Mike Beversluis

Monday, April 30, 2007

Go ahead and throw a stone, it's plexiglass

Via BookofJoe, here is the rather nifty front to the Plagiarius Museum, dedicated to all the frauds and fakes.

Museum Sheds Light on Fakes and Imitations
Published: April 29, 2007

Did you know that 10 percent of the world’s products are fakes and cheap imitations — going way beyond the purses, jeans and watches you see on the street? Earlier this month, a museum devoted entirely to the subject of plagiarism opened in Solingen, Germany, near Cologne.
Related, Chinese fakes [heads up on the NS links].


Not so dark


Supra Hominem

Via Greg Mankiw,

Lazy, Job-Stealing Immigrants?
Nativist Nonsense Distorts a Critical Issue
Monday, April 30, 2007; Page A15

President Bush is doing his pragmatic best to secure immigration reform. He is honorably laboring to revive some version of the bipartisan bill that got 62 votes in the Senate last year. But watching this torturous process is enough to make a sane person scream. The livelihoods of millions are at stake, yet most immigration pronouncements are nonsense.

People accuse immigrants of gang violence, drunken driving and a general contempt for the law. But in 2000 the incarceration rate for immigrants was just one-fifth the rate for the population as a whole, according to Kristin Butcher of the Federal Reserve and Anne Morrison Piehl of Rutgers University.

People say immigrants are feckless and lazy. But in California in 2004, 94 percent of undocumented men ages 18 to 64 were in the workforce, compared with 82 percent of native-born men. Far from being part of a shiftless underclass, the act of coming to the United States makes immigrants among the most upwardly mobile groups in the nation, only a bit behind hedge-fund managers.

People say, contrariwise, that immigrants steal jobs from native-born Americans. But economists have patiently explained for years that there is no finite "lump of labor" in an economy. The presence of migrants causes new jobs to be created: Factories that might have gone abroad spring up in Arizona or Texas. Hasn't anyone noticed that California, where fully one-third of the adult population is foreign born, has an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent?

Political affiliation is less a continuum and more a Möbius strip and so it isn't surprising to find that Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, and parts of the Sierra Club are on the same page here. Not to get all Ad Hominem on Nativists or anything, because really, the article above demonstrates it isn't even necessary.


My Country Right or Wrong

Occasionally, New Yorkers remember whose side they are on.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Anthology of Humourous Pictures Acquired Via The Void

Via the train-wreck that is Post Secret:

That website is the spiritual heir to HBO's Taxi-Cab confessions, and is equally funny, disturbing and fascinating.

The wonders of air-travel:

Back to disturbing and fascinating: Ex-Wife Anger Management:

Finally, take that, Al Gore!



I agree with Brit that bridges are wonderful. Here are some of my favorite images:

The Golden Gate Bridge is awesome(e.g.), but above is a fantastic shot by Thomas Hawk of it's child of a lessor god neighbor.

The Sydney Harbor bridge at night

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


"A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion but doesn't."

"A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits."
Robert Heinlein

"I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?"
Jean Kerr

"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred."
Woody Allen

"The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work."
Robert Frost

"A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time."
Alfred E. Wiggam

"On my income tax 1040 it says 'Check this box if you are blind.' I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away."
Tom Lehrer

"Fathers send their sons to college either because they went to college or because they didn't."
L. L. Henderson

"She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit."
W. Somerset Maugham


Wait a minute...

Has your credit card number been STOLEN on the internet?


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You Are Forgiven

What kind of Game Cheater Are You?
by Clive Thompson, Wired 4/23/07

A month ago while playing Final Fantasy XII, I fought my way to Tiamat, a vicious, huge-clawed dragon -- and couldn't get past her. No matter how many ways I threw my team at the beast, she ripped us to ribbons. Screw it. I decided to check an online FAQ for some hints defeating this thing.

"That's cheating," a friend of mine scoffed. "Really?" I wondered. Personally, I've always figured that using a FAQ might be lame -- like reading the Cliff's Notes version of War and Peace -- but it isn't cheating. It's not like I'm hacking the game with a Game Genie to illicitly acquire extra lives, right?

I always thought you should never do terribly wrong things, obviously, because they are terrible, but you should never do trivially wrong things because they aren't worth selling out over.


Fever Dream

Well, I was up very late last night working on a new sampling theorem, and as usual when I work on a math problem, the TV was on in the background. I had TiVo replaying some car shows, first Motor Week on the new 911 GT3, and then a Dream Car Garage comparison of the original Fordt GT40, the new Ford GT, and a Superformance GT-40, and it hit me: I want to build a hot-rod, and not just any hot-rod, but a hot-rod diesel Shelby Dayton Coupe replica.

