatively, the S&P did nicely the last few months, so my no-load indexed mutual fund cleared the historic average return for a year. Woohoo!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Which briefcase would make me look least retarded?



or



OR



"Briefcases are the least of your problems."

Thursday, January 13, 2005

New toy



More details once I've something more to say than "It Rules." BTW and FYI, people will look at you funny if you pull out a camera in a bathroom. Trust me pard, do this solo. Also, I have large hands.

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New hybrid eco-car that I could actually get behind the wheel of




Update: I was looking at gallons per mile, not miles per gallon. My bad.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ray, by Taylor Hackford (2004)

Ray, by Taylor Hackford (2004)

Let's begin a new year of reviews (let's hope).

My ignorance in the field of music (combined with a little indifference) didn't make me suspect that that nice and smiling gentleman who appeared in so many shows could be the protagonist of such an intense life.

Let's put it in this way: there are genial people and there are excessive people, and Ray Charles was a good combination of the two. The movie draws in a forceful way his determined character, follows with dynamism and breadth the evolution of his music, shows his quite complicated private life, links his adult life to his life as a child and does not gloss over his negative sides.

As a biography, therefore, it is extremely well done, IMHO.

This said, the Ray Charles character has a certain stiffness; the thing I thought is that a musician identifies so much his own life with music that there is no space left for other forms of expressions of himself; the stiffness could be another way in which the movie is faithful to the life. What is certain is that I did not experience any feeling of identification with the story or the feelings in the movie; but I don't know what this may mean: coldness of the movie or just too much distance between me and what is represented.

In synthesis, and I repeat myself, a beautiful biographic movie.


JTS

Heh

My apple-hatin continues unabated, as I link thusly. Note to self, apparently if you are funny and write funny blog entries, there is no need to write entries begging people to vote you home-coming queen. It's not like the others aren't funny, it's just that they apparently haven't received the attention they feel they deserve. I wonder if there will ever be enough adulation to sate that thirst.

I'm posting cause I've got better things to do

Duh. So says SHW, and she should know. But, #2 in a series of things I would tattoo on my throat:

"Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light. "
-Franz Kafka

For Laura

Since I couldn't remember this the other day:

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."
-George Shaw

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Still life at the Institute of Optics eleventy-billion

"Well, it's about the size of a Skoal can."
- Wade Cook, former denizen of Tennessee, describing a light source.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

The Filthy Critic

The Filthy Critic is a genius [R-rated, at least]. Part of the problem of being a sarcastic hipster, besides the dipshit wardrobe, is that there really isn't anything in our lives to complain about. Like, my iPod won't let me delete old MP3's and then the Sonics lost even though they were leading and that just makes it worse? 75% of the world would change places with just about anyone here so quick that, well, you'd better finish your lima beans cause there are starving children in China. I guess what you hate most in others is really the things you hate most about yourself. Ennui and a nasty chafe really shouldn't generate this much noise, but they do.

Still, Filthy is good because zinging hollywood never gets old. Like a lot of things, the choice of topic is as least as important as the execution. And with movies, each week brings a steaming new heap-o-crap to stomp into the ground. This week's favorite quote:


This is the time of year when those jackasses in Hollywood are waiting to receive golden dildos from their peers for doing their God damn jobs...

Good thing he has those Nazi boots. It works because Hollywood is excreted by sarcastic hipster monkeys, and flinging their own feces back at them results in such perfect Godel-Escher-Bach symmetry. Consequently, I have already forgotten this week's celebrity disaster.

See also hip-on-poser-fu, as Lileks is in good form today (towards the bottom).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hot rod Lincoln

So, I'm browsing SEMA's photography page and came across these valve covers:



Not only can you adjust your valves, like pronto and right now, but "Hamburger's" is way cooler than Chevy or Jeg's. I'm a blue oval kinda guy, so anything's better than Chevy, but I suppose that depends - on whether you are going to hell or not. Ha ha, just kidding. Kinda. Funny story, when one of my brother's in law (the non-Fiero driving one) first drove up to visit my parents house, my dad greeted him and my sister with, "You dating someone who drives a Chevy?" Well, it's funny now. Ha ha, Ben.