The Audi R10 diesel has dominated racing. Yes, they are wont to do so, but they proved that you can do it with diesel. And what better American response would their be than a Shelby Coupe diesel?

A Factory Five Coupe would be a great starting point, but instead of dropping in a 427 side-oiler like everyone else and their mother, this thing needs a 40PSI turbocharged inline-six cylinder.

Weight and the transmission would be an issue, but it would be nuts.

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"Ant"-tonio Gaudi

The nest architecture of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius
Walter R. Tschinkel
Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4370

Oh, I kill me.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm dizzy

The Escheresque Pictures of Seb Przd.

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The Good Ol' Days

"The chick wearing the gloves is going to give me nightmares."

Handy Helps for the Homemaker. Not to mention the vibrator equipped electric beauty cabinet, the electric hot-dog executioner, the roller to strech out your curtains on a ruler labeled rack, or the table-mounted knife-sharpener. It's like 1957 was the exact tipping point between buzz-cuts and hippies.


Step 1: Visualization

Via Cool Tools, A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. I like spectrograms, for instance, of the Death Waltz.

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Pictures of the Day

Wikipedia has a nice picture of the day archive. From April 27:

Boulevard du Temple, the first photograph of a person, taken by Louis Daguerre in late 1838 or early 1839 in Paris, France. The scene is of a busy street, but the city traffic does not appear due to the ten-minute long exposure time. The exception is a man in the lower left corner, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show.

Photo credit: Louis Daguerre

And from April 28,

False-color detail of Jupiter's atmosphere, imaged by Voyager 1, showing the Great Red Spot and a passing white oval. The wavy cloud pattern to the left of the Red Spot is a region of extraordinarily complex and variable wave motion. To give a sense of Jupiter's scale, the white oval storm directly below the Great Red Spot is approximately the same diameter as Earth.

Photo credit: Voyager 1

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


Geese Aplenty: Inane business jargon that could also double as superhero code names.

My own contribution is Stake-Holder:

  • Stake-Holder: Claims to have a direct interest in solving the crisis, but, you know how if you have to tell someone you're cool, you’re not? Same thing.
And it turns out there is already a comic based on the idea of Action-Item Man.

And speaking of cringy business lingo: Flight of the Conchords - Business Time. (thx Eric!)

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By the Power of Greyskull!

So I went and saw Hot Fuzz and liked it a lot, but I suspect I am exactly the target demographic.

It's from the guys who did Shaun of the Dead, and comes off like Reno 911 on a death march through every cop-movie cliche ever in a small backwater where the village preservation society has a hard on for the Illuminati. It is a hilarious parody -- I was reminded more of Thank You For Smoking than Naked Gun or Police Accademy, thankfully -- but it is violent, and in that British action movie sort of way. The violence is less Buster Keaton, or even Terminator 2, and more Sam Peckinpah. So your mileage may vary.


I Like Pie

How To Clown About With Custard Pies. You're welcome.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

For Life, Bro

"Harvard Univercity"*

*yes, obvs a photoshop.




Friday, April 20, 2007

Power Point is destroying my soul

How not to use Power Point: Proof by Counter-Example.

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Iowahawk's Virtual Cruise

I am proud to say my pocket-rocket has joined Iowahawk's Earth Week Virtual Cruise. By all means, join in too and do your part to help keep Mother Earth warm at night. My favorite car so far is the '66 Sunbeam Tiger with the 347 stroker. Zoinks!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fast Food: Ads versus Reality

Here's an ongoing, Pulitzer-caliber project to photograph real fast food and compare it to the advertised versions. Perhaps I am revealing too much of my low-brow/no-brow/uni-brow tastes (not really on the last one), but I think most of it holds up fairly well* considering the lighting and so forth. As anyone who has waded into ebay can attest, close-up still life photography isn't easy.

*The real-life mcmuffin looks more appetizing to me than its Botoxed counterpart, but I suspect this is due to the latter's sub-par professional primping and photography.

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What a great bunch of blogs

And I mean that sincerely. In a moment of weakness, I have let my crusty, ironic-hipster guard down and a single tear has issued forth from my jaundiced eye. Why now? An act of kindness from Duck, no less. No good deed etc., so go read the Daily Duck too and stick your thumb into their 37,200 comment-old Darwin debate.

Via Yahoo!'s picks, here is The Criterion Contraption, in which Mathew Dessem sets out to watch every DVD in the Criterion Collection, the hallmark of film auteurs. I like high-concept blogs (previously, The Hunt for the Best Taco in LA and the guys who went to every bar with a liquor license within Seattle's city limits) and I've always been searching for the perfect conceit to pull off on my own (something where you put # in the title of every post). No such luck yet (although I've tried before), but just like Mrs. Right and the last unicorn, I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

And not only does Mr. Dessem have a great concept, but he delivers the goods. What more would you have to say after reading his review of Rushmore?

Rushmore plays out as most love triangles do, at least when one of the men is a teenager and the other is in the middle of a midlife crisis. Which is to say: unpredictably. I defy even confirmed Wes Anderson haters not to enjoy Max and Herman's revenge montage, which begins with Max letting live bees into Herman's hotel room and ends with prison. At three minutes long, it's a model of economy. Usually, montages elide scenes that would be dull if seen in full (imagine watching one of Rocky's full training sessions). In this case, however, Anderson takes scenes that would be much longer in any normal film and compresses the hell out of them. And it's not just plot that happens here; we learn a lot about Blume from his that sonovabitch smile when he realizes Max is responsible for his bee stings:

Seeing Murray's face slide from the above expression into one that says, roughly, "Max Fischer is gonna pay," is one of the film's great moments. Particularly when it's set to the music of The Who, it seems, revenge can be a terrific amount of fun.

Nothing, that's what.

PS, for what it's worth, A Quick One While He's Away is one of my favorite Who songs, and it is the second best song in Rushmore's excellent soundtrack after The Kinks's Nothing in This World Will Stop Me from Worrying About That Girl. Also, here's my only proof that Anderson doesn't always remake the same movie over again. Oh wait...

Moving along, I've been wading through the wonderful archives of if charlie parker was a gunslinger, there'd be a whole lot of dead copycats, the neplusultra of # in a series blogs. Try out tricky: scenes from a life, the art of jazz, or they were collaborators.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Thankfully, I would have to try really, really hard to burn anything down at work, and basically, I only try hard.

Although there were the folks next door whose large frame argon laser drew so much current through a 480V line that it started to melt the rubber insulation off an 0-gauge (~1/3 inch diameter for each phase) wire running through the wall. That's a lot of juice.


How to unsolve a problem


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This blog is only a bit of fluff, but I offer my prayers and condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who died yesterday in Blacksburg.

The funniest thing I've read today

"Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people."
Robert Benchley

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Monday, April 16, 2007

What Should You Pay for a House?

Answer: It depends on rents and interest rates.

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Rock Paper Scissors

Winning strategies for Rock-Paper-Scissors (also, how to cheat at Rock Paper Scissors).


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fantasy Penisula

That penisula? Italy, of course, where they made Ferrari 288 GTO's. Over at Jalopnik's fantasy garage, Lieberman discourses on the virtues of the GTO:

A little history. Back in 1962 Ferrari started producing a supercar variant of the painfully hot 250, which they badged the GTO. The "O" stood for Omologata which is risotto-speak for Homologation. Enzo built and sold thirty-nine 250 GTOs to those he considered worthy. Today, 250 GTOs are not only the most valuable Ferraris, but the most expensive cars period, with one trading hands for a abso-nutso $15 million in 1991. The 288 is the only other Ferrari deemed bitchin' enough to carry the appellation of GTO, making it the legitimate heir and successor to the most famous prancing horse of them all.

So what makes the Ferrari 288 GTO worthy of not only the badge but a slip in our fanciful harbor? In a word, everything. But before we get into the specifics, you need to understand why it was built at all. It was to battle Porsche's 961. The largely unknown 961 was a steroidal 640 hp, Le Mans-winning, Group B racing version of a future Fantasy Garage resident, the mega-Bruce Porsche 959. And thanks to Group B rules of the mid-eighties, Ferrari had to build at least 200 streetable examples. Luckily for the Gordon Gekkos of the era, Modena built 272 (though some claim 273). As it happened, Group B was canceled in 1987 due to string of horrific deaths in 1986, so that year's Porsche/Ferrari cage match for automotive supremacy never happened. Ferrari simply detuned the racecars, slapped in a customary interior and sold 'em.

Cool enough, but what do I stumble upon this afternoon? Legendary Motor Car Co has a 288 GTO coming up for sale. Finally, something to do with that giant pile of money I've been tripping over all the time.


Portrait of an Artist

Preston Sturges


What If

Roy Zimmerman: What If the Beatles Were Irish?

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Three at bats, six outs

Via the excellent USS Mariner,

The Short and Happy Career of Ron Wright
by Lee Jenkins, The New York Times, April 15th, 2007

POCATELLO, Idaho, April 11 — Five years ago, in an otherwise forgettable baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, a 26-year-old rookie named Ron Wright struck out, hit into a double play and hit into a triple play.