My honda already = my seat in hell; that and other things. Given the cold fiscal realities of my life, I am probably going to be driving that sucker for awhile longer. Dammit, by the time I can afford a wicked cool car, I'll have been collared by some chick whose spends the rest of her life reading Oprah's latest guide to gelding, and I'll be driving minivans for the rest of mine. Dreaming of what could have been while I dig cheerios out of the seat cushions.

Which reminds me in a nonlinear way, that I also saw these new tires from Goodyear:



This is the new P305/50R20 whitewall tires from Goodyear/Dunlop. Perhaps this indicates the rat rod trend has jumped the shark (Has "jump the shark" jumped the shark yet? Fore shizzle.)

Although there is a timeless badass quality to it:



So where does my gutless wonder factor in? Japan's legendary quality control took the year off in 1991, so my honda's paint has peeled, and I'm thinkin', what would Jesus do with a beater honda that's 75% primer? Besides destroy it or not ever have owned one? Why, turn it into a Rat Rod! That'll... look awful. Given my head start, at least it's working downhill: take it completely down to primer and paint it matte black, drop the suspension with some cheapo spring kit, strip/paint the chorme, shave the antenna and ornaments, etc, take off the tacky hub caps, but leave the original steel wheels.

Not feelin' it? Probably it's more crazy dumb than crazy cool; also, I doubt the DMV will approve my "RATARD" plates. And you know, they were really gonna tie the car together.

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Christmas in the cabinet of Dr. Caligari


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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mission accomplished

Well, I found some stylin' new digs in DC, right off the Woodley Zoo metro exit. Parking is gonna be a bear, but I might just leave the car out in the boondocks. The reverse commute out to Gaithersburg isn't that bad, so I anticipate smooth sailing there. It's expensive, but more in a $/area than in total cost. Here's hoping that city living is fun, and here's further hoping that I have some time in the next year to actually participate in said city living.

UPDATE: I managed to find a picture of my new place! Check it out:


Location Location Location

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Monday, January 03, 2005

FYI

As a corollary of the budget below, I calculate that you (US taxpayer) paid $450 to fund government sponsored science research, not counting the NIH. That's like another $50, which brings the tab to an even $500/year, or ~25.06 easy payments of $19.95.

So, do you think you got your money's worth?

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AAAS estimate of America's FY2005 science budget

Just in case you're curious, here's a partial breakdown the science budget for this year:



(Why is this table a PNG? Because I don't care how much I have to kludge it; Blogger's not going to win, that's why)

Overall, there is a 2% increase in the total non-defense budget although this is not evenly distributed. Defence research spending increases by 5-7%. Despite the increase, this actually squeezes many of the salaries, since they include automatic cost-of-living increases that are larger than 2%. And that's without considering the usual performance bonus.

I'm largely unfamiliar with the budgets of most of these agencies, but the NIST one seems worse than it looks. Over the last three years, there has been a fight between the Senate and the White House over the funding of the Advanced Measurement Program. The Senate got it's way, and so $117M was budgeted for this; however, that comes out of the total budget listed, and basically counts as infrastructure. So, despite their new lab buildings (which are nice), the mood at Gaithersburg is somewhat gloomy. Ha ha, losers (not quite me yet).

I didn't include the NIH's budget, nor the EPA's, etc. However, the take-home message is clear: Science only gets consistent funding for things that scare people, namely, war and disease. Everything else depends on lagress earned from advances in these two areas. Personally, I tend to agree with this philosophy, not because advances in other areas don't incur large benefits, but because it keeps the iron to the feet of scientists in these areas. It's quite likely that, like most large social constructs, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. People should be stressed out. It's natural.

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