"Best day of my professional life," Wright said.

He was the designated hitter for the Mariners, batting seventh, making his major league debut. Kenny Rogers pitched and Alex Rodriguez played shortstop for the Rangers. The afternoon sun beat down on the Ballpark in Arlington.

Wright batted three times. He accounted for six outs. And he never played in the major leagues again.

You're about as happy as you make your mind up to be, no?

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Saturday, April 14, 2007


The nostalgia is killing me: Popular Mechanics Reviews the Top Six Computers of 1982.

I've always thought that the singularity prophets (ie, those predicting a positve feedback loop on the rate of technological development would lead to nearly infinite technological progress in a very short time in the near future) were smoking something, but in reading that article, it's hard not to get that feeling too.

Also, while I'm dispensing nerdicles, I was just discussing with my friend at work how long it takes for a particle to tunnel through a barrier quantum mechanically, and lo, here is a cool new paper on that very subject: Electrons caught in the act of tunneling.

I'm not quite sure what they've measured or what it means, although that is a very solid ultrafast group (I'm sure they would be glad to hear I think so). But basically, in the general, first year physics problem of calculating the tunneling probability for a particle through a given potential energy barrier, time is not a good quantum variable (the time-operator is non-Hermitian).

Put another way, the wavefunction is initially delocalized, and so it doesn't have a well defined starting location. This makes it hard to see how it moves between two spots, because like Schroedinger's cat, it's in a simultaneous superposition of the two spots. It hasn't moved yet and it's already there.


Friday, April 13, 2007

PG 300

Via Adam, "Tonight we dine in HECK!"

Update: Yes, I realize this is juvenile (but not Juvenal, ha ha)(Because he was a Roman), but here's Anchorman 300.

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oh ho ho

Someone's been watching too much BBC America

Overheard by a group of lawyers walking through the tunnel connecting the metro to the Marriott Gateway in Crystal City:

A young girl and an older man, perhaps her father, were passing through the doors on their way to the Crystal City Marriott Gateway. The little girl points to a sign which reads, "No Solicitors."

Little girl: "What does 'No Solicitors' mean?"
Older man: "Oh, that they don't accept solicitors coming through here."
Little girl: "What's a solicitor?"
Older man: "Oh... A solicitor is someone like a lawyer."


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well, that was a good game. Mariners win 3-0 on a 1 hit shut out. Here is a not really related cartoon which somehow captures the moment.


The odd thing about baseball and sports in general, is that the outcome of a completely insane-when-you-think-about-it game played by guys I know not at all personally makes me feel good or bad. I guess the ultimate expression of this is the Olympics, where I'm supposed to root for semi-pro ice curlers based on the flag design of their unitard. And the rules for sports are bizarre, arcane, arbitrary, and mostly incomprehensible. It is a great metaphor for life, which is mostly absurd and mostly hilarious*.

I have worked in a mostly European group in the past and have only marginally defended baseball (and only marginally made fun of soccer; except when the French lost. That was great). Anyway, you either get baseball or you don't, in which case you have bad taste in sports and you should feel bad.

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

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Felix Hernandez

Third inning, Boston vs Seattle, Hernandez is dropping 92 mph sliders on top of 100-99 mph fastballs followed up with 90 mph curves and 88 mph breaking balls. Electric stuff, effectively wild (scary). Last time someone this good was pitching for the Mariners was Randy Johnson in 1993 through 1997.

Usually these marque match-ups disappoint (oh yeah, some guy called Dice-K's pitching too), but so far, this one is Awesome. Wicked frickin' pissa' awesome.


Update 2: Pineiro is in for Boston. My brother Adam just called to say that this is a bit of strategy on Cochran's part: Let Pineiro give up 15 runs, at which point Felix will have sat too long to go back in.... There's only one word for it: Strategery. Yes, Yoda is wise, but the Rock is powerful.

*Number one rule? I will never, ever, never ever buy an RV.

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Google Answers

Google Answers: What's it like to be shot by a handgun? Scroll down to the fourth comment. Warning, graphic text description. Derr.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A skilled photographer

And a good subject. I don't have time to go to the movies, so no movie reviews; I have almost exhausted popular poetry from Sardinia, although I am considering starting to steal from copyrighted works; I am preparing some (possibly keen? or contentious?) observations on North-Eastern US. In the mean time I just post a link

some photos

about Sardinia, you guess.

Hamster Powered Shredder

I am not sure what I can add to this hamster powered paper shredder. Nothing, it's pretty much perfecto.


pi vs e

Pi is wrong. e for Euler is still cool.

Which reminds me of some optics department wisdom:

"Pi and e: You see them everywhere, but they're not good looking numbers."
Sean Bentley

"And so, ignoring all significant digits, the ratio is 1."
Tom Brown



Via Manolo, the website of Prof. Dr. Boethius P. von Korncrake, discoursing on jealousy:

“Ach! Herr Professor von Korncrake!” he said with apparent pleasure, leaping to his feet and extending his hand.

“My dear M., it is so very good to see you,” I lied, taking his hand, “how long has it been?”

“It has been too long, Herr Professor, too long.”

I will spare you the rest of the conversation, dear readers. You well know how these things go. “How’s your sister?…Oh, really? Well, she always looked very fecund. And your parents?…That’s too bad…. Do you remember so-and-so?”

Pfui. Better I should stick a toasting fork in my eye.

Of course, this was more difficult than most, as M. (or as he is known in the German press, “the distinguished Herr Prof. Dr. Dr. X”) recounted for me in exquisitely painful detail the numerous triumphs of his meteoric career: a prestigious position, a well-received first book, a second book that became a best-seller in eight languages (including Icelandic), and now a MacArthur “genius” grant.

And I remember him when he was fresh, snot-nosed post-graduate who couldn’t handle a locative declension if his life depended on it.

But, such is life, eh? Turn, turn, turn.


Monday, April 09, 2007

It turns out they meow

Foreign Policy on non-barking dogs.


Eagle vs shark

Via the brother in law, Eagle VS Shark. Hurry up, Justin is waiting!


Tipping Point

Can't Knock It Down
Julie J. Rehmeyer

Eventually, Domokos and Várkonyi managed to prove mathematically that for any flat shape, there are at least two stable balance points and at least two unstable balance points.

Next, the pair began to investigate whether all three-dimensional shapes have at least two stable and two unstable balance points. They tried to generalize their two-dimensional proof to higher dimensions, but it didn't hold up. Therefore, it seemed possible that a self-righting three-dimensional object could exist. Such a shape would have only one stable and one unstable balance point.

They looked for objects in nature that might have such a property. While Domokos was on his honeymoon in Greece, he tested 2,000 pebbles to see if he could find one that would right itself, but none did. "Why he is still married, that is another thing," Várkonyi says. "You need a special woman for this."

I wonder about the stability of marriages to mathematicians. All of the number theorists I have met have been significantly eccentric, but married none the less.

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A website devoted to unrelated look-alikes: I'm Not a Look Alike. My cousin said his interpreter in Iraq looked just like me, which is weird. I'll have to ask for a photo of him someday, and then I could join in.


Bell Busks Bach

Pearls Before Breakfast
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page W10

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.


On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

I would have walked on by, and probably would have forgotten about him. Hey hey hey.

No word (yet) on any experiments with sketch artists drawing odd geometric paradoxes or if famous mathematicians will derive incompleteness proofs on blackboards in Starbucks. Also, the commentary I've seen on the people who walked by (~they're dumb for doing so), is wrong; just because someone great is playing wonderful music doesn't mean you're going to drop everything you're doing to listen. Why not have him stroll up and down the hallways of a maternity ward and see if people stop what they're doing there?


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Trick Shot Bowling

Trick Shot Bowling.

And just on a total tangent, people who bowl very infrequently, like me, sometimes affect psuedo-serious bowling gestures for no good reason. The way you walk up to the line, or hold your hand over the little air-vent, or try to spin the ball. It's the same like walking around a pool table after you make a shot, or how people talk strangely on a witness stand. Even when you glare at them when your attorney says not to.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Vintage Posters

Vintage Posters.

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Friday, April 06, 2007


Something Awful: The Inbox of Nardo Pace, The Empire's Worst Engineer. Now if you excuse me, I have to go find the button that calls my mom to come pick me up.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

Seattle 4, Oakland 0:

F. Hernandez (W, 1-0), 8.0IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 12K, 0HR.

Hope's not going to last very long this year, but there might be one or two bright spots.


Restaurant Deserts

Waiterrant on why you should eat dinner and dessert (if you do) at different restaurants. I agree - get your whopper at Burger King and your ice cream cone at McDonald's.

Update: So it turns out that this whole internet thing works better with links.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Google SketchUp

I am in one of my house-plan doodling-phases again (better than the blue phases, I assure you), and I've been playing with Google SketchUp. It's free (Windows und Mac, even). It's UI is brilliant. Well, no, but it's good, and good divided by $0 is a large number.

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